Engaging All: Strategies for Thriving in Complexity

How to thrive in a world that is becoming more complex. Understanding this complexity is especially relevant when trying to solve social problems.

The 2019 American Express Global Alumni Summit included a livestreamed event featuring Bill Drayton, founder and CEO of Ashoka in conversation with Stacy Palmer, editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Drayton shared his extensive experience in the social sector, and discussed strategies for engaging various stakeholders to thrive in our complex society. This 15-minute Facebook live video offers a compelling sneak peek at the full discussion, which you can find on YouTube at https://youtu.be/i6wt7qDciWs and on LeaderStories at https://LeaderStories.org.

Some highlights:

"How can you fully live life if you aren't expressing love and respect in action?" Drayton asked, noting, "That's what brings happiness. The highest leverage thing you can do is pursue a big pattern change idea, but only if it's in the hands of a great entrepreneur it’s that combination that always drives history. Three-quarters of the Ashoka Fellows have changed the pattern in their field at the national and or international level within five years, so those are measures of systems change.

"All the Ashoka Fellows who are dealing with young people — 90 to 95 percent of them put kids in charge because that's what's more important than the actual activity — where they can change the world. Once you have that, you can do anything.

"The are four essential skills that you need to master to do this: one is cognitive empathy based on working for the good of all: I can feel your pain — we have mirror neurons. It's only when you combine that with the cerebral cortex, so that you have cognitive conscious empathy, that you can then use this to understand that the world that is changing faster and faster — it’s here's more and more interconnected every year, so you need a higher level of that skill.

"Once you have that skill, then you can do the very complex teamwork that's required — fluid, open team-of- teams organization. You can do a new type of leadership — you can do changemaking — you can see into the future and see what the possibilities are.

"It starts with the fact that young children must master and practice cognitive empathy. Every young person needs to know that they're a changemaker because they've done it in their early teens — it's absolutely critical."

Watch the full presentation: