I’m reading a wonderful book called Getting to Maybe, which I highly recommend to anyone working for social change. In very accessible language and through compelling case studies, the book describes the change process based on the interdisciplinary systems view of life. In one chapter, the authors speak of the importance of engaging the “powerful stranger.” They mean the “other,” those people, politicians, organizations, and businesses we often label as the enemy. Progressive activist groups and social innovators are already embracing powerful strangers, realizing that true sustainability cannot be won without them. Here is an excerpt.
Early power and resources for change are often found through connection, through joining together with fellow travellers, like-minded individuals whose chief resources are their passion, their time and their energy. If successful at this stage, the community becomes a movement, which opens the door for confrontation and possibly conflict as those who control larger portions of money, authority and access resist demands for change. If the system is to be transformed as opposed to overturned, collaboration between the radicals and the establishment must be created. If it succeeds, deep shifts in the distribution of resources may occur. Connection, confrontation and collaboration each offer their challenges and have lessons for social innovators.
– from Getting to Maybe, How the world is changed, by F. Westley, B. Zimmerman and M. Quinn Patton.