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Intervention Design Thinking: What is your Theory of Change?

Updated: May 16

The government body (“top down”), the business community (“middle out”), and the people (“bottom up”) each hold power in society. When these power relationships are imbalanced, society suffers as a whole. Everything gets topsy-turvy.

Imagine that society is a ship. And we are all together on this ship - the captain, the crew, and probably a stowaway or two.

The government body is the at the helm of the ship and it is their job is to keep everyone aboard safe. They must anticipate and avoid dangerous situations, address challenges (internal and external), and offer solutions to create the conditions for inclusive prosperity for all aboard the Good Ship Society.

The business community is the engine of a ship and determines how fast it can go. Some businesses are run like sail boats, harnessing the power of wind and tide. Others businesses are speed boats, small and swift. A few businesses are like container ships - both large and fast - and are central players in shaping the global economy.

Boat stranded on the shore
“Move fast and break things,” is the mantra that powers companies like Facebook.

If the business community alone, especially the most powerful members, were left in charge of steering the Good Ship Society, shareholder interests and quarterly profits would incentivize leadership to push the engines as hard as possible, for as long as possible. And even if we saw the potential for danger, we would be moving too fast to avoid catastrophe.

People power the entire ship. The people working in the government, the people owning and operating the businesses. We the people provide goods and services. We the people enjoy them as well.

Busy subway exchange
A distraction based attention economy keeps many people locked into daily concerns rather than the long term view.

We the people are the waves and the wind as well. We can help push the ship forward or smash against the hull, like the elements of a gathering storm. Do the captain, and the crew, and the stowaways too, work together towards mutual prosperity? Or is there in-fighting and internal competition for scarce resources?

Incoming waves of change
Every day, meet the wave. Do not rush, do not delay. Every day, meet the wave.

The work of collaboration begins with holding respect and gaining empathy for the people you are working with and working for. Collaboration requires a willingness to learn from others, to be willing to trust others until they break trust and are unwilling to do the work of repair. Collaboration requires you to share your gifts while creating space for others to share their gifts as well, in equal value exchange. Collaboration requires being open to having your views evolve as you learn, and as conditions around you change.

It is on this collective journey of learning, sense-making, and collaboration I invite you to open your heart and mind.

We begin with the question, “How might we?”

How might we work together to create a regenerative society?

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