In War and Peace Tolstoy describes the subtle strategy of General Kutuzov who saves Russia from Napoleon’s attack. The central image of Kutuzov is of an old man surrounded by yapping and competing generals. While they come up with one scheme after another Kutuzov concentrates on saving the lives of the common man, retreating before Napoleon and cutting off Napoleon’s resources.

Napoleon is defeated by winter, his troops reduced morale and the sustained commitment of the Russian forces. What is essential about Kutuzov’s strategy is that he puts all his energy into supporting natural forces – he does not put energy into defending or attacking tactical plans, nor into continual fights with Napoleon. He stands back, sees the big picture and uses the dynamics of the system at work.

For social innovators it is essential to exploit Kutuzov’s strategy. The social innovator has nothing going for them – they have no money, no power and rarely any status. So you must tap into the grain of things – the forces that lie latent with the current social situation. It is our faith in positive possibility, combined with these latent forces, that bring about positive change.