We have just returned from our 9th International Symposium on Sustainable Leadership held in Salzburg, Austria at the beginning of June.
About 40 delegates from 16 countries came to hear the well-known B-Corp leader, Fred Keller, who was our guest speaker, along with many other wonderful presenters. Fred is Chairman, Founder and CEO of Cascade Engineering from Grand Rapids in Michigan. During his keynote speech, Fred urged us to “do something good, then make it good business”, and went on to outline some of the innovative social practices driving his organisation.
In our practitioner panel session, delegates were able to ask Fred detailed questions about how he runs this sustainable, ‘honeybee’ organisation.
Other speakers challenged us with new perspectives on sustainable leadership including applications to education, health and work. Several papers addressed sustainable leadership in Thailand, where the entire country is being encouraged to adopt sustainable leadership practices under the King’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy.
If you weren’t able to attend, the Proceedings for the 9th International Symposium are available to download.
Heard about speed stating?
Bruce McKenzie, President and Co-Founder of Future Insights Maps, once again intrigued delegates with his latest technique for mapping conversations on complex issues. This year Bruce introduced us to ‘speed stating’, a technique for getting ideas from a large group quickly.
In speed stating, participants focus on a particular theme, such as what the obstacles to operating sustainably might be. Everyone writes their comment about that theme on a sheet of paper and then passes the sheet on to their neighbour. The second person writes a comment about either the theme or the first person’s comment. This continues until everyone has added his or her thoughts to the paper and the paper arrives back with its originator.
Speed stating is very useful for enabling a large group of people to comment on the many ‘messy’ issues found in leadership and sustainable practice. It is a way of holding a conversation on paper and allowing everyone to voice their opinions.
Visit to BMW
Another highlight of ISL conferences is the External Development Day that Professor Harry Bergsteiner organises. This year, 20 of us went to BMW’s most modern facility in Munich, Germany. After several hours spent looking at the plant, we were able to discuss a wide range of issues directly with a company representative. Even though it employs about 100,000 workers, BMW operates worldwide along honeybee principles. The firm takes a long-term view, invests heavily in training and retaining its skilled workforce, and is concerned about protecting the environment and being a responsible citizen. The payoff in sustainable practices for the enterprise shows up in how it survived the recent global financial crisis to emerge with one record year following the next. Clearly, honeybee practices have not harmed BMW.