Our world is out of balance, says Henry Mintzberg, and the consequences are proving fateful: the degradation of our environment, the demise of our democracies, and the denigration of ourselves, with greed having been raised to some sort of high calling. But we can set things right.
Mintzberg argues that a healthy society is built on three balanced pillars: a public sector of respected governments, a private sector of responsible enterprises, and what he calls a plural sector of robust voluntary associations (nonprofits, NGOs, etc.). Communism collapsed because the public sector was overbearing—balance triumphed in 1989, not capitalism. But that misunderstanding has led to the private sector becoming overbearing in many countries, especially the United States, and this imbalance is wreaking havoc.
Many governments are now so co-opted by their private sectors that they won’t be able to lead the process of renewal. And corporate social responsibility, however laudable, cannot compensate for the corporate social irresponsibility we see all around us. So Mintzberg offers specific ideas for strengthening the plural sector, which has the inclination and the independence to lead radical renewal by challenging unacceptable practices and developing better ones. This means change must be led not by some “them” but by each of us and all of us—if we care about our planet and our progeny.