Saturday, July 13, 2013

Leadership For Social Change

This is a link to a video interview by Bill Moyer with senior lecturer at Harvard who shares his experiences in leading social changes with graduate students at Harvard's Kennedy School.  It provides several very valuable lessons that can be useful to those among us who are concerned about climate change, income inequality and other social issues.  There are powerful forces that resist the changes that are necessary, and it is too easy to accept the status quo. Leaders have to believe in the improbable, and share that belief with those with whom a counter movement can be created.  It is a mistake to accept the probable outcome, or compromises which lead to a dead end.  It is also a mistake to wait until the time is ripe for change.  The only right time to lead the change process is now.

One of the salient ideas that I took from the interview is the importance of a stories or a narrative to inspire the necessary change.  The narrative of the free market has been used by those who prefer the status quo and who resist change.  It provides moral, political and economic ideas that motivate conservative movements.  This is a deeply flawed narrative, and it is important to expose those flaws.  It is also important to provide an alternative narrative that is based upon moral, political and economic values.  Many of us share those values but they require a movement to achieve the goals that we seek.  It is not sufficient to be content with the "superior" values that we hold as individuals.

The occupy Wall Street movement did a good job of raising awareness.  It eventually disappeared because it relied upon a single tactic.  Movements must be supported by a strategy as well as a narrative.  The right strategy is often developed through experience with a variety of tactics.

I strongly recommend this video to those who believe in social change and want to learn more about the leadership of social change movements.

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