We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims." - Buckminster Fuller
Happy New Year....
This past month, I created a learning adventure for myself.
I consciously chose to spend less time writing and researching to get out with some of my new ideas on the new format of education to build a culture of sustainable change:
The month was filled with genuine fun and resulted in a synthesis of some idea in the form of a strategic action plan to make launch the new WorkEcology.com portal….
So I decided to hold that thought as a curiosity and learn with it.
One of conclusions I reached came from recognizing that the word sustainability is an adjective. This is why it the word sustainability confuses people. You cannot find value in an adjective without rolling up your sleeves with other people to define and learn from practicing this value in action.
I had decided that I needed to bring more life into my daily practice of work and break from the mechanical mode somebody can get stuck when you are surrounded with more information than you can absorb and you realize what is key is not the number of people you talk to and read. My work requires an outreach to people who value sustainability and build a capacity to listen and respond in a format of learning and innovation that leads to change.
The current state of the economy combined with the anxiety many have or comfort some have from the same old routines was something I needed to break from so I can discriminate who my allies are and who are the people I want to work with and hang out with. I don't want to be stuck in the mode of "more of the same." To move beyond this requires a system of energy for me and anyone that grows out of a group of people and community you trust.
WorkEcology is about building that community in practice in response to the new kind of risk many are acknowledging where we are no longer building a future, but responding to forms of disaster that are challenging individuals that grew out of harmful institutional practices and the perpetuating behavior of using money to make money.
I also made it a priority to to remove myself from the ocean of fame that so many activities are draped in that are cloaked from the posture of self-flagellation promotion and advertising. By late November ,the people I mixed with were not famous consultants, educators or C_level directors in the Fortune 2000. Most people were not very Hollywood. A majority of people were hard working, life long learner working hard to organize a new format for education to create a culture of change.
Most of the people I chat with focus on their trade with out making it a priority to build fame or look for a quick get rich scheme. Within this community I have been working hard to form there is a conscious level of intelligence at play built on curiosity and awe and a low degree of arrogance in practice.
I have created a new practice of building community for myself that took some quiet hard personal work. The people who stick actively in my conversation space are life long learners who include inquiry as part of what they do every day in a more ordinary way to earn a living or be part of their local community that sometimes includes family.
The groups of of people draw from people of all ages and backgrounds, that comprised Baby Boomers, Generation X and Y. There was no gap by age in how people listened to each other and heard what was said, which is often the complaint in gatherings that draw people of all ages. The listening I witnessed between people was remarkable and not something I ordinarily witness in social media forums of discussions that are grounded in blame, what is wrong and what can we fix.I opened conversations with many of these people about my interest to devise a new web based community and journalism format for education that builds a culture of sustainable change.
While December reports in the media were focused on the disappointing outcome of Copenhagen and the ongoing public debate that surrounds health care reform until the final day of the vote. I was less inclined to read more of the same and chose to follow that which sparked my heart. I have concluded our government processes are so slow and behind the times, no real change is going to occur from the political sector. And in most instances, I find the political reports disruptive and rob me of my energy.
I then began to check in with people I read or read about that inspire me. First, I caught
up on with Esther Dyson's
current thinking through a thought leader interview by Art Kleiner @ Strategy and Business Magazine on line. Kleiner’s profile of Dyson (before her trip to outer space) captured a outstanding bandwidth of everything Esther’s thinks about. Esther’s view of the new non-monetary emerging markets located on the Internet captured my attention.
Non-monetary markets according to Dyson, create change and give people the power to express what they are thinking. This fits with my own thinking about how a powerful market can call into demand a new format of education that can only be learned in community and cross institutional boundaries. This marketplace captures an opinion more powerful than voting and how we view the role of government. It is a market place based on education and giving voice. This really fits with how I observing the emergence of a new format for education and how this new format can influence a culture of sustainable change that takes hold more rapidly than anything we have ever expected from government, policy and legislative activities.
Through Ode Magazine I got up to date with another thought leader in a class of his own is
James Lovelock, former NASA scientist and creator of the Gaia Hypothesis in the 60’s, has a new book out called, The
Vanishing Face of Gaia.
is planning to join Sir Richard Branson on a space flight. That to me is far more inspiring and represents the energy of a life long learner and what I gain from knowing people who do not stop learning. Maybe it is time for me to get the support for a space flight of my own!
December brought low scores in the media for Obama’s participation in Copenhagen 15. I was also sorting out for myself the performance of the Obama Administration to date. I have begun to notice a trend and pattern in presidential posture regarding employment, environment and health that is moving from denial to recognition.
I realized when the Health Care Reform Bill was passed; it pretty much reflected what Hillary Clinton and Ira Magazine had fought for in the 90's or what Clinton had campaigned for. But the bill did not address the harsh economic reality that for most people when ill, health insurance does not assure them the coverage they need to heal or die with some comfort, so the bill does not reduce risk of bankruptcy for people who cannot support themselves when they become ill.
To some the passing of this bill was a major milestone. In my mind it ended the conversation that began with Theodore Roosevelt's administration that stopped 80 years of argument, debate and inaction. For many I know, including me, this bill did not enact a response to impact real change in my opinion that is responsive to today. So many of us just respond to it with a politically correct response, "it is a beginning."
In contrast, my read on Esther Dyson's view of the need for a non-monetary market and how it can spark innovation aligned with my own own thinking on how non monetary can innovate change in health and education. Non monetary markets can drive learning to discover new innovations which people cannot see just going about the day mechanically living within the infrastructures of systems that are not working.
Nothing in my experience has shown me that any professional investor will do anything other than focus on short-term gain and how often economic decision makers stop a learning community dead in its tracks from doing what they do well on the road to discovering innovation that is practical and has a market waiting to adopt the innovation.
Karl Henrik Robert,
a scientist from Sweden based launched the movement of innovation that revealed the need to examine the implications of environmental harm on the earth and health. In the early 1990's, Robert was funded by 200 corporations with the intent to open a new pathway of learning that I believe was the tipping point for sparking the movement of people forming the sustainable economy. Social Entrepreneur, Paul Hawken
brought the discovery of Robert's work to the US then described as The Natural Step, it was immediately reshaped into an entrepreneurial learning venture, where bright stars in Hawken's network learned as they earned.
The learning from this network shaped into hidden
conversations in small professional society meetings and small projects within
large corporations. The projects themselves were driven by unreasonable individual heroes and heroines.
These projects operated as like high risk fire walks of uncertainty and addiction. From where I sat, I watched projects that came to my atention turn into causal marketing non profit campaigns without a quality invitation to everyday people to take quality briefings and put it to work. Don't get me wrong, there is value learned from the early stages of these projects that heroic leaders described at gatherings of life minded people. But in the end after these presentations at pricey conferences, I found most participants returned home with new knowledge and could not see clearly how to launch or resource a similar initiative.
The speaking circuit grew into Hollywood like forum and created the Who's Who of Sustainability. Comments, reputation and people who authored with frequency, the bits and bytes that travel through mobile phones onto Twitter and Facebook do they really impact the change we need?
that within this early stage developing methods of sustainability, few entrepreneurs created models of business that could be learned and replicated elsewhere. The trend in innovation relied on the deed of "unreasonable people," who do not know how to mentor others to become leaders that can leverage more learning from the success of these heroic heretics.
I view sustainability as a movement morphing out of two decades of Corporate Social Responsibility that is now referenced as Sustainability. Corporate Social Responsibility and CSR investing were based on monetary markets. I now see Sustainability is pushing us to embrace non monetary markets and this can be why there is so much confusion on how we define sustainability.
In society today, we use the word sustainability as a noun. A noun implies definition. Sustainability to me is a value (hence an adjective) that requires that people work to quantify what it means relevant to the activity they are concerned with. This is why I describe WorkEcology as a practice rather than using it for a company name. Now I see WorkEcology as the practice of defining Sustainability, an adjective requiring a group of people to work to define its value in the context of the community or groups in which people chose to grapple with and apply this thought leadership into practice.
By Mid - December I had to simply ignore my interest to do a monthly blog post and just decide I was in a reflective winter mode of reflection and gaining some good learning to add more power to my work in 2010.
Mid-month, I spent a delightful 3 days in Brattleboro, Vermont visiting and observing an intensive program for students attending Marlboro College's MBA Program in Managing for Sustainability. This fueled me more to think about how I want to organize the new WorkEcology.com Portal and dedicate it to becoming a premier resource of education for a a sustainable culture of change.
At Marlboro College Graduate Center,
I spent delightful time talking with like mind people – students, faculty, visitors, advisers to the program, I was deeply immersed in an educational experience reflecting the quality and rigor of how I believe education should be for everyone. By the end of the weekend, I had in mind a role I wanted to play as a midwife fostering a new educational format that can lead to workforce redesign that has been needed for a very long time now back to the late 1970’s when downsizing and recession strategies stifled innovators of change.
There was little or no impact on local and global economies for people who rely on jobs that are organized out of a traditional full employment model that emerged post the Depression. Entire communities and workforce plans grew out of the idea that a company would provide a life long job that would support a person while working and retired and “Levittown”like communities were built across the country tied to the companies that provided jobs.
The idea of WorkEcology.com Portal grew out of a concept of providing infrastructure to portfolio workers who build their reputation on the web and in person by building trusted relationships. My vision for the portal was to provide an infrastructure for these knowledge workers to manage their income, health, and professional development.
It was a concept I conceived after Robert Reich made his parting speech to Congress after resigning as Labor Secretary in the late 90's and predicted the state of chaos we are now in with a serious shortage of jobs, people aging with no retirement and a health care system that would not assure coverage of all US Citizens.However in practice this concept relied on one thing that people would find work by learning and performing competently.
While visiting the Marlboro College Intensive, I drew from the student participation the idea that this portal could capture case studies and reports on projects from people as they were learning in programs programs like Marlboro MBA in Managing for Sustainability.
Part of the
degree requirement for this program is that all students participate in a Capstone
Project to graduate. Capstone Education is growing in popularity through at many universities because it
gives students the opportunity to apply the theory they learn in school in
practice to actual real time projects. The Capstone Education format is not new. I was a Capstone student years ago at Boston University. What is new is the number of schools offering this type of program and the rigor of learning and application this education format provides in school - at work or in community.
I found the classmates of the Marlboro MBA in Managing for Sustainability Program to be mature professionals entering their mid career phase. All people I met and talked to selected to attend this program with a keen interest to learn how to apply the competencies and skills that build sustainability in culture through their jobs or ventures in industry and non profits or as entrepreneurs. It feels a bit off to describe these people as students, since the conversations with these mature adults was more like talking to people vested in life as life long learners seeking to shape their professional development to make a difference to the environment and health.The conversations I had with the community members at Marlboro College were all based on a sincere interest to be responsive to global warming, health and the environment and to learn how to do that with others.
I found this value in practice motivated me to want to learn with this mix of people drawn from Generation X and Y and found the opening and sense of community sparked disappeared what so many describe as the “generation gap.” What disappeared this gap was the alignment and sincerity toward the kind of work people wanted to do and therefore inspired alignment and respectful conversation key to generation applied learning.
The Birth of a New Educational Driven Journalism.
was exceptionally generous with his time for private chats during my time at the Marlboro College Intensive. I was periodically met with Ralph during the Intensive to share my reflection and begin to synthesize an action plan. I eased into my first reflection easily because the organization of the residential weekend validated my findings from action research on leading change successfully. There is a content plan that includes partnerships with a number of leaders in the new media, e.g. Rosalinda Sanquiche, Devin Stewart and Bill Baue. The partnerships are not anything complicated. I have always wanted to provide an archive and synthesis of the wonderful content these New Media Leaders provide. While in Brattleboro, I saw an opportunity even more powerful than publishing case studies and reports from the thought leaders with a following.
My interest from the start of my consulting career
has been to report on small projects that meet a success criteria that
goes beyond ROI. As I watched a few student teams provide reports on
their action research and study tied to forming a strategic human resource
activity to create brand and forge out a plan for growth for a new start-up, I
realized what I wanted was to become a center of reporting on actual projects
carried out by these students and mentored by this fabulous faculty that are
described as Capstone Projects
The students and faculty tied to the Marlboro program have already been creating a new form of educationally driven journalism through Bill Baue's direction as Faculty and Founder of Sea Change Media. This student driven journalism captures the “candid story” of the learning and change that happens on the Geo Political Scene of Climate Change, Environment and Health. This journalism format is designed to work on the architecture of Web 2.0 and grows out of live experiences and participation in forums of people building the new metrics of accountability for Corporate Social Responsibility.
Bill Baue with Devin Stewart from the Carnegie Institute produced a A Web 2.0 at Carnegie Institute reporting the progress of the Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative at the Harvard-Kennedy School examining the intersection of Web 2.0 and corporate social responsibility/accountability with a joint researchers Marcy Murninghan and Bob Massie. This report is an update of how companies are responding to this kind of reporting on the web rather than reacting. I believe this activity is going to set a tipping point for industry and non profits.
The geopolitical space at the present time is complicated and capturing and constructing accurate reporting is challenging.
Recent events show us even political leaders engaged in debate and argument on a global, national and local scale are finally recognizing the issues of harm ahead for us, they are still learning to respond. To me this indicates that ordinary citizens need to develop a new set of skills while reviewing the media that educates them to learn how to filter through reports of conflict to use as educations resources to find solutions to the impact of harm and prevention.
Based on what I see in the 40+ year history dating back to when Climate Change and Health Care Reform these events of this past month do signify a form of change that can simply be described as RECOGNITION without CLEAR ACTION.
For Climate Change the proposals are too tame to assure the impact scientists say we need to prevent Global Warming and for Health Care Reform, there is no plan of action to address the root causes of a system that is bankrupting people and continuing to cause harm to many who cannot get the right kind of care to prevent chronic illness or to treat chronic illness to assure a person does not become disabled to the point they cannot work.
a journalist for the UK’s Guardian stated December 14, 2009 a view that the Copenhagen story is showing a lack of understanding of the limits we have as human beings. Monbiot writes,
“The meeting at Copenhagen confronts us with our primal tragedy. We are the universal ape, equipped with the ingenuity and aggression to bring down prey much larger than itself, break into new lands, roar its defiance of natural constraints. Now we find ourselves hedged in by the consequences of our nature, living meekly on this crowded planet for fear of provoking or damaging others. We have the hearts of lions and live the lives of clerks.”
From the point of view of disasters, I do not yet see a leadership formation that is inviting a culture of candor that goes beyond spiritual values of compassion, acceptance and kindness or political and tactical responses of denial, protest and debate to build within groups of people the challenge to addressing difficult problems at work, in local community and of national and global scale.
Authoring treaties, passing legislation is the role of the geopolitical process. Yet the person on your left and your right are your neighbors you live along side with and work with and in order to exist we are now moving into a culture of candor that is calling groups of people employed in institutions or communities of people drawn from sectors of engagement that cross the interests of citizen groups, government agencies and commercial interests.
A new form of journalism is appearing in media today that is a resource for people coming together in congregations of intention to build solutions or build timely responses to harm. This past month within my own personal trajectory this new format of media provided timely and vital reports to educate people to the leadership challenge, the scientific factors that have to be considered in order to build change responsive plan. It was far more inspiring to me than the buzz and reports on the political process and the thoughts or non response from key political leaders.
The reports I read from the press I learn with led me to read with an eye to feed my own inquiry inspired by the Buckminster Fuller quote at the header of this blog post - What would it mean if we lived like the future is now?
In fact, is Esther Dyson's observation of a need for non monetary driven business models that drive innovation into practice and Lovelock's idea that we need to prepare to live in an age of disaster and population reduction asking us to live now as if the future is here?
Cimbria Badenhausen is the Climate
Correspondent for Sea Change Media . During the Copenhagen 15 meeting she provided live coverage Cimbria's live coverage captured my attention.
Cimbria provided an education based on actual events and concrete descriptions describing scientifically why the portions of meeting went behind closed doors or provided facts on how carbon emission standards proposed were different for rich versus poor countries. Cimbria pointed out where the protest opened as attendees and witnesses protested the fact that the draft treaty was written outside of the standards originally set for the United Nations Framework Conventions for Climate Change. Take the time to educate yourself by reading Cimbria's post, "Hell Breaks Loose at COP 15." If you read Cimbria's report closely you can see that this protest did not reflect an attack on negative action; the protest was organized to support a submission of an ambitious legal treaty now.
On December 22, Bill Baue
points out in his CSRWire Editorial: Assessing Obama's First Year through a CSR Lens, providing a headline taken from
Saturday Night LIve,
"When you look at my record, it's very clear what I've done so far and that's - nothing, nada... Global Warming: Not Done... Limits on Executive Power: Not Done... Improve Afghanistan: Worse." Bill went on this excellent editorial to report accurately where there was hope and where there were actions and the hope framed from who was appointed to work for Obama and the disappointments in action from both the good appointees and the bad.
By Christmas Eve, Health Care Reform got its vote from the Senate and Health Care Reform was passed in an environment of dispute where many cannot ignore the issues of the abuses of health insurance, lowering the cost of health care and expanding coverage. Adam Nagourney's analysis in the New York Times of the "spat between Howard Dean and Obama" describes the current divide within Democratic Party that has not resolved.
Abroad and at home in the US, the media coverage is accurately reporting on the flaws and slow responding political systems we count on to address a challenging future faced by ordinary citizens of any country that challenge a growing majority of people who want to work wisely to live well to sustain.
While I was following all this in the press, I became more aware local to me and where I hung out if you looked to your left and looked to your right or even just looked out for yourself, the old formulas of the past cease to operate and assure anyone the ability to sustain.
The challenge we have seen to assure a future is bringing a challenge to our door in the here and now. The future is here and it is not about saving the future, it is about creating a response to the present turmoil of increasing bankruptcies experienced by people who become ill, recognizing now that more than 50% of adults in the United States are chronically ill.
Where I now sit regarding a new educational format that empowers a sustainable culture of change?
I have believed for some time the method by which we create change in the work place with consultants and educational programs is very out of date. Presenting new skills and working with people to apply what they learn in a residential program, retreat or class room is not sufficient for embarking on change.
Over the last six months numerous MBA grads have contacted me in a mentoring capacity. e.g. Louise Ling,
MBA 2009, Hult School of International Business, Whit Tice,
MBA 2009, Case Western. My time spent the Marlboro Cohorts helped me synthesize the experiences that Louise and Whit shared with me into a summary of challenge I see for the new emotionally intelligent graduate of any program.
These graduates often have a portfolio of skill with a scientific basis and have sought leadership training through advanced studies and immersed themselves in creating practices using social media and other forms of technology. The hiring managers and economic decision makers they network with or interview with often do not have a clue on how these young leaders can take their educational background, scientific experience and apply it to the strategy and work of the organizations they interview with.
I discussed my observations and concerns that I wanted to reflect on with Ralph Meima at the end of the Marlboro Residential Program in the context of how that program is structured and attended by members of the learning cohorts for this community. I also have to say that my brief conversations with Whit Tice and following his story while knowing his hopes and dreams for attending the Case Western program mid career have also influenced my thinking. Here is a summary of my hypothesis based on these experiences and conversations:
1. Learning is lifelong. People with a variety of emotional background and experience now return to school with the intent to learn new skills that can make a difference. These adult learners utilize the time in school to develop leadership capacity that puts to work their technical, scientific and financial and marketing/communication skills in a way to lead change.
2. The investment in this type of education is significant and the pay back methodology is not clear in an economy where jobs are reducing in large numbers. Deciding to seek a rigorous form of education is a major decision. For many it is part of a career transition and school means increasing debt and modifying expenditures that sometimes impacts a family of young children.
3. Often the employers, investors, and mentors for these students who are not their faculty have no training and education on how to help these students apply their class room learning to a project or on the job.
4. For any graduate student fulfilling a Capstone Education Requirement there is no guarantee that the live laboratory for this project can absorb, benefit and cooperate with the student to assure a successful learning experience that this student can describe within his portfolio of accomplishment.5. The goal of a Capstone project is to lead innovation and real innovation often happens through informal networks of creativity within a community or market; it is critical that a Capstone Lab Site be committed to innovation as part of that organization's culture, which means the students have to be able to engage with informal and formal networks involved in their projects.
Zia Kahn and Jon Katzenbach, speak in more detail about the culture ofinnovation in their recently published article , Are You Killing Ideas? featured @Strategy+Business on Facebook. Kahn and Katzenbach outline in detail the factors that need to be investigated within a culture that take into account the formal and informal infrastructure for adopting change. This must read article points to critical issues that are not taken into account when a company or non profit funds a leader to attend an educational program, conference or learning event and why 85% of people engaged in new learning settings find they don't have the understanding or resources to apply new learning on the job.
Whit Tice has reformed his blog, The Latest and Greatest from Whit, as an overview of what management behavior methodologies are important to factor into leading innovation and change in an organization culture that include
1. Quality examination of accelerating strategies;
2. Descriptions of a key methodology called Appreciative Inquiry that brings people from disparate parts of an organization to build new accelerated strategies;
3. The benefits of scenario planning and a very systemic review of how this practice can bring people into an educational forum of examination that gives them the technical and scientific basis to work with others on a change initiative for environment or health;
4. The role of social media, e.g. Facebook or Twitter in building an educational forum that builds a culture of change. Each entry authored by Whit is a mix drawing from his own personal experience with each competence, a complete description beyond theory to assure the reader can imagine the application of this methodology on the job.
5. Whit is now working on a blog entry on Whole Systems. Whole Systems , is a form of thinking critical to any organization that is preparing to respond to the next decade of natural disasters that will disrupt economy, trade and commerce.
For the adult learner, how are we going to assure that this person who invests in this commitment will be employed?
The decision to work and live in a culture of sustainability is not something to take lightly because it requires engagement with others who are like minded and intentioned to act on the value for sustainability.
WorkEcology.com is going to become a unique portal launched this year, which will serve as a meeting place for a new form of membership that will operate somewhat like a the idea of European Trade Associations.
The WorkEcology portal, in it current design, is organized to attract a community of individuals united to work with the methods, the theory in practice by staying current with the science, events shaping change and linking in with companies, associations and non profits comprising the monetary and non-monetary marketplace that is growing more tangibly by day growing into a world based on an attitude of what is working now and what can be working better to assure a future for next generations.
By February, there will be a blog announcement and through other venues, e.g. Twitter, Linkedin.com and Facebook of how the first introductory formation of membership will be formed through a couple of projects
1. I will launch teleconference community on Linkedin.com the end of January. This community will be dedicated to examining the Culture of Candor and all that implies. The group will be membership driven and needs of individual group members will be factored into how the group is convened and organized. The communication system for this sub-community will provide you brief updates of news and knowledge that is filtered for a community of leaders who want to learn new methods of leading that inspire taking risk and innovating change. For more information simply write email@example.com. Put in the subject line (Culture of Candor).
2. With Bernie Kelly, our Australian Partner for the Kennedy Reeve Global Health Leadership Institute, I will be launching a health professional leadership research project in February designed to qualify and identify a group of health care professionals that will convene to learn how to form a global culture of change for the health professions.
3. I will continue with numerous behind the scenes conversations with my advisers and people stepping up to the plate to raise a form of investment that will serve WorkEcology to focus on its mission.
4. I am now on organizing committees for a series of events that will tackle challenging issues related to the economy, learning and Brilliant Minds, Sweet Hearts' business model is forming into non-monetary market of innovation.
The model will focus on creating a new social market niche of talent and organizations ready to integrate that talent into innovative projects based on the value for sustainability. While currency may be exchanged it will not be with a focus on profit. In my view the role of a non-monetary market venture will be to influence tangible and intangible value in other non-monetary and monetary markets.
Our intention is to focus on serving our members to learn, convene and build an association of people building a new workforce framework so people can work wisely and live well.Stay tuned. This is new, it's an innovation and we are working as fast as we can. We welcome help and if you are interested, please link in with me at my Linkedin.com profile and contact me there.
This month, I am focused on finalizing an advice network that will oversee how our investment is raised and used. We have received our first letter from an investor of intent and I will be working with my advice network to determine how to structure the investment to recognize my many years of personal investment to launch WorkEcology.