Happy New Year. Two Thousand TWELEVE!
Once again, we appear to have dodged a meltdown, even if 2012 is supposed to be the year of an apocalypse or miraculous planetary transformation (a “slight” difference in opinion according to which fringe group you listen to).
But, unfortunately, what we are almost certain to see are political leaders who deny science, organizations that blatantly create “facts” to support their beliefs and self-interest, and a press that fails to call this out (a welcome exception: propublica).
But rather than despair, what can we do?
Each of us has the opportunity and potential to nudge the planet in the direction we want to see it move. Some of us want to direct our energies towards educational reform, others into creating healthful food systems, others towards preventing human trafficking. Enough nudges compound to create changes that none of us is capable of alone.
How we choose to effect these (or other) changes can be varied to suit our unique talents and perspectives. Let me explain mine, using a device I call the Changemaker’s Cube.
The impact I’m trying to create is centered on individuals — students and others I have the privilege to reach. Others may work to change organizations or even larger systems, but my perch as a professor makes a focus on individual change a natural fit.
Through my writing and teaching, I’m primarily trying to amplify success. I’m a student of societal change, I study a wide range of approaches, and my goal is to make them better known and more widely adopted (with variation; changing society must be viewed from an evolutionary perspective). For others, devising new means of change or validating their benefit may be better suited activities.
How do I choose to spread the ideas I want others to know about? I bring a creative aptitude to my work. I’ve devised plays (nothing to fear, David Mamet) and multi-media-based simulations to instruct. I’ve had my students collaboratively author a book (minor fail) and create videos with impact (major win). Even my most technical research articles are written to be readily understood (what a concept!). I want ideas to come alive; I want to inspire action. There are other aptitudes that can guide your efforts, of course, including a facility with technical knowledge, social skills, or a knack for administration.
So, what are my goals for 2012?
- I will complete and publish my book, with Cynthia Koenig, What I Wish I Knew Then: Becoming a Social Entrepreneur. It’s a roadmap for those aspiring to change the world based on the wisdom of those who have walked the path already.
- I will expand the ideas in my earlier book to show how social innovations and technological advances work hand in hand in a co-evolutionary fashion.
- I will work with creativity to amplify world-changing ideas for the benefit of individuals who see the world as it is, reject the deception of those who fight change, and prove, through their work, that we can change the world.
Now, if only our computers don’t seize up and the world doesn’t burst into flames. (Happy 2012.)