sustainable development

Still...... a new season of workshops for spring

Images: David Caines

I'm very excited about this season of workshops that I'm piloting - still conversations. 

It's a vision I've had for a while, and it's begun to take shape over the last six months.

The groups will be small - a maximum of ten people in each conversation.  The atmosphere will be easeful, open, creative.  People will learn from each other and from the opportunity to think aloud with others who understand what it's like to grapple with sustainability - trying to move fast enough while bringing others with you; finding the authentic way to be truthful and motivating. 

To begin with, I'm offering three conversations on different topics and people can come to one, two or all three.  The themes are:

It's an experiment, so the price is deliberately low with discounts (for multiple bookings, self-funded people, people who took part in the survey earlier in the year, IEMA members).  So it's just £100 plus VAT for a single session (discount if you book more than one).  And I'll be looking for feedback on how to make them as useful as possible for people.

It's a chance to take time out and be still. Think aloud with other sustainability leaders. 

I've emailed and sent personal invitations to people via LinkedIn, and the feedback is that now, more than ever, those who don't already have these kind of supportive professional-yet-personal networks in place are keen to get involved.  The Personal Resilience theme is definitely striking a chord.  

 

Find out more and make a booking here.  

What do we need now, from sustainability leaders?

Belaying. Aimee Custis Photography,  flickr .

Belaying. Aimee Custis Photography, flickr.

When I got the news about the US Presidential election result, I went through a lot emotions that I'm still processing.

One that may have been shared by those of you who are looked to for leadership - in ways big or small - was uncertainty about what to say to people who are wanting guidance.

I had to think about this pretty quickly, as I'd been asked present on leadership in the closing session of a four-day workshop on sustainable business.

So what now?

What kind of leadership do we want, what kind of leaders do we need to be, when the going gets really tough?  For me, it boils down to resilience and responsibility.

Resilience

It will be tough. There will be defeats and failures.  People will try to stop the things we are working for.  For some of us the challenges will be unbearably hard.  For some of us they already are.  (I know I speak from a position of privilege as a white, well-educated, able-bodied, straight, comparatively wealthy person from a Christian cultural background - I don't know I'm born.)

Part of what defines stepping up to lead - wherever we find ourselves - is that we are resilient and find ways to continue the work, especially when it is tough.

This doesn't mean that we can't take time out - rest, recharge, recuperate, get some R&R - these things are part of keeping ourselves resilient.

As Rabbi Tarfon said:

It is not your responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but you are not free to desist from it either.

Responsibility

Knowing isn't enough.  We need to take responsibility.  Find the intersection between what we think is needed and what we are able to do, and step into that space.  If you are there already, thank you.

If you are able to step up, thank you.

What if you're not sure, yet, what is in that intersection?  Then keep doing the good you were already doing, and when you are sure you can step up. You're unlikely to be doing harm in the meantime.

Collaborate and support

Not all of us need to be leaders all the time.  Being a great supporter is an essential job too.  The climber relies on the woman belaying, in the picture. If the work you are doing is to enable and empower others to lead, thank you.

The event

The workshop was part of the 2016 Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Value Chains, part of the suite of brilliant executive education on sustainability offered by the Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership.  Thanks team for asking me along!  The full slide set I used is here.

One for the Dads

I'm not a great one for 'top' lists.  ('To do' lists are an entirely different matter.) Perhap it's a girl/boy thing: my life partner loves nothing better than to update his bird list,  flick through the cricket statistician's bible Wisden, or relive his youth by combing down indexes of obscure Clash gigs.

As for me, when my kids ask me what my top three favourite songs are, I'm really stumped.  I don't think I'd even be able to narrow it down to the eight specified by Desert Island Discs.

So I wasn't that interested when the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership and Greenleaf published The Top 50 Sustainability Books.   In fact, it wasn't until I actually had a copy to take home from a workshop that I realised its great value.

Because of course it's so much more than a list.  Each book in the top fifty is summarised, and its ideas put into a wider context. The author(s) are profiled, there are some choice extracts and reflections from the authors about the impact of the book.

Well-known classics like Silent Spring and Small is Beautiful sit next to more recent and more obscure : Heat, and The Chaos Point.

Wayne Visser and Oliver van Heel have done a great job, creating a pass notes summary and bluffers guide to some absolute classics.  The book helps the busy reader understand key ideas in the sustainability field, reminds them about what they've already read - sometimes years ago - and introduces them to some new thought leaders.

So I'm happy to discover that my initial reaction was wrong.

Off to begin my list of books I should have paid attention to first time around...

Update: May 2011

Wayne has been blogging about an updated list, noticing trends towards more practical titles and an increase from a low base of women authors. See here.