The Leading Causes of Life is a theory or, better, a contained set of ideas that help us build a rich perspective on life and the way it works in human communities and societies.
Five 'causes' of life are outlined. It could be many more but we have found that these five, taken together, do a very good job of capturing a wide range of insights and knowledge across many disciplines and practice fields (if you look at the full LCL statement, you will see many references to other work done over a long period of time and in many different contexts for each of the five causes).
You will also see that it is possible to work with these five causes both for good or ill purposes. Equally important, then, is the purposes or ends one has in mind. So we include in our understanding of the Leading Causes of Life that they are betrayed when used manipulatively and destructively but served when they are generative of life not just for some but for all, for the whole within which we live (including our environment and our world).
Better viewed as a potent set of questions rather than of self-contained answers, LCL theory gives leaders operating in the context of complex, fluid, turbulent community challenges a way envisage the life of the whole. Part of a larger suite of ideas originally emerging at the intersection of faith and health at public scale, it is relevant to any and all aspects of our life together no matter our field or expertise or practice. it is part of a larger scientific curiosity about how order emerges, is sustained, and moves toward higher order in complex systems.
In short, the LCL Framework offers an innovative, but testable way of drawing together a large body of emerging work across multiple fields of expertise. How robust is the Framework? This we tested in the first four LCLI consultations we held, with leading thinkers and practitioners from southern Africa and the USA and more widely, in fields as diverse as medicine and public health, economy and finance, development practice and sociology, anthropology and religious studies, and more.
We are pretty confident that the ideas are open-ended enough yet precise enough to allow for many congruent bodies of thought to connect and find mutual value. This is what has driven the Leading Causes of Life Initiative ever since.
For our core ethos, click here.
To read a chapter by Gary Gunderson and Jim Cochrane on "Leading Causes of Life: Pathology in its Place," which sets out the original ideas more fully, click here.
Murmuration by Paul Laurienti