Finding workable solutions
Throughout history, humankind has, somehow over time, overcome enormous challenges. Even so, human progress does not continue along a straight or unbroken line. In more recent times, all nations have suffered the disastrous impact of two world wars and the ever-present threat of nuclear war, which is a threat that has not receded but considered a risk that we must live with. The threat of environmental disasters has now become widely recognised but the solutions advocated so far seem unlikely to halt our march towards Armageddon. Meanwhile, the people in many nations appear to be expressing doubts about the value of the democratic system of government. Within those nations that claim to be democracies citizens seem to be losing faith in their democratic system and are instead looking towards populist leaders who offer simplistic solutions to their problems. The reality is, that by far the major part of the world's population exist under a dictatorship of one kind or another and have no immediate prospect of changing their situation. In nations typically regarded as democracies, their leaders appear unwilling to fix the fundamental flaws in their democratic system that prevent it delivering the immense benefits that only a complete democratic system can bring to its citizens.
Wealth becomes ever more concentrated
In our search for solutions to the problems of unfairness and unsustainability in our world people have very often pursued simplistic solutions that failed, and in most cases only exacerbated the situation. Such solutions have included advocacy of the belief that the best approach is to leave the economy to default to a chaotic situation where companies get bigger and bigger and as a result wealth becomes ever more concentrated in the hands of those operating corporate businesses. Relying on the presumption that the trickle-down effect will eventually bring some benefit to the poorest in the community. Or, to pursue the alternative of relying upon the State to act on behalf of the mass of the people whilst ignoring the reality of the market. In the extreme, demonstrated in those countries that in theory embraced a Marxist economy but where in practice a political elite becomes the main beneficiary of the system.
There are no simple answers
The truth is that there are no simple answers to the problems we face. Only a multifaceted approach is likely to bring about the fundamental changes in society required. We need to apply the five levers of change together to achieve our objectives. Critically, we must understand how our organizations need to work if they are to benefit the people. Also, appreciate that all forms of organization will default to serving the people that run them day-to-day, unless effective systems are in place to prevent this happening. It’s equally applies to governmental organizations, which end up only serving a political elite unless the proper checks and balances are in place. Likewise, we need to understand how markets work and how to ensure that they work for the benefit of the people. Our education system needs to empower the people and not simply produce compliant citizens within a corporatocracy. Nothing will change if we solely rely on political parties, most significant change only occurs when dynamic movements for social change intervene.
Five levers of changeWhat needs to change if we are to improve the daily lives of ordinary people? I have identified at least five main levers of change, all of which need to be applied together if substantive change is to come about:
- Organizational change – This requires that people understand why so often organizations don’t work for the benefit of their owners, who may be members, or citizens in the case of governmental organizations. The people need to understand what has to be changed if organizations are to work as they should.
- Political Change – in a democratic system, this requires that we elect representatives that are ready to embrace the changes that are needed, and who can be relied upon to legislate in support of such change.
- Economic Change – calling for enterprises that challenge powerful economic players that control resources and dominate markets.
- Educational change – this involves taking steps to ensure that the educational system encourages people to prepare to change. Most importantly, the education system must provide people with the skills that will empower them to take control over their own lives.
- Social change - this involves changing the existing norms of society, which can only be led by a movement for social change.