Pattern #47

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Integral Political Will

Credits: Rope: New Africa / Group top left: Kzenon – Shutterstock / Group top right – Wikimedia / Woman-Panel: pressmaster – Adobe / Group bottom left – Martin Rausch /

“Political will” is the systemic vector driving governance decision-making. It is often ascribed to courageous politicians, passionate interest groups or the public. In a wise democracy, political will arises from the shared understanding and commitment of all players. So promote practices and institutions that foster the development of wise whole-system political will.

  • Who in the various sectors and on the various sides of this issue do we need to bring together to really thoroughly address it? What kind of engagement would be needed to get to that point? What shared orientation or needs would motivate them to make the effort to co-create solutions or approaches that work for all of them?
  • Although we can get a bunch of diverse stakeholders to come up with policies that would theoretically appeal to many people, how can we best bring the conflicted, confused public around to demand those policies of their leaders?
  • What would happen if we were able to engage millions of diverse people in developing agreeable, workable solutions to this issue that is so dividing us?

Going Deeper …

This is an edited version of the video on this page.

This is a pretty straightforward pattern. Political will in a fragmented and adversarial political system has a lot of: “Do you have the will to push this through in the battle against everybody else to get this in place?“

But we’re not trying to drum up the energy of one side to beat the others. There is a turning inside out here. This is actually a special application of another pattern titled “Generating Shared Orientation“. Everything in that pattern applies here. We want to generate shared orientation about the nature of our governance and its direction.

I would say political will is a systemic vector, because a vector is a directional force. Political will is about “What way is the whole system going to move?” From a wise democracy perspective, we want to have the whole system moving through its own internal organization and motivational dynamics rather than by somebody pushing the whole system or pulling the whole system or manipulating the whole system to get it to move in the particular direction they want it to move.

It is important to know here that political will is a factor – but it is not in any way a determinant of wisdom. Just like individual will, political will or the will of a political party or political leader – the fact that there’s will doesn’t necessarily mean that what someone’s trying to push is in any way wise. You can have political will pushing something that is totally destructive and unwise. So wisdom is an independent variable here from just generating integral political will.

But it IS a factor, because integral here means that we are bringing all the pieces of the puzzle together into this new directional force. We’re trying to bring the whole system together to orient the whole system. We are trying to build the capacity of the whole system to orient its whole “self”.

So a relevant question here is, Are we dealing with a single challenge, a single issue, a single opportunity of some kind that we are trying to muster people around – or are we actually developing practices and institutions that can help the whole system do that with every challenge it faces? So the pattern Integral Political Will can be an invitation to incorporate the capacity to generate integral political will into the whole system. If you have the whole system truly participating in developing integral political will, the chances are extremely good that the direction you will be going is wise because you have incorporated these different perspectives and all these different energies into something that they’re all buying into to move ahead.

Looking at the related patterns, in this case they are very instructive for understanding. Consider “All Concerns Addressed”. If you are addressing all the concerns of all the different pieces of the whole, the fact is they will buy into wherever you’re going. There will be a natural alignment that emerges from that.

The pattern “Collective Distributed Intelligence” involves having all those parts participating in generating collective intelligence, bringing their own individual or group intelligence, their piece(s) of the picture, into informing where it is we think we might want to go.

“Groundedness” suggests being grounded in what’s important and what’s real. Again, this helps the political will not only come about (because people will want to implement things that address what they want) but also be wise.

“Inclusive Stakeholder Governance” is also intimately related to that. It means we’re trying to get all the stakeholders who are involved in the issue or the domain aligned together with the political will.

And if we’re trying to get the population, the “we the people”, aligned in some way, the “Microcosms and Populations” pattern is important.

“Multimedia Engagement” is important, of course, because the more we have ways to understand and realize what’s going on through various forms of media, different images, participation, words, videos, stories, etc., the more different people will be able to engage. If you want to bring the whole into consideration of something and alignment around it, then multimedia engagement is another really important piece of that.

So you sense here that we are trying to build the directional motivational energy of the whole society in a way that it really does include the whole in both the generation of direction and the forward motion along that direction.