Tuesday, June 21, 2016

How to Change Social Systems!

If you've had anything to do with bringing about change in groups, teams or organisations you know how much intensive effort it can take. It requires a shift in perspective, much like the Apollo 17 photo of the Earth. We saw for the first time how fragile our planet is, and how interconnected we all are.

I'm presently in a small village an hour's drive west of Berlin where I'm attending the Presencing Foundation Program with Otto Scharmer from MIT. There are 80 delegates from 20 different countries. The program is all about the frameworks, methodology, and experiential learning for bringing about change in social systems.

How do you change social systems? According to Otto there are just two things which bring about the shift:
  1. Courage: Having the courage to try something new, to sense and learn from the emerging future, not just the past.
  2. Loving Attention: The quality of our attention is shaping the world around us. Energy follows attention. And when we pay attention with love the social system is more likely to respond.
The essence of changing social systems is to help people in the system sense and see themselves - to view the system from within. If you want to change social systems, first change the quality of your own thinking and the quality of your own attention. 

"The quality of results produced by any system depends on the quality of awareness from which people in the system operate"

It turns out the formula for successful change processes is not "form follows function", but "form follows consciousness". It's the structure of our awareness and attention that determines the pathway along which a situation unfolds.

Here are four questions to ask yourself to begin the process of change:
  1. What in your life and work is dying or ending, and what wants to be born?
  2. What do you need to let go of?
  3. Where, right now, do you feel the opening to a future possibility?
  4. What are your most important sources of energy? What do you love?