Deborah Frieze’s TED Talk on understanding how change happens like living systems which she describes using the Two Loops model that her and Margaret Wheatley created at the Berkana Institute. In this case, as one system begins to die and disintegrate, another newer system emerges and reintegrates itself, giving birth to a new world and a new way of doing things (something which Margaret Wheatley reiterates within her book So Far From Home when she talks about how emergence works within it).
The way we’re trying to change the world is not going to work, and it’s never going to work. I’d like to offer a radical theory of change, based on my experience working around the world with people trying to solve our most pressing problems. This belief turns most of our efforts to fix our world on their heads.
Here it is: you can’t fundamentally change big systems, you can only abandon them and start over, or offer hospice to what’s dying. By big systems I mean education, healthcare, government, business, anything characterized by overorganization, standardization, regulation, and compliance. And I’m saying you can’t undo, fix, reverse-engineer, redirect, or reassign these systems. That’s because they are not machines, they are living systems.Deborah Frieze
Elaborating further, Deborah discusses the various different roles surrounding this Two Loops model, such as the trailblazers which are walkouts from the previous dominant system.
‘Walk outs’ are the trailblazers. These are the folks willing to turn their back on the dominant system, eager to be free to experiment with the future.
If you’re ‘a walk out’, then you’re willing to feel ignored, invisible, and lonely a good portion of the time. That’s because what you’re doing is so new and different, people can’t see you work even when it’s staring them in the face. These can be difficult dynamics to live with, especially when you know you’ve done a good work, that you’ve already solved problems others are still struggling with. That’s why we, ‘walk outs’, need each other.Deborah Frieze
Without a doubt, this trailblazer role is most definitely the one that gravitates to me the most, as it resonates with my journey so far these past couple of decades. Even more so, as I’ve noted before, I find the similarities to the Connecting, Nourishing, and Illuminating stages of this Two Loops model to be remarkably similar to what I’ve articulated as the Connecting, Empowering, and Inspiring stages of Social Creativity.
In this case, in helping to get to this New World, one is leaving the Old World (as the dominant system) and undergoes a process of exploring, navigating, and storytelling to not only reach it themselves but to share and illuminate the way for others to make the journey themselves.