Building Sustainable Legacies


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50+20 book launched in Chinese

I am just back from launching the Chinese translation of the 50+20 book “Management Education for the World” during the sixth IACMR annual conference that took place 18-22 June in Beijing.

Anne Tsui first came up with the idea of translating the book into Chinese and not only helped facilitate this process but also helped position the book launch and discussion at the heart of the IACMR conference. I would like to use this opportunity to not only thank Anne and co-translator Zhou Zucheng but also congratulate them on helping organize a succesful launch. It was a truly amazing experience and, since IACRM is the premier scholarly association dedicated to the creation and dissemination of management knowledge with a focus on China, it provided a highly appropriate launch opportunity.

I spent a full day engaged in discussing the book, first on a panel with Yingyi Qian (Dean at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management and member of the AACSB Blue Ribbon Committee for their new standards), Bob McDonald (former Chairman of the Board of Procter & Gamble) as well as Blair Sheppard (PWC Global Strategy and Leadership Development leader and previously with Fuqua School of Business at Duke University). The panel was hugely supportive of the 50+20 vision with each member contributing their perspective of why this vision is relevant.

There was also a 2 hour round-table session reserved for Deans from across China and a follow-on session attended by a further 50 Deans introducing and discussing the book. On each occasion the feedback and response received was very positive and encouraging.

Perhaps one of the highlights of my trip was to learn that Prof. Yang from the Peking University and General Secretary of the MBA Council of China representing over 200 Business Schools in the region decided to make copies of the book available to all its member institutions.

Copies of the translation may be ordered through the Peking University Press.

I look forward to continuing the conversation on transforming management education in Asia when Hong Kong Polytechnic University hosts the 50+20 Renewing Business Education in Asia Conference on 17 July.

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Dreaming up the university of the future at the OIKOS Future Lab 2013

90 students from nearly all chapters from around the world met in St Gallen for a two-day session to inquire how to place OIKOS in the future of management education. I was invited as one of a number of thought leaders from around the world to trigger their creative process. What a delightful experience it was!

The other thought leaders were Max Oliva of the HUB Global and Teamlabs, Martin Cadée of The Journey Network and Knowmads, Traian Bruma who created CROS a student-led university in Romania and Rasmus Johnsen teaching philosophy at CBS in Copenhagen. What an amazing assembly of experience and creative vision in the emerging space of the future of management education.

After a first day spent getting together onto the Journey and applying the Impact Canvas, inspired by the Osterwalder Business Model Generation Canvas, to various concrete projects within the OIKOS framework, day two was dedicated to co-creation. OIKOS is the largest sustainability-focused student organization world-wide with chapters on all continents. We facilitated the initial part of the co-creative process of the students which involved painting a picture of the future of the business school in 2 phases.

Phase 1 consisted of a first group of students of drawing together a picture of what such a university could or should look like. Phase 2 consisted of a second team inheriting the drawing and determining what role OIKOS might want to play in such a scenario. The discussions which accompanied the creative painting exercise were both fascinating and revealing. While we typically think that we need to first know what to point, thus starting with a lengthy debate that ends with a few hasty scribbles on a nearly empty page, our first group immediately attempted to visualize each idea they had about the future university on paper without fully understanding what was emerging or what the final picture might be. About half-way through, one part of team 1 who had worked mostly on one side of the drawing explained what they had ended up painting and vice-versa. The team exchanged places and enhanced the designs of their friends. What emerged what a comprehensive picture which shows the future university as an open space embedded in both society and the environment thus showing the larger planetary context, while also showing the journey of an individual student working on his quest (what do I want to do in future) in his own time, working both in the collaborative open space with facilitative professors, business professionals and thought leaders as well as within reflective spaces, moving back and forth between practical experiences in society (hospitals, businesses, etc.), creating their own individual curriculum in the process (see image 1).

Phase 2 started with an immensely grateful new student team who was amazed by the creative piece of art the first team had drawn up for them. Their analysis of the picture opened the debate on what such a future university could be and what role OIKOS might want to play in there. The second team was nearly afraid to destroy the beautiful foundation work of the first team. Again, rather than trying to first finding the solution, they launched in daring to create a huge infinity loop all across the 3 posters indicating that OIKOS could be the connecting enablers supporting the student in her journey from society, the environment and the university and along her individual learning journey. The open space of the university ended up being the crossing over of the two lines which was drawn up into a green heart. The team furthermore highlighted the planetary context the first team had hinted at by filling in a blue background to the entire picture immensely strengthening the message and providing a common space which symbolized the potential of OIKOS as a universal platform of learning (see image 2).

What impressed me most is how effortlessly this creative process went along and how painting thoughts actually helped to develop thinking. We tend to think it works the other way around. We were accompanied by an amazing artist Klaus Elle who provided the visual track (as compared to the sound track) of what was going on. His ability to summarize sessions with one telling image must have seriously inspired us all!


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Breaking Down the Wall Between Academia and Practice

Our current scientific heritage has driven us to fractionate knowledge and a deepened understanding within specific areas or disciplines. It has also led us to a society and organizations structured by functions rather than issues or challenges. For any school of the future it will be of fundamental importance to break these man-made and inherited barriers between interdependent and interconnected areas of knowledge and of society.

In order to effectively develop future-relevant research and establish the basis for practice-relevant education, the management school of the future will tear down the currently existing, yet unnecessary, walls between business and management practitioners and researchers. New research and educational priorities will demand the removal of current barriers between academics and practitioners, allowing free movement in both directions, e.g.:

  • A professor takes 2-years off [1] to work in a start-up in Somalia, or
  • An entrepreneur spends a 2-year executives-in-residence [2] sabbatical to digest and distill his professional experience

Business leaders, entrepreneurs, directors of NGOs, consultants and activists will be encouraged to join the management school for one or more years to digest and distill their experience as research from the work place.

More than anything, the management school of the future needs a comprehensive mix of educators and researchers with a wealth of experiences and backgrounds. Moving back and forth between reflective work at a management school and work in the action frontier of business and other organizational work is a critical success factor of ensuring high relevance of the faculty in their role as lead-learners in the educational and research process.


[1]           Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

[2]            IMD, Lausanne


Designing a university for the new millennium

Here is an inspiring model of desining a university for the new millennium.

The model described here has no silos (i.e. no departments), a circular building,  no faculty ranks, same teaching load for all, no lecturing or professing – only tutoring, classrooms built for roundtable discussions, curriculum setup to promote trans-disciplinary, question-driven and experiential learning etc. etc.

 

Following 35 years on the faculty of Columbia University in New York, more than half of that time as Chair of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Dr. Helfand developed a deep understanding of the problems of traditional universities. Seizing an opportunity to redesign higher education from scratch, he has served as a Founding Tutor and, since 2008, as President and Vice Chancellor of Quest University Canada. He is also President of the American Astronomical Society, the professional society for astronomers, astrophysicists, planetary scientists and solar physicists in North America.


Research that plays an active role in business and society

The Management school of the future is committed to ongoing research as an important contribution to keep the school vibrant, exciting and relevant. The 50+20 stakeholder survey[1] shows that business and management research need to transform into future-oriented search that is designed and conducted with and written for stakeholders.

Research is re-oriented to become an enabler for many long-term societal targets (such as the Millennium Development Goals which set eradication of poverty targets or the climate change 2050 targets).  The management school conducts research that is multi-disciplinary, serves all stakeholders concerned with the resolution of an issue, and is designed and conducted in collaboration with these stakeholders.

Research involves a broad stakeholder base beyond managers and entrepreneurs to include societal stakeholders such as politicians and NGOs.  The significant problems of our time can only be approached through applied research conducted by multi-disciplinary teams[2]. As an example, developing solutions to climate change requires the whole of community response, new technology, government action and significant behavioral change. The ability to focus on the social and environmental impact of proposed approaches requires researchers with backgrounds across science, social science and health science disciplines. This will be imperative to develop effective solutions to global challenges. Our researchers become active players in business and society, collaborating with relevant stakeholders in the process of formulating and disseminating research questions.


[1]            50+20 project: Stakeholder survey (Aug 2011)

[2]            Adams C, A (2010) ‘Sustainability research in need of a multi-disciplinary approach and a practice and policy focus?’ Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, 1, 1.


Inspired by Ken Robinson’s talk on escaping education’s death valley

A truly inspiring video worth sharing – Ken Robinson: How to escape education’s death valley. An important message for us all.

Ken Robinson outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish — and how current education culture works against them. In a funny, stirring talk he tells us how to get out of the educational “death valley” we now face, and how to nurture our youngest generations with a climate of possibility.

Enjoy watching!


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On Rethinking Management Education for the World

Here is a glimpse into sharing my story of “positive disruption” at TEDx in Lausanne: