Friday, March 02, 2018

Agile Democracy

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Whatever your politics, whatever your position, there can be no doubt that the decision over Brexit - the UK's vote to leave the European Union - leaves a feeling of unease. It feels somehow unfit for purpose.

The problem with a vote - much like any decision - is that we can only commit to an intention. We do not vote for the consequences.

In the Brexit case (and, for the record, I remain, a remainer) the national vote was for the intention to leave. It cannot have been for the consequences. These - as with many of our decisions, contained a very great many unknowns which are only unearthed in the practice of folllowing your intent.

There are lessons for anyone trying to make decisions in conditions of ambiguity (by which I mean pretty much anyone in pretty much any live circumstance today under which the setting of clear and definable constraints are absent).

Dealing with ambiguity requires a much more agile approach - a willingness to respond to additional insight learned from your rapid prototyping and testing with those for whom the results really matter..

Even strategy work today is conducted in rapid iterative cycles - rather than the big bang of old. That's because even at the strategic level, elements are moving so fast that the only way to proceed is in rapid, insight-driven increments. Minimum Viable Strategy is tested for fit for purpose in measurable steps,sometimes pivoting towards what evidentially works rather than what the strategy document insists.

This insight-to-value approach is increasingly applied in industry. Decisions aren't of the one-time only variety. Decisions are made based on insights drawn from your last response. You move forward fast, but built on truths. This is how we are dealing with the rapid-shifting realities of a world that can change at the speed of digital (versus that of atoms).

And into this world we ask ourselves a one-time only, never-mind-the-consequences question when it comes Brexit?

It;'s clearly time for a new kind of democratic process - insight-led, rapid iterative democracy..

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?