Growing up: The New Paradigm & The Jujitsu of Introducing the New Mindset
By Bill Drayton
Because the rate of change has been accelerating exponentially since at least 1700 (a mathematical fact), society is now very probably at a profound tipping point. In a world where everything is changing, everyone must become a changemaker. And everything must be organized very differently. No person, no society can afford to fall behind in grasping this.
Enabling society and all its groups and people to see this new strategic environment and what it means for every aspect of their lives is now the Ashoka community’s central goal. Because Ashoka is a community of 3,000 of the world’s best social entrepreneurs and many more entrepreneurial allies, young changemakers, and changemaker schools/universities/companies (and through Changemakers.com hears from and is open to all), it is uniquely positioned to see, speed and help this new world come together as wisely as possible.
Collaborative entrepreneurship, a giant and never-seen-before step beyond the solo entrepreneur, is what makes this possible. There follows brief introductions to the “everyone a changemaker”™ (EACH) world and to how collaborative entrepreneurship works. Together they make a new paradigm for growing up necessary and possible.
Everyone a Changemaker
There has always been some, at least, evolutionary change. But it has been so slow and each instance so isolated, that society has been organized for efficiency in repetition at increasing scale (think the assembly line and law firm -- both only roughly a century old). It was efficient for people to learn one thing and do that for the rest of their lives, be it as a baker or a banker. Education and institutions, with their walls and direction by a very few, have long been organized accordingly.
However, after three centuries of exponential increases in the rate of change, these arrangements are breaking down.
The new game—“change begets and accelerates change” as each element that changes bumps all the others around it—is not just different from, but is the exact opposite of the old “repetition reinforces repetition” paradigm.
A successful organization in the future must be a fluid (no walls!), open team of teams—with synapses/synergies flowing in every direction from every point (rather like the brain). Because every such team is serving a kaleidoscope of constantly changing, interconnected groups and needs, it must constantly change its membership and their roles.
These teams won’t be able to afford members who are not changemakers. A team isn’t a team unless each member is initiatory and takes into account and acts to help the team and its members in fast-changing circumstances. And the value of envisioning and developing new and better futures and opportunities in an everything changing and interconnected environment is increasing exponentially.
There will still be repetitive work, but it is declining as fast as the centrality of change is accelerating. (Artificial intelligence, technology, the algorithm, and the web are now fast replacing jobs previously thought safe: CAD/CAM replaced 40 percent of what architects did, lidar has just replaced 85 percent of archeologists’ field work, etc.)
“The only way to become a changemaker is to be one…12 through 20.”
Any child or young person today who is not actively developing the complex, difficult, learned skills that will enable him or her to be a changemaker has a grim future. Most of the “repetition-is-enough” jobs they see now will very soon be gone. Not ensuring that s/he has these skills—and the confident self-identity as a changemaker—before age 21 today constitutes parental and educational malpractice.
Growing Up: The New Paradigm
What must children and young people master to be able to contribute and prosper in the “everyone a changemaker” world?
The new paradigm for growing up and education is:
Every child must master cognitive empathy, and every teen must be practicing changemaking (empathy, teamwork, new leadership, changemaking).
This is a statement of what is needed in a world defined by accelerating change. There are many different ways, and combinations of ways, of achieving these goals. The subset of 700 Ashoka Fellows focused on children and young people almost all have large scale, successful solutions. Once society focuses on these goals, the number of approaches and tools will multiply dramatically.
This new paradigm is very much like the equally fundamental decision of a century ago that every person must master written language. The increasing complexity and knowledge content of society required it. The need and therefore the goal was clear. It triggered generations of rich research and argument about how best to reach the goal. But acceptance of the goal was not dependent on how it was to be done.
Because children are different from young people (viz. the timing of confirmations, bar/bat mitzvahs, and many tribal rites—not to mention current brain mapping), it is important to define the skills to be mastered at each stage.
Children: Cognitive Empathy
Children, as young as possible, must master cognitive empathy and then practice it steadily at play, in class, and at home.
Cognitive empathy is a major step beyond the “I feel your pain” empathy that even elephants have. It is a very complex skill indeed. It requires you to observe yourself understanding all those around you, layers out, further and further into the future (as it comes at you faster and faster)—and now not just in a few stable contexts (family, job, religious community), but in a kaleidoscope of interconnected, changing contexts. And then you must, using this understanding, be guided by empathy-based ethics in order to do as little harm and as much good as possible.
“The ultimate test of success is: What proportion of 21-year-olds confidently know they are changemakers.”
We almost all have the capacity to do this. We have the mirror neurons and cerebral cortex required. However, we must learn these skills every bit as much as is true for literacy.
Any child who does not master this skill will be cast out. There is nothing more cruel or harmful.
The faster the world changes, the less rules cover. They haven’t been defined; they are changing; and/or they are in conflict.
One cannot now be a good person by diligently following the rules. No matter how hard a person tries, if s/he doesn’t have cognitive empathy, s/he will hurt people and disrupt groups. Then s/he is gone. If you hurt me, I don’t want you anywhere near, no matter how much chemistry or computer science knowledge you have.
This pattern, which is playing out all across the world, is hugely destructive. It is increasing prejudice. It is building hopelessness, depression, illness, anger, division. It is a major factor in worsening income distributions across the globe.
Moreover, without this foundational skill, the young person at the following developmental stage will not be able to build and practice the next and also complex, learned skills needed to be a changemaker—teamwork, new leadership, and changemaking.
When children become young people, they are fully able to have their own dream, build a team, and change their world (their school or community). The moment they do so, they achieve their power—for life.
“Most of the repetition-is-enough jobs they see today will very soon be gone.”
Today’s great entrepreneurs almost all changed their world in their teens. That’s true for Richard Branson and for over 80 percent of the Ashoka Fellows.
When you next talk to a true entrepreneur, ask him/her when s/he first built something—and watch his/her eyes closely. When s/he thinks back to this moment, the time when s/he first had his/her power, you will see just how central, how magic this moment is.
Once you know you are a changemaker and can lead others to change things, you will seek out the problems others try hard not to see. With each new initiative, your skill and confidence as a changemaker grows. You never need be afraid. And all through life you will have the power to express love and respect in action at ever more significant levels—and this, as both the prophets and scientists say, is what brings health, longevity, and happiness.
We know we can enable almost every young person to be a changemaker. Almost all the 700 Ashoka Fellows (of the 3,000 total) who are focused on children and young people put them in charge—almost always with dramatic results. Even traditional test scores jump up.
Ashoka’s Youth Venture has enabled whole townships and groups of townships to tip so that incoming middle school students enter an “everyone a changemaker” culture where there are many examples of student-created groups and where they are encouraged to dream, organize a team, and change their world. And thereby enrich and further strengthen their school’s culture of youth competence and confidence. Indeed, Ashoka’s Youth Venture’s goal is to ensure that every young person has this opportunity and encouragement.
The only way to become a changemaker is to be one and practice and practice all four skills in the youth years of 12 (sometimes younger) through 20. These four skills are:
1. Cognitive empathy.
2. Teamwork, which must be for more sophisticated and fast moving in a fluid, open team of teams world.
3. A very new model of leadership, fitted to an everything changing world of teams of powerful self-initiating changemakers. The key skills are: Envision, enable, ensure.
4. Changemaking—in all roles.
The ultimate test of success is: What proportion of 21-year-olds confidently know they are changemakers (“have their power”) and in fact have mastered the four skills combined together?
The Jujitsu: Collaborative Entrepreneurship
Once any parent or educator or policy leader recognizes the urgency of achieving these goals, he or she can bring to bear a rich set of proven tools. From the Fellows and many others.
And yet very few children and young people are being given these keys to the future. Most parents and educators are simply not aware of the issue.
How many elementary school principals know that they are failing if even one second-grader has not grasped cognitive empathy and if all the students are not practicing it? How could they—since they are evaluated in terms of test scores (knowledge transfer) and ruliness (no mayhem in the hallways)?
What is needed now is changing the world’s mindset, the way everyone sees where society is going and therefore the changes they must make for themselves, their organizations—and the children and young people about whom they care.
To thus tip the world one must tip 9 or 10 key parts of the world. Then one must bring the power of collaborative entrepreneurship to bear in each of these places. Here are the key steps:
A critical mass of hundreds of leading social entrepreneurs commit their lives to bringing big change to an area. None of them do this lightly. Their collective decision is a critical open source Geiger counter reading that a field is ripe for major change.
One looks for cross-cutting patterns.
And then, keeping in mind the team of teams and “everyone a changemaker” architecture of the future, one moves from present-day patterns to defining the new paradigm for the future.
But a wonderfully attractive, win-win future is not enough. One must define the jujitsu lever that will enable the team of social entrepreneurs to change the vast and conservative world of schools and parents profoundly. Even together, the entrepreneur(s) are a very small force vis a vis the world needing change. How, even just in the four percent of the world that is in the US, would the entrepreneurs there ever be able to change even America’s 80,000 elementary schools if they tried to do so directly?
The key to the jujitsu is sharp, determined focus.
First, what are the least number of forces one must catalyze into interaction in order to generate a chemistry that is rapidly self-multiplying and that progressively draws in yet more forces.
Then, for each of these core forces, one must very carefully select groups where there is a strong team fully committed to the ultimate and also the key building block goals. This team is a partner in a team of teams, not a franchisee to be given a formula or a curriculum.
Finally, one must help the emerging team of teams envision the goal, enable it and all its members to entrepreneur successfully at a high level, and together ensure that the tipping take place because it has everyone in the team of teams helping everyone and the whole team succeed.
For the “Every Child Must Master Empathy” (“Empathy”) program, Ashoka has been applying this jujitsu in the US for almost two years. The Youth Venture program for teens, with long, rich prototyping experience including tipping individual schools and townships, is now joining this Empathy jujitsu approach. Given growing success in the US, the other continents are now moving rapidly to follow. (They are already adding new ideas.)
“How many principals know they are failing if even one second grader has not grasped cognitive empathy.”
The triggering first phase of the jujitsu is critical. It involves three core forces. Here’s the US progress so far:
A dozen Ashoka Fellows are co-leading and another forty are contributing. Their work is enriched; they are hugely effective with the other actors; they love entrepreneuring at this peak level of their field and together; and this collaboration is greatly strengthening the Ashoka fellowship.
So that the jujitsu will soon have models representing all of America’s diversity of types of schools, students and communities, Ashoka is seeking out and carefully screening 60 out of the 80,000 elementary schools for the Empathy program. (Some of these schools serve the same purpose for the Youth Venture teen second half of the work.) At the beginning of the 2013 school year half that number had applied, passed Ashoka’s screening, and become Changemaker Schools and partner teams in the jujitsu’s team of teams. The other half should be on the playing field before summer. The criteria for selection beyond diversity are:
The school has a track record of leading change. The effort needs all its member teams to be effective!
There is a team in the school each of whose members fully understands and believes the “everyone a changemaker” new strategic environment and therefore knows that it is critical for every child to master cognitive empathy (i.e., that it is not just one of a dozen nice things to do) and that they have an opportunity to play on a very big stage because their helping lead this change is critical for their school, community, and country as well as for their students.
Thirty “maven” writers and publishers where there is a team, whose members, like those in that of a Changemaker School, truly see the very big story that these transitions constitute and, using this lens, help those who follow them see this news and what it means for them.
These three forces, as they come together, are enough to trigger the tipping process.
The publishers have a story once the schools are demonstrating the feasibility and power of the new paradigm and are on fire carrying this word. The writers and publishers, and Ashoka Fellows leverage the schools and the champions within. The Ashoka Fellows are highly credible and effective with both—and their work benefits from both.
This triggering mechanism is already drawing in other mutually synergistic forces that are feeding the fire. They include three graduate schools of education who know it is strategic to be ahead of this fast-moving new paradigm. You should have seen the spark in one dean’s eyes when he realized that probably—and not too far in the future—tens of thousands of schools will be scrambling to learn how to be effective in this new game and that his school might be one of the first that will be ready to help. Five other graduate schools of education have since expressed their interest.
“Soon school boards will be asking their principals: ‘Why aren’t we doing this?’”
The engagement of these graduate schools reinforces the Ashoka Changemaker Schools, the publishers, and Ashoka Fellows immediately. And their research will help as well—for example by producing better measures of empathy than bullying rates.
This new definition of talent has also drawn in a very well known giant consulting firm and a number of its major corporate clients. Yet more reinforcement for all the other actors and vice versa.
In another year or so, some parents will be asking schools, “How good are you at empathy and enabling students to practice changemaking?” And some principals will be saying, “Come here because we’re great at what really matters.” Soon school boards will be asking their principals, “Why aren’t we doing this?”
From that point the tipping process to a new mindset typically accelerates explosively.