Reframing the mental image we have of our nation will become the means that prepares citizens for a changed future. It would be helpful if we began to see our nation not as a nation of states and cities but as a huge corporation with departments and thousands of workgroups. If we did, then we could apply the best practices of business to the democratic process. Because citizens are the ultimate organic base of authority for democracies, citizens are in effect the employee shareholders of their cities, states, and nation. If we also saw citizens as workers, who are inherently valued by their employee owned “company” and who contribute to its growth, stability, and sustainability, perhaps the course of the future would be far more secure and predictable than it is today — particularly if there was a definable and measurable goal for those citizen-employees to buy into. Being an asset, we would want to train them to become more productive by increasing their ability to provide quality contributions to the bottom line.
“A great [nation]—one that expects and elicits exceptional performance from its [citizens]—understands that [they] must not only be able to effectively execute tactics in support of a strategy, but must also understand how their actions and decisions contribute to the implementation of the [public’s] strategy and, ultimately, the achievement of overall [community and national] goals.” 2
Michael Vaughan’s quote was used because it provides an excellent example of reframing business perspectives in terms of political Progressive perspectives. Because business practices are so endemic to American and democratic national cultures, it would take very little effort to shift our thinking to apply corporate systems-thinking to the democratic process. If we begin to apply the idea of the corporate “learning environment” to community and national organizational environments, we would see our nation and local communities as workgroup learning environments capable of achieving high-performance results.
The primary element of this transformative culture changing initiative is for citizens to see themselves as empowered and fully capable as co-responsible participants of their representation with their elected and appointed public executives, at all levels. As the public accepts their broadened role, we will have not only begun to change our own democratic culture, but its influence will transform democracies, globally.
In this transformative culture, the public would not be seen as people to be governed but as a work force to be engaged in the co-production of our nation’s future. If we reframe the persona of ourselves from faceless citizens in a faceless public to a workforce of millions of workers whose value can be increased by their training and participation, then our nation’s investments in its people would provide important future dividends.
The commonality between business and government is people — workers and citizens are the same people. Seeing citizens as fully capable of participating constructively in the future of democratic nations empowers peaceful social and political evolution. The same principles for improving the quality of a workforce that generates innovation and profitability are sound personnel and workgroup practices. When these are applied in concert with a common goal we can anticipate greater stability and social progress in those nations.
The second most significant change in perspective involves the necessity of addressing long-term goals rather than short-term goals.
The American penchant for seeking simple answers to complex issues is a product of linear thinking that has dominated the 2nd Stage of Democracy (page 77) from its earliest beginnings to the present time. It assumes that its approach will be adequate to fulfill any mission. Such an incomplete world view of the reality of a democratic nation in a developing and evolving world of nations is grossly inadequate to initiate efforts to achieve social stability, let alone social progress. Its energies are out of focus and too frequently dissipate in failed efforts. Social, political, and economic sustainability will not come into existence until short-term goals are congruent with sustainable long-term goals; and, adjusted with experience as we move toward the fulfillment of those long-term goals.
Susan Annunzio, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Center for High Performance, comments from page 17 of Contagious Success, “…the single biggest impediment to high performance around the world is short-term thinking. … Regrettably, [companies] may be sacrificing long-term sustainability for short-term results. … The key to sustainability is to get results the right way. The more workgroups that get results the right way, the better your company’s performance”.3
Now apply that to your local community, state, and nation. We are fortunate compared to nations that are not founded on democratic principles, because “getting results the right way” requires an organic, democratic, collaborative learning environment that is not afraid to take risks to get results.
Lastly, when citizens in a democracy see their nation as a learning organization, with the goal of achieving social sustainability, that nation would have a strategic focus for the efforts of its communities, and greater social stability as it learns from its successes and failures. “A learning organization is a place where people are continually discovering how they create their reality. How they can change it.” “…a ‘learning organization’ — [is] an organization that is continually expanding its capacity to create its future. For such an organization, it is not enough merely to survive.” An excerpt from The Fifth Discipline, by Peter Senge (1994).
Technologically developed democracies are knowledge-driven economies and will soon become knowledge-based democracies. The transition will not be as difficult as some readers may imagine. Technologically developed democracies are already populated with millions of knowledge workers who understand how to apply their skills in knowledge-based processes. Because technologically developed democracies are intensely information and data oriented, intelligence workers in these technologies will apply their skills to knowledge-based innovative processes of democracy, (Chapter 15, “Empowering Progressives — Reframing Political Dialogue,” p 141).
Applying these technologies will become second nature in only weeks for those who are already well acquainted with knowledge-based technologies. In the 3rd Stage of Democracy (page 162), citizens will become valued not just for their one vote, but for being knowledge workers and implementers who add value to the context, process, and content of the political process from wherever they are. Annunzio notes, page 31, “While good ideas can come from anywhere, it is most likely that these innovations will emerge from knowledge workers, people who manipulate information and use that information to make business decisions. Knowledge workers drive most of the business results in a company”.
2 Vaughan, Michael S. 2006. The End of Training, How Simulations Are Reshaping Business. Keystone Business Press. Golden, CO
3 Annunzio, Susan Lucia 2004. Contagious Success. The Penguin Group. New York