Sustainable Development Network


Sustainable Development Network

Thanks Andrea Gewessler for holding the network, we are now seeking a new coordinator.

Members: 56
Latest Activity: Jun 5

Our network is for people interested in using organisational development, change and learning to build a sustainable society. Please join in!

Photo of grape harvest by Isolino, from flikr.


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Comment by Caroline Rennie on March 9, 2010 at 4:51
Love Richard Nugent's answer! It takes a peculiar distance from common sense to set up a society that so systematically violates the rules of nature.

And love the thinking shift proposed by Andy that the focus be on top line, not (just) bottom line. In fact, if many CEOs were just to ask - "How can we make sustainability profitable" instead of "prove to me Sustainability won't lose me money" we would have an enormous unleashing of ideas that would help move our current system in more sustainable directions.
Comment by Andy Middleton on March 1, 2010 at 13:35
Great thinking. We need to apply a design-led approach to this, not one that's driven by measurement. This means shifting from triple bottom line, to triple top line. Doing this means asking the question from multiple perspectives, at the same time - not in sequence, which tends to happen now.

As soon as we start asking better questions, we'll find it easier to move away from status and security-driven, but dumb, actions!
Comment by Penny Walker on March 1, 2010 at 7:08
When I read Richard Nugent's blog about transformational coaching, I posed the question to him too. This is what he sent back to me in an email:

From Richard Nugent of Kaizen Training:

I have been considering my response…and asking my self the question 'what would have to happen…'

Here are my thoughts - by the way I'm not saying it would be easy or even possible at this stage, but if it was my game here’s how it would play.

The responsibility lies with the leaders and experts, but the assumption is that they answer lies with them. It probably doesn't. One of the causes of the recent financial situation was in my view that too many of the leaders of these institutions are experts in their fields. The HR Directors have largely worked in HR, the FD started as accountant etc, etc.

When you have this environment, it's much more difficult to 'lead' rather than manage.

Perhaps it's similar with the environment. I suspect that if we got together one hundred 8 year olds from across the globe, and offered them £100M to save the planet, they would probably with some coaching, come up with a great way forward - and with some change.

Similarly with footballers. Let's offer 20 footballers, £100M to save the planet. Oh and suggest that they can keep whatever is left from the project - I bet they would make a difference.

So there's my project as far as I'm ready to take it. Get the politicians and ecologists to take responsibility for delivery, but get the solutions from children, coalmen, fishermen, footballers, in fact anyone who doesn't know enough to let what is possible get in the way of creating a great solution.

It's been an interesting thought project for me - thank you.

Richard Nugent
Kaizen Training
Comment by Chris Grieve on February 2, 2010 at 12:47
Thanks for the suggestion. Tim Ferriss was very inspiring.
Comment by Andy Middleton on February 2, 2010 at 12:03
One other approach, which can be both fun and effective, is to practice the art of being strategically unreasonable. The way it goes is like this: state a goal that make sense, has emotional appeal (do you want to be recognised as doing something truly great) and is so much bigger than current thinking. I tried it with the Welsh Assembly Govt as part of some climate change work I'm doing with them; they have six climate champions, so I suggested that we upped the number a bit, to 30,000, which would put two climate advocates in every class in every school.

It won't be an easy thing to do, and the reasons for not increasing the number to 9, 12 or 20 will be completely different - which gives breathing space for new possibilities to slip in quietly....

Watch Tim Ferriss at the 2008 Do Lectures to get more of a sense of this. If you like what you see, come along in 2010!
Comment by Chris Grieve on February 2, 2010 at 11:30
Great question Penny!

What sprang to mind immediately was that old joke about changing a light bulb:

Q: How many psychiatrists (coach/facilitators) does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Doesn't matter, the light bulb has to want to change.

My experience sadly, in these arenas, is of the absence of collective political will to achieve long-term, sustainable outcomes. As these are not facilitated dialogues but more brutal marketplaces where the world's resources are traded off for political expediency, perhaps the greater challenge is to transform them somehow into real dialogue rather than political swap-shops.

So, the interesting part of your question for me was the "world's most powerful people". Therein lies the challenge - power and people's desire to control and maintain it (either for their own ends or the alleged ends of their nation). Any intervention, on my best day, would have to take into account the power dynamics at play within the system: the political jostling and maneuvering, the defending of positions, interests and needs etc. Dialogue, such as the earlier suggestion about focusing on shared outcomes, might be a way to overcome some of this.

But I wonder whether the participants might be emotionally mature enough to engage in some critical reflection and dialogue about their own dynamics as a group of internationally powerful people with the planet's resources at stake and the real politics that are at play that are preventing agreement. Awareness is curative, says Tim Gallwey of 'inner game' coaching. Would awareness about what is really going on help break through the shadow dynamics? A naive wish perhaps?
Comment by Fiona Ellis on February 2, 2010 at 8:18
I love the back casting approach.. holding the future and present together...and getting very practical about actions. Working with transition scenarios live in the room first would add to this so people can see the range of options we face.
Comment by Andy Middleton on February 1, 2010 at 12:22
I've found that a good start point is to back-cast from the outcome that the individuals / group say that they want to achieve, taking wherever possible, a 'walk-in-stupid' approach along the lines of "this looks trickier than I had reckoned to work out - what do you think that we need to do within the next six months (for instance) to ensure that all councils in the UK will be in carbon descent by 2012?". It seems that it's only by focussing on the goals as well as the present do we have a chance of connecting the two.
Comment by Penny Walker on February 1, 2010 at 6:00
Simon Zadek blogged about Copenhagen, and he now sends this from Davos.

He sees the world's most powerful people unable to find solutions.

On your very best day, as a coach / facilitator, what would your intervention be to help them?


Comment by Bruce Cornock Nixon on January 27, 2010 at 10:21
Dear Everyone,
I was looking forward to coming.

But it became clear to me that I had to put my time and energy into getting a publisher for my new book. I spent about a month trying to get an agent and I don't want to hang about. It is not easy to get a general readers' publisher in a very crowded book market unless one is an established authority, journalist or celebrity. So I have 30 publishers to contact with all my self-belief and good energy. My previous book, Living System got lovely endorsements including Anita Roddick's but it was the wrong publisher for such a book.

Today, my first call resulted in an invitation to submit a synopsis.

It will be wonderful when I have achieved this goal and can indulge myself in such things as meeting with all you lovely people!

Locally, I am quite busy helping our Berkhamsted transition town and the getting together of neighbouring transtion towns.

I felt Copenhagen did represent progress in many ways, on which the world can build. I agree that there has been a change in awareness since say a year or two ago. I think it is noticeable. The only thing is we are rather slow to change, us humans, especially collectively, and we need to act decisively very soon now. I am hopeful and doing my little bit. I think being anything but hopeful and constructive is too dismal to consider.

I hope to meet you all next time.

PS On March 4th we have Keith Joseph coming to talk about better transport - see our TTB website.

Best wishes for 2010!

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