What it’s like to make change & bridge social capital

Posted by  GeoffBrown —May 3, 2011
Filed in Uncategorized

Like Johnnie Moore writes here, I too loved Chris Corrigan’s post describing ‘what it’s like to make change‘.

The part I loved was the observation Chris makes about the need (from some with certain mindsets) for a clear path toward paradigm shifts and social change. That demand and search for the divine ‘clear path’ and a ‘certainty based mindset’ drives a lot of what I see happening in people/groups/organisations.

Chris’ response to this in his post …

“We don’t know what we are doing.  Everything we have been doing so far has resulted in what we have now.  The work of social change – paradigm shifting social innovation – is not easy, clear or efficient.  If you are up for it you will confront some of the the following, all of the time:

  • Confusion about what we are doing.
  • A temptation to blame others for where we are at.
  • Conflict with people that tell you you are wasting their time.
  • A feeling of being lost, overwhelmed or hopeless.
  • Fear that if you try something and it fails, you will be fired, excluded or removed.
  • Demands for accountability and reprimands if things don’t work out.
  • Worry that you are wasting your time and that things are not going according to plan.
  • A reluctance to pour yourself into something in case it fails.
  • A reticence to look at behaviours that are holding you back.”

I can see a side link here to Robert Putnam’s ideas on social capital. Andrew Rixon has just written this post after hearing an address by Robert Putnam (who I was inspired by years ago with his famous and controversial book, Bowling Alone).

Robert introduced Andrew to 2 types of Social Capital. The first is ‘bonding’ social capital which are networks that are looking inward, composed of people of like mind. The second is ‘bridging’ social capital which are different types of networks with people who are looking outwards and briding the social capital between different camps.

People who confront the list of experiences outline by Chris, are most likely working across vastly different networks with different worldviews. Not surprisingly, Robert Putnam and other authors like Peter Block are more interested in this bridging social capital. This is where the ‘hard work’ of social change is found. And it requires a mindset that embraces Emergence and one  that applies Principles & Practices rather than Rules and Tools as Chris describes here.


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