Archives for Leading future possibilities

Creating a sense of collective impact

Can a group of people tune into a spirit of collective impact? In my experience, yes! It can even happen among a group of not only diverse stakeholders, but those with controversial interests. In May 2003, 35 stakeholders—coffee producers, European coffee roasting industry players, and representatives of development organisations and major international NGOs—gathered in London for a meeting. On the agenda was a proposal to develop a baseline standard for sustainable green coffee production that would improve ecological and social practices and could lift coffee production to a more sustainable level by creating the first mainstream standards. The extremely ambitious
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How do we recognise groups of committed citizens for sustainability?

Collaboration for sustainability requires well functioning groups of people who lead collectively – be they called management teams, project teams, core groups, committees, partnership teams, task forces, working groups or a leaders network. They exist within one or across several organisations. They are composed as cross-sector groups – with representatives from civil society, public sector and private sector. People in such groups have differences in power, experience, education and culture. They have language barriers, as not everybody is able to communicate in his or her native language. This is all part of our sustainability endeavour. Luckily we are diverse and
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The future requires us to learn faster

The future resilience of global, societal and local systems requires better and faster adaptivity, hence not necessarily better steering, but more effective collective learning mechanisms. With climate change, resource scarcity, social imbalances and the crisis of financial systems we are realizing that our future depends on action that is based on dialogue and cooperation between different stakeholders. It might be difficult to overcome mistrust, but there is no other route: stakeholder cooperation is the future. Our capacity to facilitate collective learning at all levels of human society thus becomes the most crucial factor for a sustainable future. A company like
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Coming home to our leadership journey

Lives are different and so are leadership journeys. Connecting with our leadership journeys is often triggered by a question: it may not be well formulated, it may be vague, reluctant to be expressed, or it may have been hammering in our mind loudly enough to stop ignoring it. We might feel lonely at times with this question and experience increasing alienation, as if we were the only one who thinks or feels like this, the only one who does not feel entirely at home in this world. Or it may be less than the seed of a question; it may
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Why do we need collective leadership?

I do believe, we could move forward more effectively on sustainability through collective leadership. But it’s an entirely new discipline and will need to be learned: by public sector, civil society and above all by the corporate world. Sustainability issues need collaboration across sectors and institutions. Last year I met Greg Koch, head of global water stewardship from Coca Cola, who shared his insights in the guardian sustainable business hub: “I joined the company as a seasoned engineer but have had to develop skills of partnership development, community engagement, media relations, water policy negotiations, even some philosophy, and certainly have
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The magic of inclusion

Supporting a new strategy development is nothing special. But how to make sure its adequately inclusive? And what would adequately mean? I have been asked to help a company’s senior leadership to re-define a strategy. The first workshop with the leadership team went well, we made headway, but I felt an urge that I could not resist. Sometimes you know that a team in its composition won’t be willing or capable to drive a needed change. You know you need to bring in other voices, a different energy, a spark of change that will ignite the complacent team. It is
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Shifting the way we co-create

When I work with change agents from around the world one question always comes up in evening conversations – how can we shift the way we co-create? How can we more successfully collaborate, become collectively more intelligent, overcome territorial fights, mal- communication and island solution? I admit there is a not an easy answer. Or at least it does not fit into an elevator speech, and by the time answers are emerging it gets very late in the evening. Try this: Ask 10 people when they have experienced really really good collaboration? Let them remember a situation where people supported
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When do we know that we are walking a new path?

When we begin walking a new path it is tremendously helpful to understand our own storyline. We have come to be the way we are in a certain way and this has affected how we made sense of our experiences. If we know our patterns we know they will accompany us while we slowly begin to change them, even if only by observing them. Sometimes old patterns hold us in place. We abuse our body and mind by overworking. We avoid reflection. We hide from real commitment because we believe that it would constrain our freedom. We are not saints
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Acceptance is the only road to freedom

Have you ever discovered that you arrive at similar conclusions in your live, experience similar situations or have emotions that feel all too familiar? I believe, personal growth is not a linear process. It is a continuous cycle. With a little observation we notice that we change constantly in a cyclical rather than linear personal development. We grow organically, in non-linear ways, and, analogous to life’s changes, in a continual process of disintegration on one level and re-integration on the next level. This implies that there is no end to such learning, no once-and-forever settling into a state of generative
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