Good Intentions Need Courage
Mike Stevenson (Director, Thinktastic).
If policy and good intent were enough Scotland’s streets will soon be paved with gold, but there are impediments to progress we have to sweep aside now.
While I find great richness of talent and ideas in schools, neighbourhoods and workplaces these are usually whispered – not shouted. Then, if ideas are heard they are too often thwarted by an overburdening and risk-averse management culture.
When Napoleon Bonaparte said: “Over-preparation is the foe of inspiration,” he touched on a condition Scots understand only too well. I have given over 10,000 citizens a chance to nominate and discard our most dispiriting words and phrases: “It’ll never work” “I’ll have to speak to my manager” and ‘It’s aye been” always score highly.
We need to radically transform our approach in four key areas
- Show real leadership and release people to think big, act and make mistakes – how many of our greatest talents have had to leave these shores to thrive.
- Get schoolchildren as early as seven, involved in shaping our neighbourhoods – More colour? Yes, let’s just do it.
- Create a language that’s clear, affirming and lifts spirits. “Let’s tackle poverty” disempowers. “Let’s create new richness” is a call to action. ‘New Scot’ is better than ‘immigrant.’
- Speed up decision-making and make things happen quickly – action builds belief. 24 hours to pedestrianise a street in Brazil’s Curitiba. Fantastic!
Edwin Morgan described perfectly what Scots people want of their nation:
- They want it to be as open and adventurous as its architecture.
- A nest of fearties is what they do not want.
- A symposium of procrastinators is what they do not want.
- A phalanx of forelock-tuggers is what they do not want.
Time to put the ‘brave’ back in Scotland and beat off our ‘complexity sellers and naysayers.’