Citizens must play part
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.
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.
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!
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.