GUERNSEY, GOVERNANCE AND OVERTON'S WINDOW
6 October 2020, 12:00:00
If we wish to make things better, here, in Guernsey and anywhere else, to be honest. If we want to improve the way we do things, we can't just sit with what we have.
To move, to progress, to be better, we have to 'stretch' ourselves, our organisations and our government. We have to embrace vulnerability and step outside of Overton's Window.
Brené Brown is clear, "Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation and change". It might be uncomfortable. You might feel some fear, be exposed, but that’s okay…
…because if we are to make things better, if we are to rigorously look at what we do now and consider actually how effective it is, that’s hard, but by doing this, we might just be able to move towards better.
Our local politics is undergoing a transformation, as they are around the world in the UK, the US and elsewhere. Those I've spoken to, see this. But is Guernsey ready? Are the electorate, are our politicians ready to step outside of Overton's Window and embrace the possibility that failure needs to be an option.
Overton, who died in a light aircraft accident at the age of 43, came up with the concept of an idea spectrum from "more free" to "less free" with regards to government intervention. It was essentially an axis of 'idea acceptability'.
Ideas that are inside the Overton Window are ideas that are safe;
we as people accept them.
Ideas outside the Overton Window are ideas that are considered too radical, perhaps unthinkable, to be accepted.
Many things can shift the Overton Window
War, and of course
But ultimately, the determinant of where the window sits, is our culture.
For example, recent events and the global pandemic crisis has shifted our perception of liberty and freedom of movement. I guess the question is, for how long, but you can see the principle.
Overton’s Window has been hugely politicised, however it's an excellent way to look at two things:
Firstly, the shifts in policy, regulation or political opinion, and
Secondly, the culture and ideas within our community, and how these can perhaps shift the view and even implementation of government policy.
Joshua Trevino put forward a scale for Overton’s Window, labelling an axis of how acceptable, or not, an idea is.
Looking at this scale then, you can see the part that’s hard. It’s the 'stretch', the move away from acceptable, towards radical, even unthinkable.
Having listened to prospective candidates, attended hustings and drunk quite a few coffees over conversation, there is a theme emerging; few are prepared to step much beyond Acceptable, most sit within both Sensible and Popular.
I get this. It's safe. It's comfortable. It doesn't require bravery. It doesn't require vulnerability. But if history has taught us anything, in times of crisis, it is those that are prepared to put their heads above the parapet, those that are willing to step into uncertainty; they, are the pathfinders for the rest of us.
So, whether it's the possibility of a tunnel between Jersey and Guernsey, or a tidal barrage across the Russel, or an ambitious development of our Eastern coast, we have to bring people to the decision-making table who are prepared to standup, be innovative, stretch the Window.
Corporate Governance codes already push this. Diversity and Inclusion is a requirement. That's because it promotes creativity, it removes biases and group think, as well as encouraging better decision-making.
I may not agree with the legal challenge being brought by Tim Chesney, but I applaud him for his courageousness. I may not believe in the tunnel between Guernsey and Jersey, but Martyn's idea and his work is pushing us to think more creatively.
The governance of our current, soon to be disbanded, States Assembly has failed us as an electorate. Decision-making has been poor and circular, implementation of those actually made has been largely ineffective, principally due to interference; and the culture extant within the Assembly, in my view, has been nothing short of embarrassing and a betrayal of trust.
I continue on my own journey of assessing candidates; endeavouring to find the humanity beneath the wafer thin exterior of their manifestos.
Hoping beyond hope that we can choose a future membership that brings wisdom, learning, creativity, bravery and compassion to our island.
Serving us with values, ethical decision-making and stretching Overton's Window.