Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Mintzberg's Modest Proposal

For decades, Henry Mintzberg has taught enlightened business management at McGill. Yesterday, in the Globe and Mailhe turned his attention to the management of the world. The major office holders, he wrote, are not enlightened. The problem we all face is how to survive these bullies:

We are in an era of bullies – Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Rodrigo Duterte and the rest – unless people concerned about this planet and our progeny do something. What can we do? Since the usual is not working, how about the impossible – at least seemingly so? After all, if Donald Trump can be elected President of the United States, surely anything is possible.

So Mintzberg  makes a modest proposal:

Imagine a Peace Council, made up of democratic nations with no nuclear weapons and no recent history of belligerence. Of course, this idea is impossible – so long as our thinking remains stuck in the existing world order. But if such a grouping was called together by a respected authority (Pope Francis, perhaps?) and vested with legitimacy by concerned people around the world, the whole thrust of international relations could change.

Bear in mind one clear message of the Trump, Brexit, Bernie Sanders and other votes: that a great many regular people are now prepared to act on the resentment they feel. The trouble is that, not knowing where to turn, many have vented their anger ineffectually. Mr. Trump may prove to be an awful choice for the people who elected him.

What if, to replace the deceptive rhetoric of populist politicians, a coalition of prominent NGOs – including, for example, Amnesty International, Greenpeace and Doctors Without Borders – issued a compelling vision, around which concerned people everywhere could coalesce: a vision for balance across economic, political and social interests.

After all, the particular concerns of these NGOs – human rights, degradation of the environment and health services in disaster zones – have common cause, namely a world out of balance in favour of narrow, economic interests. With such a vision, concerned people could organize in their communities, and use the social media to connect around the world.

Impossible, you say? Perhaps. But extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary solutions. And Mintzberg's proposal makes solutions possible: 

This could create a global groundswell for the restoration of decency and democracy. They could constrain globalization where it challenges legitimate national sovereignties, while targeting countries for their atrocities and boycotting organizations for their wrongdoings. And who better to get behind initiatives for global decency and democracy than Canadians, with our history of peacekeeping and of so many renowned figures who stood up for a better world?

Something to think about. 

Image: dreambignorth.com


The Mound of Sound said...

If we don't find some fix, some antidote, we'd better prepare for a war like we've never known.

Toby said...

Isn't that the point of the Leap Manifesto? Good ideas abound. The problem, as I see it, is that people are far more likely to coalesce around a bad idea than a good one.

Owen Gray said...

The red flags are all over the place, Mound. With Trump's spike in military spending and his cut in domestic spending, it's pretty clear that he's itching for a fight.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Toby. There's a myth about that bullies solve problems. The truth is that they make problems worse.

Steve said...

Power grows out of the barrel of a gun. This has been true for humans since we figured out how to use gunpowder. Pre powder power was massive armies. Today power is all economic. So for Canada our first shot should be to tax the heck out of non resident property owners.

Steve said...

The law of diminishing returns is one economic theory that deserves to be called a law. For the US more military spending is so wasted it boggles the boggled.

Owen Gray said...

I'm sure that suggestion would draw lots of controversy, Steve.

Owen Gray said...

It's just another indication, Steve, that -- as Bill Clinton said -- Trump doesn't know much.