Building Sustainable Legacies


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A radically new vision for business schools: towards a Call to Service

If we consider what the world needs us to do and what is expected of business schools in order to contribute to successfully address the existing and emerging societal, environmental and business challenges world-wide, we recognize that we are invited to embrace a call to service:
A call to service: To educate citizens to act responsibly for the world.

Let us look in more detail at this call of service in order to understand the amplitude of what is implied by this vision:

  • A call to service = a clear purpose beyond and above keeping our institutions alive, enriched by the understanding that education stands on equal footing on external knowledge and internal wisdom.
  • To educate = an issue-centred education complemented by subject or domain knowledge focused on the big issues of this world, replacing teaching with a powerful and safe learning environment. Learning embedded in action-learning platforms of collaborative laboratories (collaboratories). Research supporting global issues by involving stakeholders in the definition of research topics and delivering results to them in appropriate formats.
  • Citizens = you and me, business professionals, artists, activists, consultants, coaches, women in emerging countries, micro entrepreneurs, collaborative networks, seniors, everybody with a desire to make a positive contribution to this world.
  • To act = empowered learning to enable action, facilitating participants to wake up to what is inside of them, embracing the adventure ahead, becoming eco-literate and fluent in divergent thinking and courageous action, learning to act as a result of being.
  • Responsibly = creating a space to reflect on action and choices, to connect with true purpose and inner values, embracing the choices and consequences for society and planet in the long-term.
  • For = rather than against, rethinking strategic product & service needs, complementing competition with collaboration and understanding that we are all part of the same larger Unit. Sustainability is the obvious and essential guiding principle of life, business and anybody with a desire to act. Example:  waste-free closed-loop cycle inspired by nature.
  • The world = beyond the current paradigm of capitalism: serving society and the planet.

If we consider what the world needs us to do and what is expected of business schools in order to contribute to successfully address the existing and emerging societal, environmental and business challenges world-wide, we recognize that we are invited to embrace a call to service:
A call to service: To educate citizens to act responsibly for the world.

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Complementing free education with action learning

It is simply a question of time until all leading thinking in terms of business expertise for each function (marketing, finance, HR, strategy, operations) will be available on-line and accessible for free. A number of emerging models in related fields are strong indicators for this – the Khan Foundation, Born-to-learn and dozens of other initiatives.

Business schools need to enlarge the customers of business schools to include any citizen in the world with a desire to make a positive contribution to our world. We should find ways to effectively teach her the necessary business and management skills and competences no matter where in the world she is located. We need to offer as much information as we can for free on-line.

It can well be argued that free on-line education is not sufficient to develop the kinds of leaders we need. Some educational entrepreneurs have embraced this challenge and may or may not proof us wrong. We believe that it is important to complement on-line education with face-to-face action learning. Part of this vision is to figure out ways to create action-learning platforms for citizens in any part of the world, not just within business schools.