Cit­i­zens must play part

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - Comment -

I RE­CENTLY WROTE a piece that pro­posed a vi­sion for Bar­ba­dos by 2030. The essence of the article was that we need to treat Bar­ba­dos like a project and have a sin­gu­lar goal that ev­ery­one strives for.

It was that all arms of Gov­ern­ment, busi­ness and civil so­ci­ety align to de­liver Bar­ba­dos as a healthy des­ti­na­tion for the rest of the world through our ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem, trans­porta­tion net­work, health care or­gan­ism and Gov­ern­ment fa­cil­i­ta­tion.

When I thought of the vi­sion and wrote it, it wasn’t in­tended to be an in­tel­lec­tual piece, but ex­actly what I gen­uinely be­lieve needs to hap­pen to trans­form our econ­omy and change our for­tunes as a coun­try, so we can pro­vide a vi­brant fu­ture for the gen­er­a­tions to come.

It re­quires strong lead­er­ship to make it hap­pen, which there­fore means po­lit­i­cal will. Alas, I don’t know that po­lit­i­cal will alone is a re­al­is­tic op­tion or hope for this change to oc­cur.

Active cit­i­zen­ship

I think it is go­ing to re­quire active cit­i­zen­ship. We need enough peo­ple in our com­mu­nity echo­ing this mes­sage un­til it be­comes the only op­tion avail­able that causes the po­lit­i­cal will to emerge.

Active cit­i­zen­ship means peo­ple get­ting in­volved in their lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and democ­racy at all lev­els, from Sandy Lane to Bathsheba to Light­foot Lane – gated com­mu­ni­ties to vil­lages to na­tion­wide ac­tiv­ity. It can be as small as a cam­paign to clean up your street or as big as ed­u­cat­ing young peo­ple about demo­cratic val­ues, skills and par­tic­i­pa­tion.

The cause is very spe­cific; it is about gal­vanis­ing peo­ple around this sin­gu­lar idea of Project Bar­ba­dos. This will re­quire enough cit­i­zens to take re­spon­si­bil­ity to get this mes­sage and ideation mov­ing; build­ing to a mo­men­tum where ac­tion is in­evitable and that is called a tip­ping point.

Mal­colm Glad­well, in his book Tip­ping Point, refers to the three key el­e­ments in cre­at­ing a tip­ping point. They are roles re­quired in the process. All cit­i­zens can find them­selves in one of these roles and all we need is crit­i­cal mass to get it mov­ing.

Your role

Are you a maven, con­nec­tor or sales­per­son? Mavens make change hap­pen through in­for­ma­tion and ideas. These are the peo­ple you ask when­ever you want to know some­thing about any­thing – they’re al­ways the peo­ple in the know. They’re builders, man­u­fac­tur­ers, en­gi­neers, econ­o­mists, process and sys­tem folks. It’s all about the ideas and the in­for­ma­tion.

These are the folks in the process who will val­i­date the facts, mer­its and de­mer­its of how the new econ­omy can work. These are the ones who will do the cal­cu­lus and come to the con­clu­sion that it can work. Mavens, we need you now.

Con­nec­tors make change hap­pen through peo­ple. They gal­vanise peo­ple. They’re nat­u­ral hubs. That’s just the way they’re ori­ented to the world. These are peo­ple who, ev­ery time you ask a ques­tion, start flip­ping through a con­tact list or rolodex in the back of their mind, say­ing: “Who do I know who knows this? Who do I know who has done this? Who do I know that I need to con­nect you with?” They love con­nect­ing you with peo­ple, be­cause they’re all about the peo­ple.

Fi­nally, sales­peo­ple make change hap­pen through per­sua­sion. They can take an idea, make it sticky and ac­ces­si­ble, and po­si­tion it to get a tribe be­hind it.

Sales­peo­ple are your sto­ry­tellers and masters of per­sua­sion. These are the peo­ple who can bor­row your watch and then sell it back to you. They just have this un­canny abil­ity to get you to buy into what­ever they’re sell­ing, whether it’s an idea, a plan, or a prod­uct – it doesn’t mat­ter.

Of course, there will be scep­tics – we are talk­ing about fun­da­men­tal change here – so we need the sales­peo­ple to ar­tic­u­late the mes­sage; break it down.

Make it in­evitable

Folks, if we want to see our coun­try change, now is the time, now is the time to put our shoul­ders to the wheel, our tal­ents, our ed­u­ca­tion and our time.

We do not need to be politi­cians to in­flu­ence or cre­ate change. What is re­quired now is for us to make it in­evitable for our pol­i­tics to change.

Come on mavens, con­nec­tors and sales­peo­ple, let’s do this!

Tri­par­tite model

As in the Nordic Model, Bar­ba­dos has tried the tri­par­tite model of part­ner­ship of Gov­ern­ment, pri­vate cor­po­rate in­ter­ests and labour and ap­par­ently it worked ap­pre­cia­bly well for some time in­cur­ring praise from other places in the re­gion. Eco­nomic stresses since the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis of 2007-2008, per­sonal and in­ter-per­sonal dis­agree­ments and the ab­sence of dy­namic lead­er­ship have all tended to di­min­ish the ef­fi­cacy of the lo­cal so­cial part­ner­ship.

The an­swer to Bar­ba­dos’ prob­lems may be not to fol­low any given ex­ter­nal model, but to draw on best prac­tices from any of a num­ber of given mod­els. There is no short­age of mean­ing­ful indige­nous thought if the cul­ture of our pol­i­tics could be im­proved. The re­cent Stan­dard & Poor’s down­grade men­tioned fail­ures of im­ple­men­ta­tion.

We must get back to lev­els of ef­fi­ciency in do­ing what we know is re­quired. One never tires of quot­ing Lloyd Best’s no­tion that the hin­drances to progress in the Caribbean are not so much tech­ni­cal as cul­tural.

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