Three of my Africa poems – Africa Calls to Me, South Africa: A Dragon’s Tale and I Am An African - have been published in Romanian in issue no 9/2009 of CHMagazine.
Twitter / WayneVisser
Sunday, 27 December 2009
Saturday, 26 December 2009
Saturday, 12 December 2009
What we need, therefore, is to strengthen the societal context – though increased public awareness and customer activism – and the market context – through stronger public policy and price incentives. This is what leadership author Manfred De Vries calls the architectural role of leaders – and that is what we see the world’s leaders here in Copenhagen striving to do: to redesign the ‘rules of the game’.
Beyond the societal and market context, however, we also need to enable individual leaders to emerge – both as strategic navigators at the helm of their organisations, and as embedded catalysts at all levels of organisation and society.
We may ask: what types of leaders are we looking for to take us through the climate crisis? There are many theories on leadership styles and traits, but it seems to me that we will need all kinds of leadership to emerge. Times of crisis do call for heroic, charismatic leaders, but quiet, servant leaders are equally needed.
Many leadership traits will come into their own in the years ahead, as climate change intensifies and we transition to a low-carbon economy. We will look to leaders with an ability to craft a compelling alternative vision in the midst of business-as-usual, to think systemically about solutions in the midst of reactionary politics, to call for action in the midst of inertia and to foster hope in the midst of despair.
The good news is we do not have to wait for these leaders to be born. We at CPSL firmly believe – and we are supported by modern leadership research in this – that leaders are made, not born. For 20 years, we have been nurturing leaders to take on the sustainability challenge. Now their time has come, and we start to see them stepping forward, through initiatives like the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change and the 1,000 CEOs that have committed themselves and their companies to the Copenhagen Communiqué.
It is true that it will not be easy; nor will all who tackle the challenge, succeed. But that is the challenge of leadership.
I started by saying that we need extraordinary leadership for extraordinary times, and I quoted Unilever CEO, Paul Polman. Now, I would like to end with something else he said, because I believe it captures some of the essence of what it means to be a leader for sustainability. He says, “I hope that the word integrity comes into that. I hope the word long-term comes into that. I hope the word caring comes into that, but demanding at the same time.”
Friday, 11 December 2009
This crisis in trust is closely linked to a crisis in leadership.
A McKinsey survey of global executives found that while three quarters (74%) say the CEO/chair should take the lead on socio-political issues (such as climate change), only half (56%) say the CEO/chair is taking such a lead. What’s more, less than 1 in 10 (8%) think that companies are championing environmental and social causes out of genuine concern.
In the US, almost a third (27%) of executives claim not to be playing any leadership role on public issues like climate change, and only 14% claim to be playing a direct, active role. And yet, almost half (44%) of US executives feel their peers should be taking a leadership role public issues, with only one-seventh believe they are actually doing so.
So much for the numbers; what are the implications for leadership? The same McKinsey survey may give us a clue: Of those who claim not to be playing any role in leadership on public issues, 71% cite ‘business reasons’, while of those who say they are playing a role, 64% cite ‘personal reasons’. This suggests that – in order to have transformational leadership on climate change – we need to look at both the business ‘rules of the game’ and the role of individual leaders.
Interestingly, this conclusion dovetails nicely with the leadership research coming out of academia, which emphasises importance of both the context for leadership and the individual traits of leaders.
Part 3 - The leadership response
... follows tomorrow
Thursday, 10 December 2009
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
- Worldviews - It was very clear that the books said much more about the authors' worldview - the lens through which they see reality - than the actual 'facts' of sustainability. Someone like Paul Ehrlich (The Population Bomb) was very pessimistic, while Jeffrey Sachs (The End of Poverty) was very optimistic.
- Stories - I soon realised that the books mostly represent stories - possible futures that the authors' have imagined, based on their own culture, knowledge, experience, etc. Whether we buy into 'The Limits to Growth' or 'When Corporations Rule the World' story depends on where we are at in our own journey, as much as the authors'.
- Hope - Finally, I deliberately asked them all where they derive their hope from, and almost without exception, it was the inspiration from people who are working tirelessly and selflessly to solve social and environmental problems.
The Top 50 Books List
(Alphabetical by Book Title)
Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the battle Against World Poverty, by Muhammad Yunus, 1999
Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, by Janine Benyus, 2003
Blueprint for a Green Economy: by David Pearce, Anil Markandya and Edward B. Barbier, 1989
Business as Unusual: My Entrepreneurial Journey, Profits and Principles, by Anita Roddick, 2005
Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business, by John Elkington, 1999
Capitalism as if the World Matters, by Jonathon Porritt, 2005
Capitalism at the Crossroads: Aligning Business, Earth, and Humanity, by Stuart Hart, 2005
Changing Course: A Global Business Perspective on Development and the Environment, by Stephan Schmidheiny and WBCSD, 1992
The Chaos Point: The World at the Crossroads, by Ervin Laszlo, 2006
The Civil Corporation: The New Economy of Corporate Citizenship, by Simon Zadek, 2001
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive, by Jared Diamond, 2005
The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, by Joel Bakan, 2005
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, 2002
The Dream of Earth, by Thomas Berry, 1990
Development as Freedom, by Amartya Sen, 2000
The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability, by Paul Hawken, 1994
The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review, by Nicholas Stern, 2007
The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, by Jeffrey Sachs, 2005.
Factor Four: Doubling Wealth, Halving Resources Use-A Report to the Club of Rome, by Ernst Von Weizsäcker, Amory B. Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins, 1998.
False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism, by John Gray, 2002
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side on the All-American Meal, by Eric Schlosser, 2005
A Fate Worse than Debt: The World Financial Crisis and the Poor, by Susan George, 1990
For The Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment and a Sustainable Future, by Herman Daly and John Cobb, 1989
Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profits, by C.K. Prahalad, 2004
Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, by James Lovelock, 1979.
Globalization and its Discontents, by Joseph Stiglitz, 2002
Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning, by George Monbiot, 2006
Human-Scale Development: Conception, Application and Further Reflections, by Manfred Max-Neef, 1991
The Hungry Spirit: Beyond Capitalism: The Quest for Purpose in the Modern World, by Charles Handy, 1999
An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It, by Al Gore, 2006
The Limits to Growth, by Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows and Jorgen Randers, 1972
Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace, by Ricardo Semler, 1993
The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else, by Hernando De Soto, 2000
Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins, 2000
No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs, by Naomi Klein, 2002
Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism, by George Soros, 2000
Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, by Buckminster Fuller, 1969
Our Common Future, by The World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987
The Population Bomb, by Paul Ehrlich, 1968
Presence: An Explanation of Profound Change in People, Organizations and Society, by Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski and Betty Sue Flowers, 2005
The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China’s Future, by Elizabeth C. Economy, 2004
Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold, 1949
Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, 1962
The Skeptical Environmentalist, by Bjorn Lomborg, 2001
Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, by E.F. Schumacher, 1973
Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development, by Vandana Shiva, 1989
The Turning Point: Science Society and the Rising Culture, by Fritjof Capra, 1984
Unsafe At Any Speed: The Designed-in Dangers of the American Automobile, by Ralph Nader, 1965
When Corporations Rule the World, by David Korten, 2001
When the Rivers Run Dry: What Happens When Our Water Runs Out? by Fred Pearce, 2006
These are the Top 50 Sustainability Books as voted for by the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership's alumni network of over 3,000 senior leaders from around the world. In addition to profiles of all 50 titles, many of the authors share their most recent reflections on the state of the world and the ongoing attempts by business, government and civil society to create a more sustainable future.
This unique title draws together in one volume some of the best thinking to date on the pressing social and environmental challenges we face as a society. These are the Top 50 Sustainability Books as voted for by the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership's alumni network of over 3,000 senior leaders from around the world. In addition to profiles of all 50 titles, many of the authors share their most recent reflections on the state of the world and the ongoing attempts by business, government and civil society to create a more sustainable future.
Many of these authors have become household names in the environmental, social and economic justice movements - from Rachel Carson, Ralph Nader and E.F. Schumacher to Vandana Shiva, Muhammad Yunus and Al Gore. Others, such as Aldo Leopold, Thomas Berry and Manfred Max-Neef, are relatively undiscovered gems, whose work should be much more widely known.
The profiled books tackle our most vexing global challenges, including globalisation (Globalization and Its Discontents,No Logo), climate change (Heat, The Economics of Climate Change) and poverty (The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Development as Freedom). Some of these featured thought-leaders are highly critical of the status quo (e.g. David Korten, Eric Schlosser and Joel Bakan), while others suggest evolutionary ways forward (e.g. Amory Lovins, Hunter Lovins, Paul Hawken and Jonathon Porritt). Some place their faith in technological solutions (e.g. Janine Benyus, Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker), while others are upbeat about the potential of business to be a force for good (e.g. John Elkington, Ricardo Semler, William McDonough and Michael Braungart).
By featuring these and other seminal thinkers, The Top 50 Sustainability Books distils a remarkable collective intelligence - one that provides devastating evidence of the problems we face as a global society, yet also inspiring examples of innovative solutions; it explores our deepest fears and our highest hopes for the future. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to tap into the wisdom of our age.
FROM THE INTERVIEWS...
The level of change that is going to be forced on our economies, our value chains, our companies and the people who work in business is going to be both profound, and profoundly exciting. There are few times in world history where I would rather have been alive.
We're going to solve these problems: extreme poverty will end by the year 2025. That's what I said in the book and I think that's what's going to happen.
Jeffrey D. Sachs
The simple truth is that there are no companies that are sustainable in the world today; there are none. What we have are companies that are experimenting with pieces of the puzzle.
Stuart L. Hart
Negligence begins tomorrow, because now we know what to do.
In America they said I was trying to tear down Wall Street and that would suck the juice out of the American dream.
One tends to forget it's not the oil companies that drive our cars; we drive them and burn the fuel. We don't have to do it, and to entirely blame industry for making a profit from selling us petrol is quite naive. The whole of society is in the game together and to single out industry for attack is quite wrong.
I always remember, on Donella Meadows' office door was a little motto which said 'Even if I knew the world would end tomorrow I'd plant a tree today.'
Dennis L. Meadows
Will our grandchildren know what a company is? ... it seems that the real institutional challenge is to create a new type of institution.
I am very sceptical about a moralistic appeal and I'm extremely sceptical about markets providing sustainable civilisation.
Ernst von Weizsäcker
I was just in Borneo watching 19 square kilometres of lush rainforest that had been recreated from scratch in six or seven years. Nobody knew you could do that.
Amory B. Lovins
Environmental concern is still very much a First World concern. Most of the world are still pretty worried about the fact that their kids can die from easily curable infectious diseases.
I think there is unfortunately no level of human suffering that causes policy to change.
Sustainability is boring. What would you say if I were to ask you about your relationship with your wife? How would you characterise it? As sustainable? If this is the bigger goal - sustainability - then I feel really sorry because it doesn't celebrate human creativity and human nature.
I think the system as a whole is structurally unsustainable. That means it has to be transformed. It can't be patched up.
The Top 50 Sustainability Books
By Wayne Visser