It ain’t what you think it’s the way that you think it

Mandela: transformed a “them and us” culture to one based on common ground.

The global economic and political quandary we face today will not go away if we fail to change our minds. Graham Boyd and Jack Reardon explain.

When we cannot do much to make something change, that is the time to review the way we think. Not what we think about the issue but how we think about it. This overhaul is transformational thinking and that is what we need now, if we are going to address the economic, political and social pile up that surrounds us.

In this context, transformational thinking points at the imperative to re-invent the concept of a share in a company and address the issues with the markets and their culture highlighted in The Mint issue 1 by Vince Cable: “I got frustrated when we asked Professor Kay and others to report on equity markets. I was waiting for a list of six things I could do. And they said, ‘you cannot do much, it’s all culture’.”

Cut to South Africa, 1990. Following his release from prison, Nelson Mandela faced two tasks: ending the war against Apartheid, and creating a peaceful South Africa fit for all to live in, regardless of skin colour. This was all about culture: transforming a violent “them and us” culture to one based on common ground.

“So to transform our equity markets in a way that enables us all to flourish means mastering a new how to think about investors, employees and shares.”

Even though South Africa today is far from perfect, Mandela and others guided the country through an impossibly narrow window between disastrous alternatives. And South Africa’s reform was only possible because its architects had mastered the how of transformational thinking and then used it to transform themselves, before trying to transform South Africa.

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Graham Boyd

Graham has experience spanning chief executive officer, start-up entrepreneur and consultant. He has lead businesses to reinvent their future, across strategy, innovation and organisation transformation. Graham also delivers keynotes on …

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Jack Reardon

Jack is founding editor of the International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education, and author of several books on economics education.

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