Building Sustainable Legacies


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50+20 normative leadership model meets behavioural economics

I recently spoke at RECOL Switzerland about our vision for responsible leadership and presented our normative model developed as part of the 50+20 Vision:

Globally responsible leadership is built on a leader’s capacity for reflective awareness and contains three roles in which he acts and makes decisions – entrepreneur, leader and statesman.

Interestingly, my presentation was followed by an in-depth analysis by Gerard Fehr, who together with his Nobel-prize winning brother works on ways to apply behavioural economics to the real world.

He gave examples of their existing research to evaluate if and how our ideal leadership vision is reflected in the current realities of leaders. The discussion that followed couldn’t have been more inspiring: Are we really unable to be empathic? Are sanctions really the only way to maintain employee compliance? Is breaking down of cooperation really the norm and not the exception?

The hand-picked, high calibre audience first experienced their own gaps in their behaviour compared to their intention, through a smart real-time survey game operated by Gerard and his lovely assistant, Katharina Kaiser.

The Human Resources, Sustainability, and Compliance Directors of top Swiss firms contributed to a rich and controversial discussion, about the tension between the somewhat sad, actual state of the elements of responsible leadership and its ideal vision.

In a last segment, as Gerhard and I jointly discussed avenues of action and possibility to move towards the envisaged ideal state, we found insightful new options.

In conclusion, I must say that I was delighted to have been part of such a rich and thought-provoking experience and I hope that normative and quantitative research meet again in such inspiring settings.

Thanks to Joanna Hafenmayer Stefanska & RECOL for having orchestrated such a miraculous event!

Learn more about seeing through the jungle of responsible leadership and other relevant initiatives.

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Otto Scharmer on a Global Action Leadership School (the “u-school”)

Read this inspirational personal account of one of our key thought leaders of today, Otto Scharmer, and how he is finding courage and will within him to drive towards a dream he has had for a long time. More on Otto’s blog.


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!


Give your 67 minutes on Mandela Day

Here is a message I received from The B Team and would like to share with all of you. Let’s celebrate the Nelson Mandela International Day together, wherever you are right now!

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July 18 is known around the globe as Mandela Day – a celebration of the wonderful Nelson Mandela, his tireless struggle for human dignity and his lifelong commitment to pursue the greater good. His compassion, moral courage and vision of selfless leadership have been an inspiration to so many of us.

As people everywhere keep Madiba in their thoughts and prayers these days, The B Team, alongside Virgin Unite, is supporting the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in South Africa to honour his extraordinary life and values.

The premise of Mandela Day is a simple one: each and every one of us has the ability to make a positive impact in the lives of others. It doesn’t take much to make every day a Mandela Day: if we were all to give just 67 minutes, one minute for every year of Madiba’s fight for human rights and social justice, we can make a huge difference.

I for my part, will spend 67 minutes on July 18th mentoring a group of young entrepreneurs. But there is so much that we all can do. Visit www.mandeladay.com for further inspiration. You can make your pledge to give your 67 minutes at http://www.pledge4mandeladay.org/.

Of course there are other ways in which you can help. If you wish to make a donation from anywhere in the world, to honour Nelson Mandela’s legacy, please visit: www.virginmoneygiving.com/nelsonmandela.

Alternatively, from UK mobiles, you can also text MANDELA to 70107 to make a £5 donation. If you are in the US, text MANDELA to 20222 and $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance.

All funds donated via text messaging, and all funds collected by Virgin Unite through the website will go directly to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory. Inaugurated by Nelson Mandela in 2004, the Centre focuses on three areas of work: the Life and Time of Nelson Mandela, Dialogue for Social Justice and Nelson Mandela International Day. For more information, please visit www.nelsonmandela.org.

Join The B Team and Virgin Unite to support the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in honouring this exceptional leader, elder and wonderful human being. Make sure to give your 67 minutes on Mandela Day, or make a donation today.

Enkosi kakhulu! Baie Dankie! Thank you!

Richard Branson
Co-Chair, The B Team


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.


An illustration of continuous leadership education: the executive monastery

Executives have different needs at different times. These include traditional executive training in leadership, management or business skills. A relatively under-estimated need is the possibility to retreat from the day-to-day demands and action and to reflect on the past to crystallize lessons learned and critical considerations and adaptations for the future. We call it the Executive Monastery!

The Executive Monastery forms an integral part of the management school of the future. It offers a space to reflect on professional and personal achievements and challenges with the possibility to digest and integrate experiences and to prepare for new challenges. Imagine a place, not unlike a real monastery, a safe and sacred space with archways providing shade for walks and reflection, with emptiness in the middle, often enriched with elements of nature, surrounded by a building that offers amenities (rooms and food) and inspiration (libraries) integrated into the surrounding walls. As such, it welcomes professionals for retreats of a duration of their choice, offering them a powerful and safe space of emptiness that is held for them by a variety of supporting services around them: coaches and facilitators are available when necessary, there are personal development workshops, a library with inspirational material in all current media forms, spaces for silent retreats, as well as common moments of yoga, meditation, sports, singing, working, cooking, eating and sharing in general.

katrin blog 1

katrin blog 2

From top to bottom: Sanahin Monastery, Armenia, Sucevita Monastery, Romania


Business and management schools must educate leaders in any organization

While business remains a key focus of future management education, we must embrace leaders in any other organization as well. Borders between for-profit and not-for-profit organizations are blurring, the emergence of “social entrepreneurship” is a good example of this. Government and non-government organizations are challenged to become a lot more professional in their strategies and operational implementation.

More to the point, enabling managers and leaders to understand and embrace the idea of serving the Common Good requires an inclusive approach to education, involving stakeholders beyond business to allow dialogues that have not yet taken place. Developing such leaders is a high order and requires a fundamental paradigm shift in the goal of management education: from assuring that graduates know about leadership to ensure that they are being leaders. Awakening and developing the human being in the leader and the leader in the human being becomes the central purpose and starting point of management education.