Source: Nonprofit Quarterly by Gregory D. Saxton

The future that has already happened is not within [the organization]; it is outside: a change in society, knowledge, culture, industry, or economic structure. It is, moreover, a break in the pattern rather than a variation in it.

—Peter F. Drucker 1

Drucker wants organizational leaders to focus on the opportunities and challenges presented by changes in the external environment that are ongoing or have already occurred but have yet to be widely perceived. I argue that just such a “future” is underway: In the cultural sphere, people now create and publish their own books, movies, and music; they eagerly customize orders on restaurant meals; and blogging, “podcasting,” and other forms of targeted media are displacing mass media through satellite- and Internet-based communications. In the business world, shareholder revolts have skyrocketed; self-organizing teams, stakeholder analysis, and self-employment have steadily increased; organizational structures have flattened; and corporate democracy is beginning to take hold. In government, the devolution of power, public disclosure agreements, community score cards, public audits, and citizen satisfaction surveys are becoming ever more commonplace. And in politics, key elements of direct democracy, including citizen ballot initiatives, recalls, open primaries, and supermajority and voter-approval rules for tax increases have all become increasingly popular.

These seemingly unconnected developments collectively point to a generalized surge in participatory practices and values throughout society. Thanks to an array of ongoing large-scale social changes, stakeholders now increasingly possess the capacity, interest, and opportunity to play a key role in decision making at the individual, organizational, and community levels alike. This growing propensity for participation has, in turn, begun to change prevailing nonprofit structures and management practices. A bona fide participatory society is emerging—and nonprofit leaders must be up to the challenge.  Read Full Story…