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June 13, 2012

Whatever the problem, community is the answer

Margaret Wheatley is a bit of a guru in the world of community. She’s studied them, filmed them, written about them and theorised about them.  She was speaking in Glasgow recently – ‘whatever the problem, community is the answer.’  Lots of great anecdotes. One that stuck was from Senegal. A country where the people experience the most grinding poverty and hardship imaginable but a country where suicide is completely unknown.  The reason they gave her?  Because we have each other – always.


Margaret Wheatley (extracts from her website)

For many years, I’ve been interested in seeing the world differently. I’ve wanted to see beyond the Western, mechanical view of the world and see what else might appear when the lens was changed. I’ve learned, just as Joel Barker predicted when he introduced us to paradigms years ago, that “problems that are impossible to solve with one paradigm may be easily solved with a different one.”

I’ve been applying the lens of living systems theory to organizations and communities. With wonderful colleagues, I’ve been exploring the question: “How might we organize differently if we understood how Life organizes?” It’s been an exploration that has helped me look into old patterns and problems and develop new and hopeful insights and practices. It has also increased my sense of wonder for life, and for the great capacity of the human spirit.

I’ve been a speaker, consultant, and writer since 1973. I’ve been inside most kinds of organizations – from the Girl Scouts to the U.S. Army, from Fortune 100 companies to small town churches– and lived and worked in many different cultures and countries. I love the diversity, and I love even more the realization that around the world, we share a common human desire to live together more humanely and more harmoniously.

My questions, observations, and ideas always appear as articles or talks. You can browse through most of my articles, and learn about videos and audio tapes, on this website. My hope is that your own sense of wonder will compel you to continue exploring the world with new eyes. We need many pioneers and explorers now.

I invite you also to come learn about and join in my work with The Berkana Institute, which I co-founded in 1992. 

For more information about Meg Wheatley’s  latest book  – 


Walk Outs are people who bravely choose to leave behind a world of unsolvable problems, scarce resources, limiting beliefs and destructive individualism. They walk on to the ideas, beliefs and practices that enable them to give birth to new systems that serve community. This is the story of an emerging movement of pioneering leaders and communities around the world who are self-organizing to create healthy and resilient communities.

In Walk Out Walk On, authors Meg Wheatley and Deborah Frieze invite you on a learning journey to seven communities around the world to meet people who have walked out of limiting beliefs and assumptions and walked on to create healthy and resilient communities. These Walk Outs Who Walk On use their ingenuity and caring to figure out how to work with what they have to create what they need.