5/13/2010

Outsiders = Change?

Posted by MJ

Interesting cross-post appears in Buffalo Rising today from an article by Aaron M Renn.

...I think the essential third ingredient is true outsiders. You need them, and you need enough of them that they a) don't get beaten down by the man, so to speak and b) that they become a base of support for change in their own right. Once this group becomes large enough, it opens up the field of possibilities. They have the insights and different ideas from having lived elsewhere. They aren't bought into the status quo or burdened by the baggage of the past. They are willing to question they way things are done. They are more likely to want change.
In short, outsiders are the natural constituency for the new. That's why outsiders are so important for a community to change, and why absent enough newcomers, change is difficult if not impossible.
Intriguing evidence of how this works in practice comes from a BYU study. Researchers found that teams working on problems were more likely to reach a successful conclusion when there was at least one socially distinct newcomer. It's definitely worth reading and hints to me that the critical mass might not be that big. A little leaven...
How many of us travel to places, see the different ways they function and what they accomplish, only to come back "home" and get beaten back by "that can't happen here", "it will never work", etc? Or maybe we already have that futility ingrained in us? How do we accumulate the critical mass for positive change?

Coming from an engineering back ground I've seen the positive effects of "outsider" input on a situation and and the negative effects of blocking out all "outside" ideas. There is no shame in considering another idea superior even if our initial human response is feeling defensive.  There is also no better feeling than being the one to submit that idea from time to time, as rare a sit may be ;). My favorite places to work have been those where people have always worked toward the best idea instead of just blindly defending their own. My goal is to live in a similar type of place.

A favorite song quote of mine is:
...even the blind change their views...
and you will see mine change from time to time as I am presented with new ideas.

This blog has always been intended as a discussion for all: from the Lockport Lifers to the Outsiders. The hope is somewhere along the way we develop new ideas and find a way to get them implemented on our way to making Lockport a great place to live.

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