viernes, 30 de octubre de 2009


During my lifetime, I have met many bosses but only a few leaders. I have facilitated lots of workshops on leadership but I feel I learnt more from daily people than from charismatic leaders’ biographies. I strongly believe that each of us has a potential leader inside and that life gives us opportunities to discover and develop our inner leader. That is why, in this essay, I will carefully select some meaningful scenes of my lifetime related to my early leadership experiences. Each scene will leave a trace that will let us build an insightful track to comprehend my personal understanding of leadership, which will shed light on my possible future learning trails as a sustainability leader.

I was born in a family of four brothers. It is not easy to be a leader in a family when you are the youngest member. Fortunately, I had diverse role models to be inspired. My father was a strict workaholic Basque engineer and my mother was an Andalusian flamenco dancer. In my secondary school I had a young teacher who really inspired me with his innovative methodologies and facilitating style. He really shifted my paradigms, even although I had no clue about paradigms. During my school time, I was educated in a school where the mainstream sports were football and basketball. As I did not like any of them, I chose to create my own games and invite others to play, so we developed our creativity, exploring fiction worlds in our playground.

Being a teenager, deeply concerned about the violent expressions in my Basque region, I started volunteering in the local peace building movement, where I learnt to plant silent seeds of peace in our community’s hearts in nonthreatening ways, as a leader in the shade, mobilizing thousands of people in peace demonstrations. A few years later, during my undergraduate studies, as human resources manager of the local committee of an international student exchange association, I learnt how to recruit, select, train and motivate volunteers, responsibly spreading enthusiasm and passion.

After my first marketing internship in a French multinational company in the retail industry in Mexico City, I volunteered within indigenous communities in the mountains of Sierra Norte de Oaxaca. Although it is often thought that leaders should change others’ mindsets, while coaching a micro-entrepreneur woman, I noticed that sometimes leaders should humbly let others change their mindset letting go of arrogance. This tipping point experience really changed my mindset and inspired me to assume a lifelong commitment with the poor.

Working as an organizational consultant in a small but innovative Chilean consultancy company, I learnt to simultaneously lead several projects with geographically dispersed cross-functional teams. This allowed me to identify the key elements to control in complex projects, empowering my teams, contrasting expectations, delivering tools, offering trust and support, giving immediate and appropriate feedback. I learnt which levers I should move to foster change in big organizations: people, culture, leaders, indicators, processes, communication, and technology. However, I still remained naïf about the political dimension.

During my three years living and working in the Chilean Andes as Development Director of a Mountain resort, I acquired some intuitive understanding of how to lead multiple external stakeholders, managing others’ agendas, time, expectations, priorities and resources. I developed my storytelling skills to generate sense of urgency in local authorities, translating complex phenomena into a comprehensible language for politicians. I realized as well that leadership means bridge building, connecting disconnected worlds, identifying opportunities in asymmetries of information, opening spaces for interaction and strengthening links between distant networks.

As a social entrepreneur, founding our grassroots NGO, I learnt how to articulate dispersed efforts into win-win initiatives, and how to develop online visibility for invisible small projects to gain credibility and support. During my last consultancy projects I learnt to facilitate processes to co-create shared mental models within public organizations. I realized that the main role as a consultant is to be an external change agent, using the art of posing questions as a catalyst of internal strategic reflection processes.

If I had to summarize in one sentence my leadership learning path, I would say it has been a continuous quest for meaning and authenticity, not only gaining knowledge and skills, but humble wisdom and a deep sense of self awareness of mind, body and emotions. All these learnt lessons helped me to build an intuitive understanding of my future role as sustainability leader in a constant effort to finding equilibrium between tensioned poles. As a parent and husband in a sustainable family, I will have to balance my family needs with my envisioned dreams. As a human being living in a social system, leadership means to balance my self-interest with others' needs. As an entrepreneur, leadership means taking passion and responsibility for my actions. As a consultant, leadership means long term commitment with my clients needs toward sustainable innovation.

Future will be featured by uncertainty and complexity. That is why I hope I will never stop exploring, experimenting and learning, always trying new ways of doing. As I will probably face challenges, failures and successes, I will keep safe the sacred fire of my young purposeful vibrant heart, to get inspired and energized again when I feel exhausted and frustrated. Furthermore, in order to gain personal mastery in handling oscillating processes and cycles of life, I should not let my inner child die, because he will help me to maintain my sense of wonder and truthfulness.

sábado, 24 de octubre de 2009


Last week we had an extraordinary guest lecturer: Mark Anielski, author of the book "Economics of Happiness".

Mark Anielski is an ecological economist and President of Anielski Management Inc.. a consulting firm specializing in the measurement of community well-being and sustainability. He is also Adjunct Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship at the School of Business, University of Alberta and Adjunct Professor of Sustainable Economics at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute in Washington. He has advised the Chinese government on how to adopt “green GDP accounting” as a way of measuring the harmonious development of China.

He really inspired us. Although the forecasted scenario is scaring, he showed us some lights of hope: Focolare Movement's Economy of Comunion, Mondragon cooperative models, Kiva, Prosper the Peer-to-peer lending, JAK the swedish bank without interest rate.... Even after his lecture he spent the whole evening chatting with us at our Learning Lab.
Preparing my exam, I found this interesting post on Economia de la Felicidad and Easterlin's Paradox and this presentation about Happiness, Economy and our Hearts, designed by Professor Andrew Oswald.


La semana pasada, nuestra amiga Amanda D.H. nos invitó a ser parte de la historia en la Rotundan del BTH, al ponernos de pie -junto a más de 173 millones de personas en todo el mundo en la mayor acción global colectiva jamás registrada- para recordar a los gobiernos del mundo los compromisos asumidos con los Objetivos del Milenio.

Este sábado nuevamente fuimos parte de la historia. Esta vez el escenario era la plaza mayor de Karlskrona, frente a la iglesia. El motivo: participar en la mayor acción ambiental colectiva mundial para presionar a las autoridades para que en la próxima cumbre de Copenhague en diciembre lleguen a un acuerdo para reducir las emisiones de CO2 al nivel de 350 ppm, recomendado por la comunidad científica. Y ahí entre los activistas, atenta en su burbuja, estaba nuestra Amanda, que con tan solo un año, ha demostrado ser la más joven activista climática.

sábado, 17 de octubre de 2009


Esta de arriba fue la convocatoria y esta de abajo el resultado.
Verdaderamente asombroso y emocionante.
The match of hope that fires up our young purposeful heart.


‘Blind spots’ of the GRI Guidelines relating to strategic sustainability (TNS)

Adapted from a wider paper written by Peng Peng, Pinar Oncel, Yurie Makihara, Chieko Azuma & Pablo Villoch.

The GRI guidelines are designed to provide a generic, trusted, and credible framework for sustainability reporting. However, when applying this tool, practitioners should consider some of its blind spots.

The first blind spot observed is the lack of an explicit definition or reference to a definition of Sustainability or Sustainable Development. Although the guidelines contain a glossary that includes a lot of words and expressions, there is no interpretation of these key concepts (Moneva et al. 2006). It represents a paradox. It indicates that they reached a multi-stakeholder consensus on sustainability indicators without a minimum consensus on a common definition of sustainability. How is this possible? The GRI let each company provide their own interpretation according to their own context. Indeed, the definition of Sustainability for a Tobacco company or a Mining company might be widely different from a Municipality.

Secondly, as long as GRI guidelines let the organization define the boundaries and scope of the report, it allows them to limiting information only to some part of the organizational activity. This could lead to hiding the real unsustainability of the organization, which could be interpreted as a lack of transparency by some stakeholders. It can lead organizations to focus their reports on those activities which provide better reputation rather than providing authentic representation of its sustainability performance.

As far as GRI guidelines are based on the triple bottom line, they provide a holistic view, acknowledging the three dimensions: economic, social and environmental. However, this does not conduct to a systems perspective because it neglects the complexities of interaction among those dimensions (Brown et al. 2009, Mark Everard pers. com. 2009). This leads to the absence of proposals for integrated systemic or cross-cutting indicators (Brown et al. 2007, pp. 31). This reductionist interpretation of Sustainable development as three pillars may lead to a simplified understanding of inter-related complexities, and thus fundamentally undermining the validity and quality of a sustainability report produced through the application of the guidelines.

Finally, the GRI application level ranking is measured by the number of indicators being reported, and not whether the principles are being complied. This implies a risk of becoming a perverse incentive, since organizations focus more on accomplishing as many indicators as possible, neglecting the importance of stakeholders inclusiveness in the reporting process. This could lead to very technical and complete reports which could be useful for analysts, consultants and shareholders and maybe some NGOs but not an instrument of true dialogue and communication with other stakeholders such as people who would be affected by construction of new factory or mining site.

Despite the loopholes discussed above, GRI has already made significant contributions to the ongoing discourse on accountability, corporate social responsibility and the appropriate roles of business, government, civil society and professional sectors in academic transition. GRI is here to stay. The question is not whether or not to report sustainability performance but how.

Indeed, the GRI guidelines can be a powerful tool to help us in the process of sustainability reporting, if used with other complementary tools, such as The Natural Step framework, Global Compact or AA1000. The FSSD would provide a solid definition of sustainability, based on non-overlapped principles. Global Compact principles are compatible with GRI guidelines and its Communication of Progress can be integrated in the Sustainability report. Similarly, using the AccountAbility 1000 standards, would assure a systematical management of stakeholders dialogue. The next ISO 26000 CSR guidelines, which will be launched in 2010, should also be taken into consideration, since when the International Standards Organization ISO undertook to develop ISO 26.000, it adopted for the first time in its own history the GRI signature, multi-stakeholder and working group process.

jueves, 15 de octubre de 2009



Weeks are going so quickly! Today, the first snow fell in Karlskrona. The long dark cold winter is coming... although we are just starting the autumn. Amanda turned 1 year last Saturday. During october, she got her first tooth and he bit me! and she walked her first six steps without external support. She goes three times per week to the Oppna Forskola, and three times per week to the Gym. Twice per week, Yohana has her English lessons. We go every friday to the Swimming pool and we eat kebab.

In the Masters, every week I feel both inspired and overwhelmed simultaneously. Inspired by the passion and authenticity of brilliant lectures as Karl-Henrik Robert, Augusto Cuginotti, Mark Everard, Göran Carstedt and Sophie Dunkerley. Tragedy of the commons, backcasting, ecosystem services, the funnel, systematical violation of sustainability principles, framework, thermodynamics, self-organization, transformational... are becoming part of my daily vocabulary. I am looking forward to the Period 2 to start with the Strategic Management module, launch some consulting initiative, more fieldtrips, work together with Team Academy and much much more.

lunes, 12 de octubre de 2009


Commencement Address to the Class of 2009, University of Portland, May
3rd, 2009 by Paul Hawken

When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was "direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful." Boy, no
pressure there.

But let's begin with the startling part. Hey, Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation - but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of operating instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don't poison the water, soil, or air, and don't let the earth get overcrowded, and don't touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said
that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food - but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn't bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: YOU ARE BRILLIANT, AND THE EARTH IS HIRING. The earth couldn't afford to send any recruiters or limos to your
school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here's the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don't be put off by people who know
what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren't pessimistic, you don't
understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren't optimistic, you haven't got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, "So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world." There could be no better
description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.

You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen. Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople, rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the writer David James Duncan would say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way.

There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true. Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of
what may befall us; it resides in humanity's willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. "One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice," is Mary Oliver's description of moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.

Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very
specific eighteenth-century roots. Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely
unknown - Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood - and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit.. And today tens of millions of people do this every day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, and non-governmental organizations, of companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history.

The living world is not "out there" somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. Think about this: we are the only species on this planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time than to renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can't print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich. The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe - exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a "little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven."

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well
you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end.

Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would become religious overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead
the stars come out every night, and we watch television. This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never
happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, challenging, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn't stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn't ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hopefulness only makes sense when it doesn't make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.

Paul Hawken is a renowned entrepreneur, visionary environmental activist, and author of many books, most recently Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming. He was presented with an honorary doctorate of humane
letters by University president Father Bill Beauchamp, C.S.C., in May, when he delivered this superb speech.

miércoles, 7 de octubre de 2009

Co-creating our Leadership Mindmap

We co-created this meaningful mindmap with my South-african classmate, Sonja. I love mindmaps!