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Reposted from: LinkedIn

Warning: Ideas discussed here are ahead of time. And yet, better be 20 years ahead than 20 years behind.

They say ships don’t sink because of the turbulent oceans in which they find themselves. Ships sink because of cracks that let the ocean within. Cracks form due to a number of reasons (captain’s inadequate judgement, team that is misaligned, and/or ship infrastructure that is poorly maintained – all of these intimately related).

Whatever the reason, a strong ship takes you through the storm, and a weak one takes you right to the bottom.

Similarly, companies do not go out of business because of challenging and shifting economic conditions, insufficient resources due to climate change, or poor integration into cultural and social landscapes. Companies go out of business because they are not fit within themselves to adapt to changing economic, social and environmental circumstances.

Just like people, companies need to build capacity on the within in order to stay afloat of adversity.

As Credit Swisse points out in their 2015 report: ‘Aiming for Impact: Credit Swisse and the Sustainable Development Goals‘:

‘the private sector is starting to realise the benefits of contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’, those being the agenda to transform the world from 2015 until 2016, and which can be considered as the one and only path to the sustainability of our planet and the preserving of its biodiversity.

As Credit Swisse rightly points out, the private sector has been increasingly pressured by the public and all other stakeholders to include social, environmental and governance (ESG) factors in not only the reporting on the business, but also the business strategic planning, business model and operations.

Meanwhile, the private sector is – as always – expected to grow. However,

growth needs to be rethought in the context of the SDGs!

Innovative business models need to be found, such that create shared value for all business, society and the environment. And this can be incredibly tricky. Why? Because for businesses to do so, they need to work with all stakeholders, those being the United Nations System in its appropriate bodies, civil society, indigenous peoples, governments and regulatory forces. In fact, all these parties need to reach out and collaborate for sustainable growth, one that keeps profits on the rise but also preserves and enhances the biodiversity of the planet.

If businesses want to stay ahead of the game and afloat of current climatic and social adversities, this is the one and only way for them to do so and be here in another – let’s say – 100 or more years from now. And is it not what we all want, an agile yet profitable business that stays afloat and not only leverages, but also drives sustainability for growth?

What such a business-public sector-government-civil society collaboration means, ultimately, is not just a series of agreements between stakeholder groups, public statements, philanthropic gifts, etc. Such a transformative collaboration can not be achieved by planning and tools we have been using so far. It can only be achieved by innovation.

For businesses to truly stay ahead of the game, and afloat of current economic, social and environmental challenges, by embarking on a journey of growth that is profitable and sustainable, they need to transform on the within in terms of business models, operations, culture and collaboration practices. This is what makes them fit for the long-term.

In other words, businesses need to develop an internal fitness, or resilience, that puts, takes and grounds them on a path of sustainable and profitable growth.

Sounds good. How to do this?

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Corporate sustainability reporting is the elephant in the room here. In a recent post on Corporate Sustainability Reporting: the Case for Change I explored the leveraging of corporate sustainability reporting as a change management tool that takes companies on a path of sustainable growth. And having further explored this with Albor360 (Sustainability Services for the Chemical Industry) and Meier Marketing Global (Helping Brands Stay Meaningful, Relevant, Flexible, and Happy), we can say the following:

  • Companies should do much more with their sustainability reports than what they are doing currently. Staring with a business materiality assessment based on the SDGs, engaging stakeholders and reporting on sustainability is only the first step. The real opportunity to transform on the within and get the business on a journey of sustainable growth only comes afterwards.

To leverage this opportunity, companies should leverage the sustainability reporting exercise as an innovative journey of conversation, knowledge sharing and communications on the within and without of the business with key stakeholder groups.

  • Innovative and powerful content marketing approaches and practices should be leveraged for internal communications, to ‘sell’ key messages to key stakeholder groups and achieve engagement and bottom-up action. Meanwhile, the same can be done on the outside to reach out and engage external actors and forces, not only to enhance the company brand image but also pave the way for its profitable yet sustainable transformation.

The corporate sustainability report targets and KPIs should be used to transform operations and integrate sustainability on the within of the business, that way making it fit and resilient.

  • KPIs should measure performance at different levels, including cross-unit/department/division, as well as within units/divisions/departments. This way, the very fabric of the business is innovated for sustainable growth, not just pieces of it. This makes for a healthy and well-connected business and a sturdy ship that stays afloat of current challenges.

Qualitative and quantitative measurements should both be used.

  • Examples of the former are stories and testimonials: they capture cause-effect relationships and make evident the heuristics that underlie performance, which heuristics in turn – by their engaging nature – create conditions for learning and innovation across the entire business to take place.
  • Knowledge sharing and organisational development tools such as social network analysis (of the type developed by a partner company, Innovisor) should be further leveraged to determine who the key influencers in the inside and outside of the company are, and then work with those champions to design and speed up corporate change efforts. Why? Because transformational change ultimately starts, ends, and works (or not) because of people as change agents, not because of systems, processes, or other mechanisms. In this sense:

Design thinking approaches that look to co-create strategies and forge an emotional and spiritual connection between the business and those who make it happen, as well as those who determine its relevance and those who depend on it, should also be increasingly used.

  • Last but not least, the right systems, in terms of infrastructure, IT and measurement, should be developed, co-created as appropriate and mainstreamed throughout the business in a participatory and engaging manner, leveraging content marketing and social media approaches and tools, and putting people at the centre.

With all this in place, a business is in for a journey of sustainable growth for the long term with a number of benefits: improved brand image, enhanced profitability, sustainable business models and systems, happy stakeholders, to say the least, and a lot more that can not be even projected to start with.

And, with all this in place, there is a growing and evolving conviction on the part of employees and stakeholders that this business, by growing, also develops the society and preserves the environment where it operates, in an ESG kind of a fashion.

The more the business can continually strike an ESG balance, and the more it uses the corporate sustainability reporting exercise as one key and integrative lever on this journey, the more we are convinced it is the kind of a business that is in it for the next 100 years at least which is, as you can imagine, very, very appealing to customers, consumers and investors. It is good for you now and it will be good for you tomorrow. And not only that, it makes you feel good too, no?!

Do you share these ideas? Myself, Albor360 and Meier Marketing Global would love to hear from you if you do. Do you have better ideas? Do you want to get on a sustainable growth journey? Please contact me.

We can travel with you, answer your questions and discuss opportunities for your business sustainable growth.

With you, we design and operationalise corporate social responsibility change management programs that leverage the various stages and opportunities of sustainability reporting. We empower you to get on a path of transformational discovery of what sustainable and profitable growth means for your business, and how about we do this for the 100 years from now?

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As I was flowing on the mat this morning, something my first yoga teacher had told me kept crawling in: ‘In yoga, you have to start with what you like’.

I only marginally understood him at the time. Today, 2.5 years later, his words have a lot more meaning.

2.5 years into my yoga journey and I am nowhere as near as where I could be and yet so much further away from where I started ))))). Triconasana (triangle pose) used to be one of my favourites but today I don’t have favourites anymore. Today it is so much more about ‘integration’ in my practice, about combining, opening, challenging, soothing, in various proportions depending on the day, the period and my state of being ))))

However, I would not be there had I not started with, looked forward to and rejoiced in what I ultimately liked the most then: my triconasana – triange pose.

http://yogalily.com/yoga-poses-twists-triangle-pose-trikonasana/

Triconasana Pose

Was I ready? No. Are we ever? No we aren’t. But then what made me do it? I took a decision to try, a decision out of hope, to try yoga out. Was I afraid? Probably, considering I had breathing issues, and wasn’t sure I can make it physically. But, I must have replaced fear with hope, and decided things can not really get much worse. (This is what we all ought to do when we are afraid. Recognise, then turn fear into hope, and do what made us afraid in the first place. … Because fear is human, and like all else, a source of energy to drive us or not forward.)

As I took this decision, I also trusted there were going to be things, people, situations along the way to help me on this journey, a journey I had no idea where it led. I had no idea what those things were going to be – I can only articulate them now – but I trusted, I had faith, I knew this CAN work, I wanted to try.

And this is precisely how it has been: there have been teachers, other practitioners, yoga mats that stick well so that you can hold on well onto a challenging pose, props, blocks, blankets, yoga studios, everything to help me get along the way.

And so this morning, as I was flowing on the mat, I somehow remembered all this. And I could also see a clear analogy between my yoga journey and the way we, or I try to go about life.

Because my yoga journey illustrates really well, with the deep mechanics of it, that the state of readiness doesn’t exist. Originally created by our brains to protect, and preserve us, ‘I am not ready’ often actually stops us not just from progressing, but also from living.

Perfection is procrastination, as I heard a communications expert say recently.

And so yes, or rather no, we are NEVER really ready for that new job, to start a new relationship, to fall in love again and make ourselves so vulnerable (but also live something beautiful), to move countries, etc. No, we are never really ready for that interview, or for the exam that’s coming, or for the workshop to facilitate tomorrow. If you think about it, you will see that probably most if not all of what you planned didn’t happen the way you planned. Or if it did, it was adding to, but not living.

Readiness is an illusion. What we do instead (apart from preparing) is making a choice between hope and fear and moving forward. (There is a third choice, prioritisation, not discussed here.)

If we choose hope, we are dancing. We might still fall but the light is on our side. We get up and try again. If we choose fear, we are frozen, and as much as this is also a kind of swap of energies and in that sense moving forward, we are making an active choice to stay away from the light (or enlightenment).

And, if we choose hope as I did on my yoga journey, we start with what we like and can do well )))) That is how we get into it.

Similarly, we start a new job by using our innate and learned strengths, and we use those to grow and learn more and more. We start a new relationship by (I guess …) trusting it will go well, by putting ourselves forward, by practicing the good we have known from previous relationships, by speaking openly about our fears, sometimes only to discover new amazing things about ourselves and our partner. … And this is how after a couple of years, we have a totally new experience in the bag, nothing like what we could have planned or thought could have happened.

And then as we do this – just like the props and the sticky mats -, there is plenty of helping hand along the way (colleagues, our partner, friends and family, to say the least). They are there if we only choose hope and try, try, try.
gypsy_moth

By Josephine Wall

So this is what my morning practice taught me this time around. It reaffirmed my deep conviction life is not possible without hope (like my name, Nadejda )))). That we are never really ready unless we take the plunge and try. That life on the mat is often life in real life.

… As I often wobble on the mat, I also struggle with these choices in real life. But, I am willing to try. And I think this makes all the difference.

Thank you. Namaste  🙂

I have been doing a lot of soul-searching over the last months and year, and am transitioning in terms of career and private life. Because I think this is what lots of other people are doing, in their search for higher consciousness and ‘ forms of being’, I wanted to share my lessons and insights with you, hopefully as guidance to others who feel they are kind of ‘floating’ in their life journey at this moment.

First, what does it feel like, to ‘transition’? If any of the below are bits and pieces you are experiencing, then join the club folks! Nothing to be scared about, although I know, it feels pretty scary. 🙂

Below I mention three according to me major signs you are in a transition, and share a bit of how I deal with each, and how I use it to ride the wave of change. 🙂

– You feel like at least some of the people you know currently are somehow draining your energy. That is okay. This is because you are on a journey, and they are part of your past. They may not be part of your future when you reach your next destination point.

Either draw the boundaries while still remaining in touch and meeting up with those people, or just take distance. Explain it to yourself this has nothing to do with them, or you, it is a natural course of change in life. Accept, that is the only way to change.

Those who are really your friends will understand. Some of them, especially those who expect you to respect them, might get upset. Just accept all these aspects and remain in your bubble. You need your bubble to weave the threads of your new life. 🙂

– You are often gripped by fear. Oh well, that is a sign you are really doing some work on yourself and are on a journey.

When this happens, accept your fear. Then examine all the options. What is really the worst that can happen? Look into it, is it that you may not be able to stay where you are? Then think of where else you could go. Is that really going to be so bad? Probably not. Think of all the times you have been faced with something impossible and yet you have been able to make it. Dance with your fear, and transform it into something more positive and beautiful. Remember that unless we have fear we can also not have courage. So fear is actually a pretty good thing. 😉

– You feel like you are on the pulse of something, but that thing is yet to be discovered and created by you. Well that is the most exciting part, and a clear call you need to keep doing. Just keep on doing, but not senselessly, and be active, not just in your deeds, but also in your mind.

Explore whatever it is you wish to change. Is it life balance? Then live it, take risks from your current point of view, experiment.

Is it a new stage in your relationships? Then bring it around in a steady way, accepting that everything is about discovery and that all that happens is just feedback and feedback loops.

Is it about a new way of living your intimate relationship and love life? Well then, take a risk, watch how you feel and experiment with feeling good, no matter what. Focus on things that give you energy and remove the ones that are not.

What really helps here is making it clear to you what your life principles are, and accepting these might not be everyone else’s. And yes, we all have principles according to which we live our lives. It is our mission in life to proclaim these and as much as possible live our life accordingly.

At the same time though, we will come across people and situations that are not build according to the same principles, or just don’t have strong principles. When this happens, recognise, and move swiftly forward. It is no one’s fault. It is just not your thing. The Universe is big and with space for everything in it. We are best at remaining true to ourselves when we maximise our value, that is invest energy, but do not overload with it. That way we save ourselves for when we are truly in our element. Life is simple, we only need to enhance what we stand for in it.

All the above is a process and comes around through self-awareness. Yes, you can. If you are in a transition, then think of as a gift. You will learn so much. If you are in it, you can take it. You are meant to be in it because you are strong and worthy. It is your chance. 🙂

I find these help me on my journey. Are they also helping you?

Wishing you a great time being a mindful human being. 🙂

eleonora brigliatori


I know I have been silent for long – perhaps too long – and would like to apologize to my over 500 followers for my silence. Meanwhile, I would like to thank you all for following me. Thank you!!! I would not say I have been a proliferic blogger, but whatever I have posted, I have tried to make sure it is of good quality. I hope this has worked for YOU, my followers. A big thanks to you all, once and again. 🙂

I am currently going through a transition, and as part of that I am rethinking the focus of my blog and blog posts. As part of this, I would like to conduct a small experiement, and I would like you, those of you who follow me, to participate in it. Let us turn this blog into more of a multi-way communication!

By commenting on this blog post, would you please let me know the following:

– Why did you click on the ‘FOLLOW’ button on my blog? Why do you follow me? What resonates with you in my posts?

– What have you appreciated about my blog posts?

– What would you like to see more of in my posts?

– What have you not liked, what would you think I should improve?

I would LOVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK. Please do let me know what you think by commenting on this blog post.

Can’t wait to hear from you. 🙂


Last night I went to a Starbucks coffee shop in Zurich. I went up to the top floor and sat down. I had had a long and busy day and needed some time with my own thoughts. And, then, I saw this badly anorexic girl. It took me sometime to figure out she was anorexic. It honestly felt like I was looking at a calm and quiet ghost sitting in the corner. I felt really eery.

I guess the girl was in the last stages of anorexia. So bad! You could see the skull through her skin. It was like she was both 16 and 80. I as so afraid like I have never been in my life, looking at her. I was both drawn to her, because the intensity of her element was so strong, and so afraid to look at her. She was in an element I could not understand, but I could feel its intensity. Felt like she is going down a tunnel from which there is no way back, and she knew it.

She was very weak, I think she was drinking her own saliva from a handkerchief. At some point she started crying. That was horrific to look at. Her face … was the mask of a ”dead person walking”, the alive mask of a dead body. I am so sorry. I felt so bad, so shaken, so moved by the whole thing. Nobody noticed her or seemed to notice her, everyone went about their conversations. If they did notice her crying, they pretended they did not see anything. Some people came to sit close to her, saw her, then moved away. Then at some point she asked about the hour, politely, and left. Very skinny, weak and all that.

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The whole experience deeply disturbed me. First, It felt like she wanted to feel like we all do but could not. This is why she was there, to try to feel what it feels like to be ”normal”. She did not eat or drink anything. I think she knew she looked bad, and she knew I was looking at her, but was calm and thoughtful. She blank very little.

I know that in anorexia at some point there is a point of no return, your body actually rejects food, your digestive system gets out of practice, and even if you do want to eat, and even enjoy it, it feels so bad for you, your body actively rejects food. Often these people are also among the brightest, most creative and most intelligent. Anorexia has many causes, it is linked to a predisposition in the brain, but then the showing of the condition is unlocked by so many other factors, just one of which is the idea that we as women (or men) have to be skinny in order to be beautiful. (All of these advertisement sorts of things we are being bombarded with.) This is just one factor though. There can be other factors, like family problems, and all that mixing together.

Should I have done something more, should I have talked to her? May be she would have not understood my English. May be I could have gone down to the Starbucks staff, and talked to them about this. I assume she would/should be in hospital.

I was watching her closely, and anyway, felt could not do much else. But if she had started harming herself, I would have done something, I was also watching all around me, all these nice people. Really beautiful, nice people. Engaged in conversations. Zurich is new to me, so I am naturally observing everything, absorbing every aspect of the Swiss German reality. I do not know it very well yet and do not speak the language. That makes me even more open to whatever is going on, beyond what words can express.

I remember as I was sitting there, with the girl sitting diagonally to me, I only wanted to leave. I did not though. Then I was suddenly overtaken by a feeling of such gratitude and joy. I think it was a defense mechanism. What I felt there is a realization of how lucky I am. Sitting there, with my worries and concerns, I understood I have the privilege to live a full life on our planet with all of its ups and downs, which are all these awesome opportunities to live fully and grow. I also felt, I thought the girl knew this, and she simply could not belong to this world.

I am so very sorry. I thought the least I could do is write about this here. So that people know. Not sure whether I should have done something differently. I tell you, I have never been so afraid. Really. Because I felt what she knew through her serious psychopathological condition, we, the rest of us, do not know, at all, do not want to, simply can not. Most of us would say we are just blessed with not being like ”that”. Not being like ”that” always carries with it its own drama, and worries and concerns, but it is, to us at least, delightfully alive.

I am not at all angry, or displeased with all of the wonderful people around her who went about their conversations. I was in some way one of them, I went about my emails, and tried to focus in on my own thoughts. But I just could not forget about this girl. And I just wanted to share my experience here with you.

Let’s remember that challenges and worries in life are opportunities to outgrow ourselves, to focus and take the right decisions. 🙂 I wish all of you who read this well. Let’s remember to embrace life as it is, change it as much as we can do and where we want to, live it with our full hearts, have patience where it takes, and have love and sympathy.

 

To close off, a wonderful video by the Piano Guys –

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJ_fkw5j-t0&list=RD02fz4MzJTeL0c


I just read this really excellent article by Bill Barnett in the Harvard Business Review Blog. It is called ”When Choosing a Job, Culture Matters”. I highly recommend it not only to job seekers, but also to anyone who’s looking for herself/himself in the organisation where she/he works, especially those who are not that happy with these organisatons and how they do what they do.

Organisational culture, or organisational mindset, is something I have already explored in another post. The culture within the organisation, the team, and so on where we work, is key to whether we can be successful in it. It is a key determinant, almost as important, if not more important than what the organisation or the team actually does.

Despite this, when we look for jobs, we often look for such in organisations that do something we believe in, be it reducing poverty, feeding the hungry, saving the displaced-by-disasters, developing social businesses, driving the digital revolution, and so forth. As we do this, we rarely ask the ”culture” and ”mindset” questions.

Personally, having worked with a variety of organisations for already more than nine years, and having experienced a variety of cultures, and having struggled a number of times, I am at a point where I think culture is more important than organisation purpose.

Think this scenario:

You have high integrity. You are environmental sustainability minded. You believe in business that is both responsible and sustainable. You value and respect others and expect them to value and respect you. You are focused on doing the right thing, always, and are prepared to work hard by yourself and with others to figure out what that is and then implement it. You are open to learning and new experiences. You believe in that real, all-encompassing and overturning change is the result of many working well together, not just a few doing their own thing. You believe in working with all the stakeholders. You are competitive and like winning. You are exhilarated by the possibility of winning a contest based on nothing but your abilities and outstanding performance. You have a vigorous approach to both practice and research. You want to make a difference in this world.

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You join an oil and gas company. Doesn’t make sense, right? How will you ever contribute to a business that is socially responsible and brings environmental sustainability to the world from within there? What this company does is in stark opposition with your values. But, think again, is it?

As it turns out, the oil and gas company has a culture that greatly suits what your personality needs in order to succeed. It is transparent when it comes down to promotions, and, because of the nature of the the business, there is a deep and shared commitment to health and safety. The people there want to do good (albeit it may sound like a paradox to you initially). They don’t want any spills. They want to innovate solutions to extracting the oil and gas in the depths of the Earth, solutions that do not damage it in the long term, solutions that do not cause and precipitate earthquakes, solutions that are clean and minimal in terms of impact. Furthermore, they are investing in renewable energy and are well familiar with how challenging is to produce such sustainably. They want to tackle this as a corporation. They are looking for the answers, together. There is respect for points of view different than yours. Knowledge sharing and knowledge management catalyse good practices emerging from the bottom-up, and scale them up through corporately adopted solutions. It is all bubbling inside that company, actually. There is urgency to innovate and plenty of commitment to doing good.

And so, surprisingly, culture-wise the company is a good fit for you, which is also why you took the job. You know it will be hard and challenging at times, but the culture is there to support you and carry you on its waves. Besides, a little bit of hardship and challenge is what you welcome to make things interesting and really make it possible for you to achieve your vision and goals.

Makes sense?

While this example is entirely fictitious, it helps to illustrate the point.

Culture, and not organisation purpose per se, is what creates conditions for us to succeed, to show and put to work what we are capable of, and to achieve our personal visions. The right culture is what brings it all out, connects us deeply with our colleagues and stakeholders, and makes it possible for us to run fast yet never be tired.

In a similar way, the people we work with, how they are, their aspirations and ways of working, their motivations and integrity are almost as important if not more important that what we actually do together with these people. And, this is because, if there is chemistry inherent to how we work together, we are willing to listen, learn together, change the course of action and even re-examine and change our values. If the culture is good, we are genuinely putting ourselves at work and positive growth can emerge. This is why culture, and that chemistry that imbues our teamwork with others, is by the far the most important prerequisite for us being successful, happy and satisfied at the workplace.

If you are reading this and are not happy with your work, think why that might be. Think what it is about it that is stopping you. Think of how to overcome it. If the only way of doing this is by joining another organisation (and leaving your current one), do that, don’t be complacent. It is all about growth in the end. Making yourself a success is the one most important thing you want to achieve in your life.

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I see the following dynamic streams in the future of our world (i.e., world = the dynamic system that represent the planet, environment, and humanity):

  • Religion

The role of religion, spiritual values and norms will increase in the years to come. This will not have much to do with the various sorts of religious institutions there are, however, unless these succeed to transform and embrace gender equality, social justice and innovation.

People will more and more want to be guided by religion in their day-to-day lives and decision making. More and more they will construct their own religion(s) though, rather than follow the ones that have been written. As much as they will appreciate the existing religions, they will also recognise their insufficiency. A world awaits where all religions fuse together to provide people with the spiritual guidance and answers they seek and need.

  • Environment

Sustainability and sustainable development will continue to be one of the most topical issues on the world’s plate today (the other ones being peace and security). The businesses that will win will generate sustainability from the heart of their organisations, and pursue sustainability as an opportunity for increased revenues.

Governments will provide more and more frameworks for business and society to embrace environmental sustainability, however a major challenge will lie in operationalising these frameworks.

Whilst richer countries will struggle to reinvent their entire systems and integrate sustainability and environmental preservation in them, poorer countries will be torn between 1) adopting sustainability as core to their systems and 2) pursuing development solutions that lift people from poverty in the short term but are unsustainable and damaging in the long run.

  • Social Innovation

What is more, stronger religion and sustainable systems underlying life on our planet will be accompanied by increased connections and collaboration within communities and across geographies. Solutions to pressing issues such as security, hunger, disease, justice, and the gender gap, will be the result of multi-stakeholder collaboration at every level – global, regional, local.

Innovation will take place in social spaces especially designed for this purpose, such as hubs, communities of practice, and groups like the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Councils. Agents of change will emerge and lead projects and initiatives beneficial to society and the environment.

  • The Human Species

With ecosystems often inadvertently changing, our bodies will change too. More and more people will live in polluted cities which will lead to gradual evolutionary changes to the human body.

In addition, the increased pace and connectedness of our lives, and the fact that we are bombarded with information, will mean changes in our brain capacity, minds and spirit. Children will learn faster than we used to. More and more of them will be born with the innate ability to intuitively sense the state of the dynamic systems we are part of, and will want to rebel against structures no longer viable.

  • The Animal Species

Some animal species will disapear, although not as many as currently feared. However, the majority of those who stay will be in decreased numbers which will tilt the biodiversity on the Earth.

For the Earth’s biodiversity to survive, human consumption will have to decrease. I believe this trend is at a tipping point and it is not yet clear how it will tip. What do you think?

What do you think about these trends? Are these all? Are there others?

Thank you.


My great great friend Jono sent me the below poem sometime back. I find it speaks true and from within the depths of my heart. I love it (and Jono does too). I wanted to share it with you.

Merry Christmas! 🙂

The Invitation – Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.


A beautiful Saturday day. Sun shining in Rome. All’s great. And, an article, a truly amazing article by the McKinsey Quarterly. It got my brain firing on a number of issues. It resonated with both my mind and heart.

The article is about women at the workplace, the challenges and the opportunities. It talks about why, despite decades of talking about the need to have more women in senior positions of management, this is yet to happen. There is the general notion we urgently need to strike a gender balance in senior and at all levels of management, and yet there are (often unconscious) barriers that stop us from doing so.

Here’s the article:

Changing companies’ minds about women

Leaders who are serious about getting more women into senior management need a hard-edged approach to overcome the invisible barriers holding them back.

On Mindset …

So, let’s talk about mindset first. On a metalevel, I was struck by how often the notion of ‘mindset’ comes up in the article, directly and indirectly, as well as the need to change that ‘mindset’. Struck and pleasantly surprised. If McKinsey talks about it chances are the corporate world is thinking and talking about it too. And that is a good thing because tackling mindset in the context of change is what wins us the change.

A synonym for mindset is approach, motivation, belief, inspiration. Mindset is exactly what we have deeply ingrained in ourselves which drives us to feel, think and behave. It is complex and over-arching. To put it bluntly, mindset creates our world. And if we change it, our world changes. We have the power to play with our mindsets and in that way change our contexts and what we attract and happens to us. And when we do this, and if we pair in sustainability, love, openness, fairness and justice values, powerful transformations at personal, interpersonal, organisational, systems and other levels emerge.

Therefore, tackling mindset as we seek to effectively address challenges at every level is important. For this, we don’t need to understand mindset in all of its components as it will be different each time we look at it. Still, models like the below are helpful tools in diving deep into mindset and becoming more conscious of how it works in us. It is the journey (motivated by the need to transform for the better) that matters more than the result.

(The image is courtesy of Paradigms, Mental Models, and Mindsets: Triple Barriers to Transformational Change in School Systems.)

Despite the power we hold through creating and leveraging our mindsets, I have seen mindset being somewhat overlooked in the context of change in the corporations and organizations I have worked with. What is more, people resist talking about mindset. It is too general they say, too intangible. There is nothing we can do about it because there is nothing to hold onto. And, if we try to change the mindset underlying what we do, it won’t work because people resist change …

Well, to be frank, I’ve often felt like an alien hearing such thoughts and comments. I guess I am often overly idealistic! But that doesn’t mean there is no truth in the notion that mindset is our greatest power and asset, our greatest tool in changing our world, and organisations, and communities, for the better.

Also, mindset is not at all that intangible. We can often feel it, taste is even as it is coming across at us from people, teams and organisations. The point is how aware we are of these waves of meaning constantly conveyed to us. And, if we are not aware, how to develop that awareness. Because if we are aware, we have to power to change our world.

For example, research on the development action logic of sustainability leaders by Barrett Brown explains how leaders of large-scale sustainability initiatives approach, understand and engage with the world in order to enable sustainability changes in their organisations and society. Barrett has found out that effective leaders for sustainability, i.e. leaders who are able to foresee and drive large-scale sustainability transformations, tend to be at later stage of development action logic or cognitive development/meaning-making capacity. According to the Washington University Science Completion Test, they are Strategists, Alchemists and Ironists. The descriptions of these cognitive profiles make mindset sufficiently tangible for a leader, a trainer, or anybody else, to work with and develop.

And so, mindset is not only important, it can also be sufficiently tangible for us to develop and cultivate.

On Mindset and Women in our Organisations …

So how does the McKinsey article I refer to above entertain the notion of mindset? It generally assumes it is something we all know and are aware of but often choose to ignore in the way we work:

”Subtle changes in these attitudes toward advancement are another powerful benefit of changing how companies “think about women around here.” By addressing the mind-sets holding women back, corporate leaders can reshape the talent pipeline and its odds, increasing the number of women role models at the top and, in turn, making it likelier that more women will retain their ambition.”

”This is a powerful idea that resonates with our experience: strong as the general business case for women is, companies are more likely to transform mind-sets if they build their own case. That case should be grounded in the impact women are having at your own organization—whether hard business results or indirect benefits, such as building better teams.”

”When the findings are impossible to overlook, leaders can use them to make the invisible mind-sets visible and then manage these mind-sets to remove their influence.”

”If you’re ready to start challenging the broadly held mind-sets holding women back in your organization, first become conscious of your own beliefs and how they affect your behavior and decisions. Then, as you help your company move forward, remain vigilant: every time a senior executive leaves or enters an organization, its culture can—and does—shift.”

The article gives some interesting facts:

For example, with the corporate world being predominantly male-oriented, it can be hard for women to move up the corporate ladder simply because they are of a different kind. In order to move up, anyone, not just a woman, needs dedicated sponsorship, feedback and support. (Coaching, yheah?) Tough feedback men tend to give to men is well received by men but is not always appreciated by women. Support on the other hand is well appreciated by women but tends to be shunned away by men. With male and female brains being wired differently, and not many men in the corporate world being able to coach and support women in a way that women find useful and constructive, even if opportunities are available for women to move up, they either do not take them or do not perform in a way that is perceived as impactful and successful. And, in this way, the corporate system is not being transformed because the most powerful lever in it, i.e., the mindset, is not being pushed in order to enable all-encompassing transformations.

Another point the authors of the article make is that it is not just whether there is the ”right’ mindset in an organisation. It is also where it is if it is there. Because our organisations are still largely hierarchical, unless there is the ”right” (in this case, a mindset that sees the barriers that stop women from moving up the corporate ladder and also a mindset that is able to cultivate confidence and skill in women) mindset among senior executives, change won’t be rippled down and across the organisation.

In a nutshell, mindset is our greatest asset and resource. What we do with it determines our future. Allowing women to assume senior management positions and blend into the senior management of our organisations determines our future too. The more balanced the gender outlook of our organisations is, the more sustainable our world can be.

Beautiful ”Sweet Synergy” by amazing artist Josephine Wall:


Recently, I had the privilege to listen to a talk by Dave Snowden. Dave is the Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of the Cognitive Edge. He is the creator of the Cynefin Framework which is revolutionising current thinking about and understanding of the nature of reality, learning and evolution.

I first listened to Dave ten years ago while he was still working with the IBM Institute of Knowledge Management. (There, he led a programme on complexity and narrative.) He was invited as the main speaker to an event co-organised by the British Countryside Agency (currently part of Natural England) with whom I was working on a Learning Networks dissertation project. Then, he spoke about the nature of communities of practice and effective collaboration supported by the use of information and communication tools and frameworks.

Dave’s talk I had the pleasure to recently listen to was on ”Linear versus Complexity, New Thinking Paradigm for the Development World”. It took place at the International Fund for Agricultural Development.  As Roxy Samii at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said, it was a truly humbling experience! The IFAD blog post and webcast of the lecture is here.

Dave Snowden as Speaker

With Dave being such a good speaker, it is good to note a thing or two about his style. He may come across as slightly (if not more) opinionated, but his points are good, speak truth, and quickly relate to you being so personal. Being a great story teller, he oscillates between deeply personal and fairly abstract. I find it interesting that he has a background in both Philosphy and Physics, which I think makes for an approach that is rigourous yet effectively tackles the abstract, i.e. what we often find so difficult to define. He takes a natural science approach to social science. A well-rehearsed speaker, Dave throws pearls of wisdom at you as he speaks, and mixes these with satire which may taste bitter but being so true is refreshing. Sounds good, right? It is a pleasure listening to and learning from him.

Below are some of Dave’s talk points. These are not meant to be a comprehensive account of what he talked about. For a comprehensive account, please watch the webcast.

Cynefin Framework – Four Different Kinds of System

The Cynefin Framework is a sense making model in which data precedes frameworking (as opposed to categorization models in which frameworking precedes data). The framework is there to help define the system we are having to deal with and therefore define our optimum approaches to it. It is a decision-making framework that has been used for knowledge management, project management, IT Design, strategy making and so forth. Its purpose is to help us assess a situation and then apply a most appropriate approach of addressing and learning from it.

There are four different kinds of system that are there to frame our experience. What is complex and chaotic to one can be merely simple to another. Part to defining the type of system we are dealing with lies with its nature, part with our experience and expertise. These two can be quite hard if not impossible to distinguish though.

  • Simple Systems (cause and effect relationships are simple and predictable). Here, we sense, categorise and respond. Applying best practice (i.e., established  examples of what works in a particular context) works well in simple systems.
  • Complicated Systems (cause and effect relationships exist but they are not self-evident). Here, we sense, analyse and respond. Applying good practice (i.e., a range of examples of what works well in a given context) works well in complicated systems provided we have the right expertise.
  • Complex Systems (cause and effect relationships are only obvious in hindsight, learning by doing). Here, we probe, sense, and respond. Here we apply emergent practice (i.e., new practice, some combination of best practice and good practice, or not, which is different and unique). When the system is complex we apply emergent practice in order to adequately ”work” it.
  • Chaotic Systems (no cause and effect relationships can be determined). Here we act, sense, and respond. In order to effectively understand and function in a chaotic system we must act very quickly to either innovate or stabilise it and therefore learn from it. In complex systems we apply novel practice.

Depending on the ontology that applies to the situation, we should think and analyse accordingly. One size does not fit all!

The Catch behind Disorder

The central space on the above diagram is key. It is Disorder, i.e., the space where we dont know which space or system we are in. The danger is that when we are in Disorder we would interpret the situation according with our preference.

Complacency Zone

Furthermore, Dave points out that whereas the boundaries between:

simple <-> complicated

complicated <-> complex

complex <-> chaotic

are there for transitions, the

simple -> chaotic boundary is a complacency zone.

When we get used to believing that ”simple” paradigms underlie everything then we get to see all problems as a failure of process. In reality, this is often not the case. In other words, simple is highly vulnerable to rapid change, whereas complicated and complex are not. If we have learnt to function in primarily simple, i.e., very bureaucratic environments, we would apply best practice approaches even when the situation calls for good practice, emergent practice, or even novel practice.  And, as Dave says, this is a recipe for disaster.

Pearls of Wisdom

Some pearls of wisdom Dave threw at us as he spoke:

  • Partial fragmented stories of failure create more learning than documented examples of good practice.
  • Failure can have more learning potential than success.
  • Delegation is not distributed decision-making/distributed cognition.
  • Micro-management is a deadly enemy of understanding complexity and complex systems.
  • It is important to not confuse measures with targets, i.e., focus too much on measuring and forget the thing to measure! (British National Health Service) It is important to manage the evolutionary potential of the present rather than measures and targets.
  • Computer Science and Economics graduates are often partially autistic (Asperger’s syndrome). However, this means they will often detect patterns other people will not. This is very valuable and can be highly adaptive to the human species.
  • Computers will always only mimic people’s intelligence. They won’t replace it.
  • We evolve to make decisions based on limited data. We like ”messy coherence”. Deep inside, we perceive order as threatening.
  • Different cultures are defined by patterns we tend to experience in that culture. These patterns define our brain function and get us to go about things in some ways and not others.
  • Tacit knowledge is at the heart of deep expertise. Tacit knowledge can not be made explicit! (Polanyi is right, Nonaka and Takeuchi have not read Polanyi)
  • Explicit knowledge without tacit knowledge makes no sense!
  • Knowledge Management often assumes knowledge can be codified whereas it can not!
  • Communities of Practice are often too structured and therefore we do not need them.  What we do need are more adaptive social computing structures. Peer-to-peer knowledge is better than focusing on achieving targets. Blogs can build communities very fast.
  • Technology is so pervasive these days that Twitter can be more effective than Google.
  • Important to no longer design applications but rather design architectures in which applications can emerge.
  • Architectures for resilience are better off than architectures for effect.
  • Development projects are almost never planned for resilience which is on the other hand much more effective. If they are planned for resilience they currently will find it hard to be funded.
  • Adduction is the ability to make connections among things not normally connected. (I see, so this is how it was called…) It is a source of innovation and has a lot of adaptation potential. It is however often discouraged, why?
  • History of Science goes through three stages: 1. Management Science (simple, all about targets), 2. Systems Dynamics (complicated, Senge’s learning organization framework, learning objectives, imposing ready models on reality) and 3. complex dynamics (complex systems change at every level, not just at system level).

Applications

At his lecture, Dave pointed out the Cynefin Framework has been used to frame challenges experienced by businesses and foundations, such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation. The point is to enable donors to fund projects and programmes without having a clear idea of the objective. I wonder how it could be used to transform the corporate sector and enable socially responsible and environmentally sustainable businesses around the world.

I love complicated and complex. Even chaotic can be exhilarating!


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