Mirjam Minderman reflects on her participation in the Global Responsibility Now event (14–18 May, Kedge Business School)
It was a new and powerful experience to participate in a week with combined gatherings: networks and initiatives on sustainable business education from around the globe convened at Kedge Business School in Marseille from 14 to 18 May both for their own meetings and for a joint program during the so-called ‘Cross Road Day’.
A binding element throughout the week was the exploration how we as individuals and organizations can accelerate systemic impact.
The week was inspiring and intense, with in my case meetings of the France-Benelux PRME Chapter, the GRLI, and the Cross Road Day in between.
Something that helped to digest all input was the framework that spontaneously emerged in the working group on ‘balance’ during the Cross Road Day. When discussing the question of how to balance while our work is all about initiating change, we recognized the three crucial aspects of identity, mindset/engagement, and time — as visualized in the graph below. While these three strands were meant to help positioning a person or organization, they are also useful to structure some of my thoughts about the week.
Identity: Me, We, All of Us
Being consciously connected to one’s own self, to others, and to the whole is a prerequisite for making change a reality. The continuous alignment between the Me, We, and All of us was key throughout the week and inherent to its set-up — especially of the Cross Road Day.
At the ‘Me’ level, being a full week away from the daily routines of work and home definitely helped to take that step back and reflect on the why, what, and how of my occupations. Several walks in the beautiful Calanques national park that surrounds Kedge contributed to this (‘connecting to self and nature’ it said in the program) and proved once more that outside activities can be much more conducive than discussions in a class room.
Sharing experiences and exploring possible collaborations with peers and other initiatives was a great source of inspiration, and certainly contributed to the ‘Me’ and ‘We’. However the meetings also stimulated a more critical attitude towards the alignment with the ‘All of us’.
Both during the Cross Road Day and the GRLI meeting the question was put to the table how we can increase impact and drive system’s change.
We all have a common cause, but are we really driving the change we want to see in the world?! Unfortunately there are no easy answers to these questions, but discussing how to go beyond personal and organizational interests and considering co-opetition as a strategy provided some directions forward — ‘Towards mutuality of impact’ as the sub-header of the conference said.
Mindset/Engagement: Thinking, Feeling, Action
The week formed a continuous balancing act between thinking, feeling and action (or head, heart and hands). The PRME Chapter meeting was all about action: as the Chapter is just six months young, initiating first projects was crucial and resulted in quite some promising initiatives in the field of education, research, outreach and sharing of practices.
The aforementioned walks in the Calanques, but also the diverse key notes during the Cross Road Day triggered the thinking and feeling.
The GRLI AGM (All Gathering Momentum) at the end of the week helped me to reflect on all input (thinking and feeling) and to draft an action list. One of the actions is to finally start using CARL (Competency Assessment for Responsible Leadership — see www.carl2030.org) in my school.
Having experienced the power of Whole-Person Learning again during this week, another action is to strengthen and spread my knowledge and skills concerning innovation in learning facilitation — also bearing in mind Myron Rogers’ statement that was quoted several times during the week: “The process you use to get to the future is the future you get”.
Time: Now, Short term, Long term
Consciously navigating the time frame from here to the (desired) future is the third and last strand. The common cause of change at the systemic level is a long term process, and a recurrent question during the week was how to ensure that our immediate actions indeed contribute to broader transformation in the long run.
The mission that the PRME Chapter meeting agreed upon addresses this systems change and may take a long time to realize: ‘transform the mindsets of business and society in the region, by making ethics, sustainability and responsible management (education) the new norm’. At the same time, the projects that resulted from the meeting are all relatively small and short term, which is important to get started and build engagement. However in order to be really meaningful, it will be paramount to regularly assess whether the Chapter’s projects and activities are indeed contributing to its mission during the next years.
The GRLI AGM discussed how to remain critical as organizations about reaching our common cause together — in collaboration — instead of letting short term organizational issues and competition prevail. In this light, a future alliances between GRLI and related initiatives was discussed and the need for ‘co-opetition’ stressed in order to remain relevant in the future as well.
The rationale underlying this week was the observation that the collective impact of all initiatives still somehow falls short of the deep transformation required at individual and collective level to make the change sustainable. While ‘Global Responsibility, Now!’ definitely was a good start, it also made clear that we need more of such weeks to really move from reflection on how to better tackle systemic issues to aligned collective action and impact.
My personal challenge now is to uphold the inspiration and energy from ‘Marseille’ and make it last through meaningful actions instead of being swayed by the issues of the day…
To remind me of doing so I brought back this simple GRLI call to action that summarizes it all:
Think Big. Act Small. Start now.
Partners / Contributors to the Global Responsibility week:
See https://grnow.kedge.edu/en/contributors-speakers for more information about these initiatives.