First Posted March 22, 2009.
The institutions of society that we trust to provide stability in a time of disruptive change are not providing it. These institutions of business and government, of religion, education and social welfare, seem to lack the capacity to both see what is happening and to adapt to these changes. What is notable is their inherent lack of ability to see the bigger picture in contrast to their own self-preservation.
I introduced this idea in my previous post on the Three Communities.
Here is what is happening?
As a global community, we are moving out of a millennium long era of institutional stability, and into an era of transition where strength, progress and continuity is built around small entrepreneurial social movements.
These movements are of people who organize themselves around the opportunities and needs that they see at the local level around the globe. These movements are focused on meeting global needs at a local level. The birth of these movements comes from the personal initiative of people who are responding to what they see before them. They are utilizing their network of relationships formed in the virtual world to mobilize people to serve local communities on a local scale.
Here are examples.
People and their organizations raise money to provide heating oil assistance for cash strapped families.
A church opens its doors to provide a place for homeless people to get in off the street and have a hot drink and some food on cold, winter days.
Small loans are made to people who have no collateral yet have a compelling idea for meeting a market need in their community.
Citizens provide charitable leadership training to local business to help them find ways to manage a down economy.
Business leaders meet to discover how they can move beyond traditional institutional boundaries to address the need for job creation and social stability.
Marketing collaboratives form to promote products and services to local ethnic populations.
For-profit and non-profit health care organizations collaborate to serve the needs of their local community.
Children from across the United States conduct fund raising projects to build schools and implement water projects in underdeveloped communities around the world.
People leave their local community of residence and move to a local community that has experienced a natural disaster to help in recovery. Some stay for years, not just weeks or months.
These are a few examples of what is happening in local communities everywhere.They are not nice ideas waiting for someone to implement. These are ideas that people are acting on to make a difference.
Continuity between today and tomorrow is not found by waiting for better economic times to return. Instead it is found by developing new relationships between people and organizations that address issues as they exist right now.
Local communities are not at the edge of what matters globally. They are at the core.
Global communities are institutional communities. They aren't places where people live. They are highly integrated corporate structures whose influence upon life in local communities is huge.
People live in local communities. They interact with people there, as well as with those in virtual communities and global corporate ones.
As a result, for the average person and business owner, our focus needs to be local, where we can impact local people, families, schools, business and other organizations in ways that marshal the creativity that is inherent in every community. It is locally where we form relationships that enable our communities to weather the hard storms created at the global level.
If you need help figuring out how to begin to care for your local community, take my Circle of Impact Leadership Guides and start talking with people. Here are some first steps.
First, become clear that you and your community is at a transition point.
The important insight here is:
You aren't looking for continuity to preserve the past.
You are looking for how you build upon the strengths and values of the past for the future.
Second, identify the issues that you most want to address.
Take the Circle of Impact and identify what kind of issue is it.
Is the issue an Idea, Relationship or Organizational Structure issue?
Whatever it is, the other two dimensions contribute to its resolution. In other words, all problems or opportunities are dynamically related to each of the three dimensions of leadership.
If you then cannot find clarity, then you have an Idea problem that is defined as both a lack of clarity of your situation and the inability to communicate an articulate way of describing to others. Because it is a lack of clarity of thought masked as a communication problem, actually begin by defining the Four Connecting Ideas.
What are the Values that are non-negotiable, that we can build upon for the future? How do these Values unify US for OUR work together?
What is our Purpose?
How can that Purpose be defined as the Impact we want to create? What difference does our purpose make?
Then define your Vision as what are we going to do through the organizational structure that we have to create Impact?
Third, ask the Five Questions.
It is important find clarity of perspective. These questions make have no answer at first. That tells you something. However, if you are persistent in seeking to find clear answers to these questions, the steps you'll need to take will reveal themselves.
What has Changed to create the situation that we must address? How are we in Transition as a Local community?
What is the Impact we want? What Change do we need to create?
Who do you want to Impact? What difference will that make to them?
What Opportunities for the future do you gain through this Impact?
What Problems that are within your control, must you resolve in order to achieve your impact? What Obstacles do you face that you must remove?
Do all this in conversation with others. This is a way to begin to address the social and economic issues that impact your local community.
If you need additional help, contact me. Glad to help.