miércoles, 10 de mayo de 2017

Exploring the Cultural Dimension of Strategic Sustainable Development

Comparto aquí una entrevista que me hizo Jessica Conrad, en el marco de una investigación con Prescilla Sossouhounto y Yannick Wassmer, que studian el MSLS, Master en Liderazgo Estratégico para la Sostenibilidad en el Instituto Tecnológico de Blekinge BTH de Karlskrona, Suecia.

Exploring the Cultural Dimension of the FSSD
Interviewee: Pablo Villoch
March 24, 2017

Interviewer: [6:37] We know that you’re currently located in Chile. Is this your home country?

Pablo Villoch: No. Now it’s the country that I call home, however I was born in Spain. I was born in Europe. I was born in the Basque Country in Bilbao. It is a city at the North of Spain. I was born in a family of a Basque engineer and flamenco dancer from Andalusia, which are two different cultures in the same country. So I had this intercultural sensitivity before understanding that there was a word for it. I also  was grown up in the Basque Country in a place of terrorism and political violence, but finally it’s a cultural conflict. It’s a conflict of identities—of those who feel more Basque than Spanish, and those who feel more Spaniard than Basque. Finally, it’s not a political conflict, but it’s about cultures and identities. [7:59]

Interviewer: Thank you. So you also shared your company with us, and we looked at your company website. I’m wondering if you can briefly describe the work that you do? It seems like it’s very multi-faceted. You’re using backcasting and Art of Hosting and Theory U.

Pablo Villoch: [8:20] Okay, yeah. I will try to make it brief because I […] [8:26] a lot. Yes, Glocal Minds is an intercultural network of consultants and facilitators. Our mission is to accompany the evolution of systems towards sustainability. When we say “accompany” it means facilitate, design, systematize. When we say “evolution” it means learning, development, transformation, conservation.  And when we mean “sustainability,” you know the definition of that. And “systems,” we work with universities, communities, companies, multinational SMEs, NGOs, whoever asks for help basically and can pay our services. Sometimes even if they can’t pay, we can also..we have a part that can be volunteer.

Interviewer: Nice. And is most of that work taking place in Chile, or do you also work in different countries? [9:35]

Pablo Villoch: Yeah, in Chile is our headquarters, which is this room where we do our meetings and our workshops. Today we have a workshop this afternoon. By the way, we also fly and move around Chile. To the desert, in the North to the jungles, to the Patagonia. We also go to Peru to Ecuador. Basically most of Latin American countries. We have been working in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia. And there are two emerging nodes of this network in Colombia and Mexico.

Interviewer: Colombia and Mexico, okay. Have you ever done any work in Spain?

Pablo Villoch: Yeah, in Spain, well I go to Spain every year—or every two years—just for family, just to see my parents and my brothers. My last trip to Spain just was holiday. A few years ago in the Basque—it was 2010 or 2011—I facilitated a workshop in the Basque University of Mondragon. [11:10]

Interviewer: Great, thank you. That’s helpful context and helpful just to provide a foundation for our next questions which are more related to our thesis topic. First of all, we’re hoping that, perhaps briefly, could you describe your sustainability journey for us? Is this something that you always knew you wanted to work on, or how did you get into the topic? [11:37]

Pablo Villoch: Yeah, my sustainability journey. Well, I was born in the Basque Country in a post-industrial city. I was born at the end of the 70s, and we had an industrial crisis in the 80s. So the basic source of employment in the Basque Country was the iron, steel iron industry. So when Spain entered the European Union, they suffered a crisis. My father, at the age of 45, lost his employment, and we are four brothers.

Since the age of 9 or 10 years old, I started going to summer camps. That was my first experience with environmental education through experiential learning and doing games to understand the interdependence of the web of nature. After that I remember that my brother was a Greenpeace fan, so he draw for me the whales and things like that. [13: 23] I remember that I was a child, and I had a clear idea that I didn’t want to be an industrial engineer as my father because I had heard that industries pollute. [13:37] Create pollution and pollute the environment. So that was like a triggering idea in my childhood.

After that, I had a dilemma at the age of 18 when I had to choose my studies. [14:00] So my dilemma was biology—more related to nature—and economics. Finally, I understood that if you want to change the world, you must change the economy. So I decided to study economics to understand how the world works, to understand how the economy works, to understand how business works to change from within. And in the business faculty I joined AIESEC, which is an amazing exchange student association that works on sustainability, and that was the first time that I heard the word “sustainable development.” It was 1995, and I remember that we pushed in our university. We collected signatures and support of some teachers to introduce a new subject in the university that was economics of development in order to bring those issues into our studies.

So, since that age, during my business studies, I had a foot in the business school and another foot in volunteering. I volunteered as an environmental educator, peace educator. I was volunteering with handicapped children, with elderly, with gypsy communities in the South of Spain during summer camps. So I was an explorer or the world of different social issues. [15:57]

Then, the first time I’ve heard the word “intercultural,” I was in the fourth year of my business studies. The dean of the business school, Monterrey Tech, an important university in Mexico, he was offering scholarships for an exchange program. So I had always been in love with Latin America, and that was the first opportunity to see Latin America and to explore what intercultural means. So I went to Mexico, and in Mexico I joined the hiking club, and I started climbing mountains, and I climbed my first glacier. I read that the glaciers were going to disappear, and in fact that glacier doesn't exist anymore 15 years later. [17:12]

And then from Mexico I applied for a scholarship to come to Chile with UNESCO in order to work on international cooperation. Trying to help NGOs and local municipalities to apply for funds, grants, and help them in social development issues. At that time I saw that culture was a key factor in the success of development projects.

After that, I worked for three years in organizational consulting. Basically I was an economist working with psychologists facilitating leadership and team-building workshops for multinational companies. [18:12] You know to integrate cultural change. Basically at that time, my question was not only about how to change economy, but it was also about how to change culture. So how to change organizational culture. And that’s why I started studying how to change organizational culture. Basically organizations are made of people, and people are grounded by culture.

After that, well, I forgot one milestone. After my time in Mexico, I volunteered with indigenous communities in southern Mexico, and that was also a very meaningful milestone about my encounter with “otherness,” or with other worldviews. I think that was my first experience and approach about different worldviews with indigenous communities in Oaxaca. [19:23]

And then in Chile, with this company, yeah, I started feeling again ‘the call of the mountain’—what I call the ‘call of the mountain’. And literally I went to work for three years in a mountain area in the Andes mountains close to Santiago. I was there for three years as the director of sustainable tourism in this mountain area. That was an in-depth immersion on local, territorial approaches to sustainability, on multi-stakeholder style of building a shared vision, understanding the local conflicts between the mining industry and local communities, between the ski resorts and the glaciers and the tourists and the scarcity of water the carrying capacity of the land. So that was in-depth immersion journey of three years. [20:33]

After that, well, I saw that I saw people at mining industry told me, “Hey, we are doing sustainable mining.” And the skiers and the ski tourist industry said “Hey, we are doing sustainable tourism.” So if everything is sustainable, then nothing is sustainable. I started looking for a theoretical framework and science-based definition of sustainability. I started searching for scholarships and post-graduate programs to have a more theoretical framework, and that’s how I found MSLS. Well, I applied to different programs in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, and finally I was accepted at MSLS, and we sold everything with my wife. That was a car and a fridge, and we went with my wife and our little daughter—she was nine months old—and we went to Karlskrona, and we spent one year of our lives there. [21:57]

Interviewer: Wow, that’s wild! Thank you for all of that. Really lovely story!

Pablo Villoch: Sorry, I tried to be brief, but it’s impossible!

Interviewer: No, I really enjoyed it. Thank you. So it sounds like you learned about the FSSD, the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development, before coming to MSLS, and then you understood it better at MSLS. Is that correct?

Pablo Villoch: [22:23] Yeah, I basically I read some PDF documents about the FSSD, but I didn’t understand it until I was in Karlskrona.

So in that time, once I ended my time in the mountains, I went back to the city and started teaching about local sustainable development at the university. In 2008 I founded Glocal Minds, but it was in a latent state, a standby state, until we came back from Europe. That was at the end of 2010. So during the last 7 years, I’ve been both teaching in different universities sustainability leadership, facilitation, participation. I’ve been also doing facilitating process, participatory process, and also intercultural coaching,  helping  expats who come to Chile to understand the Chilean culture.

Interviewer: Oh, excellent! Well that’s right up our alley, obviously. And I wonder if you...It sounds like from your email you have been applying the FSSD in some of your facilitation work. Is that true? Are you applying it with your clients? [24:06]

Pablo Villoch: Yes, I mean, our clients don’t say, “Hey, we want FSSD!” Our clients ask for “Oh, we have a challenge. We need to build a vision. We feel confused. We are doing many things, and we don’t have a systems approach.” So I would say that I am teaching the FSSD in different universities to companies, to people who work in different companies. So I am using the FSSD as content, as a main framework or approach to  sustainability in different post-graduate programs in local universities, and also in Ecuador. I’ve been doing some workshops there. And not all of my client use FSSD. I would say that we use a lot the backcasting approach. Basically the FSSD is a strategic thinking approach toward sustainability with the principles. However if you use the backcasting approach, it’s a great strategic thinking framework for whatever problem it is. Most of our clients work on social issues, so basically the environmental principles—the first three SPs—are maybe not so relevant for them. However, reflecting on...using this backcasting approach, going to build a shared vision, and then go back and have a baseline, have a participatory co-creative process of the solutions—that’s very meaningful for our clients. [26:24]

Interviewer: Okay, great. Thank you for clarifying that. So now we have a few questions that are more related to the cultural dimension. And, just as a reminder, we’re interested in the cultural dimension because the sustainability challenge is a global challenge. When we look at it from that perspective, it really becomes clear that sustainable development will require collaboration across traditional divides. Just as we learn at MSLS.  In our initial literature review, we noticed that the link between culture and sustainability is relatively unexplored, but the literature also says that cultural values and cultural perceptions need to be considered when working toward ecological or social sustainability. So that means that people’s cultural backgrounds and worldviews will intrinsically shape how development is defined and how the future envisioned, just as you described. So uncovering the gap in the literature was part of the motivation for us to explore this cultural dimension of the FSSD and its application.

So I have a few questions for you related to that, and the first is, Can you describe an experience when you noticed the influence of the local culture on your application of the FSSD?

Pablo Villoch: [28:17] Hmm, Yes, I can. Yeah. I will tell you a story. One time, it was about six years ago in a local indigenous community in the South of Chile. It is called Quinquen community [Quinquen, Lonquimay] in southern Chile.  Their Indigenous culture is called Pewenche. Pewenche means the people of the pewen. Pewen is the sacred tree of these people. That project was executed by WWF. It was funded by the Public Innovation Agency. So the aim of that project was to build with the local community a strategic plan to develop a community-based ecotourism plan in their land. That was one of the first indigenous communities that was still officially stewarding a big piece of land with amazing valleys and forests. That was in recognition of their role in the protection of the land. [30:07] But in some ways, they have some conflicts, internal conflicts, within the community about opening to tourism or not opening to tourism.

So at that time, they asked me to help them in the facilitation of the process. One part of the process, that was how to build a strategic marketing plan within the strategic plan. So at that time, my intervention in that program was around six months. Every month had to go there and facilitate a one-day workshop, and I also spent a few days with them building trust. That’s very important. Especially with them. Especially when you are a foreigner.

So the application of the FSSD at that time… First, I will zoom in. I will “double-click” in one session when we built a shared vision. That was a workshop—a three-hours workshop—with elderly people of the community with women and with three young men. [31:57] We did it in the school, in the local school. There is a beautiful wooden building in the middle of a sacred forest. Amazing. The kids were there during the morning. We arrived sooner, so we asked the children to draw their vision. What was the community they wanted for their future. So all these indigenous kids draw the drawing, draw their place the same as it is now. So the message was very clear to the adults to say, hey, the kids of the community want a future that conserves our land, our trees, our rivers. So in that moment, before we started the workshop, we pasted the drawings at the entrance so the adults can see the drawings before starting the workshop. And we did a world cafe. We did a world cafe in order to build a shared vision. However, in that culture, women self-inhibit. They inhibit themselves to speak aloud in front of men. So we had to create a safe space for women to express their dreams. It was the same World cafe, the same questions, but at different tables. So there were tables for men, tables for women with a female host for women, and a male host for men. Because if we cross-pollinate, and if we mix them, then we could lose their voices. And in that project it was not our role to change that part of the culture. So we considered that.

I would say that during the harvesting of the world cafe, one the elders told us that from the worldview, time is not linear. Time is circular for them. So, for them, they cannot talk about future without talking about the past. For them, stewarding the peace and harmony in the land is preserving past. In order to preserve the future, you need to preserve the past. To honor their ancestors, to honor their traditions. So that’s they way they think. That’s the way their worldview is about putting first the past, and that’s why they start all of their meetings honoring their ancestors, honoring their traditions in order to preserve the future. [35:38] So basically to do a strategic planning approach in a linear way is very different. Because in some way, when you are building a shared dream, well, that shared dream is also a memory of the past. So the projection of the dream is equal to the past in their worldview. [36:08]

Another cultural aspect that was very important in that process is to involve the spirits in the process. Yeah. That’s something that no MSLS, no MBA, no master’s degree will prepare you for! How to engage, how to involve spirits in a strategic planning process, participatory process. We needed to involve the spirits. We needed to ask the spirits for permission to start the workshop. And finally, after a few months of facilitating workshops, we saw that the elders were more reluctant, were more afraid of opening the community to tourism. And the youngsters, the teenagers were more open, because some of them have Internet, some of them have Facebook. But finally, after lots of talk around the fire and having mate, which is this local infusion, they told us that what they were more afraid about. Their biggest fear is that the foreigners, the tourists, come to the forest, and they don’t ask for permission from the spirit of the forest. The spirits will be angry, and they will go away. That was their biggest fear. So, well, our proposal was what if we make the tourists ask for permission to the forest? What if we oblige the tourists to have a local guide and we put a sign out with three languages—English, Spanish, and their local indigenous language, Chedungun[38:15]—to ask for permission for the spirits? Ok! And with that condition they accepted. They were willing to accept that condition.

So I told this because in some way the FSSD is a science-based definition. It is difficult to involve spirits in that kind of science framework, scientific framework. However,  it was very meaningful for the success of this process.

Interviewer: Wow, okay well your story elicited a couple questions—some new questions. It’s a wonderful story, and it’s so helpful for our project. So it sounds like you maybe were able to do some advance research to understand some of these dynamics? Probably not the spirits. It sounds to me that that’s something you may have discovered during the process of the project. Is that true? And I guess my question really is how much can you learn about the culture in advance? Do you try to do that? And how much do you adapt your process as you’re going? [39:47]

Pablo Villoch: Yeah. Prior to going to Karlskrona, I studied post-graduate intercultural studies and local development. I had read hundreds of books on indigenous mythology. It’s something that I am personally excited about. However, I had no idea about the gender dynamics within that community. I had read about the circular perception of time, but I never faced the challenge of doing a strategic planning in a circular worldview in circular time.  I had read about the spirit. In their worldview, everything has a soul. The stones have a soul. The river has a soul. Spirit. However, I had never imagined that I should invite them to...or that I should ask for permission for that.

So, yeah, definitely maybe you can read about, but only theoretically. The most important thing during the process as a practitioner is to be open, to be curious, to be compassionate in order to understand what is really meaningful and important for them.  Basically working in sustainability is about working on what matters. And for them, spirit matters. [41:48]

Interviewer: And I’m curious about exactly how you find that out, too. Does those kinds of things emerge when you’re facilitating a big group process? Or do those things emerge more in one-on-one conversations? Or is it really dependent on the situation?

Pablo Villoch: [42:07] Yeah, I think it’s very intuitive. I would say that especially...I don’t know in other cultures, but Latin American cultures are cultures of informal conversations. Much of the process is built through informal conversations, one-to-one, in small groups. Then in the workshop you prepare the scenario to make it formal, however most of the “cooking” process is previous to the kitchen. You need to pre-cook the process, and that means a lot of informal conversations with communities, gaining validity with informal leaders. Especially with indigenous communities, they have a distributed leadership. So they have a leader for spiritual issues, a leader for conflicts, a leader for strategic things. So it’s important to build trust with all of them.

Interviewer: Thank you. So my next question, it sounds like you’re primarily using backcasting to do this visioning, but I’ll still ask this question, which is are there specific elements of the FSSD—whether that is backcasting or the sustainability principles—that require special attention when applying the framework in different cultural contexts?

Pablo Villoch: Yes, especially in a continent as South America where there is a social awareness about social issues. This continent has some of the most unequal countries, where the divide between the poor and the rich are huge. In terms of the order of slides, I put the social principles first. I haven’t changed my slides yet. Are you still using the social human needs approach? With Max Neef?

Interviewer: Yes.

Pablo Villoch: Yeah, I’m not using Merlina’s principles yet. I will soon change that slide. And I use Neef’s needs, because Manfred Max Neef is Chilean. As he is from Chile, Chileans feel that they have a local connection. So I would say, yeah, putting social first. I know that social and environmental are both important and intertwined, however in this country it’s important to put social first and then environmental. It works better. I faced some resistance when I put environmental first. The environmental principles first.

What else is important to consider? Yeah, the wording is quite scientific. “Systematically increase of blah blah blah substances”. When you put it into Spanish, it’s very scientific. It works for an academic context. Tt works for a corporate context. But if you are working with NGOs, with grassroots movements, you really need to be very visual, be very pedagogical, try to avoid technicalities. I would say put it into street language. I would say that, yeah, the idea of the FSSD is to engage people, to empower themselves, to collaborate, to build a better future. If we create a very scientific jargon, and we cannot speak the local language, then you create a divide. The idea is to bridge those divides, not to create separation.

Interviewer: Great, thank you. Have you noticed any impact of culture on the way people understand sustainability or engage in the process of the FSSD?

Pablo Villoch: Yes. I would say, for example, Chile. Chile is a country where every year we have earthquakes, big fires, floods, and we are having them more and more because of climate change. Well, there is no evidence of the correlation between earthquakes and climate change yet, but Chile is a country of plenty of natural disasters, or human provoked disasters. For example, what is emerging in some conversations in places like Chile, we need to focus more on resilience, on collective resilience, on territorial resilience, on organizational resilience. Here in Chile, to be sustainable, in order to sustain your business, in order to be sustainable, we are exposed to so many disasters that here in order to be sustainable you need to be resilient first. So I’m starting to explore the connections between sustainability as an approach that prevents damage, and resilience as an approach that assumes that damage will come, [49:20] which is the case of this country.

What else in terms of impacts. Well, especially in Latin America, there is like a green bias. When you talk about sustainability, people think green, people think environment, and people are blind about the social dimension of sustainability. People still see a tradeoff between environment and society, and they don’t see it as interconnected. [50:00]

What else? And also, yeah, especially most of Latin American countries, their economies are based on extractive industries. Latin America is a continent that extracts raw materials, such as oil, wood, fish, fruits, and vegetables, and exports to the world. Especially Chile is a main producer of copper. Half of the Chilean economy is copper. In order to extract one kilogram of copper, you need to destroy one ton of mountain. [50:54] I would say that in most of these extractive economies, there is extractive culture. That’s not about take, make, waste. It’s about take, take, take. Take and export. Take and export. And even we say that Chile exports copper and imports copper wire. Exports wood and imports furniture. Chile exports paper and imports books. So all of the added value is created somewhere else. So there is not local industries. Basically the local industries are focused on extracting and taking raw materials from the earth’s crust. So when we start talking about the first sustainability principle, you can see the “grunt grunt grunt” the movements in the seats in the audience. Because it’s something that deeply puts them in a discomfort zone because you are telling to their face that the economy is not sustainable.

I remember that I shared this concern with Kalle, and he told me, “Hey, talk with them! They are smart, they are intelligent.” Yeah, I’m still struggling with that. I think working with mining companies...I would say that culture, not only national culture, but also organizational cultures it’s something we need to work with. Because organizational cultures are based on worldview, and I think that is something we need to understand. Because especially with local governments, they say “Hey, we need to extract today the copper, because that’s how we’re funding our public free education for all.” So they use the extractive speech in order to justify their social expenses. [53:23] So, yeah, I think there is still a lot of work to do.

Interviewer: Well, I think in this most recent response just about the different elements of Chilean culture that may be challenging to work with as a sustainability practitioner to the unexpected cultural elements of the indigenous community—whether it’s gender dynamics or working with spirits—you’ve encountered a lot of challenges as a sustainability practitioner! I wonder, based on all of that experience, what leadership qualities and/or competencies you feel are necessary for working in different cultural contexts?

Pablo Villoch: Wow, I love that question! [54:13] Yeah, definitely. Leadership qualities in order to work with sustainability in diverse cultures. Definitely, first, awareness. Self-awareness of your own biases. It’s a paradox because you can only be aware of your own biases when you are exposed to a different culture. Asking yourself about your own culture is like asking a fish what’s the color of water. That’s impossible because water is always there. A fish of sweet water will not realize that sweet water—I don’t know if that’s the technical word—will realize that sweet water is not the universal water until this sweet water fish goes to the sea, and it finds the salt water. So whatever we think is natural is cultural, and whatever we think is natural is natural until we notice that it’s cultural. We can only notice that when we face the other, when we are immersed in another culture.

So, first. Leadership qualities. Be aware of your bias. So that means travel. Travel a lot. Question your own beliefs. [56:08] Your own worldviews. Be open to that. Another quality I would say is empathy. Not only emotional empathy, but cognitive empathy. Worldview empathy. It’s about not only connecting with the emotions of people, but also connecting with their worldview—with their way of thinking about what matters to them, how they see the world. What else? I would say that could be named as cultural sensitivity.

Yeah, what else? It’s something that the experts call not only intercultural dialog, but also inter-epistemic dialog. Have you heard about that?

Interviewer: No, can you say a word about that?

Pablo Villoch: Epistemé is a greek word that is to do with “epistemology.” That is the way we know. The way we know what we know. So last year, I co-facilitated a workshop with some academics and scholars with the indigenous intercultural university whose mission is to “interculturalize” the academic world. They are introducing...they are infiltrating indigenous wise people in the faculties of different traditional universities. So they say that they want to go beyond intercultural dialog. They need to have an inter-epistemic dialogue because it’s not only about Chilean culture or European culture, it’s also about holistic worldview and scientific worldview. The scientific worldview has this bias of mechanistic, positivistic, rationalistic way of understanding things. Indigenous worlds are more open to validate intuition, non-linear knowledge, or spiritual tradition as a valued way of knowing. So for them...So inter-epistemic could be like faith, spirituality, religion dialog with science. That’s also inter-epistemic dialog. Inter epistemic dialogue: It's a dialogue between different ways of knowing...
(I recomend to read Boaventura de Sousa Santos, a portuguese sociologist  who created the concept of  "Ecology of knowledges", where scientific rationale knowledge can be in dialogue with community embedded common sense... "Decolonizing knowledge to distribute power") http://www.boaventuradesousasantos.pt/media/Introduction(3).pdf

Interviewer: Wow, what a great concept! I’ve never heard of that before. Thank you for introducing us to it.

Pablo Villoch: Yeah, maybe it’s something you will not read about at BTH. [laughing]

Interviewer: Yeah. [laughing]

Pablo Villoch: Yeah, engineering and mechanical faculty.
Interviewer: Yeah, probably not. Oh, that’s great. Thank you. [laughing] Kind of along the same lines, I wonder what advice you might give to a practitioner of the FSSD who is preparing to work in a different cultural context for the first time?

Pablo Villoch: What advice I would give to someone who is?

Interviewer: An FSSD practitioner who is preparing to work in a different cultural context for the first time?

Pablo Villoch: Yes, perfect. [1:00:13] Maybe this is something that your advisors would not like. Who is your advisor?

Interviewer: Do you now Pia?

Pablo Villoch: No, no I don’t. [laughing]  I have no biases. My advice—with a lot of love to the MSLS tribe and BTH—is forget FSSD! I mean...first, build trust. First, listen genuinely. First, ask questions that matter. First, connect with people. First, be humble. Be generous. And then, once you have been working with people, and you have been building trust...maybe this is my own bias because Latin American cultures are very relational. Because Latin American cultures put relations first. Whereas when you first build relations, you build trust, then you can make business. In other cultures you first make business, it’s more transactional. Then once you build trust after the business, then you build a relationship. [1:01:58] However, that’s what I could say.

In order to be successful as a FSSD practitioner, be humble. Be curious. Ask questions. Ask questions that matter. Be appreciative. Yeah. Ask people what matters for them. If they matters their family, their business, or their future, then you can say “Hey! I have an amazing Swedish methodology that can work for building a shared vision within sustainability principles.” I think that’s that. Don’t put your FSSD first. Put people first. Put their feelings first. I think that’s a more cultural sensitive advice I can give. [1:03:04]

Interviewer: Thank you. So then it’s interesting to ask you this next question, which is if there’s something that you would change or maybe add to the FSSD to make it easier to translate to different cultural contexts, what might that be? [1:03:23]

Pablo Villoch: Yeah. It’s something that I’ve been doing myself for the last seven years, and it’s something that MSLSers have been doing through their thesis projects. I see that people have been using...that have been combining...I would say that we were pioneers in our thesis. We used the Theory U as a methodological framework for our thesis, so I’m always combining Theory U with Art of Hosting with FSSD. And I see that last year’s theses have been working on it. I saw some theses with The Weave, with the Lotus [1:04:23]. They have been doing a great job combining it. So I probably know how they work with it. It has been evolving. I see that it’s also evolving. I would say that in the Five Level Framework (5LF)...for me the 5LF is a lens to observe, to understand. But it’s very important to understand that there is an observer who observes through that lens. So from my understanding it’s very important to draw...to be explicit about the observer who observes through the lens of the 5LF to see the system and this arrow and the vision and the principles. Because the observer is the one who is embedded on culture. The observer is the one who has mental models, who has beliefs, values, awareness, consciousness, faith. So in some ways, as the FSSD is more in the rich field of natural science of biology and oncology, the observer is a blind spot [1:06:05]. So, yeah. I think that my main suggestion to change how the FSSD is being taught is about including the observer. Because it’s to recognize the subjectivity of all these parts [1:06:24]. I remember that Goran Broman showed in one of the first lessons a slide with a  spectrum with two poles (objective approach, natural science vs subjective approach, social science) and situated the FSSD closer to the first pole [1:06:42] He recognized that the FSSD is much closer to the worldview of natural science, assuming that there is a real world outside of us and we can measure it. However, when we work with culture, culture emerges from inter-subjectivity sciences. So the intercultural encounters, intercultural meetings, the cultural communication are intersubjective. So it’s important to be aware. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the observer, because it’s the observer who has this bias. And finally, if we are talking about leadership, leaders are people. Leaders are people who are grounded, consciously inserted in cultural contexts. Does that make sense?

Interviewer: Yes, it does make sense. I’m so grateful that we’re talking because I feel like a lot of the lessons you’re sharing are things that I can take with me when I leave MSLS. So thank you! It does make sense to me.

And actually that’s a good segue because my next and actually last question is what advice do you wish you would’ve received when you were preparing to apply the FSSD for the first time?

Pablo Villoch: I ask you to repeat the question, please.

Interviewer: Yes. What advice do you wish you would’ve received when you were preparing to use the FSSD in a different culture for the first time?

Pablo Villoch: [1:08:50] I think it’s the same. I would say, be patient. Be patient because your clients will not ask you to apply the FSSD, the framework. Be patient. Be connected. Create your own tribe. Especially if you are in a country or in a city or in a region, where you are one of the only crazy guys or people who spent one year in Sweden, and you are part of that Swedish mafia, you are the only one in your city or your country or your continent. I’m thinking of your mate Prescilla, for example. If she comes back to her country, don’t feel that you’re alone. There will be many moments of loneliness. You will feel like a prophet that is bringing some prophesy. You feel like praying alone in the desert. So be prepared for that, and the way of being prepared for that is build your own tribe. Invite people to follow, to work with because I think that sustainability leadership is for brave people. It requires courage and all the words that you know for that: braveness, value, courage. So, yeah, in order to be persistent and courageous, it’s important to feel part of something bigger. A network, a community, a conspiration. So for me, yeah, that could be the main advice. Be patient. Be wise. Don’t feel alone. You will feel alone, but you are part of something bigger. We are part of the world transition team.

Interviewer: The world transition team! I love that. [1:11:56]

Pablo Villoch: Be aware that we are a part...I don’t know how many MSLSers there are now, but we are part of the same team. And we, this generation who are living on the earth now, regardless our culture, regardless our backgrounds, we are a part of that. It’s our role. It’s our challenge. And we need to have some sense of urgency, and also historical patience. Yeah.

Interviewer: Yeah, well, thank you! It’s been such a nice experience doing these interviews because we’ve gotten to have connection with people who are part of the world transition team out in field. Thank you so much for all of your anecdotes and your stories. Is there anything else that you’d like to add that we didn’t talk about, or that I didn’t ask you?

Pablo Villoch: [1:13:10] No, I only want to thank you. You and all your team. Say goodbye to Prescilla... Big hug for the next steps in your thesis. I know it can be challenging, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel!

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