On my Facebook feed this morning, I encountered a university prof asking how to talk to his students about the ISIL crisis and a young person posting a link to a non-mainstream talk show that discussed the middle-east history, and the impact of post-colonialism and geo-politics. Heady stuff. Both these posts made me happy because it showed some people are considering responses carefully and educating themselves in this complex situation rather than reacting with the most immediate emotion: anger.
Which got me to thinking. As a management consultant, how would I approach the problem? First, for me, the short-term actions are out of scope. With the speed of responses like bombing and anti-Islamic rhetoric, governments are taking the lead. We can speak out but voices will be lost or won’t make much of a positive impact on the global stage. I will leave that to others. The mid-term responses will be handling the fall-out from the short-term action – so I would want to focus my efforts on the long-term strategy.
So – thinking long-term, what would be a uniquely Canadian response to this international crisis and something we could lobby our government for regardless of political stripes? Can we acknowledge that Canada does not have to do what our allies do? Can we have our own long-term solutions that are authentically Canadian and that respect Canadian values and yet go beyond the term “peacekeeping”? Think big picture: remember the Peace Corps and Katimavik? We can make it what we think it should be.
For me – long-term investment in education and dialogue can make a difference based on facts not just opinions. But what does that mean and how to do it? The following are what I suggest could be elements in the process …and you know how I love a good process. I will leave it open for others to add to the elements and discuss how they might approach the problem. I’ll gather them all up and put together in a letter our local MP and our PM. You can email me or leave a comment below.
Framework for Developing a Canadian Response to International Tensions
1.) Name the problem
I am not sure what the problem statement is exactly but I teach my students not to jump to solutions because the problem statement frames the solution. So a problem statement might be framed as a question like “How can Canada be a global leader in conflict resolution and enact measurable change on the world stage?” In framing the question, then the possibilities for answering that question will, over time and with facilitated leadership, reveal themselves. Further, the definition of “measurable change” will become evident.
2.) Open Dialogue
The best problem statements come out of team work. How would you frame the question?
Once we have a question framed, then there would have to be work to determine how to address the problem. That means funding (yes, money!) an open online and in-person dialogue with Canadians about on what the problem statement is and fund (yup, money, resources, time!) an open dialogue with Canadians about their ideas on how we could enact long-term change nationally and internationally.
I would want to find and fund our best thinkers in the field, nationally and internationally. Have them inform the discussions with facts. Have them help us define what the measurables are. What needs to be changed and how will we know if change happened? What does success look like?
Once that work is done – well, there has to be an action plan that ensures funding (oh, that dirty word again) is available for implementation of long-term programs that address the problem statement. OK, I hate jumping to conclusions and am breaking my own rules but right off bat, but I can envision exchange programs for Canadian and international youth, engaging with United World Colleges like Pearson College of the Pacific and Humanitarian Studies like Human Security and Peacebuilding at Royal Roads University. Whatever it ends up being, intent to implement is only demonstrated with allocated resources. And we all know resources can be shifted around – it all depends on priorities.
You can see how I think – use a process, define the scope, do the research, then find a space that is unoccupied and fill it. Sounds a lot like consulting process: engagement, diagnosis, action planning, implementation, termination. But really, if we want to create our own Canadian response to international events, it starts with our intention and framing the problem. Why not? How hard can it be?
Thanks for the read and I hope you will leave some suggestions on improvement of the question and outcome. And btw – this blog is moderated so to the haters: don’t bother.
Here are some more photos from Kristen Cook’s http://thehlrproject.tumblr.com/that I love and that invoke that good old Canadian roadtrip, take it on, get messy feeling.