Monday, October 8th, 2018

For OD Professionals Wanting a Challenge–Institional Garage Sale

As a former executive in the field of Organizational Development I am aware that the processes we use in our country to either solve problems or to create good are not working well today.  The hierarchical structure for most businesses creates a power and reward distance among its members that hinders engagement, creates resentment, and suppresses breakthrough possibilities. Regimented education processes aim at a narrow focus of achievement that precludes teaching how to be a community member in the classroom and then, later, in society. There is no process to create vibrant, healthy marriages and family groupings until problems occur and then perceived and real hurts begin to overpower what could become effective. Certainly, our justice system cannot manage the multitude of judgments and punishments in a way that leads to peace, resolution and learning, but rather, to more judgement and punishment in the vicious cycle of non-resolution and learning. Our religious institutions are in need of new ways to govern that support their beliefs and tenets in order to be respected. All of our institutions are in the five hundred year transition that is described in Phyllis Tickles’ book The Great Emergence in which institutions  disintegrate and need revamping. The focus of her book is religious but includes all institutions.

Of course I think of this institutional crumble in relationship to Judge Kavanagh and Dr. Ford. How painful to watch antiquated approaches invented long ago punish both “witnesses” with no deep resolution. There will be a decision, but probably not the closure that resolution brings. Our fore-people didn’t consider that the masses would be involved in real time decisions. We  average people were supposed to elect representatives to do the work, in private, with only the written word to inform, and that, often weeks after the event. We need process reform from how to elect a president to how to choose a Supreme Court judge. Let’s not leave out all the global institutions. The UN  and NATO both come to mind. We need an Institutions Garage Sale!!  Burnish the good, keep what still works, toss out the old, and create the new.

I am not hopeless at all. There is good ferment happening and there are examples and exploration of a variety of systems (that might become institutions in the future). The Charter for Compassion reaches across all religions to bring an enlightened empathy to the world to alleviate suffering and injustice.  Conversations for the 21st Century (started after the Sandy Hook tragedy) has many permutations but are all based on conversing and connecting to find new ways to be together in community.  We  happen to live during a particular transitional upheaval. We are in the middle of the mess and it can be discouraging and anxiety producing. But new forms are coming.

During the Supreme Court Nomination Procedure I was reminded of The Restorative Justice movement. It is a new process for justice proceedings. A foundational principle is that crime (abuse, harm) causes harm and justice should focus on repairing that harm. The people most affected by the crime should be able to participate in its resolution. The community is responsible for the well-being of all its members, including both victim and the person who caused the harm/crime. Repairing  the harm and rebuilding relationships in the community — is the primary goal of restorative  justice.

I like what John Braithwaite says in his writing about restorative justice in Australia. “Responding to pain with another ‘spoonful of pain’ is seen as a less satisfactory response than responding with healing or repair. A reason is that hurt tned to beget hurt, creating a vicious spiral of retribution and feuding.  Alternatively, it is possible to flip this dynamic into one of healing begetting healing—a virtuous circle.

Wouldn’t it be remarkable to create a new kind of healing justice in our government that allows deep understanding and a commitment to heal all parties that are damaged rather than continue a punishment system that declares winners and losers as the only solution to severe personal, community and institutional hurts and damage.





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