Byron's Babbles

Do Ideas Cause Change Or Does Change Cause Ideas?

Posted in change, Global Leadership, Ideas, Innovation, Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on November 15, 2020

In the great book, The Upswing: How America Came Together A Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again, Robert D. Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett posed the question of, “Do ideas cause change or does change cause ideas?” I am loving reading the research and work of Putnam and Garrett. I am only about 80% through the book and I love how he always points out when there cannot be any correlation, causality, or answers gained from leading or lagging indicators. I see this a lot in education; people want to jump immediately to causation. Putnam is a brilliant political scientist and Shaylyn has had a brilliant career as a change-maker and social entrepreneur. The two of them together have put together this award winning literary analysis of economic, education, civil rights, political, and other social trends for over a century. The book posits we have gone from an “I” to “We” and back to “I” society and gives us hope and ways to get back to we.

Change is defined as to simply make something or someone different, unlike the way it was before. Change can also be defined as moving from one thing to another. Synonyms for the word change consist of transform, alter, and modify. A lot of people have ideas about changing the world and making it a better place for people to live. This desire to change the world sounds very noble and heroic.

Now, back to the question prompting this post: do ideas cause change or does change cause ideas? I believe it is both. For example the idea of us carrying a source for listening to music in our pocket caused an entire chain of events (changes) leading ultimately to the SMART phone. Conversely, Coronavirus has hit the world in 2020. This has drastically changed our world from open and social to closed and locked down. This change has affected people’s lives, finances, relationships, and even their children. New ideas because of this change are being thought of every day.

Therefore, we need to keep being creative and having ideas about how to change the world. Additionally, we need to be paying attention to changes happening around us and let them prompt ideas for positive change.

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