Insights · May 15th, 2009
I had the opportunity to hear Peter Senge speak last week at the Northwest Leadership Summit, sponsored by Center for Leadership Formation in the Albers School of Business at Seattle University. The theme of the event was an exploration of how companies around the world and locally are leading the change from “business as usual.”
I suppose it’s arguable as to whether companies are “leading the change,” or “leading in their response to a change” which has been come upon us all. I suspect it’s more often the latter. As Senge said “There are fundamental aspects of the way we live that will change, because they must.” This type of change is seldom sought–at least not consciously.
Yet here we are, “in each others’ back yard,” in a manner without precedence in human history, invited (urged) to collaborate on remaking the way we see the world, by shifting our mental models to accommodate new ways of being. It doesn’t come easily, and it’s not a quick process, but according to Senge, we are now at the “beginning of the beginning” of this transformation.
This is a momentous thought, but for me, somehow a comforting and energizing one. It helps me to conceive of the experience we have had of this rocky, precious early years of the 21st Century, as a way of riding out “the end of the end.” If this is indeed the case, then perhaps these fits of craziness have been the convulsions of things falling away.
As to what is in store, Senge is hopeful, though urgent. The time to waste, has been. We did that part. But now, to an optomist, “the curve is beginning toward the next phase, and call to leadership is rising up everywhere;” initiatives both locally and internationally build momentum. (Oxfam partners with Unilever at the Sustainable Food Lab; the World Wildlife Foundation allies with Coka-Cola on water issues…) The time has come, Senge says, for “the future to become real to us again.”
That’s a beginning to savor.
Author: Amy Frazier is an arts-based consultant and speaker, and worked as Director of Programs and Marketing at Futurist.com. Learn more about bringing the wisdom of the arts into the workplace at Stages of Presence.com.