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First Insight of 2024: IDEAS Must Be A Means & An End

Dear IDEAS Generation Community, 

In just the blink of an eye, January is behind us. Though the month passed quickly (at least for me anyways), it was not without continued heartbreak and consternation about the state of the world. Amidst the barrage of disheartening news coming out of both the United States and across the globe, I find myself regularly questioning the impact and substance of the work the IDEAS Generation team and I do. Are we doing enough? Are our contributions making a difference in the world? Can we sustain ourselves over time if things keep going like this? 

Some days are certainly more hopeful than others. I’m far from any declarative answers to these big questions, yet I do find them nearby when I think about the what, how, and why of what we do. Those questions inspired last month’s post: 10 insights for advancing IDEAS (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and Social Justice) in 2024. Today, I want to focus on the first insight, that IDEAS must be both a means and an end.  

Growing up I didn’t have language for IDEAS to describe the work that the IDEAS Generation team and I dedicate ourselves to everyday. What I did have were feelings: anger that the Cuban Embargo prevented my family from being together, fear that my relatives and friends would reject me if they found out I was gay, confusion about where I belonged growing up middle class in a wealthy neighborhood, empathy for the others around me struggling to figure out their place in the world. Without knowing anything about the IDEAS profession, the allure of a more Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable, Accessible, and Socially just world was beckoning. 

During my senior year of college, a life transforming professor put the professional world of IDEAS consulting on my radar. Her introduction to Cook Ross (now Be Equitable) became the opportunity I needed to understand how to bring about the change I wanted to see in the world. 

While at Cook Ross, I learned how to transform IDEAS values into tools to shape cultures and systems. From inclusive facilitation to equity-informed strategy development to designing for access, I began to see how IDEAS are both a desired vision and the means of getting there.  

Now, over a decade later, I find myself continually returning to the importance of approaching IDEAS as both a means to build a better world and the goal - even if this work has no fixed end point. We are the means by which IDEAS come to life. We are the ones with the potential to co-create organizations and communities where belonging is a felt experience for everyone, where systems of oppression are addressed honestly and completely so that they no longer dictate outcomes for anyone. Yet the promise of IDEAS will always remain an alluring vision if those who have heeded the IDEAS call burnout or turn on one another.

During this time of immense divisiveness and considerable pain for so many, stay in this work. Stay in a way that keeps the promise alive and legitimizes the importance of how we try to achieve it. How we manifest IDEAS in our workplaces and communities matters. 

IDEAS must remain our roadmap and our destination. 

Dan Egol

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