If policy and good intent were enough our streets will soon be paved with gold, but there are real impediments to progress that we have to sweep aside now. While I find great richness of talent and ideas in schools, neighbourhoods and workplaces in every corner of this country these are usually whispered – not shouted. Then, if ideas are heard they are too often thwarted by an overburdening and risk-averse management culture.
I have given over 10,000 citizens a chance to nominate and discard our most dispiriting words and phrases: “It’ll never work” “I’ll have to speak to my manager” ‘That’s the way we do it” and “I can’t” always score highly.
We need to radically transform our approach in four key areas
1. Show real leadership and release people to think big, act and make mistakes – how many of our greatest talents have had to leave these shores to thrive.
2. Get schoolchildren as early as seven, involved in shaping our neighbourhoods – More colour? Let’s just do it.
3. Create a language that’s clear, affirming and lifts spirits. “Let’s tackle poverty” disempowers. “Let’s create new richness” is a call to action. ‘New Scot’ is better than ‘immigrant.’
4. Speed up decision-making and make things happen quickly – action builds belief. 24 hours to pedestrianise a street in Brazil’s Curitiba. Fantastic!
It’s time to beat off the ‘complexity sellers’ and release those ideas and energies that if ignored will drop into obscurity and deepen cynicism.