This intro reflects a personal note from Maureen Metcalf. During this tumultuous time in US life, when we are seeing protests based on the death of George Floyd and many others at the hands of police, I wanted to share both the interview with Henry Mintzberg and his recommendations on building families, communities, organizations, and societies that acknowledge our interdependence. I want to express my personal sadness for this unnecessary atrocity and extend an invitation to all members of our community to find a peaceful path forward to address systemic injustice. We each have a role to play in every decision and action we take. Some of our readers influence large enterprises and others influence quietly in your communities or families. Every individual matters! Every act of kindness and support impact others. Our thoughts, words and deeds ripple through the world.
This acknowledgment of interdependence and public commitment to treat one another according to these truths will allow us to first manage our personal behavior then build societies that support balance, respect, and dignity for all citizens. Whether you lead in an official role or just lead yourself and your life, I strongly encourage you to look at how you treat everyone. It is easy to be kind to those we respect, now, think about someone you dislike. How can you express your different perspective and even disapproval of their behavior while concurrently maintaining their dignity and yours? I challenge all of our readers and listeners to find the express your best selves during this time. I will be doing the same. The Innovative Leadership Institute has accepted the Declaration of Interdependence as our aspirational statement for how we operate internally toward one another and how we work with all of our stakeholders!
This blog is provided by Dr. Henry Mintzberg. It is taken from the website https://www.ourinterdependence.org/ and used with permission. This blog is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, Rebalancing Society: Radical Renewal, Beyond, Left, Center, Right which aired on 1/21/20.
How to restore balance in this lopsided world?
Encouraging is that so many concerned people are engaged in so many constructive activities—whether to restore social justice, reverse the change in climate and the decline in democracy, or build the social economy—and that so many more people are ready to go.
Missing, however, has been a guiding vision, a statement of purpose as a way forward—toward a consolidated movement for global reformation.
This is why a group of us developed this Declaration of our Interdependence. Please read it, and if you agree with it, sign it, and share it widely.
Let this be a happy new year—for 2020 vision.
The Story of This Declaration
This story can be traced back to 1991, when Henry Mintzberg, a professor of management at McGill University in Montreal, visited Prague just as the communist regimes were collapsing in Eastern Europe. Western pundits at the time were proclaiming the triumph of capitalism, but from here it looked like balance had triumphed, over the imbalance. The communist regimes were severely out of balance, with too much power concentrated in their public sector governments, whereas the successful democracies of the West had maintained a relative balance of power across their public sector governments, private sector businesses, and—crucially—plural sector communities. This misunderstanding would drive the Western democracies themselves out of balance, in favor of private sector markets. These thoughts were outlined in a 1992 article, and eventually published in a 2015 book entitled Rebalancing Society.
Irene is a Canadian manager who has worked in the private and plural sectors. After reading an early draft of this book, she said “I’d like to do something. I just don’t know where to start.” This became The Irene Question in the book, and has occupied much of Henry’s attention ever since. What can each of us do, and what can all of us do—in our communities, associations, businesses, and governments? The answers, it turns out, are numerous—witness all the activities of concerned people the world over, from marching in protests to growing their social economies. Lacking, however, has been a vision to consolidate these efforts into a widespread movement for global reformation.
Toward this end, in February of 2019, nine people gathered at a retreat near Montreal, out of which came a map to visualize balance across the sectors, a table to order various ideas for action, and the decision to create a declaration of interdependence. On the drive back to Montreal from the retreat, Henry and Jeremiah Lee, a consultant in Boston, went through the clauses of the American Declaration of Independence, one by one, and began to draft clauses for today’s interdependence, using the wording of the original declaration where helpful. Many drafts later, the nine of us who participated in the creation of this document (listed first in the signatories) agreed that this declaration was ready to be posted—for 2020 vision.
The Declaration of Our Interdependence
For two centuries, the American Declaration of Independence served as the model to grow democracy. Now our world has reached the limits of growth driven by the pursuit of individual rights at the expense of shared responsibilities. Faced with the threats of warming, weapons, waste, and the lopsided distribution of wealth, we must declare our interdependence.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created dependent—on each other, our earth, and its climate—endowed with the inalienable responsibility to maintain justice, liberty, and affiliation for all. Thus our societies must sustain balance across public sector governments that are respected, private sector businesses that are responsible, and plural sector communities that are robust. Some societies retain this balance; others have lost it; many never had it. We propose the following resolutions to guide the rebalancing of society:
We commit to the ideals of social conscience, fair trade, and good government, to replace the dogma of imbalance—that greed is good, markets are sufficient, and governments are suspect. We explore our human resourcefulness by resisting our exploitation as human resources.
We build worthy institutions in all three sectors of society—departments in government, enterprises in business, associations in communities—from the ground up, with widespread engagement that carries individual leadership into collective communityship.
Sustainable global balance requires substantial global government. We call on all democratic nations to rally for lasting peace, by containing any power that aims to dominate while holding economic globalization in its place, namely the marketplace.
These resolutions require concerted action, not by centrally orchestrated planning so much as through a groundswell of initiatives by concerned citizens the world over, to restrain our worst tendencies while encouraging our best. For the future of our planet and our progeny, this is the time to get our collective act together.
As one people indivisible under one big sky,
we pledge to defend balance in this priceless world.
You can sign the declaration here.
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About the Author
Henry Mintzberg is a writer and educator, mostly about managing originations, developing managers, and rebalancing societies, which is his current focus. Henry sits in the Cleghorn Chair of Management Studies at the Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University in Montreal.
He has authored 20 books, including Simply Managing and Bedtime Stories for Managers, which have earned him 20 honorary degrees. Henry co-founded the International Masters Program for Managers as well as a venture CoachingOurselves.com, novel initiatives for managers to learn together from their own experience, the last in their own workplace.
Henry may spend his professional life dealing with organizations, but he spends his private life escaping from them—mostly in a canoe, up mountains, and on a bicycle. You can find out more about his adventures on mintzberg.org, which includes his blog.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio