Lateral thinking: Alzheimer’s & Entrepreneurs

60% of people with dementia wander off, an issue that can prove hugely stressful for both patients and caregivers. Teen inventor Kenneth Shinozuka explains in this video how he came up with a novel solution to help his night-wandering grandfather and the aunt who looks after him … and how he hopes to help others with Alzheimer’s.
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How can core purpose influence leadership in sustainability?

Otto Scharmer says that leaders need to shift their consciousness from an ego-system awareness to an eco-system awareness in order to serve the well being of all rather than benefiting the few.  It’s a shift that requires us to expand our thinking from the head to the heart.

New research published by MIT Sloan Management Review, BCG and the UN Global Compact – Joining Forces: Collaboration and Leadership in Sustainability  shows that
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Reinventing Organisations – where talent blooms and our callings are honoured

Frederic Laloux’s highly acclaimed management book Reinventing Organizations explains how every time humanity has shifted to a new stage of consciousness, it has also invented a radically more productive organisational model. I witnessed this new stage of consciousness come alive in the audience at the RSA London last week, as Laloux talked about his Evolutionary-Teal perspective and his view on How to become a Soulful Organisation. You can watch a 7-minute excerpt of his talk here.
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Spirituality – refreshing the parts that performance management can’t reach

The Royal Society of Arts (RSA) in the UK published an ambitious report last month: Spiritualise – Revitalising Spirituality for 21st Century Challenges. The report seeks to integrate scientific understandings of human nature with an exploration of the role and understanding of spirituality in society. It’s a bold initiative which aims to straddle academic rigour, readability and practical insights for policy and action. Five themes struck me about spirituality in organisations:
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The Art of Conversational Leadership

I recently attended a fantastic session with the poet David Whyte entitled “Life at the frontier: the art of conversational leadership”. I know his poetic work and have admired it for a long time but I am also intrigued by his work in organisations and, as the title suggested, his “take” on leadership.
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Simple arithmetic or counting souls

So far, on most days and for most things 1 + 1 does equal 2.

This beautiful certainty brings a warm cradling to the unsteady world.
But what about counting souls?
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Growing the fruits of Shared Mindfulness

Instead of talking about, can we try talking from and to mindfulness? From mine to yours, from yours to mine. Embodying it right here and now, as I’m writing these words, and you embodying it wherever you are, as you’re reading them. Even separated by time and space, and connected by a shared curiosity, we can be mindful together. But mindful of what?

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Are we facing a ticking time bomb of myopic management?

In 2013, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Management (APPGM) in the UK created a Commission on the Future of Management and Leadership to investigate how both would need to adapt and change in order to deliver sustainable economic growth for the UK by 2020.  Their findings were published last month.   What was their message?  Brace yourself – it’s not pretty.
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Redefining Leadership

In order to lead today, leaders at all levels need tools to engage people on topics they are passionate about. And to do so, they must develop the ability to listen in new ways and engage with tension and alternative views. Tools like World Café and Art of Hosting help to highlight views which conflict with our own ideas, which is a necessary ingredient for transformative change to take place.

Watch Lara Toensmann speaking at TEDxReset 2014 about her experience in connecting and collaboration to effect change.
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The gift of Mindfulness

I was overwhelmed by the simplicity and at the same time the emotional impact of this approach: rather than delving into my habitual “enthusiastic workshop attendee and competent coach persona” I felt stripped of any such social and narrative constructs.

By guest writer:  Clara Seeger, NeuroLeadership and Emotional Intelligence Coach
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The failure of the England football team is systemic

Whether you like football or not, it’s hard to witness the nation’s deflated spirit here in London after England went out of the World Cup in the first round.  And the papers on Monday were speculating whether this means the end of the road for England manager Roy Hodgson.  It reminds us of a similar call for the head of Fabio Capello after the nation’s poor performance in the 2010 World Cup.
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Sharing the credit

Nelson MandelaHow can we keep goodwill flowing in our direction all the time? How do we ensure that people around us are always willing to cooperate with us?

It is 50 years to the day, that Nelson Mandela was convicted in the Rivonia Trial and sentenced to life imprisonment. Reflecting on how, 27 years later, he emerged as a revered leader, Martin shares his view on how Mandela unlocked the powers of goodwill.
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Mandatory mindfulness training for Leaders

Within a two week period, in two unconnected conversations, two people told me that practising mindfulness had probably saved their lives. Now, you may think this sounds like an exaggeration. If I hadn’t known both of these people pretty well, I would have agreed.
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Mindful of the cynics

I recently read a great article by Madeleine Bunting of The Guardian who argued that soon we would all come to see mindfulness as a necessity to life. On first reading I thought this was a masterful piece, covering the history, practice and application of mindfulness in every aspect of our lives. Then I read through the comments from readers; there were some supportive responses and a fair few negative and cynical ones. Making an effort to suspend my knee-jerk reactions to be a) dismissive of and irritated by the anti-mindfulness lobby, and b) to start questioning whether mindfulness is really of value in the modern world and will be a passing fad, I pondered on some of the objections.
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Can mindfulness help an organisation in crisis?

How did mindfulness help Hewlett Packard turn a crisis situation into a belief system, not only for the functional teams, but their families and surrounding communities? Dr Joel Levey, U.S. pioneer in mind-fitness for organisations, explains…
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Putting the challenge into context

A colleague of mine was chatting about the Longitude Prize that was launched on the BBC last week.  The competition is to commemorate 300 years since the first challenge was set (and consequently won by gruff Yorkshire clockmaker John Harrison with his stable marine chronometers) and the prize of £10 million will be awarded to the person/s who can find a solution to one of six of the world’s greatest challenges.And this got me thinking about some of the challenges our clients face.
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Let’s talk about love and happiness: global metrics are transforming the world.

After attending the Global Presencing Forum (GPF) in 2014, Celine shares a number of lessons that we as Future Considerations practice in order to have greater impact in what we do at work and beyond work. Here is the last one in our series of six.
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Work less! The positive impact of reducing work hours

MindfulnessAfter attending the Global Presencing Forum (GPF) in 2014, Celine shares a number of lessons that we as Future Considerations practice in order to have greater impact in what we do at work and beyond work. Here is the fifth in our series of six.

 

 

I was fascinated to hear Juliet Schor, Professor of sociology at Boston College, share her research about how we can have a positive impact on the environment by working less. It’s simple really; productivity gains (derived from the information revolution increasing the productivity per person per hour) are channelled into reducing working hours.
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How to generate collective power through the sheer act of listening

MindfulnessAfter attending the Global Presencing Forum (GPF) in 2014, Celine shares a number of lessons that we as Future Considerations practice in order to have greater impact in what we do at work and beyond work. Here is the fourth in our series of six.
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Say “I’ve had enough!” How craving and fear stand in the way of eco-awareness.

After attending the Global Presencing Forum (GPF) in 2014, Celine shares a number of lessons that we as Future Considerations practice in order to have greater impact in what we do at work and beyond work. Here is the third in our series of six. 
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Don’t just do something, sit there! How multi-tasking is a form of ‘absenting’

After attending the Global Presencing Forum (GPF) in 2014, Celine shares a number of lessons that we as Future Considerations practice in order to have greater impact in what we do at work and beyond work. Here is the second in our series of six.
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“It’s all about me, really.” How changing a whole system starts with oneself.

After attending the Global Presencing Forum (GPF) in 2014, Celine shares a number of lessons that we as Future Considerations practice in order to have greater impact in what we do at work and beyond work. Here is the first in our series of six.

In the face of the great complex challenges of our time, Otto Scharmer co-author of Leading from the Emerging Future asserts that the fundamental leadership challenge of our time is shifting from ego awareness (self) to eco-awareness (whole system).
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5 simple steps to practicing mindfulness

I am often asked “how can mindfulness help to bring more creativity into the workplace?” One practice I developed, inspired by the work of Otto Scharmer and Francisco Varela, is called “Attention Training with Focus.” It works well for those who find themselves in need of creating a radically new approach to a wicked problem because the others didn’t work; or those in need of re-inventing themselves to match their changing life or work conditions.
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Leading like Madiba: Leadership lessons from Nelson Mandela

As I recovered from the numbness that came with learning about the passing-on of Nelson Mandela, I thought of sharing an article (below) I wrote, some time ago on this extraordinary person’s leadership.
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Book Review, “Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies”

I have just finished reading the new book Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies by Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kuafer and the authors have blown me away by how they have presented – with utter simplicity and utmost clarity – a compelling and revolutionary ‘manifesto’ for transforming society, organisations, and our own individual lives. I use the term ‘revolution’ because the book is a game changer.
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Facing your fear

According to Merriam Webster, fear is A : an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger. B (1) : an instance of this emotion (2) : a state marked by this emotion.  While undeniably accurate, it doesn’t necessarily elicit any type of emotion. Perhaps giving a couple of minutes to watch slackliner Faith dickey on youtube may add some reality todefining one type of fear. 
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Freedom’s Mirror

Can you see freedom? What shape is it? What colour?

Is it like the mirror’s surface never seen but known only by what is reflected there?
The full glory of each of us illuminated by the reflected light.
Its reflections repeating to infinity as freedom multiplies its blessings.

What does freedom sound like?
Yes the joyous laughter of children but also the weepings of a strong man
At last able to speak his sadness to more than the empty silence
Seen for who he really is in that forgiving mirror.
And the swelling shout of the once angry crowd
Now smiling at the soldiers who part to let the flowers
Bloom in their gun barrel vase.
The songs sung together over the factory table,
The silence of communion.

And when did I notice that my own cage locked on the inside?
With the little key already in the lock.
I had to stop running to witness my own captivity for so long not seen or acknowledged.
Even now with the unlocked door opening do I dare to step outside this known, safe world?
Do I dare? Do you? And where should we walk?

Join hands and walk the freedom road.
That way is the destination and the journey
With a path for every walker.

But can I truly have freedom if you or she does not?
Is that freedom a distortion in a broken mirror?

So many questions.
But we are free to ask them.
And seek answers.
When we are free.

Penned by Tim Stanyon April 2013

First performed by Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40 Company at WorldBlu Live May 2013 (above).

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Unleashing Human Potential

At Future Considerations, we fundamentally believe in the power of human potential to unlock creativity and innovation in the field of sustainability. The ability to unlock the power of a meaningful workplace, by helping leaders’ and their employees’ find alignment between their personal purpose and the wider ‘moral’ purpose of the organisation.

For many years, change in organisational sustainability has been focused on the processes or ‘hard-wiring’ that exists between the individual and the system with which we/they operate. Looking to the future, this lens must widen to encompass greater layers and levels of complexity within the system combining a change in process with a potential shift in the collective consciousness of those who make up the system or ‘soft-wiring’. The transformation for sustainability the world needs must come from working with the ‘hard’ and the ‘soft’, not one or the other.

Our own transformative experience gives certain insight into what it takes for those who share our vision for leadership in sustainability. For instance, we are a freedom-centred organisation and have just been awarded the honour of being included on the WorldBlu List of most democratic companies for 2013 for the fourth time. Maintaining meaning and constantly inspiring human potential year in and year out, requires courage of conviction to have difficult conversations and stay true to our purpose. Not the ‘warm and fuzzies’ that many could perceive is what is happening behind the scenes.

Caveat: We must respect our planet’s boundaries.

We have to ask ourselves the fundamental question of what is human potential or well-being? We know it can’t mean having the world’s population consuming at the same rate as developed countries. And we also know that meaningful work isn’t directly related to spiralling salary packages. Governments are starting to rise to this challenge by exploring the use of happiness and well-being indexes. While we might think this is innovative, none of this is new. And, despite our newfound global connectedness, we are still remarkably unconnected from what’s really important. I’ll go back to the words our aforementioned Hopi Indian elder, if the fulfilment of our human potential is not “connected to the earth and does not understand the spiritual reality of how to live on earth, it is likely humanity will not survive.”

Just like the environmental bottom line has extended from just minimizing environmental foot-prints to environmental innovation, so must our thinking around the social bottom line to extend from ensuring basic human and employment rights are in place and reducing negative impacts on communities, to creating life-affirming workplaces and delivering innovation for greater human potential.

As with our clients, I would like to invite you to reconsider, using the comment section below, the ‘human’ dimension within your understanding of leadership for sustainability. We often pose (and ask of ourselves) the following questions:
1. What is at stake?
2. What do I stand for?
3. How can I unleash the human potential within my organization?
4. To what extent do our product and services unleash the human potential of our customers?

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Interpreting the Quadruple Bottom Line

Have you noticed that recently more and more people seem to be talking about the Quadruple Bottom Line (QBL)? Is it really something new? Does it really exist or is it ‘another clever buzz-word from sustainability consultants’?

Perhaps a good starting place is to remind ourselves of QBL’s predecessor, the Triple Bottom Line (TBL). The TBL is a sustainability framework, that was adopted by the corporate sector to measure and report progress against the non-financial economic and social bottom-lines. The key word here is ‘sustainability framework’, but I’ll come back to that.

We commonly refer to the TBL as people, planet and profit. So what’s the fourth bottom line that we all seem to be referring to? At this moment in time there is no general standard (not even a Wikipedia entry!), and so, we would like to cite and pose a number of opinions defining the fourth line in an effort to find clarity…

Governance and Ethics
The Global Reporting Initiative is supporting this notion. They were instrumental in establishing the TBL concept across the global corporate sector. To begin, let me take you back to the prevailing corporate context when the TBL was created:

  • Corporate adoption of sustainability practices were not part of mainstream business thinking, and I would argue,
  • The TBL and its accounting terminology was a clever way of making a business case for a largely skeptical audience.

Since then, the corporate sustainability context has evolved significantly from a mostly ‘license to operate’ mindset to an increasing sense of ethical responsibility and moral purpose (at least amongst the corporate leaders in the field). In this context, the notion of good governance is important. A company can’t be ethically responsible and operate to a moral purpose, without good governance to provide assurance. Governance, in fact is not a new measure in the sustainability field, ask any public sector sustainability expert. I agree that governance is important, but is it really is another bottom line? Are we not at risk of confusing the means (good governance) with the end (stronger social, environmental and financial bottom lines)?

Context-based Sustainability
Another interesting definition is Henk Hadders, ‘Adaptive Quadruple Bottom Line Scorecard’ (AQBLS) who is using Context Based Sustainability (CBS) to differentiate the economic and financial bottom line. CBS is defined as “an approach for measuring, managing and reporting the sustainability performance of organizations that takes contextually relevant social, economic and environmental limits and thresholds explicitly into account”. Hadders therefore, defines the QBL as the financial bottom line, plus, a triple bottom line including broader social, economic and environmental measures.

Spirit
A third alternative perspective of the Fourth Bottom Line is offered by the Association for Sustainable Living. In fact, they are calling it the first bottom line and that is: Spirit. They remind us that, “Indigenous peoples throughout the world have had an understanding of the principles of sustainability, and have lived sustainable lifestyles, for millennia. Floyd Red Crow Westerman, a Hopi Indian elder described the sustainability relationship as one based on an understanding of spirit and the transience of human lifespans. He describes the problems of sustainability as humanity’s inability to live on earth in a spiritual way. He describes that if humanity is not spiritually connected to the earth and does understand the spiritual reality of how to live on earth, it is likely humanity will not survive.”

Alternative Frameworks
As I pointed out earlier in my piece, the TBL or even the QBL, are not the only frameworks available to us. There are other highly effective sustainability frameworks to chose from, many of which have more than the 3 dimensions of economic, social and environmental and include,
5 Capitals: Forum for the Future’s 5 Capitals framework, which introduces Human Capital and Manufactured Capital to the usual suspects (people, planet & profit).
Sustainability Compass: Alan Atkisson’s Sustainability Compass works with four key indicators including Nature, Society, Economy and Well-being.
Whilst some will strongly advocate the one framework over all others, our view is that context matters. The context we are operating in is fundamental and must be considered when we are reviewing, critiquing or selecting our sustainability frameworks.

So what should we conclude about the QBL? The fact that different definitions of the fourth bottom line exist, serves as a reminder that frameworks do not define reality, but they provide us with a lens to help us make sense of our current reality and work towards a desired future. We must constantly re-consider how well our frameworks are serving us, and be prepared to adapt, evolve or even change these frameworks to ensure that they remain a relevant tool in our leadership towards a more sustainable future.

Given the diverse variety of definitions of the fourth bottom-line, I would be interested to learn and connect with definitions, which you know of and even perhaps have worked with? Please add you comments below.

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