Time for Transformation

November 3, 2009 Leave a comment

I am an admiring fan of angel Kyodo williams and a few weeks ago she called my attention to a powerful blog post she wrote, “doing darkness,” it has been on my mind since.  I invite you to take the time to read and contemplate it.  Angel is inviting us to take a close look at the distinction between change and transformation.  She proposes – and I agree – that while change is something that can be undone with a shift in context, transformation is something that can not be undone.

This proposition appeals to my own commitment to the evolutionary paradigm, and to an idea of social movement that demands our conscious engagement with our own evolution.  Angel’s in an excellent articulation, and so I would rather you give your time to reading her piece than to anything else I could say about it.

However, while we are on the topic of transformation and evolution, I will once again invite us to consider the distinction between adaptive change and technical change.  Ron Heifetz tells us that while technical problems can be solved by an authority or expert because they have a known solution, adaptive problems demand a shift at the level of values, beliefs and assumptions – they demand our transformation.

As I’ve often implied in this space, the social sector is still caught trying to make technical change, the world of social change is still full of experts.  But our historical moment is demanding adaptive change, we are being called to transform, not just change – to define new ways of being and being-with.  This poses a direct challenge to our daily practices and habitual patterns, to the ways structure our work, our organizations and collaborations – this affects how we think of time and how we design our shared spaces.  We can no longer afford to tinker around the edges.

Like Angel says:  “Right now, we must actively, generatively, take rigorous, intentional action towards wholly being that which we envision, and surrender to what we cannot. We must be so that we can become… Let’s do the darkness so that we can all fly together.” I accept her challenge, do you?

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  • Jen Willsea says:

    Thanks, Gibran! I hadn’t thought of making this distinction between change and transformation and I really appreciate it. The nuance is powerful and useful.

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