Photo courtesy USIP
Open Power is the ability to solve critical human challenges through peer-to-peer exploration, collaboration and ownership.
Traditionally, governments have pursued objectives through “hard power” solutions (military, physical or economic coercion); “soft power” solutions (persuasion, culture, ideals and diplomacy); and “smart power” strategies that combine the two. Hard and soft power remain essential, but they no longer suffice in the face of dynamic, rapidly evolving global threats such as extremism or climate change. To address these threats, we must turn to another option: open power.
Open power entails a fluid, non-hierarchical, and creative relationship between government and private actors. Rather than executing specific policies itself, government “opens up” the challenge, soliciting potential solutions from diverse actors. Government serves primarily as facilitator, intellectual partner, convener, and at times funder of non-government actors who may enjoy more credibility with local populations than government itself. A founding assumption of open power is that the global community can come together on a peer-to-peer basis to address an issue, given adequate respect, resources, and support from government.
Open power entails a more flexible, experimental, and entrepreneurial approach to securing government objectives. Government gives up its sole focus on “intelligence” and instead “open sources” ideas and solutions. It escapes siloed thinking, “opening the aperture” to see problems holistically and organically, in their full complexity. It considers local community points of view rather than attempting to impose solutions, harnessing the credibility that comes with peer-to-peer engagement. Finally, open power is open-ended. It keeps changing and moving as global issues evolve and as new ideas come to light.
Some basic precepts of open power:
We must be brave.
We must trust in our fellow humans.
We must be willing to fail—and we must have grit.
We must take collective responsibility for problems that affect us all.