Transforming A Society Through Values-Based Actions

“To aim at our best possible future, we need to focus on what unites us as a society, which are our core values, and make an effort to set aside what separates us, which are our judgments, beliefs, and behavioral habits”.

In the first part of this article, I wrote about the study of values that Barrett Values Centre (BVC) made for Venezuela, and what the values of the country's Current Culture were. They also measured the Cultural Entropy index, and explained how the 72% index that the country has, rightly explains that its chaotic situation “is generated by the self-serving, fear-based actions of the leaders. I also wrote how, with a change in leadership, a large part of the so-called Civil Society will be able to travel the route that the country has to follow for a successful material reconstruction of the nation.

However, it is not enough to reconstruct the country materially. That would be like building an edifice without bases, eventually it will collapse. In order to build the country that everyone wants, we have to do it over a solid base, one made of values, and the rest will fall into place. The same BVC study recommends, “Immediate consideration should be given to cultural and structural transformation, and leadership development. It is important to reduce the level of entropy to 5%-10% to improve performance “.

Our country’s leaders

We live in a failed society, created by the self-serving, fear-based actions of the leadership”. That type of leader does not have the moral authority to demand of the citizens a behavior based on values. Just as a citizen cannot demand of a leader an irreproachable behavior, when his own leaves a lot to be desired. We need to be coherent, since building a country practically from its ashes is a shared responsibility. Our leadership has so far proven that a society run on opportunism, protagonism, selfishness, terrorism, and so many other “isms”, ends up in chaos to say the least. If we continue waiting for their much-needed change, we all will be dead before they do it.

We cannot afford to do that, we have to act now. We need to bring a consciousness of values and self-reliance to the people, in order for them to take the initiative in the solution of their everyday problems. Sooner than later, the leadership will realize that something is changing. When a group of people becomes aware of their values and of their rights, they will form a front that will eventually cause the disintegration of the current state of affairs, allowing the emerging of a new reality that incorporates all of the society´s sectors. That is quite different than allowing a messianic leader to impose his vision on the rest.

Values of the Desired Culture

Additionally, BVC presents the Desired Culture, composed of the set of values ​​desired by the Venezuelan people.

The values ​​expressed in the Desired Culture represent an opportunity to establish conversations and build agreements. They are the foundation stone of the construction of a new society. They are:

• Quality of life

• Values ​​Awareness

• Compliance with the law

• Human rights

• Freedom of expression

• Opportunities

• Social justice

• Environmental awareness

We all want a more participatory and supportive society, built on fundamental values, which provides quality of life, opportunities for personal and professional growth, health, education, freedom of expression, and honest and fair treatment of its citizens. A society committed to respecting the law, human rights and the environment. One leader cannot do it alone. Neither can a single political party do it. This effort is the responsibility of the majority of the citizens. Everyone must give something for the benefit of the collective, because after all, this is a citizen's responsibility and effort.

Richard Barrett expresses that “The main difference between values ​​and beliefs, is that the latter tend to separate us, while values ​​unite us”.

To aim at our best possible future, we need to focus on what unites us as a society, which are our core values, and make an effort to set aside what separates us, which are our judgments, beliefs, and behavioral habits.

Our best possible future

This is a new territory for everyone, for the Venezuelan leadership and for the people. To travel this territory successfully, we need to be more reflective than ever in our citizen behavior. We must be honest with ourselves and with others, detaching ourselves from our judgments and bad habits, which are what have brought us to the place where we are in this moment in time.

All of us need to let go of complaining, blame, and of the use of conflict and aggression as a way to relate to others, allies and adversaries alike. This is a deliberate and conscious effort requiring that we place our attention, not so much on what others do, but on what we do regarding the way that we treat other people. If this is difficult to do it at the individual level, just think about doing it at the collective level.

Nevertheless, there is a social technology that has been developed by Otto Scharmer, Senior Lecturer at MIT, upon two decades of research at that academic institution. He has trained close to 100.000 change makers worldwide through the MOOC course u.lab: Leading From The Emerging Future. Therefore, massifying this knowledge in Venezuela should be a challenge not impossible of achieving.

Our place in building that future

Theory U shows how individuals, teams, organizations and large systems can build the essential leadership capacities needed to address the root causes of today’s social, environmental, and spiritual challenges”.

Theory U provides a structured educational model that integrates three elements:

1. A framework for seeing the blind spot of leadership and systems change

2. A method for implementing awareness-based change: process, principles, practices

3. A new narrative for evolutionary societal change: updating our mental and institutional operating systems (OS) in all of society’s sectors

Theory U works; we have tested it on the field. I will explain it in more detail in the paragraphs ahead. The trainings that we have given so far have produced very encouraging results. We have measured the change of attitude with questionnaires taken by the participants at the beginning and at the end of the trainings. We have also measured the effectiveness of the trainings by the number of social prototypes made by the participants at the end of the course. Theory U mass training is a very affordable and quick way to make a social system see itself, and based on that awareness, to take the necessary actions to address the root causes of their challenges.

However, in order to do it at the level required by the transformation of a society, many pieces have to fit together: an organized effort, lots of work, committed teams of change makers, follow up, feedback, funding, and the alignment of the different social actors that integrate that society. This is not going to be easy, we are only at the beginning of that process, but we firmly believe that by aiming to attain a compound growth in the months ahead, we will eventually reach a critical mass of change makers whose works will speak by themselves.

The future is now

This has been an opportunity to learn and reflect for all, let us do something positive with that. There are many people working in the future of the country now, without waiting for a change of regime or of the leadership. We, the co-hosts of the Caracas Ulab Hub, Marietta Perroni, Maria Antonieta Angarita and myself, believe that the future is now. For this purpose, we have made strategic alliances with Barrett Values ​​Centre, Opción Venezuela and the Metropolitan University of Caracas (UNIMET) to carry out the “Híkola Project” (Life Energy in Yanomami language).

The “Hikola Project”

Through our “Híkola Project” we aim to insufflate new life into the venezuelan society. To that effect, we designed the program “U Leadership for Social Transformation and Innovation”, in order to train social changemakers in the tools and methodology of Theory “U”, empowering them to address the issues and challenges that they experience at their communities. We have trained more than 150 change agents from September 2017 to date. They are members of NGOs and of educational communities belonging to all levels of the educational system — preschool, primary and high school, special education, and universities. The institutions and the participants belong to the different social and economic strata of the Venezuelan society.

We are interested in having a very diverse mix of educational and social backgrounds among the participants, so that they share experiences and learnings with their teammates, who are people with whom they would not have the opportunity to interact in their day-to-day reality. We also believe that the educational communities are the nuclei where the transformation of a society originates. Our goal is to double the number of trainees by the end of this year, and to continue growing, in order to create a thriving community of changemakers that will be the core element (Hikolas) of a deep transformation of the Venezuelan society. More about Híkola Project in a next installment. This story is just beginning.

With love

Helio Borges

Helio Borges is a bilingual (Spanish- English) writer. He writes about Personal Growth, Spirituality, Psychological Wellbeing, and Organizational and Social change. He has an experience of more than 20 years in Change Management in organizational settings. He is a member of the community of changemakers who uses the “Theory U” methodology, created by Otto Scharmer Senior Lecturer ofMIT. He co-hosts the Caracas u.lab Hub in Venezuela. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Boston University. He is an Ontological Coach, Positive Psychology and Theory “U” workshop facilitator and speaker.

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