International Policy Digest

Books /13 Jan 2021
01.13.21

Review of Kaufman and Srica’s ‘Empower Us!: From Crisis to Strategic Harmony’

Perhaps we’re just tired of hearing that the world is out of control – the impact of the pandemic, a dislocated American democracy, and the global economy and environment have eroded our confidence and trust in a safe, secure future. While millions lose their livelihoods, stock equities are soaring. Technology has given us the means to be better informed, yet many rely on sources based in alternative realities that defy reasoning. Claims and counterclaims about what matters and where humanity is headed have exasperated and estranged generations who want linear solutions and are tiring of endless controversy.

Yet these crises are solvable. We must focus our efforts to enhance humanity’s capacity to solve these challenges by realigning priorities and resources and pursuing values grounded on common values committed to purposeful change. The book, Empower Us!, resonates with common sense and spiritual and institutional insights that go beyond the agility, consensus, and team building solutions often proposed. To deal with the core issues of our dysfunctional world, we have to move beyond the wisdom of the “new normal” to a truly insightful recognition of humanity’s capacity for managing change.

The phrase “new normal” is repetitive in articles about the impact of the pandemic. Initially, if one follows its history in Wikipedia, it was the result of a “teachable moment” following the avian flu where in some novel enlightenment would reassemble our vision of reality. It then found its home among economists describing the aftermath of the 2007-08 financial crisis to assess where the economy was headed. But, while it describes most often the results of dealing with a disruption to the routine, the analysts most often consider the what rather than the why of transformations that occurred and continue to reshape our world. As importantly, few look at the opportunities, the actual learning, that emerge from understanding disruptions to the status quo and how that should guide our re-imagination of the possible.

This is even more critical when one considers that the globalization of information and technology is only one factor in shaping the new order of interaction and communication. It is misleading to assume that what happens here is valid there and that new parameters are common worldwide. As someone who has spent far too many years providing culturally-sensitive correctives to management and development models and behaviors, Empower Us! is a welcome ally in shaping how we think about the new normal.

With insights and perspectives from more than 40 contributors, crossing five generations, on all continents, the book incorporates a range of responses to the pandemic, the social and economic restructuring underway, and bits of wisdom that honor the need for the new normal to indeed be new – in how we characterize, assign, value, and shape the outcomes of the significant changes underway. It is all about understanding and actively respecting core values that define the many “new normals” under construction.

Empower Us! provides entertaining and thought-provoking insights into how we understand and guide transformation: in how we engage the world, direct our energies and actions within a values-based context, and integrate new voices of youth and the marginalized in growth strategies.

Its authors, Dr. Ira Kaufman and Velimir Srića, have decades of experience leading consulting projects and academic programs worldwide focusing on understanding the dynamic qualities of transformation and going beyond changing behaviors, and instilling supportive behaviors to achieve goals. They believe that guiding transformation strategies through periods of disruption and recalibration requires a thorough understanding of the values that are an intrinsic part of the dynamics of change as we move into the already occurring next phase of human development.

Empower Us! blends parables, quotes, very helpful tables, and questionnaires, to illustrate and illuminate that the process of conceptualizing and defining root causes of disruption and transformation actually enables better strategic responses. Change becomes more impactful within a framework of transformational values. The central role of values, community, inclusiveness, and trust are reinforced with data and insights throughout the text.

AI, the transformation of work from labor to enterprise, the inclusion of a 360⁰ valuation of the impact of transactions, the growth in the availability of information by anyone with digital access, and the connectedness of globalization have drastically changed the world and how we should live in it, appreciate it, share it, and care for it. Empower Us! is a call to action that provides tools and insights that enable each of us to acquire a formidable set of skills to appreciate and manage, as a community, the transformation of the new normal to one based on shared values and appreciation.