Matthew Taylor, CEO of the RSA posted an insightful blog post titled Humility of the Intellect, Ambition of the Will, an update on the Antonio Gramsci quote ‘I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will’.
The modern world is volatile, quick moving and complex, and attempts at deliberate, organised change, often from centralised systems like government, rarely work. Matthew discusses how to affect change in this environment, and the conflicting types of system that can stifle innovation or hold back long-term transformation. There two types of the change; the shifting, large, systematic change, and the rapid, innovative entrepreneurial change. The challenge is to find a way of reconciling the two.
Matthew proposes Coordination Theory (based on a Cultural Theory of risk) as a way of analysing the ways in which people do things together and identifies four key approaches: the hierarchical, the solidaristic, the individualistic and the fatalistic. A recent experience of queue jumpers at Vauxhall station is used as an illustration of how these forces interact.
In practicing humility of the intellect and ambition of the will we can use coordination theory to understand and re-imagine systems and to prepare us for the unpredictability of change.