Building Sustainable Legacies

Collaboratories: the result of holding a space

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The capability to “hold a space” becomes the central purpose of management education. The capability of holding a space grounds deeply in our human heritage; it represents the ultimate duty of the Elders among many indigenous people. In our world, this capacity is known as the fundamental skills of a good coach; the degree to which a coach is able to create and hold such a space determines the potential outcome of a coaching session[1].

Figure 2: Holding a space is about the ability to create the right frame. The black frames above represent the common thread among these different expressions of our vision: a) a fertile ground, b) putting the fire in the middle symbolizes respecting future generations in every decision taken, c) a visual of the management school of the future.

Collaborative learning platforms for action learning and research (collaboratories) become the distinguishing factor for future management school. They represent the preferred meeting place for citizens with a desire to act responsibly for the world. Participants come from all walks of life and from all 4 corners of the planet. They share a common passion for wanting to make a difference and they co-share the responsibility of learning with the faculty. They include both the so-called 99% including the 4 billion at the “bottom of the pyramid” as well as the 1% currently in function of responsibility and power.

Collaboratories can be located in business, in society, communities, at management schools, virtually or a combination of all of these. The key of these platforms is that they are organized around issues rather than disciplines. Issues addressed include: hunger, energy, water, climate change, migration, democracy, capitalism, terrorism, disease, violence. Systemic thinking and design thinking enable step-changing innovation and rapid prototyping as fundamentals of magic: finding solutions to the impossible. Action learning and research meet in order to jointly immerse in a new type of activity: issue-centred learning focusses on environmental, societal and economic issues both globally and locally.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.”         Margaret Mead

At the management school of the future, we see the faculty as lead-learners and guardians of this space. They reflect a rich combination of stakeholders: coaches, facilitators, business and management faculty, citizens, entrepreneurs and elders [2]. They see themselves as transient gatekeepers of a world in need of new solutions and stand out with their attitude of service.

 


[1]    Students tell us that we are preaching to the converted; that they realize the world is at a critical place. They want to address the issues and perceive professors as self-absorbed by their own shift in consciousness. Source: GRLI Meeting Stuttgart 2011.

[2]    The energy of an elder, or the stereotypical grandmother, complements a learning environment with an essential factor: grand-mothers (uncles, retired professors, god-mothers, etc.) are storytellers able to put a current issue into a larger perspective. They have experienced many phases of success and failure, exploration and disappointment not only from a global, economic or societal perspective, but also from a human point of view of individual cycles of life.

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Author: Dr. Katrin Muff

Dr. Katrin Muff is a thought leader in the transformative space of sustainability and responsibility at Business School Lausanne, where she acted as Dean from 2008-2015 until self-organization made such a title redundant. Under her leadership, the school focused its vision on entrepreneurship, responsibility and sustainability in education and research. Her business experience includes 10 years at ALCOA (GM in Russia, Industry Analyst for Global M&A in the U.S. and Business Analyst Europe), 3 years as Director, Strategic Planning EMEA at IAMS Europe (Procter&Gamble), and 3 years as a co-founder of Yupango, a coaching consultancy dedicated to start-ups and training management teams.

One thought on “Collaboratories: the result of holding a space

  1. Try, try, try, whilst on trying will be the rule that must be followed for being a professional in anything.
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