Dean Katrin Muff

Message from the BSL Dean

Laloux Culture Model


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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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Is there really a business case for sustainability?

Thanks to a comprehensive, aggregate study completed by the Natural Capital folks, we have now a clear and solid answer: YES. If you need convincing or would like to see some evidence, click here to download their report for free. Happy reading!

 


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San Francisco Becomes The First City to Ban Sale of Plastic Bottles | Global Flare

I am so pleased to read this! How soon will other cities follow? How we as citizens support this? What can you do in your local community? http://globalflare.com/san-francisco-becomes-the-first-city-to-ban-sale-of-plastic-bottles/

At BSL, we have made plastic bottles redundant by offering all students a BSL bottle.

BSL-Bottles-sm

 


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The human rights approach to water sustainability in luxury industries

Collaboratory about the issue of WATER in the Hospitality & Luxury Industries

Some 70 stakeholders from business, industry, NGO, government, academia and civil society gathered to discuss the current issues and future potential solutions around the water issue in the hospitality and luxury industries, of course touching also on the water issues in general and what is means for individual, communities, organizations and countries. The event started with contributions from the following experts:

  • Carlos Carrion-Crespo: Senior specialist public services, International Labour Organization

Employment in The World Water Development Report for 2016

  • Jean-Benoit Charrin: Executive director; WaterLex

The human right to water and sanitation in water governance

  • James Holleran: Professor of Sustainable Tourism

Sustainability in the tourism sector

  • Christopher Cordey: CEO of Futuratinow and professor, BSL

Sustainable Luxury Management; Ethics & Sustainability in Business

  • Mark Smith: Director, IUCN Global Water Programme

Ecosystem conservation, sustainable water supply and implications for the Human Right to Water

After an hour of engaged stakeholder discussion broadening and deepening the understanding of the issue including many participants from the audience, the challenge was obvious: how to find solutions for such a complex issue? The visioning process, which followed, builds on the understanding that new solutions cannot be developed from the same mindframe that generated the problem, thus the irrelevance of problem-based solutions. The stakeholder community present came up with a broad understanding of how a world would look like with the water problem solved. The word cloud below is a simplified reflection of this common vision:

Water as a meeting place; Education of young people = a sense of urgency; Water for all living beings; Water is free, good and available; Breakthrough in water purification; Using the water of the oceans; Us as human beings rather than consumers; Harmony of water-nature-humans; Full of life; Everybody is aware of the value of water; Water is as much appreciated as wine; Water doesn’t belong to anyone; Pricing of all goods reflects all costs (including water); Imagine everybody living without water for one day!; The future is a noisy place full of debates and dialogue

In a next phase, the creativity of the community was unleashed, with a co-creative brainstorming session using a back-casting approach, imagining new prototype solutions derived from the common vision we had previously imagined. The ideas where flowing and can be summarized as follows:

  • The role of women in resolving the water issue (building on water as an ancient meeting place)
  • Scaling up a CEO initiative on water (building on existing initiatives)
  • Developing a sense of personal ownership & responsibility for the use of water (many examples of how to make a personal difference)
  • Raising awareness around the complex issue of water in general and in the luxury industries in particular (do handbags really need to be made out of leather?)
  • Creating courses at all levels (primary, secondary and tertiary education) around experiential learning with water (both local and in regions of water scarcity or pollution)
  • Developing relevant and game-changing regulations and incentives

Participants organized into groups of 3 to 6 members around the above prototype ideas and jointly developed concrete approaches and potential solutions for each of these. Our collaboratory session ended with a lot of enthusiasm, new ideas, friendship rekindled and new contacts made, and the follow-on buffet provided food and drinks for further discussions that ran into the very late night. Some impressions here and more picture available online:

 


Reflections about the B-Corp movement launch in Europe

The importance of unintended consequences when creating change

The B-Corp movement in Europe was officially launched yesterday, at the corporate headquarters of Triodos Bank, in the Netherlands. Triodos is the European posterchild of the B-Corp movement, much like Ben & Jerry was in the U.S. We celebrated the founding 70 B-Corp companies across Europe, a cohort of mostly small, often start-up entrepreneurs in a variety of sectors including consulting. A few stand out: Fairphone and Dropper are good examples for the kind of DNA these founding companies share – coming up with innovative solutions to environmental or societal problems, looking at the business value chain and governance structure in a holistic way.

I represented Business School Lausanne as B-Corp country representative for Switzerland, a position we share with Codethic in Geneva. BSL is not (yet) a B-Corp. We completed our accreditation with the Economy for the Common Goods (ECG) movement in 2014, a slightly more profound and progressive movement with otherwise very similar ideas as the U.S. initiated Benefit Corporation. More profound in the sense that its starting base is a matrix that measures the contribution of a company to the common good (or society) in a holistic outside-in way. More progressive in the sense that the ECG is based on values derived from many European constitutions whereas the B-Corp frames doing good within a broadened business paradigm (of triple bottom line). The difference simply depicts the philosophical differences of the two continents: Europe is generally acknowledged to have a much deeper sense of sustainability and responsibility, whereas the U.S. is generally acknowledged for the innovation power of business and an inane sense of embracing opportunistic effectiveness. This may sound judgmental, but it isn’t. Both approaches are hugely important and relevant. From where I stand, they are hugely complementary and mutually enriching. I would love for the two movements to join forces and double the pace and scale of change we need business to deliver for the benefit of society and the world. Will this ever happen? Probably not; for many reasons that have prevented similar parallel initiatives to join forces. I recall that it took one third of the time to get similar initiatives on talking terms when we initiated the 50+20 movement – a compound name reflecting the need to give up individual brands for a larger cause. Quite a challenge!

Another thing that strikes me is how differently the two movements have gone about expansion and growth. On the one hand, the ECG has spent much time and probably too much energy on building a bottom-up democratic base structure with carefully discussed governance in every member country, honoring transparency and dialogue at the expense of speed and effectiveness. On the other hand, the B-Corp movement appears to have operated in a nearly diametrically opposed manner. Selection of regional partner (entire continents) or country partners (for example across Europe) has happened haphazardly at best, instilling little transparency in the process and investing little to nothing in building relationship across countries in regions (I can talk for Europe). Communication is scarce and the information gap between those in the know and those wondering, is significant. Both processes have their advantages and disadvantages. While the ECG movement frustrated me with their endless discussions and internal organizational focus to the point that I largely withdrew from the community, the B-Corp movement caused frustration due to overlaps and multiple uncoordinated country representative appointments. While the ECG movement decided to first built up a strong community at the expense of speed and impact, the B-Corp movement decided to focus on accrediting as many companies as possible in a short a period as possible at the expense of a coherent and transparent organizational operating structure. One may be tempted to say that these very different approaches themselves may be indicative of the different operating modes in Europe and the U.S. But that would be too stereotypical and easy.

What I find interesting is to reflect on the impact of the two very different types of frustrations which really reflects so-called unintended consequences of otherwise meaningful and well-considered decisions. If I could choose if I rather be frustrated because I cannot seem to be able to move into action because of the slowness of the ongoing internal alignment process (ECG), or if I prefer being frustrated because others are stepping on my toes in an effort to move ahead and implement change (B-Corp), I must say I much prefer the latter. And this is important: it is not about attempting to prevent frustration at all – that would be not only mission impossible but would require a degree of reflection and preparation that would kill any movement before it would ever get started – but to choose the least damaging unintended consequences. And here, I must say that the B-Corp movement is light-year ahead of the ECG movement. It is important to outline that there is also – unsurprisingly – a downside: namely the risk of partners angrily leaving or dropping out and the initiative needed to relaunch in a given space. Yet that downside is very similar to the reaction I had experienced in the other approach.

For the moment, both movements are quite comparable, have achieved similar adaptations and accreditation of leading small and medium-sized companies and have started a process of global outreach. Yet, of my students, 80% know of the B-Corp while only 20% know of the ECG. It may be a language thing: the B-Corp benefits from English being such an international language and the ECG movement still stuck in mostly German and Spanish with few efforts beyond what our BSL students offered as voluntary help 3 years back when they translated the measurements into English. It may be more. I think it is more than just language. I would suggest here in closing my reflection of the two movements, that the B-Corp movement has been fortunate enough to create frustrations that trigger action and advancement, as compared to the ECG movement that created frustrations that triggered non-action and retrieval.

This is an invitation to be mindful about the kinds of unintended consequences our attempts to “occupy the common space” have. How can we step up and embrace change and err in the direction that will result in more action and more engagement rather than in less action and less engagement? I like dilemmas and what I describe certainly is one. It also demonstrates that perfection is neither important, relevant nor desirable – a focus on unintended consequences (or risks to be mitigated) is much more relevant when choosing an implementation strategy. Remember, you can always adopt and change. Or to use the words of the founder of the Jesuits: “It is better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission”. My B-Corp vs. ECG case study is a clear demonstration of the upside of such a radical (maybe even unconscious) choice.


Occupying the Collective Space

Originally posted on :

by Dr. Katrin Muff

Different ways of occupying…

As we will consider in this month’s blog, there are different ways of occupying that middle ground between the personal space each of us feel responsible for, and societal best interests. The collective space called “we” can be used to uplift individuals to act together for a better common future, or it can be hijacked by individuals or special interest groups to occupy or “blockupy” the collective space pressing their issues – for better, or worse, as we shall see below, and not necessarily in the interest of the greater common good.

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“The world’s dumbest idea: maximizing shareholder value” (Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff)

There is a growing number of CEO’s who are expressing an increasingly shared view about how limiting or “dumb” the idea of our dominant economic model, namely maximizing shareholder value, is. Read here an interesting article from Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2015/02/05/salesforce-ceo-slams-the-worlds-dumbest-idea-maximizing-shareholder-value/

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