Malcolm’s global stage

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his perspectives on trends

Prof Malcolm McIntosh is appointed as Extra-Ordinary Professor in the School of Public Leadership and heads up the Centre for Social Enterprise at Griffiths University, Australia. Every year he finds time in his busy schedule to teach the Corporate Citizenship module. He is also a globe trotter of note, connecting into all sorts of interesting engagements that give him a keen insight into the dynamics of global change. Below is an email he sent to friends and colleagues on 1 December 2011. It is worth a read.

On 24 November 2011 I had dinner amongst the dinosaurs in the Natural History Museum in London as a judge at the International Green Awards which were established by Sir Paul Judge (who also set up the Judge Management Institute at Cambridge University). The awards covered all manner of sustainability initiatives ranging from individual acts of innovation to major progress.  This meant that Yalumba wines from Australia won an award as did Dublin Fire Brigade. The Grand Prix winner was Unilever for their Sustainable Living Plan but they were held close by Marks & Spencer for their Plan A because there is no Plan B strategy. The lifetime achievement this year went to German Brazilian model Giselle Bunchen who has promoted sustainability against the odds (and beat Paul McCartney this year). As the awards spread the number of international awards reaches out beyond London. I was partly responsible for the educational award which went to South West College in Northern Ireland. To win you have to enter and we will next year:

Systems Thinking and Thinking Systems
On this trip I have given talks to students, faculty and the general public on ‘systems thinking and thinking systems’ at Bradford Business School, Newport University Centre for Pedagogy and Sustainable Development, Bristol University’s Department for Civil Engineering, and this week, at the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London. This last event was advertised across Imperial College and the audience included doctors and an astrophysicist who agreed that the recent news on neutrinos possibly travelling faster than light changes everything we know but may mean that everything felt intuitively could be right, including deja vu.
Perhaps it is not surprising – but it still surprises me – that for most people talking about talking to people they wouldn’t normally talk to is such a challenge and that this requires both conviviality and humility is a revelation. The link between systems thinking, town planning and sustainability became clear as I stopped the traffic in Exhibition Road outside the RCA. This road has had millions spent on it to turn it into a pedestrian friendly area with benches, bollards, lighting and signs strategically placed. One sign says: ‘give way to pedestrians’ (you may remember I advocated this in my August talk for Brisbane) so I took my life in my hands and walked into the traffic, which was supposed to be at snails pace anyway, which led to me pointing out the sign to a number of surprised drivers. It formed a nice example for my RCA talk as they all knew what I meant about a cross disciplinary approach to sustainability change – they had all suffered from the same myopic decision making.
At Warwick Business School I met with old colleagues and attended an excellent conference on complexity and public value led by John Bennington and Mark Moore from Harvard. Their new book on ‘Public Value: theory and practice’ has a chapter by Mark Swilling from Stellenbosch on ‘Greening Public Value’ – and Mark will be one of our keynote speakers at the conference in September on transition and transformation (28 September the day after the PRME conference).
I also took the opportunity to have lunch with Andreas Rasche with whom myself and Sandra Waddock have just edited a special edition of Business and Society Review on the first ten years of the UNGC with articles by Kell, Post and others. It will be out in the next month or so.
New MBA programmes
At Bradford Business School I was introduced to the new director of their Centre for Sustainable Enterprise, Peter Tomkinson, who in partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (you will remember that I talked about her in my August talk) and six major corporations is starting an MBA in Circulatory Economics. We hope to be connected and have some part to play in this venture. Next week I am meeting again with the new Dean of Exeter Business School, Robin Mason, who is starting a new One Planet MBA in partnership with WWF. Next week I will also be at the Eden Project in Cornwall where we have run courses and conferences for the Masters in Sustainable Enterprise in the past. If we cannot get Griffith to approve the proposed MSE we will look at ways of connecting with these excellent bright initiatives in other parts of the world. One thing I have learnt is that we probably need to have a partnership with an NGO and some businesses in Australia to make our MSE fly – if we can get it through the various committees!
At the EABIS conference at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France we had excellent speeches from IBM and Unilever with several overriding messages about managing global companies that are really supraterritorial – I have been talking about STCs for years rather than MNCs etc. The lessons to be expanded in further writings are about how to manage across political boundaries especially when you have rapidly emerging markets. A question posed by IBM was: ‘do you get Sao Paulo to report to IBM in New York, or, as they have done, to report to Shanghai?’ – two emerging markets learning from each other. The second message is on leadership, global citizenship and identity – who are we this disparate group of global travellers, to whom do we owe loyalty and citizenship, and are we the cosmopolitans for the global future? Connect this, as I have been doing, to the OCCUPY movement and the Arab Spring and companies like IBM and Unilever’s use of complexity and systems thinking and you get a profound way of seeing the world.

UN Global Compact – New York
This thought connects with my meetings in New York and the evolving UN Global Compact where their target is to have 20,000 signatures by 2020 and their evolving strategy is to treat some 50-200 of the dynamic leaders as different from the remaining current 6500 signatories, who can be locally managed through the 100 networks. Last month I was reelected to the board of the UNGC Network Australia and next week I will attend the annual Christmas meeting of the UNGC UK.
Business and Peace
As you know one of the keynotes at the Australia New Zealand PRME network meeting we are hosting in Brisbane in September 2012 will be Steve Killilea the Australian founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace and the Global Peace Index. I had meetings in New York with people working on this linkage from the IEP, the UNGC and the Aspen Institute and if we can muster our energy this is a very fertile area for future work in the centre particularly on developing a global corporate peace index alongside our national indicators project.
Beyond Grey Pin Stripes (BGPS) and the Aspen Institute
I was proud to represent Griffith Business School at the Aspen Institute’s award ceremony for BGPS – GBS MBA came 26th globally out of 149 entries, 5th best outside North America and 6th best globally for our business school research on sustainability, ethics and corporate responsibility. I was also proud (if also disappointed) to come second again in the Faculty Pioneer awards to David Levy as he along with all the eight finalists out of 84 entries are good people doing good work on shifting the Titanic of human history away from the ice bergs of calamitous disaster. Amongst those present were eminent award winning scholars Andy Crane and Dirk Matten from Schulich and Dirk will be our guest in Brisbane on 20th February.
I have been interviewing people at various OCCUPY sites around the world for research purposes and these insights linked to the evolution of global initiatives like the UNGC and apparently global initiatives like BGPS, EABIS, GRLI, PRME, GRI give pause for thought on how we build the new global governance architecture. One thought occurs everywhere: no one outside China, Indonesia and Japan knows knows ‘how’ to think about China, Indonesia and Japan let alone ‘what’ to think about them and so Americans and Brits blame the foreigners for their woes. Fear and nationalism are in the air and as Tim Flannery amongst many has written it is nationalism, tribalism and misogyny that are our worst enemies at the current juncture in human history.
Australia and the Other World
Australia has received a high profile and much credit for the carbon tax and Julia Gillard has a good standing both for that initiative and for her speech at CHGM in Perth. The debate in Europe is all about managing austerity and all the concomitant effects – unemployment, longer working lives, diminishing wealth, poorer public facilities and welfare. And the EC and the Euro are being rethought. Appallingly no one at a political leadership level is making the link between the state of the planet, the state of global finances and a new green Keynsianism – this is being left to enlightened business leaders and leading NGOs. Ah, paradox. And there are only a very few of them.
Seasons Greetings and I look forward to seeing you all in January 2012.
Love, peace and happiness as we used to say, but they seem appropriate today too.