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Enabling Sustainable Global Transformation

Enabling (Personal to Global) Meaningful Transformative Sustainable Change: A Deep Leadership – Social Ecology – Psychosocial Perspective – Oct 2017 – Sydney – Centre for Sustainability Leaders

My experience is that we all have stories about things that achieved some level of success in ‘making things better’, and some things that, on reflection, were probably a waste of effort. After 50+ years of working with ‘progressive change’, and reflecting on the processes involved, I would like to share with you 10 strategies that work (especially in conjunction with one another), and that I believe we need to do more of – and support these ideas with some personal examples. You will see how different they are from the usual approaches and recommendations, such as: funding research, writing Ministers, demonstrating/protesting, donating money, etc. These are not ‘bad’ things to do – but they are likely to be more effective if they are emergent from the sort of things I have listed below – not as ‘first actions’, which often just enable us to ease our pain and frustration, let off steam, blame others, delegate action to others, etc.

  1. Publicly (and selectively) communicate successes to enable their spread – and have a daily/weekly practice of doing this – and promote such sharing (this may require overcoming fears of being seen as a ‘tall poppy’!)
  1. Reframe ‘problems’ as ‘indicators of maldesigned and mismanaged systems’ that require creative redesign – rather than as ‘enemies’ to be eliminated by curative interventions – and continue to develop and apply your ‘design skills’ (in every area)
  1. Meet people who need to change where they are; ask them ‘strategic questions’ and listen to their stories (rather than telling them what to do); and, with them, identify their doable next steps (however small) – avoid dreaming up ‘Olympic-scale programs’ that are unlikely to ever be implemented, and also programs to ‘measure problems’ (‘monitoring-our-extinction’ research! – one of the commonest institutional strategies for avoiding and postponing action)
  1. Model what you are advocating – and acknowledge and ask for forgiveness for your ‘failures’ in doing this
  1. Adopt a person with positional power, and provide them with a second chance at developing to their full potential
  1. Look for areas of success, and see if the factors involved can be applied in areas desperate for such success
  1. Identify effective potential mentors – contact them, learn from them, and offer to help them
  1. Communicate with and thank those who have helped you throughout your life – and map and record these experiences and their influences – and share your stories with others (including your children, if you have any)
  1. Recognise ‘opposition’ as possible indicators of psychological wounding – and of subconscious cries for help – not as ‘enemies’ to argue with – so listen well to clearly identify their needs, and do what you can to enable them to get their needs met (and heal their hurts)
  1. Consider the complexity of the key interrelated influencing factors involved in any situation (avoid the deceptive simplicity of seeing any single factor as being the cause) – and critically select the ‘keystone’ one(s) to work with


Emeritus Professor Stuart B. Hill, Foundation Chair of Social Ecology,stu mirror 
School of Education (includes previous School of Social Ecology & Lifelong Learning),


Western Sydney University (Kingswood Campus)
Locked Bag 1797, PENRITH, NSW 2751, AUSTRALIA   
Location: Building KI, Room K-2-19A, Kingswood Campus 
P: +61 (0)2 4736-0799 | Ext: 2799 (Kingswood staff only) | Fax: -0400
Email: Web:

Founding Co-Editor: Journal of Organic Systems: 
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