Mental models of change – the cocreative mindset

I’m beginning to realise it is impossible to embrace cocreation if the dominant mental models of change don’t fit, whether at an individual or group level.  I’m also coming to appreciate how rare these models can be.

I am going to start by describing the cocreative mental model of change.



I believe that we are all embedded in complex systems.  We all play a role supporting or shifting these systems, whether consciously or not.  We all have capacity to influence change, through a mix of different levers… it is not only the ‘decision makers’ who have power.  ‘Decision makers’ have clearer and more transparent powers, and they likely have access to some big levers, but they don’t hold unique and unimpeachable influence.  In fact, from my experience working under a Minister in State Government, I know how even the highest ‘decision makers’ are hamstrung by context, political imperatives and conflicting influences.  I love the admission by a CEO who only realised when he was finally appointed to the role, that he half expected to get to his new desk and find a set of magic levers that make everything happen…. only to realise that the CEO’s omnipotence is an elaborate charade.

So what does it mean to look at the world like this?  For one, whoever and wherever we are, we have capacity to influence our world for the better (or worse!).  So whatever we want to see, the change starts here, with us, now.  But it is no use working in isolation… to put this capacity to good use we need to work together – and not just with a band of merry changemakers, but collectively in consonance with the whole rest of the system we seek to change.

“Dancing with others to bring better futures lovingly into being” – this is how I seek to live my life (inspired by Donella Meadows), and it expresses what it is like to work with the mental model I’ve just described.  This is the fundamental disposition of cocreation.

This sums up a mental model of change, of how it happens and how we need to go about applying it (cocreatively).

This is most obvious at an individual, psychological level, but it scales up too – to group cultures, and how we work together in all the sorts of areas that I work in.

In my next post (now up here), I will describe alternative mental models that I have rubbed up against recently, some thoughts on their limitations, and what that means for working cocreatively.

Til then, may you dance lovingly…

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