Transformation requires trust

On December 3, 2019, a remarkable event took place in a hotel ballroom in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Forty top national leaders from every major political tendency, region, and ethnic and religious group stood on the stage — in front of national and international dignitaries and media, and broadcasting live to an even wider audience — and held hands and read a declaration of the actions they would take, together, to improve the country’s future. The moment was extraordinary because the leaders explicitly demonstrated a capacity and willingness to work together that was in sharp contrast to the violent fragmentation that had persisted in the country after years of political unrest.

They had spent the previous two hours presenting the conclusions of Destiny Ethiopia, the work they had been doing together for seven months to figure out what was possible for Ethiopia by developing four scenarios of the future. The event had been scrupulously choreographed to demonstrate the leaders’ unity and mutual respect. The welcome was given in five languages and English — not only in Amharic, the national working language and the mother tongue of the second-largest ethnic group. Each scenario was presented by two politicians from opposing parties, and the presenters were chosen by lot in front of the audience. The 40 team members spoke briefly about what the project had meant for them, with a bell signaling when their time was up, regardless of their rank.

What the leaders…



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