Note: Because this is an ongoing effort, this post is being updated regularly, along with the slide deck referenced herein.
Most current update: January 8, 2020
Do you ever feel like Sisyphus in your work to create a more humane world – like you’re taking two steps forward and 1.9 steps back? Does it feel sometimes like the struggle to raise money, to stay competitive, to do more with less… is just as hard, if not harder, than the “real” work of your mission?
With the health and humanity of our planet increasingly at risk,
changemakers shouldn’t have to ALSO battle the systems intended to sustain their work.
For decades, people working to create a more humane world have complained about the reality of simultaneously battling the conditions they are seeking to change in their communities, while also battling the very systems and structures that are intended to help get that work done – systems like competitive funding and marketing, structures like hierarchical organizations, planning systems that embed reactivity into the process itself.
During those same decades, consultants and other intermediaries have sought to fix those problems. Yet despite all those well-intentioned reform efforts, changemakers still struggle against those same forces.
Creating the Future is therefore embarking on a project to re-imagine the systems that support social change efforts, to help social change efforts accomplish what they dream is possible for their communities.
And you are invited to be part of that!
Ideally the systems that support the work of creating a more equitable, humane, and healthy world would themselves walk the talk of equity, relationship, trust, and enoughness. Unfortunately, that isn’t the norm for the systems upon which social change efforts rely. (See a comparison of aligned vs. current systems here).
• Imagine if the norm for resourcing and funding reflected the equity we want to see in the world (vs. power dynamics of “He who has the gold makes the rules”)
• Imagine if the norm for communications strategy was about linking arms to work together with all the people who care about your cause (vs. positioning your organization to compete with those caring individuals).
• Imagine if strategic planning routinely led to plans for visionary community improvement (vs. incremental, reactive steps to intervene against current problems).
• Imagine if the most commonly reviewed reports documented the number of relationships and conversations, and the changes happening in community (vs. the profit and loss statement that documents the dollars used to create that change).
In this very early stage of thinking about this huge project, we are using Catalytic Thinking to listen, learn, and think things through. Several first steps are happening at once, and because all our strategy work at Creating the Future is done as openly and inclusively as possible, we’re asking you to be part of all those steps!
Here are some ways you can be part of this inquiry right now:
1) Help clarify:
We’ve assembled an initial draft slide deck, describing the observations that have stemmed from our inquiry so far. You’ll find that here. As you page through it, please help us make that document as solid as possible. Please respond in the comments at this post, or personally to us via our “Contact” page here.
• Does the document provide a clear sense of what we are hoping to accomplish and why?
• If not, what would make it clearer?
• Our intent is that this slide deck stand on its own. To accomplish that, what would you add? What would you delete?
2) Help connect:
Are there others you know who are talking about similar big-picture questions re: changing how social change infrastructure is supported / how the social change arena thinks about capacity building? Whether they are seeking to re-imagine everything at once or seeking to create more narrow shifts in how social change is done, we want to meet those people! Send us a note to suggest folks, and if you can make a connection, that would be awesome.
If you are tired of feeling conflicted between the values that underpin your mission and the stuff you have to do to support that work…
If you ever feel like the systems that are supposed to support your work are more trouble than they are worth…
And if you want to be part of creating systems that smooth out all those bumps in the road…
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
And let’s begin to change the questions
that have the potential to change everything.