4 Strategies for Tangibilizing Societal Agreements — Recommended Reading

Waddell, Steve. “Four Strategies for Large Systems Change.” Stanford Social Innovation Review 16, no. 2 (2018): 40-45.

To achieve societal outcomes for everyone, everywhere, everyday within any given social system requires bringing together peoples with access to different economic resources, different political decision making and enforcement systems, different values, and different organizing forms.  It requires uniting in collaboration at a whole new level.  Long-time action researcher of societal change, Steve Waddell, shares in the reading referenced above what he observes in how people end up weaving together four large-system-change strategies to achieve a desired societal impact resilience.

In ecosynomic terms, the first step in any societal effort to change the agreements at the foundation of human interaction is to understand the deeper shared purpose, the love for a future to which people give their will. The second step is to bring together the people who are necessary for realizing that deeper shared purpose.  Dr. Waddell finds four strategies for who is necessary to change societal agreements to achieve that deeper shared purpose.  These four strategies are based on two continua: from confrontation to collaboration; from destruction to creation.  One can work to shift agreements working apart (confrontation) or together (collaboration), and generating new agreements (creation) or removing old agreements (destruction).  The article provides two case studies of large systems change, where all four strategies played out in the system over time.  A key insight is that changing major systems of agreements probably requires a range of pathways to tangibilize the deeper shared purpose–different ways to achieve the same impact.  These different ways require different capacities, ways of interacting, ways of seeing the world.  In large-systems change, the entrepreneur, the warrior, the missionary, and the lover–the four archetypes Waddell identifies with the four change strategies–all bring their particular worldview, organizing forms, and energy at particular times.  One form is not superior to the others, rather they each bring a part of the overall game.

The ecosynomic strategist, tangibilizing agreements field potentials, pathways, and outcomes, would do well to appreciate and embrace these four forms, seeing how they weave together to change foundational societal agreements.

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Audacious Maximus — Recommended Reading

Waddell, Steve. Change for the Audacious: A Doer’s Guide2016, Boston: NetworkingAction Publishing.  Click here for the Introduction and Chapter 1.

Fine-tuning how to work with what we already understand occupies most of our efforts.  What route to our next destination minimizes unwanted traffic and maximizes opportunities to complete errands?  How can we design the agenda and space for our next meeting to get the most out of the creativity and passion everyone brings?  What do I want to put in the garden this year?

How to get our head, heart, and hands around really big issues that we care deeply about and that we don’t understand at all is hard.  Thus, most of us most of the time dedicate little effort to this.  It is too complex and too hard.  It requires too much audacity, especially when the results of our efforts are fruitless.

Along comes Steve Waddell, a friend and colleague working at the forefront of abundance-based approaches to human agreements.  In Change for the Audacious, Steve shares how he makes sense of what is being learned across the globe about engaging vast numbers of people in addressing large systems change.  A pragmatic sociologist, he has traveled the world working with and observing people who take on extraordinarily challenging issues, finding patterns in how these people do what they do.  In earlier books and dozens of articles, he has described the emerging world of Societal Learning and Change and emerging forms of human interaction that deal with these issues, like Global Action Networks.  Now he extends the breadth of practice he embraces to highlight patterns in how people are learning to transform the complexity of human interactions, to “[radically change] the way we perceive our world, create relationships, and organize our societies.”

In this “doer’s guide,” Steve frames complexity and transformation in ways that make it easier to see what is being learned across thousands of efforts globally, towards large systems change.  He then applies these frames in five rich case studies.  Through these stories, you will see how people address “issues such as climate change, food security, health, education, environmental degradation, peace-building, water, equity, corruption, and wealth creation. This book is for people working on these types of issues, with the belief that we can create a future that is not just ‘sustainable,’ but also flourishing.”  A big hairy, audacious goal–audacious maximus.