Meg Wheatley on YouTube

One of the wonders of YouTube is the availability of video clips of people who we might not ever get the opportunity to hear and see in person. One of my biggest disappointments this year (so far!) was being unable to attend a course run by Meg Wheatley (the writer on community development and change), at Schumacher College in Devon, England. However, thanks to the generosity of people all over the world, it is possible to become part of other audiences. The people at Grand Rapids Community College in the US have posted an inspiring presentation by Meg Wheatley. During her lengthy and wide-ranging presentation she raises some tough questions and inspiring ideas. For example, she talks about the conventional way that states learn from disaster – to create new regulations. She quotes a friend who works for the chemical company DuPont who describes the complex rules and regulations for the chemical industry as a “history of our tragedies”. The problem is that we tend to legislate before we fully understand the complexity of the problem. So what starts as a solution to one problem becomes the unintended cause of another. What struck me was how this also applies to complex social problems such as child protection legislation. So what can we learn from Meg Wheatley’s approach to communities solving complex social problems? She summarises this neatly in a series of ten ‘Principles for Creating Healthy Community Change’ and by ‘community’ she means any type of group where communities get together, including organisations. You can hear Meg Wheatley talking about these principles at YouTube:

  1. People support what they create
  2. People act responsibly when they care
  3. Through conversation we discover shared meaning
  4. To change the conversation, change who is in it
  5. Expect leadership to come from anywhere
  6. Focus on what’s working and it releases energy
  7. The wisdom resides within us
  8. Everything is a failure in the middle
  9. People can handle anything as long as we are together
  10. Generosity, forgiveness and love are the most important

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