I never expected to be writing a post in Informal Coalitions based on the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury. But yesterday morning I caught a snippet from Justin Welby’s first Easter sermon, as this was being reported upon during an early-morning radio programme.
It was the following extract that particularly caught my attention:
"I wonder how many people here think that the future will be better than the past, and all problems can be solved if we put our minds to it. There is a general sense that if that is not the case then it ought to be, and someone must be doing something to stop it. Illusion is replaced by disappointment, both wrong.
The hero leader culture has the same faults. A political party gets a new leader and three months later there is comment about disappointment. An economy suffers the worst blow in generations with a debt crisis and economic downturn, and the fact that not everything is perfect within five years is seen as total failure. Complexity and humanity are ignored and we end up unreasonably disappointed with every institution, group and policy, from politicians to NHS, education to environment [my emphasis]."
It struck me that these words of the new head of the Anglican Church provide a much needed ‘reality check’ on the widely held assumptions about how things happen in organizations and wider society. Assumptions, for example, that there is a ‘right answer’ to all of the problems that we face; that ‘doing things better and getting them right’ is all that’s needed to realize the desired future; and, most pervasive, that our fate hinges on the actions of a few ‘special’ individuals.