Social Change Through Multi-Generational Dialogue
“The root of our global crisis, more frequently than not, is a crisis of leadership” (Pór, 2008a, p. 14). This very well might be the foundation of the difficulties we face as we approach social change globally. We are depending on old paradigms of leadership which fall short of what we need as we organize to address the complexity and challenges of our world. Depending on older leaders who bring forth the knowledge and experience of leading in a world that no longer exists to train and develop emerging leaders is one of the artifacts we need to challenge if we are going to be able to act effectively to create the needed social changes to create a healthy world. Older leaders stand to learn just as much from younger leaders as younger leaders have to learn from older leaders. This paper proposes that we can transform leaders of all ages by bringing them together in multi-generational dialogue to address the pressing questions that we as people, organizations, and societies face now and into the years to come. Pór, a pioneer in collective intelligence, explains the old paradigm as well as what we can expect by changing the paradigm when he explains,
In hierarchy-ridden social institutions [or any organization]….the meaning making function is attributed to the top. Times of exponential expansion of knowledge and complexity call for a new, more capable mode of the social organization of meaning. When this happens, we won’t be drowning in information while longing for wisdom (p. 11).
As we bring generationally diverse leaders into dialogue around questions that are critical to our future, we provide a framework for community intelligence to emerge. And when we add to this a global perspective that understands that all things are interconnected, we have the opportunity for global wisdom of the group to emerge and it is this group wisdom that will provide us the direction to move forward. As group wisdom is one of the important outcomes that this paper hopes to highlight, let’s define what we mean by group wisdom and why it is different than collective intelligence. Atlee and Pór (2006) provide a us with a picture of the difference between collective intelligence and wisdom. They start by explaining that collective intelligence is not always wise and it is wisdom that we need which then leads us into their explanation of collective intelligence and wisdom. They say
In relation to intelligence, wisdom can be viewed as an expanded perspective and motivation that embraces more of the whole of the situation being considered. Collective intelligence is wise, then, to the extent it successfully embraces whole systems in all their complexity and contexts; the interests, capacities and perspectives of all stakeholders and of the systems, themselves; full, relevant, and nuanced information about the situation; the whole of who we are as human beings; any emergent realities and creative possibilities; and so on. The more that intelligence — whether individual or collective — embraces the whole of relevant reality, the wiser we can consider it to be.