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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?

Slide1

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?


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 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.


Every year, on March 1st, I wish my friends and loved ones ”Chestita Baba Marta!” and give those whom I can reach geographically (and that is only a small proportion of them) a martenitsa. Every year, I love seeing the appreciation my friends and loved ones feel at this gesture. Martenitsas are beautiful in that they celebrate a Bulgarian custom that has survived through very many centuries (its origins are pagan).  They celebrate love, humanity and humility for nature’s law.

Matenitsas protect as the seasons change from winter to spring. They bring you good health, fortune and luck. They attract love and happiness. They ensure the energy and vitality of the coming spring throw only their good side on you. Every martenitsa is made from white and red threads, white to bring peace and good fortune, and red to bring love, good health, vitality and energy.

I wish you Chestita Baba Marta! Happy Granny Marta Day! 🙂

More about martenitsas is here.

A nice slideshow of selected martenitsas is here.

 


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.


I came across this beautiful quote today.  I could not make it invisible by not sharing it. Here it is:
————

“It is lack of love for ourselves that inhibits our compassion towards others.  If we make friends with ourselves, then there is no obstacle to opening our hearts and minds to others.”

– Author unknown…
————

After I read it, I took a moment to reflect whether it is true. I realised that it is. Whenever we are in love with ourselves, we immediately open to all and everything around us. And, if we are feeling negative about our lives, it is actually because we are unhappy with something about ourselves.

Such a simple yet powerful realisation. It all starts with us. We can change the world by changing ourselves. Often, we go about it the other way around, and that is a waste of our souls.

For example, you may feel stuck in a really difficult meeting with your colleagues. And you may want to escape. And you may not understand how your colleagues can be so irritating. It is not them, actually. It is you. Why is that you find them irritating? What is it about you that makes you feel irritated?

And so on. Plenty of examples can be given.

I am going to experiment with this state of being over the coming days. Join me! 🙂

My and my sister’s favourite artist, Josephine Wall, is again to my rescue in helping me to put my message across. The below two pieces speak of love and opening of the heart (and so much else). Thank you Josephine.


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