I’m not asking you to do anything new

Sometimes, when you hear the Idea Friendly Method, you think I’m asking you to do a lot of new things. I’m not. You’re doing plenty now, maybe more than enough. And you have the tools you need, right there in that phone in your hand. 

You just need to shift your behaviors. Here’s what I mean.

Old way: Formal
Structured committees, officers, meetings, notes, reports
New way: Informal
Get-togethers, self-organized, idea exchanges, action

Old way: Control
Issuing orders, commands, follow-ups, accountability
New way: Chaos
Trying, acting, talking, duplicating, starting, stopping, retrying, repeating, learning

Old way: Few
Officials, appointments, selections, committees, officers, back rooms, the old guard
New way: Crowd
Lots of people, everyone, anyone who wants to

Old way: Decide
Pick winners, eliminate choices, cut off options, streamline, one “best” way
New way: Test
Experiment, test, try, fail, succeed, partly fail, learn, revise, give up on some things, get better through experience

Old way: Isolated
Meetings with no public attendance, gatekeepers, qualifications, prerequisites, requirements
New way: Connected
Out and present in the community, participating, listening, involving

Old way: BIG
Large projects, big costs, hard to do, long term, difficult to stop
New way: small
Tiny businesses, small steps, little failures, small successes, easy to do, short term, easy to quit if not working

Old way: Failure is bad
Hide failures, don’t talk about them, be embarrassed, remind people of their failures to shame them.
New way: Failure is good
Learn from failure, celebrate good tries, look for lessons, let things go quickly that aren’t working

Start by moving just a few things from the Old Way to the New Way. Instead of voting, run some tests. Instead of keeping minutes, let things happen. Swap out a boring meeting for a fun action session instead. Don’t talk about wanting to be a cleaner town when you could each go sweep your own sidewalk and tag it #CleanYourOwnSidewalkDay on Instagram to generate more public conversation. 

Keep shaping the future of your town, 

PS –  I was astounded how much measurable difference there was in people’s mental well-being when vacant lots in their neighborhood were greened up. The story may be set in a big city, but I’m sure greening up vacant lots is good for small town people’s mental health, too.