I have been doing/teaching/debating questions about how to make organizations and communities more democratic for decades. This blog was inspired by Margaret Wheatley’s continuing efforts to engage more people in more important conversations about what we want for ourselves, our communities, and our institutions — and by a class that I will be teaching soon to a group of talented doctoral students at the University of Minnesota (https://www.cehd.umn.edu/olpd/).
At the heart of this work is the belief that we are in an era that will be shaped as much by persistence among those who seek to make change on the ground — where they “live” — as by those who occupy formal positions of power (https://berkana.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/New_Leadership-in-the-Age-of-Complexity.pdf). Sometimes this may occur by resistance, but equally often by developing positive and meaningful relationships that inspire others to make a difference. We create change not as individuals, but as people who gather for a purpose. There are many tools to stimulate change, and policy is one.
Policy is everywhere. It doesn’t come only from distant bureaucracies or legislatures. It occurs in our families (Is there an unwritten rule that Thursday nights are family dinners? Or that mommy should not be disturbed when she is writing her dissertation?), in our workplaces (Who gets to participate in which decisions? How do we decide to allocate resources when we have an excess? A deficit?), and in our communities (Who is responsible for dealing with trash? For picking up dog poop?). Policy matters. And policies can change. The real question is how to mobilize others to create change in policies that matter. And that is, in part, the art of policy analysis.