"I've arrived - your problems are over!"
That's the 'Messiah Complex' - thinking you alone are the solution to the world's problems. Every been guilty of that? I certainly have! But if your organisation is going to be the answer, then it needs to listen to the right questions. Imposing what we think a place needs from the outside can be a recipe for disaster but joining in with what's already happening, is much more likely to lead to success.
Urban Walking, as taught by Dr. Mike Pears of Urban Life, is an antidote to the 'Messiah Complex' - it's also a great example of good practise. So what can we learn from it?
1. Places are like people - they'd rather be 'listened to' than 'talked at'
As a business or Charity the ultimate goal is to meet needs. When this works, it results in either profit or in making people's lives better (hopefully both!). But it's no good looking at a marketplace or community from the outside, making quick judgements and then bulldozing our imperious agenda onto it. That's just going to alienate people and make your organisation look out of touch - or worse still, get up everyone's nose! Instead, it's much better to take time and 'get under the skin' of a place. 'Urban Walking' is just a flash title for taking a deep breath and noticing what's already there. After all, no-one likes being 'talked at'. We'd much rather be listen to.
2. You Can Handle the Truth - the reality of a place is more useful than an idea of it
Truth can be intimidating which is why we'd often settle for what we want to be true rather than face reality. But if we can learn the discipline of being attentive to the reality of a situation and allow that reality to deeply affect us, before coming up with speedy solutions or bright ideas, then the reality, or truth, of a place can be a rich and fertile foundation for our organisation's endeavours.
3. Collaborate not Dictate - tap into the energy that's already there
Every market and every community has character and energy! It makes sense to get to know that character and become familiarised with that energy before getting involved. Why? Well, apart from plain decency(!), just think how much time and effort is wasted in trying to re-shape people and places in your own image. Just think how much easier it is to tap into the dynamic forces already at work and join in rather than squashing the life out of them. After all, there's no point in re-inventing the wheel. This about an shift in attitude away from an 'imperial' approach to business or communities and towards a collaborative approach. It takes more time to work this way, but your efforts will be rewarded with deep and long-lasting foundations.
Here's a final word from Dr. Pears as he explains Urban Walking in 30 seconds: