When technological, economic or social changes are transforming society, but effective mechanism to shape these transformations are missing, crises can occur. Transformative Change Making (TCM) introduces a new method to create the societal buy-in needed to tackle such transformation crises. FES India has developed a Practical Guide for Transformative Change Making (insert link), which is meant to give practitioners an easy to use introduction into the method.
Imagine a sector of societies is in a crisis, let’s say the energy sector, or the education sector, or the financial sector. However, there is no political will for reform, or if there is, reforms are not properly implemented, or if they are, the speed and scope of reforms are not enough to successfully turn around the sector. Such political deadlock is rather typical for transformation crises. Because everything seems to be connected to everything, debates tend to endlessly go around in circles.
The political economy of change always creates winners and losers. Hence all of those who believe to benefit from the status quo are prone to resist change. This is why reform approaches like “creating awareness and understanding” or “technocratic optimizing of the system” or “cutting deals” are necessary yet insufficient tools for transformation shaping.
Similar to traditional approaches of capacity building and multi-stakeholder dialogues, TCM builds the capacity of change agents, breaks down social silos, distributes knowledge and facilitates the emergence of consensus. What is new is the use of discourse as an instrument of change making, as well as the focus on project design to identify concrete entry points for action.
Transformative Change Making inspires the emergence of transformative alliances which can mobilize the resources and leverage to implement disruptive reforms. Instead of thinking of the crisis as a technical problem for which a proper technical solution has to be found, TCM understands transformations as social and political challenges. To break through the glass ceiling of the status quo, a broader societal alliance with a bolder agenda is needed. Broad societal alliances, however, are hard to build because different social groups have different interests, priorities, and identities.
Transformative Change Making form alliances around narratives, instead. By resonating with as many discourse communities as possible, these narratives - the vision, the change narrative and the success stories - form the platform for a discourse alliance.
Taken together, these narratives can change the imagination how the future will unfold. If people have different expectations about the future, the will recalculate their risks and opportunities. In other words, when people reimagine the future, they start to redefine their interests. And if people start to redefine their interests, they can come together in an alliance to work towards the alternative vision.
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