The limitation of our democracies

I would love to make you laugh (4/5)

The main limitation of our democracies is our lack of adaptation to our new era and to the silent transformations we saw emerge.

And today, as we are facing a new crisis, I can tell you, we have our eyes on the wrong culprits:

What if the guilty ones were not COVID or any dictator, but the general hypocrisy that underpins our current democratic model from another time?

In fact, acting as if our world did not have changed drastically by continuing with a harmful “business as usual” strategy may well be the culprit in the room, blocking the energy needed to turn the tide.

It is time to understand this, thus make the change where it is necessary.

And, stop for good raising the negative emotions and repeating the same fatal errors.

Those, we have generated ourselves, with our practices, that are far from being participatory and inclusive, but ad hoc and technocratic.

They have led us to a situation where we are incapable to collaborate at a global level to address our crises.

It’s time to have real impact to move from a vicious circle, which makes more and more people miserable to a virtuous circle, generating successes for the whole world.

So, allow me in a few lines to give you the main reasons why I speak of possible hypocrisy, before suggesting some solutions to remedy it:

  • When behaviours do not adapt to the new culture. Let’s face it, social media have caused a major upheaval in our democracies. Increasingly, citizens feel more and more free, and rightly so, to engage in a form of public life, a way of making society, thus investing the third floor of love. Their experience of “unofficial” public participation goes far bigger and higher than the one that is “officially” provided. And it’s a new collaborative culture that has started to emerge, under everyone’s eyes (except those too busy producing, thus not able to see and listen). A nascent culture that calls for a new form of leadership. And, more of citizens’s eyes turn no longer to leaders of the past who do everything to retain power, but towards leaders who are in sharing, trust, empathy and openness. More and more the followership is increasing behind leaders who learnt to adopt the behaviours of a collaborative culture, which is there, more and more there. Let’s stop hiding our faces and resisting. And please do not show unity when we know it does not exist. Possible hypocrisy #1.
  • A gap that widens a little more each day, moving more and more people away from the democratic ideal. The inability of our leaders to distribute power and the post-industrial mentality, as we have seen, makes solving complex problems impossible. The crises follow one another and if we don’t change the practices and guiding principles immediately, we will amplify the vicious circle. It would be far too easy to point the finger at a single culprit (COVID or a dictator), especially it is perhaps the “only one” that has never hidden its excessive ambition or intention to dominate… When our leaders in our democracies did not behave so much better yet publicly claimed otherwise. Actually, our democracies have been in peril for a very long time. The way we do them has not evolved at the same pace as the world around us, embracing the new opportunities it created for people. The disconnect between two realities has grown. And, because of this, we continue to arouse a lot of frustration and negative emotions among our fellow citizens, who continue to be isolated in the exercise of democracy. You know those voting booths which are for most of us the only experience of democracy we will have in our lives. The result is that more and more people move away and, drop out to find an answer to their needs, even if it means being taken in by narcissists and sociopaths, who are strategically opportunistic (as history taught us). Confidence in the ability of leaders with the dominant mindset is in steep decline. And, it is possible that citizens will find it difficult to forgive those who have fallen into the trap. Especially those that have hidden themselves behind the values of democracies, preaching for a superficial togetherness, when their behaviours meant almost the opposite. Possible hypocrisy #2.
  • Day after day, things get more complicated for a new deal. We do not live in the world of Disney and life in society requires a form of support, whether online or offline, at the risk of seeing more deviations. In fact, if citizens became accustomed to pouring out their hearts, they have – let us say it frankly – sometimes done so in a very uninhibited way. The issue is often that they are unaware of the consequences of an active commitment or lacking the skills necessary in the face of the tidal wave of information, manipulators and other fake news (and the risk is to see them repeat the mistakes later on in the physical reality as we see today with increased acts of violence on our leaders). For example, let’s not talk about courage when it’s done anonymously, please. Sometimes when the situation seems so chaotic, comes the fear of doing more damage by acting more. And indeed, as we have seen with Ukraine, it would be very dangerous to continue with the current practices which only fuel the conflict and extend the ditch. But it might still be possible to address all the negative emotions, frustrations, such as anger perhaps some sadness too that power is only in the hands of the few. This perception that is increasing that our traditional leaders only make our lives miserable is growing. And more and more we collect evidence that it would be best not to have leaders that make mistakes and other silly things. For instance, the hero posture of the Ukrainian leader could appear as a terrible joke. Especially, if he does not take the necessary actions in parallel. Or the fueling of the conflict with the SWIFT case. Leaders are called to have the right responsible behaviours to model the ones we need from people and, certainly not to play the victims, the judges or the aggressive ones (but as we could see lately, most continue to fall in the traps unfortunately…). Final possible hypocrisy #3.

This is why I invite everyone here to reflect on the changes to be made. It’s about raising our awareness of what works.

And, let’s take the case of the war between Russia and Ukraine, to explain how we could concretely use the new strategy.

After COVID-19, this is a particularly strong case study for those who would like to be convinced of the benefits of investing in the new collaborative culture.

It’s not like we have any other choice. The wall gets closer and closer everyday.

  • Adoption of a co-leader mindset and behaviours I’ve discussed in previous articles. Humility, compassion, critical thinking and courage for example.
  • Then look for ways to stop the violence. This has already gone too far. A conflict does not need a war, which is the expression of a failure.
  • Call for interests for participatory and inclusive solutions to address the conflict in a constructive fashion.
  • Identification of desired skill areas -the heads of all our democracies should make calls for help and expertise by identifying the areas where action is needed.
  • Coordination of global initiatives in a transparent manner, modeling the right behaviours we need to spread among peoples. It’s not enough to organise peace demonstrations, do nice speeches of unity or wear ukrainian flags. What we need from the wave of humanity is the spread of a collaborative culture, where everyone grabs his or her power, and takes concrete action to solve the crisis.
  • And so, especially, through multiplication of local initiatives, in fractal networks.
  • Organisation of regular open conversations to coordinate, align, rectify, recall the right behaviours of a force for good… (and ways to identify those we need to listen to more at the risk of making fatal errors without awareness).
  • Rapid prototyping of Collective Complex Problem Solving sessions = Healthy Conflicts = Virtuous Circle = Success

In order to make the force for good perennial, and that the method works in the case of all complex problems in the future, let me recall here the urgent actions which are needed:

  • Support for new democratic practices, support for the collaborative culture, identification of necessary related behaviours, and implementation of the urgent training solutions required.
  • Leaders role modeling the behaviours needed – collaborative culture at the top with the right mindset. And I am at your disposal if that’s the case, because for those willing to start this journey, you will find all the answers on my blog.

Tomorrow, I will talk about the guiding principles to close the “I would love to make you laugh” series.

And you will thus notice that I have not totally succeeded to make you laugh, despite my attempts. Well, so you know, it will be a great learning for our collaborative journey, to know more about my limitations.

Because one of the most important things in any collaborative journey, is the awareness of the limitations of each player. I hope you know I have other strengths to build on for the benefit of all. The question is will we know how to embrace them for good?!

Photo by Rosemary Ketchum on

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