Westmeath Wisdom: Happy Independence Day – A Time to Reflect, Listen and Learn…Can Proven Business Theories Affect Social Change?

By Anne M. McCarthy

This Saturday, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday. Today, many of us enjoy a paid day off. Before we start thinking about tomorrow’s socially-distanced BBQs, parades or fireworks, I think the 4th of July is a perfect time to reflect about our past and launch conversations about our future.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve all witnessed or felt a great deal of emotion – from anger and fear to hate and disgust. Some citizens have been vocal, while others have been silent. I think we can all agree, it’s difficult or impossible to make real progress when emotions are high.

So how do we migrate to a place where we can have honest conversations and open discussions?

I believe business can play an instrumental role in advancing these important conversations – not by “ticking a box” or “phoning it in” but by lending a few frameworks that have effectively “moved the needle.” If we want to irradicate bias and racism, why not embrace the proven business theories of Design Thinking and Change Management to address the polarization in our country?

In the simplest terms, Design Thinking (made famous by IDEO and other consulting firms) is a human-centric, creative problem-solving approach. Change Management (codified by Harvard Professor John P. Kotter) helps create a compelling vision; it informs people about the future state and creates new habits, behaviors and patterns that stick.

Based on my experience with large, bureaucratic organizations like IBM, SAP and DuPont, real change is not possible without a compelling shared vision. Lasting change won’t happen without a systemic approach to refreshing laws, policies, processes and practices. In order to affect systemic change, there are essential ingredients that must be achieved: inspiration, empathy, engagement, alignment, advocacy and TRUST.

As Stephen R. Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Today, we have an emotionally charged population that rightly calls for an end to racism, however, this movement is being dominated by one organization that on the one hand calls for the end of racism and on the other hand advocates racist practices. These pre-ordained outcomes will cause further alienation and will prevent real engagement and lasting change.

In order to achieve sustainable change we need to create solutions that serve all of the people, not some of the people. And, most important, we must not replace current racist and biased practices with new racist and biased practices.

Why not call on a diverse set of business facilitators who are schooled in Design Thinking and Change Management to tackle this complex issue and unite this country? Happy 4th of July.

Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/happy-independence-day-time-reflect-listen-learn-anne-m-mccarthy