The story of this declaration began in 1991, when Henry Mintzberg, a professor of management at McGill University in Montreal, visited Prague just as the communist regimes of Eastern Europe were collapsing. Western pundits had a ready explanation for this: capitalism had triumphed. From here, it looked more like balance had triumphed. The communist regimes had been severely out of balance, with too much power concentrated in their public sector governments, whereas the successful democracies of the West had maintained a relative balance of power across their public sector governments, private sector businesses, and—crucially—plural sector communities. This misunderstanding would drive the Western democracies themselves out of balance, in favor of private sector markets.
Irene is a Canadian manager who has worked in the private and plural sectors. After reading an early draft of this book, she said: “I’d like to do something. I just don’t know where to start.” This became The Irene Question in the book, and has occupied much of Henry’s attention ever since. What can each of us do, and all of us together do—in our communities, associations, businesses, and governments? The answers, it turns out, are numerous—witness all the activities of concerned people the world over, from marching in protests to growing their social economies. Lacking, however, has been a vision to consolidate these efforts into a widespread movement for global reformation.
Toward this end, in February of 2019, nine people gathered at a retreat near Montreal (Henry Mintzberg, Jeremiah Lee, Simon Hudson, Bob Woolard, Hanieh Mohammadi, Lars Lundbye, Peter Cook, Alex Megelas, and Nancy Neamtan), out of which came a map to visualize balance across the sectors, a table to order various ideas for action (both on RebalancingSociety.org), and the decision to create a declaration of interdependence.
On the drive back to Montreal from the retreat, Henry and Jeremiah went through the clauses of the American Declaration of Independence, one by one, and began to draft clauses for today’s interdependence, using the wording of the original declaration when helpful. Many drafts later, the nine of us (listed first in the signatories) agreed that this declaration was ready to be posted—for 2020 vision.
Since then, three people who had come across the Declaration—Anders Indset, Heather Frank, and Jackie Rourke—and expressed an interest in extending its reach, have joined Henry and Simon Hudson on a steering committee to help spark the kind of movement necessary for global change.