It’s Week One of U.Lab, my online course in Transforming Business, Society and Self. I am up to my digital eyeballs in video links, personal profiles and course syllabi. Amid all the overwhelm and general excitement, a single sentence stopped me short:
If you want truly to understand something, try to change it.*
I certainly spent the last half dozen years experiencing the truth of that statement.
In my former iteration, I was chief operating officer of a national non-profit devoted to support, education and advocacy. I worked in the “national” office of this very grassroots enterprise. Their collective entrepreneurial free spirits notwithstanding, along the way members asked for more structure and standardization. It was my job to make that happen. This was no small thing. I’d been with the organization a long time and I probably knew it better than most. But only by working to move the needle did I really come to understand the complexity of its underlying systems, the depth of its members’ passions, the power of its untapped potential.
Which brings me back to the potency of what I think U.Lab will have to offer and why I’m so excited to be undertaking this journey with 28,000+ people from across the globe. How cool is it that so many people in so many places are making time to think — deeply — about what future they want for themselves, their communities, the world? And how even more cool is it that Scotland is using the course to engage the entire country in participatory dialogue and future-shaping?
Forget fear, forget doubt: change is a comin’.
*Kurt Lewin, known as one of the modern pioneers of social, organizational and applied psychology — and my new hero.