Perhaps we need to shift our view in the way we think to have more progress.
Imagine if leaders could lead deliberate change; and this deliberate change could society and create an economy that is sustainable. Imagine if the definition of a sustainable economy implied a culture of well-being and a culture of financial stability. Some educational thought leaders believe that the only way to achieve this is to embed continuous learning that repairs the harm to people, planet and economy.
John Sexton, President of New York University one of these educational thought leaders. In a July 23, 2010 television broadcast, Sexton described to Charlie Rose his vision for a "T" educated human being. who seeks to learn and build their careers out of a search for meaning in life. This “T” human being seeks education that shapes this individual to think about the impact of anything they do on society, the environment and health. Sexton asserts that this form of educational path So in the end education can be the foundation for finding meaning and purpose in life.
Sexton assumed leadership of NYU May 2002. NYU is one of the largest global educational institutions in the World. At the time of his appointment, Sexton redefined NYU's GeoStrategy as a global portal where educators and students are co-located around the world. He perceived New York City's connection to the World and saw that to think of NYU as a campus of buildings, limited its role in educating global citizens. Sexton selected to co-locate NYU in other places in the world. The first place and space of co-location to NYU facilities in New York City is being built in Abu Dhabi. He believes after Abu Dhabi, NYU will build facilities in Shanghai.
The first 100 students accepted to this year's global co-located program will spend their last semester in Abu Dhabi. This new global hub in Abu Dhabi has attracted Nobel Prize winners and the best educators in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to become faculty. The selection process of the first 100 students included 300 candidates divided into 5 groups of 60 applicants to attend a group live interview event and dialogue at NYU's facilities in Abu Dabai.
The selection process,included observing the applicants' capacity for interaction and emotional intelligence. NYU designed this interview setting to bea global educational experience for the applicants to assess how diverse group of applicants from around the world could interact with others in this staged community of learning. The admissions team reviewed the applicants for how they related to others exercising nuances in conversation that reflected the capacity to engage in conversations that investigated expertise and its relevance the conversations.
Sexton asserted that emotional intelligence is a critical competency that every student needs to develop through a global education experience.
Emotional intelligence integrates what a student knows how to do with how they respond to others on the job, and through how they learn to apply what they learned in school. Emotional intelligence is how they discern opportunity and filter their actions to create a future success where they are recognized for what they contributed and how they performed, This left me with the impression that Sexton views that the development of how Howard Gardner's has defined emotional intelligence is a critical path to any person today shaping their life to work wisely to live well. Hence this is the foundation principle by which anyone can live a life of well being.
For people seeking education and employment in the field of CSR, Sustainability and Social Enterprise, the capacity to communicate in this way is basic to their ability to participate in a job of global impact. Unlike the tradition of technical and expert jobs, people who work in CSR, sustainability or social enterprise, do not work in expert silos. Hence, the education process has to prepare every student to learn how to perform on the job in ways that contribute to society, environment and economy. This ultimately effects their personal well being because working in this way is personal and how they derive a sense of meaning.
The Art of Gardner's Multiple Intelligence and Search For Meaning
Sexton's vision is not his vision alone. There are numerous other global leaders' who understand that the search for meaning is key to building a sustainable economy. The current challenge is to shape workforce opportunity and a culture of change as it relates to shaping an ecological system of work for the next generation.
This is calling for a change in the way people obtain jobs and maybe even an elimination of the recruitment systems now operated by human resource professionals. People who work this way want to link with people in their network drawing this nuance of communication. Today's generation has found ways in which to do this using social media, joining professional associations. These associations offer educational events and conferences where participants can demonstrate what they know and how the thought behind the expertise they have learned. Participation in these events provide environments of engagement where the participants can show who they are that carries more value than any descriptoin on a resume prepared to meet the technical requirements of a HR ASP.
Why have Companies Created HR as an Obtacle?
Many of the people who want to work this way are joining in guilds of learning like Geek Girls, Justmeans.com or even MyPath.com. These guilds are offering continuous education that is relevant, situation based, and providing sources of social support that go beyond the US concept of labor union. People who join these guilds join them for educational advantage and social connection with peers they are unable to find now in the workplace.
I believe these guilds and alumnae associations, e.g. Net Impact, are going to encourage a new form of intelligent social networking that I teach. The portals where these groups for trusted relationship will provide the architecture for people managing their personal compensation, access to benefits and savings plan for health and retirement.
A new definition of work, compensation, professional development and career paths is going to take form out of this new emerging network formation. People will always be employed, and when they are not in a role of wage-earning, they will engage in these networks in the role of continuous learner. They will be able to join with their peers for social support, and identify auditions or internships in which they demonstrate what they know and how they learn.
The current "full-employment model" has ceased to assure value for today's work force with the first adoption of "downsizing" as a means to control the bottom line. It will be your social network that provides you a source of community engagement in which you can develop a sense of belonging that assures your value and opens opportunities for employment.
HR can contract directly with guilds for candidate identification and eliminate wasted time for interviews and more. Hiring managers who do not know what they want, or do not have budget and are trying to hire to figure out budget; will be sent to consultants who have training in operations, use of technology and professional development. These professionals will work with managers to ascertain budget and performance expectations that are specific to company strategies, needs, ESG or GRI requirements.
Membership in a guild will assure you the ability to stay vital and competent during economic downturns when reduction of jobs is the pattern. When you do not have contracts with compensation, you can contract for voluntary internships as a method of support for a career transition. Through these internships, you will be able to add to demonstrate new expertise or knowledge at work; through experiential learning you will also be able to obtain university, continuing education credits guide by professional educators that can mentor you through a Capstone method of curriculum. These guilds will assure opportunities for professional development and when you are not working protect you from the victimization of downsizing.
Downsizing is a "bean counter" short-term view that holds no value for people and the education that prepares them to work and live. The "bean counter" approach to work does not invite people to be intelligent, participate and take pride in their work.
Downsizing relies on thinking of employed people as inventories of head count; relying upon mechanical systems of work production and organizing compensation as bottom line formula with no regard for performance, innovation or quality output. Work force management becomes an exercise of how to manage cash reserves and play it safe thru "bad times" that perpetuates recessionary and depressed phases of economy.
Downsizing has moved human resource practitioners to become managers of head count, outsourcing, contracting rather than leaders who engage in a form of social networking to identify potential job applicants. Within these social networks today's worker can shape social media that tells the story of their performance and how they learn. This method of candidate identification will become more important than the history of who the candidates worked for and what they did at past jobs.
Why have Companies created HR as an Obtacle?
The Federal Reserve in early July, provide a report that shows this short-term view of managing cash is now creating an epidemic of job loss, stress and work place burn out resulting in as many people leaving jobs as being victims of downsizing.
The report summary from the Feds is simple: over 500 large US Corporations are sitting on $1.8 Trillion in cash reserves.
This remarkable metric identifying a source of of frozen cash flow inspired me to speak out more fiercely about the practice of downsizing and growth in extended unemployment, and the decreasing use of leadership capacity that is resulting in growing workforce unrest. The unrest is a symptom of more workers holding the intention to perform well on the job and encountering systemic obstacles that undermine their job performance.
I recently expanded on this view point in a conversation with Vault.com's CSR Editor, Aman Singh
has written a series of columns an CSR, Jobs and Employment. Singh, a graduate of NYU herself, has shown me in the formation of our relationship that included brainstorming this series of articles that she has the capacity to capture and report on the relationship of CSR to jobs, leadership, diversity and the future of work. She has mastered "nuance conversation that assess people's experience and view point that others can learn from.
Last week, Aman and I chatted again and she highlighted my obseration that many workers are hired or work for managers, who have no understanding of the application of their skills and competencies to job performance, in her assessment that 'the long run does not exist, everything revolves around the bottom line."
Will Global Leaders Step-Up to this Thought Leadership?
Imagine if the 500 large US companies invested 1% of the $1.8 Trillion they hold in reserves for a total of $18B. That is conservative investment that can be made to repair our economy, the harm to people financially and the challenge that is growing in the US for people to support themselves and their families.
As this type of harm increases, so do the amount of abuse, depression and suicide incidents increase among U S teenagers; who are in despair and have no view of a possible healthy and sustainable future. Broadcasting from PBS, Sexton discussed in detail the implications of today's teen suicide rate.
In the United States each day, 365 days a year 4 college students commit suicide. Of the 5,000 students that began the school year at NYU, 150 had attempted suicide during high school NYU now provides a 24/7 hot line to all their students to access counseling for any need from suicide threat or simple social upset, like a break up in relationship. This ration of 150 students out of 5,000 reflects a national epidemic of depression and mental health issues among American teenagers.
The growing human epidemic of depression and mental illness is also a reflection of the statement America is making to its youth re:capacity to obtain education that supports anyone to build a life of meaning. This epidemic is not going to simply be resolved by increasing investment in mental health services. The economy needs investment in jobs that equate with the promise that anyone seeking quality education can earn to sustain life.
We have to invest in all kinds of education for all people at all stages of life working or not working and teach leaders what it means to lead a sustainable workforce that empowers people to want to come to work, contribute and sustain. This would serve to embed education into innovative systems of economic development and aligns it with investment based on the principles of ecology.
A Need for Building an Ecology of Growth
who heads The Climate Change Centre for Excellence at HSBC, recently wrote an editorial on the The Ecology of Growth. In this article Robins states, "Our model of growth has simply become uneconomic, with more stuff not only failing to bring additional well being in the so-called rich world, but also storing up impending environmental shocks, most notably peak oil and runaway climate change." Robins goes on to summarize his review of the latest economic literature that is providing clear direction that this is a time for investing in innovation and not sitting on cash reserves.
Robins believes we have barely begun to define the task of human growth and points out that counties of wealth take at least 15-20% of their GDP and invest in human capital for health and education. Currently level of spending in investing "green" is less than a tenth of this. He asserts that proposals for investment are not expensive enough which is compromising our economic output; in my opinion this is the obstacle to creating investment in innovation which is the source of supply of new jobs.
It is Not Business As Usual
John Sexton has asserted that human well being is as important to the change we need to create at a societal scale as practicing LEEDS procedures for building to protect the environment. He believes and is establishing a metric system of well being for NYU student life that supports the development of each student to have connection to a small community and a sense of belonging that American Society has stripped as an opportunity for its citizens.
In talking last week with John Friedman, ,a CSR op-ed contributor for Sustainable LIfe Media; I informed John that I have concluded that as a society we had to integrate our hearts and responses of compassion into our actions to bring the US economy back to life. I believe that integrating sustainability into a strategy means that the leader has to be able to perceive that any action contributes to the economic life and health of people in any geographic region to prevent harm to future generations.
John responded to me direct on twitter, where we chat on a regular basis, that the economic pillar needs to integrate my idea of "heart" and how to exercise that in the workplace. In his op-ed column on Sustainable Life Media, John's provides thought leadership that teaches Senior Leaders how to direct sustainable business strategy that embrace the heart as a business practice. John provides thinking on how a leader can maximize and mentor people who have selected a career with a focus on CSR and Sustainability and in this way meet global reporting and ESG requirements for CSR and Sustainability.
Economics to me is the pillar to building and educating what John Sexton describes as "T" human beings. "T" human beings are what we need to lead sustainable practices that factor the long view and prevent the harm of catastrophes like the BP Oil Spill rapidly or assure we act and move out of the culture of blame to repair the harm we did not prevent.
The Current Work Force Challenge
The current work force challenge is a real indicator that economic decision makers have to work with people to learn to guide their organization performance in a format that goes beyond the traditional role of human resources. Otherwise we are going to continue to obstruct employment of a new generation of worker, who is trained to perform in a culture of meaning and purpose and contribute to the quality of performance and the well being of the economy in which they live.
A new format for employment has to assure that CSR or sustainability is embedded into the workforce strategy to contribute to a sustainable economy. This means that performance by anyone in an organization has to be examined and mentored for its value to an economy and all its stakeholders.
The world of work has become so expert and technical that most people are not trained to think about how to perform with regard for anything outside of expert performance. Years ago, physician David Boehm made an impression on me when he talked about that trust in relationship of any form could not come about without regard for the interplay between the science, the technology used to carry out the science and the rapport built between people to carry out the science.
We have asked the workforce to exercise their expertise mechanically and do their jobs without regard for impact of what people do and how they do it on others. That is why we are dealing with an oil spill in the Gulf. We waste so much time blaming and debating what went wrong and who is wrong and that comes with considerable more harm and cost every day.
It is time for economic decision makers to examine the importance of their leadership in carrying out their job and set up standards for performance that assure the economic pillar has a life in any region or community where they operate. This is as true for government (local and federal) as for any commercial venture. It is how we can build an economy that moves beyond how governments now define the GDP- to factor in the wellbeing and health of all citizens,
This approach draws from many of the thought leaders, who I have written about at this blog; and my own partnership with Art Kleiner
that resulted in shaping WorkEcology.com. There is no short cut method to build this future. We need more educational leaders,e.g. John Sexton to lead a practice a global education system that gives everyone the opportunity to live in society with a sense of belonging, meaning and accomplishment that assures everyone can sustain their life without the threat of poverty that is now implied through job loss, chronic illness or out of date education and professional training.
This new wave of education has to be integral to life preparation for youth around the world. Education for people of any age has to be integral mechanism for providing a bridge to any member of the workforce to belong to a trade association. I see a new format for trade associations that use to be the role of employers.
These associations are necessary and key to building a new ecology of growth. Within this ecosystem people of any age will have to travel on the path of life long learning. How people learn through the nuance of conversation and adoption of technology will be critical to how they mange their personal consumption and expenses related to health, education and retirement. The path for the global worker of today will support working wisely to live well.