“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
How do we start engaging for change?
When we want to bring about change we start small. We start small whether we are trying to change ourselves, our teams, our organizations, our collaborations (across institutions and nations) or our expertise within different sustainability initiatives. We start by building a container, consisting of a small number of committed citizens, in order to hold our bigger vision.
What do I mean by creating a container? I mean creating the following combination: (1) the function – people who can drive change in their operational or decision-making role – (2) the quality of relationships – mutual respect – and (3) the emotional engagement with an envisaged future state.
Change processes that have an impact, work with good containers. When we have a good container, people are able to lead collectively. Our container often starts in small groups and then gradually involves more and more people. It is an art to design the implementation of structured processes that build containers for change and grow them into communities for change. High quality collaboration processes hinge on step by step engagement, reliability (act as agreed), sufficient care-taking and communication designs which allow both result orientation and relationship building.
In his introduction to the book ‘Leading Change’, James O’Toole asks how “anyone could lead from the middle of an inattentive crowd of individualists.” Those of us who need to get collaboration initiatives going can recognize this phenomenon. That is why engagement is both a mind-set and a technique. It is a mind-set, because we need to acknowledge that human beings need care-taking and attention. And it is a technique because there are definite steps that we can take on the way.
Here are a few questions that help guide us toward high quality processes:
- What must somebody else do to engage me successfully?
- When does my team engage – both with each other and with the goal?
- If you look at your collaboration initiative, what are your indicators for the high level of engagement of the key actors?
This blog post looks at the dimension of ENGAGEMENT and zooms into PROCESS QUALITY in the Collective Leadership Compass . For more information on the Art of Leading Collectively, checkout the inside the book and reviews on amazon.com, or get inspired by an onsite course that takes the compass into the daily challenges of navigating complex change.