This book: Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds was written in 2017 by adrienne maree brown, a young (in my eyes, under 40 is young) activist who has much to say about contributing and building a brighter future for all.
This book was gifted to me. Gifted is a special way – I had many options on a table of items that meant something to the person who put them on the table. I too had placed something I valued on the table and waited for it to find its new owner. I chose this book because I was attracted to its subtitle – Shaping Change, Changing Worlds. I ‘signed on’ for the mission of ‘Change’ when I was a teenager during the civil rights movement. So, this subtitle spoke to me.
The book is a journey as opposed to a straight path to some very clear predetermined destination. And this journey was one that I found to be very meaningful. I have so much appreciation and respect for the components of the journey that brown took me on.
Her focus is rich. She understands that adaptation has to be intentional when you’re working for change. She is totally respectful of the necessity of interdependence among people and the decentralization of power/control in order for progress to be significant. She gets it, that change is not an event! It is a process and therefore – change agents must be resilient and essentially and deeply committed to focusing on and creating possibilities. Shaping change and changing the world is the work of bringing life to possibilities.
These are all concepts that many of the established leadership resources* focus on and they focus on them in a more formal, researched based manner. I find brown’s presentation to be conversational, situational, inspirational, developmental, and ‘possibility’ oriented. In addition, I see her approach to be authentic and potentially valuable to those wanting to grow their leadership.
I think this book is a good read for any and all people who wish to lead, are leading and/or ready to be a significant be part of forward looking change. As an almost 70 year old white male who has benefited from all forms of privilege to gain both an education and positions of responsibility in my of life – I found this book to be enlightening, challenging and provocative as in causing discussion, thought, even argument). We, all of us, need books like this. This book invites a thinking reader, who is willing to become active, to enter a journey to shape and bring about change.
Brown writes, “I will admit here that even some of my closest loved ones find me naïve for holding a vision of the humanity with no enemies. I can imagine that though, and in fact, it seems like the only viable long-term solution. We need to transform all of the energy we currently put into war and punishment – into creating solutions for how to continue on this planet. The time, the energy, the money – we actually have all of that in abundance. What we lack is will.”
What an important, bold challenge!
This challenge and several others from the book – speak to me loudly. Brown invites new leaders and established leaders to tackle that which many people avoid because they consider the task impossible. She encourages us to create more. She says, “At the human scale, in order to create a world that works for more people, for more life, we have to collaborate on the process of dreaming and envisioning and implementing that world. We have to recognize that a multitude of realities have, do, and will exist.”
She’s right, from my point of view. She gets it that we have to think bigger than we are thinking and we have to act on our determination to arrive at a preferred the future rather than settle for not having all of us move forward into a preferred state.
I recommend this book to people who want to make a difference: People who do want to shape change, people that want to change worlds.
There is no pretense that this book has all the answers. In the introduction she clearly states that this “book is not one that will teach you all about hard science.” It won’t, she is right AND it will present a tapestry of observations, learnings, understandings and sincere inquiry that potentially can fuel you as you contribute to the future.
I hope you enjoy Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds as much as I did.
*As examples – such as: Servant Leadership by Robert K. Greenleaf 2002, The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner 2017, Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, 2002, Appreciative Leadership: Focus on What Works to Drive Winning Performance and Build a Thriving Organization by Diana Whitney, Amanda Trosten-Bloom and Kae Rader, 2010, Leading Change by John P. Kotter, 2012, or The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World by Heifetz, Grashow and Linsy, 2009