Positive Impact Blog

Thought provoking insights for change makers


What if organizations evolved like people?

Based on Frederic Laloux’s inspiring book Reinventing Organizations, Peter Green has created a most enlightening visual arts video both summarizing Laloux’s work and translating it into a lesson of “Lean and Agile Adoption”.

If you are a general manager, HR manager, a team leader, business student, young entrepreneur, start-up wizzkid, this video will inspire you to consider different ways of organizating for success. I am so curious to hear what you think of the video and what concrete action you are inspired to do! Let me know please!

https://vimeo.com/121517508


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My favorite book this summer!

Among the large pile of books I read through this summer, one stood out and has left a pleasant after-taste: REINVENTING ORGANIZATIONS by Frederic Laloux (Belgium). Frederic has attempted to do mission impossible and has actually come up with something of incredible value. He took the human development perspective and applied it to business. The idea is simple and has been considered for centuries: human beings develop over a life-time and societies develop over centuries into increasingly developed forms and belief systems. Why not organizations as well. Based on much work done by Integral Studies (Ken Wilber et al but also many other developmentalists such as Jean Gebser, Don Beck, Jean Piaget), Frederic developed first a historical overview of the development of organizations and then created a white space of the organization of the future. And here comes the magic – rather than just leaving things there, he went out and found a dozen companies of all sizes and from various industries and developed small case studies to understand how these companies are living already today partially or fully the principles of the organization of the future.

But don’t take my word for it, here is an excellent New York Times review on the book

We are running a Collaboratory event that I will facilitate together with other BSL colleagues featuring Frederic Laloux, Christian Felber and others on November 21-22, 2014 in Vienna in association with LiFT and the Zentrum für Integrale Führung led by Christiane Seuhs-Schoeller. If you are interested to join us, please let me know!

 

 


Sustainability By Enlivening Your Day

A great blog post on creating an environment where you feel more present. How do you live the principles of sustainability in your own daily life?


The Landfill Orchestra

Here is an invitation to dive into the amazing story of a slum that is built on a landfill and has started to build musical instruments out of trash. You’ll be transformed when you hear the sound of the recycled cello built frim an oil trum and when you see violins that looks unlike anything you have ever imagined yet sound like heaven.

A short film of hope that points out that we should throw neither things nor people away and that miracles are possible when we make the best out of both! Enjoy!


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Walking Up the Stairs

With reference to my friend Benjamin Akande, Dean of Webster University, who recently shared the following very impactful story.

Walking Up the Stairs

This is a story about the importance of empowering others. John T. Quinlivan, a retired executive at Boeing Corporation, shared this wonderful story with me. It’s a story about a simple act we all take for granted. A few years back John was the person in charge of delivering Boeing commercial jets to countries around the world. This particular delivery was to the nation of Kenya. The Boeing 767-400 plane landed at the Kenyatta International Airport with much fanfare and celebration.

The day began with great pomp and ceremony, as Boeing entertained airline executives and top government dignitaries with a demonstration flight in the new 767 over the beautiful landscape of Kenya. Later that day, the aerospace giant opened the airplane up for what is generally referred as static display, where people are invited to walk through the plane, sit on the seats, and get an up-close look of the plane.

More than two thousand Kenya Airways employees and invited VIPs showed up to get a glimpse of the country’s new acquisition that afternoon. At the completion of the static display, the plane was cleaned and secured for the night. But then, the unaccepted happened, a group of children from a nearby orphanage showed up. they came to see the big bird that had landed near their home close to the airport. Despite protestation from the hosts, John Quinlivan insisted that they too should get a tour of the brand-new plane. When they finally made it on the tarmac, they stood transfixed at the bottom of the stairway looking up at the massive bird. From the top, John motioned to them to come up, but nobody responded to him. “They just stood there,” John told me, and then he asked one of the Kenyan hosts to tell the children and adults who were with them in Swahili to walk up the stairs. again, there was no reaction.

It became clear to John that he had a small problem. The problem? The children and their handlers had never walked up stairs before. They didn’t know how, and so with the help of the Boeing staff and Kenyan hosts, they assisted the children, as they made their way up to the plane. It took a while, but they finally made it to the top of the stairway and into the place. They stretched out on the large seats in first class, checked out the cockpit, sat in the pilot’s seat, and looked in the restrooms!

At the end of the tour, it was a sight to see the kids attempting to walk down the stairway. A few found it more comforting and assuring to just sit on the steps, slid their way down as carefully as they could.

This is a story about a simple act that we take for granted. My friends, walking up stairs is enabling others to reach their goals. Walking up stairs is overcoming insurmountable odds and doing the impossible. When we walk up stairs, we are enabling others to participate in the American Dream. It begs the question: what stairs are you helping others to climb?

According to John, “the people of Kenya were thrilled to be a part of the Boeing 767-400 tour. But it was more than that. They were so proud of their new plane. You see, we must always remember the radical changes that products/services bring to people’s lives and the transformational capacity to an organization or even to a nation and to its people.” For John, it’s about access, connectivity, opportunity, inclusion and education. These are defining attributes that are to be part of DNA of any organization.

Which begs the question: are you enabling these attributes in your organization?

Walking up the stairs

John T. Quinlivan with Kenyan children at the airport


An illustration of continuous leadership education: the executive monastery

Executives have different needs at different times. These include traditional executive training in leadership, management or business skills. A relatively under-estimated need is the possibility to retreat from the day-to-day demands and action and to reflect on the past to crystallize lessons learned and critical considerations and adaptations for the future. We call it the Executive Monastery!

The Executive Monastery forms an integral part of the management school of the future. It offers a space to reflect on professional and personal achievements and challenges with the possibility to digest and integrate experiences and to prepare for new challenges. Imagine a place, not unlike a real monastery, a safe and sacred space with archways providing shade for walks and reflection, with emptiness in the middle, often enriched with elements of nature, surrounded by a building that offers amenities (rooms and food) and inspiration (libraries) integrated into the surrounding walls. As such, it welcomes professionals for retreats of a duration of their choice, offering them a powerful and safe space of emptiness that is held for them by a variety of supporting services around them: coaches and facilitators are available when necessary, there are personal development workshops, a library with inspirational material in all current media forms, spaces for silent retreats, as well as common moments of yoga, meditation, sports, singing, working, cooking, eating and sharing in general.

katrin blog 1

katrin blog 2

From top to bottom: Sanahin Monastery, Armenia, Sucevita Monastery, Romania


How to become a leader?

I have always been fascinated how leaders are “brought forth” by circumstance. Something out of the ordinary occurs – an accident, a coincidence, a conflict, an opportunity – and you see people step up and start doing what needs to be done. Such leaders who hold no formal power or authority express what I believe true leadership is about: the courage to fully engage with all we have – our acquired and dormant skills, competencies, fears and uncertainties – if and when the situation requires it. It may well be that such leadership makes the headlines once in a lifetime only, but I have noticed that there are countless opportunities every day before, during and after work that invite us to practice this kind of leadership that I call “personal responsibility”. This makes all of us potential leaders.

Imagine if each of us would dare to engage fully if and when the situation requires it! Daring to make a mistake, to shake things up and maybe to step on some toes; not to show off or to manipulate, but simply because you know what is required to happen and, since you are there, it is up to you to step up. And this is where it gets interesting: how do you know what to do, how to be and whether to engage in a situation or not?

Is it indeed possible to learn such kind of a enlightened courage? I believe, you can! You can learn to be connected to your inner quiet voice, you can learn to sense what is right and what feels wrong, you can learn to differentiate between your own subconscious autopiloted fear mechanisms and your true values-based intuition, you can learn to find that voice and speak up. Such learning resembles more of a journey than a 3-day executive course. It requires practice and reflection.

It is possible to create powerful and safe learning environments to develop not only your courage to step up but to develop your full potential so that you can engage with a maximum of resources that you have. And if we as business schools were doing what is required of us right now, this is – in my humble view – what we should be doing: developing globally responsible leaders equiped to deal with the emerging societal, economic and environmental challenges so that all of us can live well and within the limits of out planet.


Guided reflection

An element dearly missed in traditional field work so far is guided reflection. There is little value in having participants take part in hands-on field work, if their experience is not thoroughly and professionally reflected. Such reflection includes the following:

  • What have I concretely learned in terms of skills and competences?
  • How have I learned, what elements/processes provided insights and how were they provoked?
  • What did I not expect to learn, what took me by surprise?
  • What did I learn in the interaction with others?
  • How effective are my inter-personal skills?
  • What have I learned about myself? Which situations do I find particularly challenging or rewarding?
  • What situations favor a learning attitude, what situations prevent me from learning?
  • What feedback do I get from my colleagues (boss, peers, subordinates) and how do I react to this?
  • What new questions do I have? What would I like to investigate in, learn more about, explore?

Guided reflection is a critical enabler to have a learner advance on his personal journey to mastery. It enables the understanding of where a learner is and what challenges he needs to embrace to advance. It also installs a practice of life-long learning, ensuring that a learner integrates self-reflection into his daily routine as an integral element of personal hygiene. Furthermore, guided reflection also opens the pathway of shared learning, enabling the teacher to understand core issues and challenges a class is faced with. Such a process is a first step towards creating a shared learning journey, involving participants in co-creating a course syllabus and therefore assuming responsibility of his learning.