Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Democracy–the Ultimate OD Intervention

Two books,These Truths by Jill Lapore, and American historian and Book of American Dialogue by Joseph J. Ellis. Both hit on many themes and issues we face in the US as Democracy itself is being tested. Check them out.

Here’s what hit me. Democracy is not a given. It’s a wildly optimistic experiment in governing. As an OD global executive and now coach, it is interesting to think about The US Constitution as a gigantic “OD Intervention”.  A green site was created by the Declaration of Independence (a grand universal vision) and the question was, “Oooops we’ve created a nation. Now what do we do?” And so the arduous dialogue began to create the principles and law for a new nation. And so began the sequenced, planned  events meant to create an effective government design.  It involved a lot of talking and conflict and compromise and fury and coming back to the table again and again.

There were some established principles: l. Political equality meaning that people who were unequal in many ways had the same voting rights i.e. power to impact events, 2. Natural rights that are inherent not legal like all people being created equal and having the right to pursue life liberty and happiness. (Jefferson substituted “happiness” for “property” making a broader natural right. 3.”Popular sovereignty” meaning that the people, through a method of voting, gave authority and power to the state to act.

Do not yawn. These are uncommon principles for governing a nation. As. now celebrity, Hamilton said, “We want a government of reflection and choice not accident and force”. Our Fore-people had had enough experience of accident and force. And what we forget is  that accident and force always lurk and it takes an equal and opposite strength to lean toward the optimistic form of government we have in our Constitution, a government of the people.

This idealistic form of governing (Democracy) does take education and constant dialogue and leaning into the law of its interpretation. It’s never comfortable or easy. There is always the abrasion of opposing ideas that appall one another. We have a design or structure in the Constitution that was built to manage power assuming imperfect people.

Constitutional Crisis is talked about often. We are in one. We will see if the principles and law of our land can adapt and stretch to include so many more people than it had in mind at its start and with so many more different races of people. Can we expand the heart and mind and action embedded in our Constitution to have a multi-racial, gigantic sized, Democracy. Can we adapt ourselves and our law? Can we hold to the three founding principles of our country when we get scared of too many differences and what we might lose?Can we proactively create seemingly impossible reconciliation to align with our principles.Or do we wait for the crisis that can bring an end to such a grand, largely conceived experiment.

This is the level at which OD practitioners need to think and act. This is the burning platform of our time in the US. Can you apply these principle of the conception of our country In your daily work? Will you move beyond team to whole system? Will you work at the highest level of system possible? Will you know the importance of your work in today’s world? Will you acknowledge the values you carry proudly?  Will you lead as well as serve?









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