Calculating the Costs of Non Collaboration

The costs of non-collaboration – or lack of collective leadership –  is often hidden, but the following examples make clear a severe imbalance between costs and return. (Although I have changed details in order to maintain confidentiality – these examples are all based on real projects and people.) First example: A two-day multi-stakeholder meeting on combating Malaria is convened after being initiated by an international organization active in the field. About 120 people from governments, civil society and research institutions were invited, of which only 80 showed up. Ten gave a speech or a presentation on issues that most people already knew
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Collective leadership for sustainability

Collective leadership for sustainability is the capacity of a group of actors to deliver their unique contribution to a joint purpose collaboratively. High priority is given to the common good, and a balance is struck between the needs of people, profit, and the planet. Leadership paradigms often refer only to individuals and the expansion of one person’s skills. Sustainability challenges, however,  require us to go beyond the individual and build the capacity of groups and systems to move important issues of common concern forward. In turn, this requires collective action, dialogue and collaboration. Leading for sustainability is therefore not an
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Leaders’ choices: collectively co-creating sustainability

Why is the change towards sustainability happening so slowly in many companies and initiatives? Could it be linked to leadership and the way leadership affects initiatives? Every change in an organization results from the choices made by dedicated people. Leaders are therefore co-creators of an interconnected reality. Leaders need to respond to a call for a sustainable world – as well as to questions about human dignity, inclusiveness, and a fairer distribution of wealth Leaders mirror their organization, while, at the same time, holding the potential to impact the way an orginisation view itself. Leadership based on lived values can change an entire
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What is your contribution to to the whole?

Are you inspired by your achievements or the meaning behind what you achieved?   We all want to have an impact, to make a difference, to create and contribute to the whole. Yet we are all human, and this means we unconsciously lay traps for ourselves. We are afraid of mistakes. We do not believe that our contribution counts. We doubt our expertise. We work tirelessly, heading toward burnout. Or we get hooked on success, become power hungry, thrive on competition and elevate ourselves above others. The heart is your guide to contribution. Passion creates energy because it focuses attention. It organizes life,
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Mutual support: connecting potential

We are here to support each other to grow, to develop, to thrive, and sometimes to survive. When we support each other we live our whole potential. It is not about being equal; it is about each person’s, each stakeholder’s potential to contribute to future possibilities, to the impact. Our contribution only becomes successful if other people’s contributions are also of  high quality. Mutual support is therefore serving ourselves, the other, and the whole. When we mutually support a sustainable future it greatly increases the vitality of a system of actors –  be it a team, an organization or collaborating partner institutions. Life
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Contextuality- Playing together for a sustainable future

The musicians in the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra has much to teach us about contextuality for sustainability. They play their compositions with three parallel levels of attention:  to their fellow-musicians and how they play as a whole,  to the quality and heartfelt intensity of their own playing, and to the music. The purpose of their  playing is to allow the utmost potential of sound to emerge from the notes. This is collective mastery! What can we learn from it? First, if players were in competition, the result would sound terrible. Second, if everybody did not bring his strong individuality to the
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WHOLENESS is more than seeing a collection of parts

  Sensing the whole and leading toward sustainability are closely connected. Yet, when addressing sustainability issues, we are often trained to focus on fragments of reality, on our own narrow part of a larger story and on our specialized field of expertise. This selective perception brings into focus the difference between us and others. We ask ourselves: How do we move beyond selective perception? Could we somehow connect our individual parts and achieve a sense of WHOLENESS? Or is wholeness more than a sum of its parts? Attending to these three elements heads us in the right direction: contextuality, contribution,
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Crisis invites us to move beyond command and control

Recently, a group of ecologists – working with large-scale terrestrial, fresh-water, and marine ecosystem – identified how crisis can add resilience to a system. Ecological change is not uninterrupted and steady –  rather, it is erratic. The slow increases of natural capital, such as biomass or nutrients, are interspersed by sudden releases and reorganizations of that capital – through natural processes or human imposed devastation. However, it is the very introduction of these interruptions which produces environmental diversity and variation. And it is often through attempting to control and lessen such impacts that a system loses resilience.  “That is, a
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Trump and Climate Change: Can crises be opportunities?

Trump’s policies of deservedness Experiences of powerlessness, defeat and crises can be gateways to deeper perceptions of reality. The most disconcerting experiences sometimes help us to access a deeper sense of life in all its possibilities. For example, Donald Trump’s order to end to all federal action on climate change as well as his preliminary budget proposal challenges us in many ways – especially with regards to our worth as human beings. His proposal cuts right back on funding for many important social structures and support programs such as infrastructure, rural and urban housing assistance and homelessness programs, nutrition for
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Iterative learning: the core of a sustainable future.

Collaboration initiatives for sustainability are collective learning journeys – with no final answers to the challenges ahead.  The complex challenges of sustainability forces us into setting up iterative learning structures that everybody can participate in.   We therefore need to build a  culture of iterative learning, characterized by an openness  to adjust plans and strategies as we learn from the past. Moves we make in the right direction today may not be the right moves for tomorrow. As a result we must constantly adjust our strategies in order to find higher level solutions – which in turn probably require more complex collaboration structures. It is
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