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Mapping New Horizons for Change: How does Innovation happen?



The key question is what direction do we want it to go in, and who holds the power to push things in that direction. Personally, powerful communities for me are ones that are confident in their pursuit of change; they know where they want to go and what kind of community they want to be. The challenge is how do we get from one place to another.


What appeals to me about the diagram above is that it shows that innovation can be framed in more than one way as part of the change process. 


There is the status quo - which feels for many like things are just NOT changing fast enough (Horizon 1). Then there is the future that is emerging (Horizon 3); the place many people are trying to get to but seems impossibly far away.


Then there is the transition zone (Horizon 2). It may seem like not much is changing because at first the innovations may seem small - either in ideas or scale, but they are there. This is where Horizon 1 and Horizon 2 start to converge. As more futuristic ideas start to emerge, more starts to happen and ideas scale up and become larger and larger parts of our society. This is when things get exciting though it may seem like innovation is not happening often or fast enough.


Many people see fundamental change needs to happen NOW. I would agree - but the reality is change often takes time. There are early adopters of different ideas that come up, but then it often takes awhile for the rest of us to catch up. Then though, an ‘innovation’ eventually becomes something many of us see as a good idea.


Solar panels on every house (something California has just legislated), all food not sold in stores passed on to those who need it (which new legislation in France now makes possible) and the advent of social enterprises that provide purposeful work for many who otherwise struggle to find work. These are just a few examples of the kind of innovation that can happen in Horizon 2 as we transition from one way of thinking to another.


I would say we still have a long ways to go though to build a truly inclusive society where all people of all abilities and backgrounds are respected and valued, and our environment is seen - not as a background player in our lives - but as the future for us all that it really is (Horizon 3).


Becoming more mindful of what is happening around us though, and understanding the systems of power that can obstruct or move change forward is key. We need to map those systems, and take time to reflect on what is happening around us. We need to know what agenda are being moved forward and what are the values of the people behind various agenda.


Change is difficult, it’s messy and often not in a straight line - but I have hope. There is good stuff happening in the world. It seems sometimes that we are always going two steps forward and one backward - but if we can try to understand what moves these systems and how we can influence them then maybe, just maybe, we can create the world we really want to see and more quickly than we might think.


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