Creating Change Through Connection

Dr. Ernesto Sirolli is considered an authority in the field of sustainable economic development.

Through something he calls Enterprise Facilitation® he helps communities around the world develop “responsive, person-centered approaches to local economic development.” This unique approach is based on transforming good local ideas into viable businesses.

So how does one find out what the good local ideas are?

He recommends bringing a “Family Doctor” approach to big business.

This was borne out of his experience seeing and experiencing two opposite approaches to economic development in foreign countries: Patronizing and Paternalistic.

Both words stem from the Latin word Pater, which means “father.” Patronizing, however, approaches others as servants, while a Paternalistic approach treats others as children.

From a business perspective this means a person, business, (or even country, let’s say) never initiates anything or motivates anyone. Instead, the person/business/country becomes the servant of the people they’re seeking to help, thus uncovering the dreams, passions, ideas, and energy that already exists in the local people.

His radical approach revolves around one key factor: Listening.

Instead of coming in with plans, community meetings, and a “We’re here to help you” attitude, he meets people in their environment. He becomes their friends. He listens to them and learns what their passions and dreams are. His conference rooms are coffee shops and restaurants. He provides confidentiality, trust, and then finds himself in the perfect position to actually help people in the ways they need it most.

Sirolli relates that one thing the most successful companies in the world have in common is this: None were started by one person.

He simplifies it even further: No one person can make it, sell it, and look after the money.

He may be talking about business ventures, but it sounds like an approach that can be applied to our everyday ventures. Our families, our friendships, our local businesses, our great ideas, and our communities.

In our hurry to get ahead in life, it’s easy to forget the power of connection. The power of people.

Many of our jobs are being replaced by machines or technology that tries to simulate the human touch, but here’s two jobs that will never be replaced by a machine: Mothers and Fathers.

No amount of technology will ever be able to sit and have a meaningful conversation with you or give you a hug.

Sirolli works to activate communities in different countries by tapping into the “miracle of the intelligence of the local people.” He believes cultural and economic change start with capturing the energy, passion, and imagination of the local people.

Let’s bring this approach home. Literally. Our homes, our relationships. It works on a business level because it starts from the people level.

What change would we be able to effect if we were to tap into the energy, passion, and imagination of ourselves? Of the people we work with? Share your comments below.


Photo credit: Ernesto Sirolli

photo by: Nomadic Lass