Thursday
Jun172010

Global sustainability: How can business schools contribute?

At the recent (April 2008) UNICON (Universities Consortium) conference held at Melbourne Business School's Mt Eliza executive education campus I was given the role of facilitating a morn- ing's session on global sustainability. We were fortunate in that we had two excellent speakers to set the scene, William Kininmonth, science advisor to the Science and Public Policy Institute and former head of Australia's National Climate Centre, and Kate Vinot, General Manager, Corporate Strategy for South East Water, one of Melbourne's major water organisations.

William Kininmonth argued that Humankind faces real problems but human-caused global warming is not one. However he claims that climate will change faster than we are prepared for and that water, renewable energy and food production are each regulated by changing climate. He also warned us that human survival is at threat and this is more to do with misunderstood science and misguided policies and that survival requires different policies to those for sustainability.

Examples he gave was the current thinking that Geosequestration (burying) CO2 to burn fossil fuels (non-renewable) faster was not a good answer, nor is the redirection of agricultural practices so that Bio-fuels replace food crops to the detriment of the world's poor. Environment policies focus on reducing CO2 emission rather than clean air, clean water, ecosystem preservation, etc

Kate Vinot argued that how business schools can contribute to global sustainability issues is by first building the capacity of organisations and individuals to grow shareholder value; secondly, and more particularly, by being the thought leaders on sustainability issues; and finally, to develop tools for sustaining organisational value for the longer term. To her sustainability means business school's addressing what are the:

  • Direct impacts on many businesses
  • Indirect impacts on many businesses
  • Presents material opportunities and risks for sustained shareholder value
  • Needs to be embraced as part of core business strategy and change management

» Read the paper in PDF

Thursday
Jun172010

Future scenarios for Australian leadership

...No vision, no victory.

The inclination of Australians to look overseas for leadership is not the inevitable result of a national lack of cleverness or creativity. It is the result of an often faulty perception of ourselves and our world stemming, to a considerable extent, from our infamous and enduring 'cultural cringe'. To meet the challenges of the 21st century, we must dispense with both misleading perceptions and the cringe, not just to keep the commercial benefits of Australian inventiveness at home, but to keep control over our social and political future as well.

Certainly, our deference to things foreign has cost us dearly in economic terms. The most famous - or infamous - example of Australia failing mightily to capitalise on its people's inventiveness is probably the aircraft data records now known as black boxes. This sorry tale is worth repeating, because it's an even worse indictment of the lack of foresight and initiative in both our public and private sectors that most people realise. And, as Santayana put it, "those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it".

» Read the paper in PDF

Thursday
Jun172010

Pulse of the Planet: Leadership models in the global village

Global government is on the rise, and with it a devolution of power to the grassroots. Subjugating nature is out of fashion and ecological living is the new imperative. The next generation of leaders will emerge not from the political class but from ordinary communities, bringing with them new modes of learning and new definitions of intelligence.

» Read the paper in PDF

Thursday
Jun172010

Beyond Strategy: Leadership, Futures and Ethics in a Complex World

The basic premise of the "Beyond Strategy" approach is that in business we put up fantasy measures that we call business planning, such as budget planning and strategic planning, which Stacey claims is a political process, primarily as social defences against anxiety. This distorts what we are actually doing and distracts us from the actual direct experiences we are having of each other as what happens through conversation.

Another premise is that the most important things we do can't be measured. These are open ended conversations around identity of "who are we?" or "What are we doing together?" This is the actual strategy we are involved in and is emergent strategy where we are endlessly searching for enough agreement to take the next steps. The next steps are iterative temporal processes, which are basic patterns of interactions moving recursively through time, of what we are doing together.

"Beyond Strategy" can be described as "Leadership, Futures and Ethics in a Complex World". Leadership because ultimately this is where courage and will resonates, Futures because of its epistemic challenges and Ethics because we are here talking about moral philosophy and its consequences on organisations and individuals. Complex, but not necessarily complicated, because complexity, by its very nature, is the consequence of human existence and behaviour experienced in the world.

» Read the paper in PDF

Thursday
Jun172010

Organisational Future Sense: Action Learning and Futures

In this article, I make the following arguments: 

  1. Strategic planning needs to transform.
  2. Planning for the future should be anchored by action learning, making it anticipatory action learning.
  3. Planning for the future should use the quadruple bottom line approach.
  4. Planning for the future should be inclusive of multiple ways of knowing.
  5. Planning the future leads to organisational transformation.
  6. Leadership is central in effective futures planning.

 

» Read the paper in PDF