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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Crossing the Divide #8--Reaching Across the Aisle

Cases in Context
--The final chapters of the book offer stories and cautionary tales about the applications of intergroup leadership. From case studies in Africa, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US, the authors give us example after example of how important and complex intergroup leadership is and thus worthy of research and practice investigation into the future.

-- Reaching Across the Aisle: Innovations for Cross-Party Collaboration by Mark Gerzon particularly captured my interest because of the current divisiveness in Congress and its ill effects on the country. Here’s a great quote by U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-VT): “All of us are here for a common purpose, to make the United States a better place. There is and must be room for all our voices to be heard to achieve our common purpose.” Indeed, the authors warn that to compete globally we need to free Congress from the straightjacket of two-party polarization. Following a variety of offsite retreats to address the issue of Congressional intergroup leadership, the author reports these five solutions toward a more productive governing body: 1) Catalyzing cross-boundary leadership from the inside; 2) Creating incentives for co-leadership that build trust; 3) Adopting ground rules that promote genuine dialogue; 4) Fostering systematic rather than partisan thinking; 5) Inspiring learning and decreasing stereotyping. Finally, could you imagine—if Congress could get its act together—the kind of country we could be?

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