Barack Obama is following me on Twitter. By coincidence, I’m also following him. Technically we’re following each other. Which, as anyone who’s been lost in the woods knows, is bound to lead to trouble. Except that he’s one of 100 people following me, and I’m one of 46 thousand following him, so if he gets lost there really will be trouble.
Senator Obama is in London this week and if there’s one question ‘close to home’ which I hope he’ll have time to ponder, it’s how to solve Brtiain’s most serious social problems. As leading American psychologists are parachuted in on a weekly basis to share their latest thinking, I’ve spotted a gap in the ‘solutions’ market.
People want answers, and fast. Solutions, on demand. The trouble is that one politican’s swift solution is another’s quick fix. Come to think of it, that ‘Fast Acting Remedy’ i’ve just bought in Boots may be nothing more than Tixylix-flavoured gimmickry. No, anything that works too quickly must, it seems, be flimsy and weak. And so the cry goes out – for Long Terms Solutions. That’s the ticket, a humdinger of an idea which will sort out the root cause once and for all. But there’s a catch. Your ‘Long Term’ is almost certainly their ‘Too Far Off’. We haven’t got years to wait for this all to kick in you know! We need results, fast. But not that fast.
Which is where my Big Idea comes in. There is only one answer to the dilemma I have described;
The Medium Term Solution (MTS).
You heard it hear first, reader. Too well-thought-through to be dismissed as a ‘gimmick’, yet tangible enough to show results within months rather than years.
I’ll be raising this ground-breaking idea at the IPPR this week at an audience with Richard Thaler, author of ‘most-wanted’, Nudge. I bought it this morning. Of course I did. It’s an STS (Short Term Solution) you see. Buy the most buzzed business book of the moment and feel instantly smarter and more tuned into the world. An MTS would be to organise four book-club-style events over the coming year which discussed the book in a meaningful way and looked for ways to implement its ideas in the guests’ daily lives. Reading a WHOLE business book? Acting on it? Whatever next?
As the school holidays approach, you may have spotted a piece in the Sunday Times this week which revealed that over half of the British Public back a nationwide 9pm curfew for 10-16 year olds. The fact that the article hasn’t bothered to quote even one person who might think this to be an outrageous plan speaks volumes about the way in which young people are treated by the main stream media. So what’s the alternative? “Where’s the MTS?”, I hear you shout. Well, instead of punishing the majority of innocent young people, why not let the children roam free and experiment with locking their wayward parents indoors with a good book. You never know, it might just work.
What we need is a fresh new way for Britain to identify, share, rate and replicate Stuff That Works. The ideas are out there, in the hands of individuals and organisations around the country. We can’t rely on the traditional media to share their stories so we’ve got to take action ourselves. A Twitter stream of social action success. Now who wouldn’t want to follow that?