Tag Archives: challengingthestatusquo

Change the World: How Ordinary People Can Accomplish Extraordinary Results by Robert E Quinn (2000)

This book is ambitious and as a result paints a clear broad picture of what it takes to be in groups or large systems. Complexity is embraced by the author and therefore his change method is not the norm.

He explains and makes sense of the challenge to focus on the common good (What Quinn also called the ‘journey of collective fulfillment’) for organizations and groups of people. Quinn makes the point that he feels that ordinary people can become profoundly affected as change agents.

I like this book. I recommend it to people that are thinking about how a family, group, organization or big system (like government) moves forward, backwards or becomes stagnant. He makes the point that what seem unchangeable might in fact be changeable. I also like the book because it sets out the kind of tasks and paths that reasonable normal people might benefit from following to move a family, group, organization or big system toward the common good.


Orange . . . Read the Book Too!

“The United States has the biggest prison population in the world – we incarcerate 25% of the world’s prisoners, though we’re only 5% of the world’s population. This reliance’s on prisons is recent: in 1980 we had some 500,000 Americans in prison; by 2010 we have more than 2,300,000 American people locked up. Yes, that’s close to 2 ½ million Americans now!”
Piper Kerman has written a great memoir of for 13 months in the Federal prison system. Many people know about her work because they’ve seen the TV show which was created as a result of this memoir. Yes, Piper Kerman wrote Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison.
I like the TV show AND the book. When I write “like” – it is the kind of appreciation that comes when I am made to think deeply about information and when I find myself caring about something which, previously I hadn’t given much thought to.  I also love good stories with characters that are authentic. Where people grow and evolve.  Where people are complex. All of that and more is happening in the book and the TV series.

If you are interested in learning more about our current American prison system – this book is a place to start. It is the story of one of those many million Americans who have spent or are spending time in prison. It is a story that let us into a world we don’t necessarily know much about. Yet, the world of prison life is huge in America. So, yes – this book and TV series gets us thinking about our country and how we operate.
Kerman sees clearly that “America has invested heavily in prisons, while the public institutions that actually prevent crime and strengthen communities – schools, hospitals, libraries, museums, community centers – go without.”  I see this too and  would add to the list the need for greater resources in responding compassionately and productively to homelessness and community and mental health across the country.

Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman 2010, 2011 is published by Random House and can be bought or checked out of libraries everywhere. The TV show is a NETFLIX original series (Orange is the New Black) is based on the work of Piper Kerman and season three is to begin in the summer of 2015. That gives you lots of time to read the book and catch up on season 1 and 2.
The complexity of the American prison system is important for all of us to think about.  Kerman asserts that we “Over incarceration in America destabilizes families and communities, making life outside the mainstream more likely by limiting opportunities for change. We have a racially biased justice system that over punishes, fails to rehabilitate, and doesn’t make us safer.”

The quotes above can be found on pages 303, 299 and 303 of the paperback of Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman

Focus Forward

Read more about appreciating the present wile setting your sites on a preferred future by checking out these three posts:




Qualities of Effective Collaborators

Appreciate the nature of adult learning


Embrace the uniqueness of each adult and interact in ways that sincerely appreciate and connect with the individual


Celebrate the fact that your work requires effectively listening to and understanding the individuals you serve so that you can help them identify and connect with their specific growth


Respect the complexity individuals face as they explore and address their own growth related to thinking interdependently


Accept that while individuals are learning about and becoming engaged in thinking interdependently this might lead to a real sense of disequilibrium


Reframe and embrace the challenges that present themselves as learning opportunities for those you serve


Establish an appreciation for and understanding of the adaptive and developmental nature of becoming more comfortable and able to initiate and/or engage in interdependent thinking


Acknowledge and remind adults that the transition from mostly thinking independently to often thinking interdependently will take time and will require letting go of old ways and for a time, being unsure of new ways to interact


Support the adult and invite him/her to revisit their motivation (both personal and for the common good) for entering into this potential major change in their approach to interacting, engaging and thinking with others


Maintain a core focus on the individual continuing to increasing his or her ability to listen for understanding – this is a major behavior for those engaged in improving their ability to think together


Articulately and with sensitivity point out your impression (if you hold the perception) that the adult(s) you are assisting seem to be engaging in polite parallel thinking as opposed to the engaging in thinking interdependently


While thinking interdependently individuals must be welcoming, friendly, and sincere


Celebrate the growth of those you serve


It is time for an open conversation about education!


Turning over public assets, disregarding teachers voices and placing products (tests) above all else is, from my perspective, misguided policy.

We all need to stop and think about what we want for our children and for all children and move toward a positive plan.  We all need to do more. More thinking together – more experimenting – more commitment to each learner learning!

AND I think, along the way, we may come to the conclusion that we need more resources.  We may need more resources: to true help children from birth to 5 years old to be nurtured and supported in their growth and development,  to help more students complete K-12 schooling and not drop out, to help families in crisis when children’s learning is threatened as a result of a disruption the family faces and so on.  Our society, all of us, need to make a commitment to the future that places the supported development of all our children as a priority.

I suggest that it is time to talk and listen to each other. It is time to open a national conversation.

How did testing and accountability become the main levers of school reform? ~ Diane Ravitch


We all need to stop and think deeply about what we want for all children.

I am convinced that the ‘easy answer’ of letting narrow products, “tests”, measure the value of schools to our society is foolhardy!  Further, I am convinced that our society needs to be investing in ways to improve education for all children.

Think about this: If you want to help children who are under weight and hungry – you don’t go out and focus on buying scales!