Who Gets To Lead When We Don’t Know Where We Are Going or What We Want to Become?

Written by Lisa Hrabluk

Best-selling author. Award-winning journalist. Purpose-led entrepreneur. Find me hanging out where culture, people and ideas collide.

October 10, 2014

Today John McLaughlin and I are releasing our ebook, “Who Gets to Lead When We Don’t Know Where We Are Going or What We Want to Become.”

Now you know what I did last summer.

In fact the ideas we explore in this piece first began to take root 12 years ago with a simple question: “Are you free to meet with the President?” It was October 2002: I was a political columnist with the Telegraph-Journal and John was President of the University of New Brunswick – and he had this crazy idea.

He knew New Brunswick’s fiscal and demographic realities were about to run headlong into the massive economic and social upheavals that were beginning to percolate around the world. He also understood that technology was going to change us in ways we could not predict – and he knew that no one group, neither politicians, business people, academics nor activists, had the capacity on their own to help New Brunswick figure out a way forward.

This was a problem we all needed to help solve. And that’s where I come in.

John knew that UNB and other research institutions had the data and theories to illustrate the challenges but lacked the ability to tell this story to a wide audience and to engage New Brunswickers in a conversation about the future of their province.

He needed a storyteller, so he called me. John and I spent the next two years talking and writing about change in New Brunswick through a citizen-focused outreach project called Next NB/Avenir NB. We published nine discussion papers, hosted 16 public forums across New Brunswick and held New Brunswick’s first “Big Think” event – SeaChange/Métamorphose in Saint John in June 2005. We also created a community leadership program, 21 Leaders for the 21st Century/21 Leaders pour le 21e siècle, known today as 21inc.

Over that two-year period we engaged a few hundred people in a deep conversation about the challenges facing New Brunswick and our options for its future. Now it’s time to restart that conversation by using new communications technologies to bring more people together to connect and to collaborate.

 Hence the e-book; we think of it as a working document, designed to get you thinking and prompt you to join us – in person and online – to expand upon the ideas in this e-book and to add your own ideas to the mix. But we don’t just want to sit around talking – we want to identify a new cadre of community leaders who will step up and lead the charge for change.

We know who some of you are – and we’re excited to meet more of you and to hear what you’re doing. Over the next few weeks and months John, I and others will be getting together here on Wicked Ideas to delve deeper into some of the ideas in the e-book. We’d love for you to join us.

You can also follow us on Facebook at  or on Twitter @wickedideas.

As for the question that is also our title, here’s the short answer:

Who Gets to Lead? – You.

When We Don’t Know? – We know enough to get started.

Where We Are Going? – Into the unknown. Trust us, this is going to be fun.

What We Want to Become? – The same but different.

How do we do that? Go download the ebook and find out.


Lisa Hrabluk is the founder of Wicked Ideas. Follow her on Twitter @lisahrabluk.

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