Communicate, Educate, Inspire, Involve, Lead Change

This post is part the LinkedIn Take Action series in which Influencers and members discuss how to drive change that matters. Read all the posts here and write your own; include the hashtags #action2015 and #2030NOW in the body of your post. 

We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children

To ensure that sustainability is created and achieved across our Globe, actions have to be taken NOW, involving not only state heads and governments as responsible actors, but leading change throughout societies in a way that makes this a necessary target for all human beings and individuals, and a responsibility for all citizens of the world.

Steps for involving all citizens of the world:

COMMUNICATE

Communication is a powerful tool for leading sustainable change. Create a communication strategy. Execute it in a way that increases awareness and understanding. Repeat. Involve advertising, communications and marketing experts who know how to spread the message in targeted ways.

EDUCATE

As Nelson Mandela said:

Education is the most powerful tool to change the world

Educate people at all levels to increase awareness and understanding. Ensure that every individual comprehends what sustainability signifies, and how each individual can lead change and make a difference in society. Coach, educate, learn, teach, and repeat until everyone, regardless of social status or level of experience is involved and cares about sustainability.

Watch WISE Channel´s video, Bhutan´s “Feeding Programme”: Free & Organic food for better learning (Learning World: S5E33, 1/3):

INSPIRE

Inspire individuals, groups of people, and whole societies to take action. Inspire to make people see the benefits and positive changes that sustainability brings with it, and focus upon communicating the new possibilities that sustainability creates, and the improvements sustainability has upon everyone´s life, including health and well-being.

INVOLVE

Involve citizens throughout societies and make it a necessity for everyone, not only for designated leaders or individuals with a certain status to take action. Everyone has a voice, and every individual´s choices and actions do make a difference. If emphasis, focus, and responsibility is put only upon a handful of people, results will take forever to be seen, if ever. Instead, involve everyone, and give everyone a possibility to actually live in a sustainable way and exercise influence regardless of social status, position, or ranking.

LEAD CHANGE

Lead change through strategic communication, involve the right people to begin with, educate, inspire, and repeat.

Lead change or change will lead you (Steve Jobs)

Read my previous post What Successful Change Leadership Really is About to learn more about how to lead change successfully, in any context or setting.

 

✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍   If you care about sustainability, and sustainable development, please comment, like, and share this post with your (online media) networks. Engaging in discussion and taking actions, both on individual, organizational, and societal levels demonstrates awareness and responsibility, both essential in leading sustainable development. Comments upon how sustainable development can be achieved in societies are very helpful, and welcome. Thank you for caring, and for taking action. Peace and blessings. ✍

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Leadership is no Rocket Science – Or is it?

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. The science of today is the technology of tomorrow. (Edward Teller)

As an avid leadership enthusiast, curious by nature, always eager to learn and to explore the known, and, the unknown, creative, intelligent, exploring, enthusiastic, developing, evolving, analytical and deep-thinking you may have learned that leadership is no rocket science, but in fact something that every single individual can develop within herself, or within himself.

Leadership skills can be learned and developed within any individual, but it requires more than repetition to become a leader. If you already make progress in your personal life and career through developing leadership skills within yourself, the effort is worthwhile. Not everyone has to, or wants to, become the next Prime Minister of his/her country, or an exceptionally well-known, difference-making leader. But, as long as you are capable of developing leadership skills in order to improve your life, expanding your knowledge, personal development is always in place, and useful.

I have written much about general leadership skills and qualities, but instead of repeating these over and over again, I would like to emphasize some leadership qualities that are not so commonly discussed in leadership reviews/ articles/ literature.

Although leadership, and being a leader (at least in your personal life), is no rocket science, you may want to tap into your personal leadership potential keeping in mind following potential facts:

– True Leaders Dare to be Extravagant

Be brave enough to explore, create, and make use of your extravagant ideas and thoughts. Many people will probably try to convince you the opposite, but do not listen to conservatives if you personally do believe in your concept, and the thing you would like to create, manifest, and materialize. Our world is full of conservatives who never like to try out anything new, so creativity and extravagant actions are more than welcome. A very good example is the multi-talented artist Lady Gaga, probably not accepted by everyone due to her extravagant style, but yet millions and millions of people do admire her, and do love her brave, creative style. And, did Pablo Picasso ask people what they thought about his paintings? This creative, artistic genius listened to his inner voice, developed as an artist throughout his career and created some of the most magnificent paintings mankind so far, has seen.

– True Leaders do not only think out of the box. They think like there is no box.

If, and when, we spend year after year working for a salary in a neat organization, fulfilling everyone else´s dreams but the one´s we have in our minds (regarding our personal lives), we in fact look for security instead of creating ourselves the way we truly want to. If this is the way you want to lead yourself and your life, OK, but is there not much more to life than fulfilling the needs of others, and living your life according to the expectations of others, including your employer? This is especially true if you are working in poor conditions, and if your personal input is not valued by your employer. Taking ownership and leading your own life is not always simple, especially if you are used to working for others. Nevertheless, taking ownership of your own life and your personal career signifies that you will have to rethink, re-evaluate, and reorganize your professional life in a way that suits you, and gives you the opportunity to create a whole new life, without any boxes or restrictions.

– True Leaders think, and act, into the future

Every day, try to find at least one hour, or even twenty minutes to meditate in order to create an empty space within your mind. In your meditation, focus upon forgetting everything that you were, what you currently are, and what kind of society you are living in. Give yourself this empty space every day, and notice how your thoughts and feelings start shifting, allowing for you to tap into new creative potential. Emptiness is the source of new creations, and in order to innovate yourself and the society you live in, you will have to learn how to unlearn useless patterns and behaviors of your life.

– True Leaders Expand their personal horizons by learning something new every day

Promise yourself to become, or to stay, curious in your life. Do not accept things as they come to you, especially if and when you notice that this specific something is draining your energies rather than adding value to your life. Instead, do something new every day, no matter how small or how insignificant this may seem. Creativity, and personal leadership, requires the ability to tap into new possibilities and to unlearn certain patterns and behaviors in your current life.

THINK: A Forum on the Future of Leadership:

Thank you for reading, commenting, liking, sharing, and for unlearning certain behaviors and patterns that may not serve your personal growth and development as an individual and professional.

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Creating The Future – Leadership Resolutions for Year 2015

(Mother Nature. Artist: njaj. Freedigitalphotos.net. 290112)
(Mother Nature. Artist: njaj. Freedigitalphotos.net. 290112)

“Mother Nature may be forgiving this year, or next year, but eventually she’s going to come around and whack you. You’ve got to be prepared”.

(Geraldo Rivera)

A few days left of year 2014 before we are heading into 2015, the year resonating with infinity, according to the Gregorian calendar. In some cultures, the New Year does not start until later in 2015, so everything is relative.

What do all cultures and traditions have in common for a New Year? Celebrations, festivities, resolutions, and last but not least, planning ahead. Yes, planning is an essential activity for anyone: private persons, businesses, organizations, municipalities, countries. Yet, there are events that cannot be planned for in advance, such as natural disasters. This Christmas, we all remembered the Asian Tsunami from 2004, where more than 200.000 innocent lives were lost due to a huge Ocean Earthquake along the Indian Ocean, directly affecting at least eight countries, and indirectly, many more.

There is no real evidence about this tragedy being caused by human beings, yet the possibility exists, taking into consideration how much Planet Earth is being manipulated by individuals.

We must remember to treat the Earth well, since “We don´t inherit land from our ancestors, we borrow it, rather, from our children” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry). How we treat each other, animals on this planet, and our nature, is equal to leaving a legacy for future generations.

Thus, let us focus more on living according to virtues, and care not only for each other, but also for flora and fauna, the oceans that have, initially, given birth to human kind in the first place. Including and remembering these facts on a daily basis, and if forgotten, being reminded by other human beings about them, makes it easier for each and one of us to focus on creating an increasingly sustainable and lasting future for ourselves, and for generations to come.

Future is not something that simply happens to us, it is created by mankind each and every day, all over Planet Earth. The choices we make, from farming methods to the types of energy we use. Thus, let us forget about our fears for change, and be open to sustainable development, because evolution takes place when we allow it to happen.

Finally, a few general New Year´s Resolutions for 2015 that can be implemented both on individual, organizational, and governmental levels:

  1. I will no matter about my social and societal status, act responsibly and take increased responsibility for my actions.
  2. I promise to learn and develop my skills, knowledge, and wisdom on a daily basis by educating myself through all possible means, be it through media, social media, individuals with more knowledge about a certain topic, and through gathering real life experiences.
  3. I acknowledge that I am a spiritual being with a human experience, and not the other way around. As a spiritual being I understand the importance of nurturing both my mind and body on a daily basis in a manner that serves both me personally, and people around me.
  4. I promise to express gratitude for the life that I have been given, on a daily basis.
  5. I take nothing in life for granted.
  6. I respect everything and everyone upon Earth, and in our whole Universe. In challenging circumstances, I remember to pray, ask for help and guidance, and live according to virtues rather than fall into traps of the Ego.
  7. Any challenge that may come in my way will be treated with objectivity and greater wisdom than before. I understand that challenges are an essential part of life and nature, lessons for me to learn on my path towards developing my spirit.
  8. I will set clear boundaries and stand up for things that I believe in without losing faith in myself.
  9. I will say what I mean, and always speak the truth.
  10. I will be authentic, because this is the most essential part in growing as an individual and a spiritual being.
  11. I will guard memories, think long-term when creating and planning for the future, but live in the present.

Let us make year 2015 an unforgettable experience. May you be blessed upon your journey, and may the upcoming year help you reap the seeds that you have planted, and fulfill your dreams.

How to Identify Weak Signals Before They Become Strong Trends?

“Interpreting weak signals into useful decision-making takes time and focus. It starts with the capacity of identifying them in the first place”. 

Weak signals are first symptoms or early signals of a change telling about a strengthening trend and bringing information that is not yet seen e.g. in statistics. Usually, there are several signals indicating to a similar development. Weak signals have to pass filters in order to influence the strategy process, being the phenomena that influence a company and its operational environment by being new and surprising in the framework of the receiver. 

Weak signals reveal threats and opportunities for a company, but also represent a chance to learn, grow and develop. They could also be defined wild cards that change the development and are unpredictable when turning up. Weak signals are events below the surface, overlooked, but that may be signs of big evolution. The approach to weak signals is experiencing a renaissance in strategic planning and they are to be found in the context of strategic flexibility of an organization. Successful organizations look for weak signals actively and continuously. As decision-making is a sense-making process, management has to secure the flow of knowledge from outside to the business and decide the actions based on it.

A weak signal has no history and no basis to build a pattern onto. They are unique, and not recurring. A weak signal can be recognized by its strangeness and its being an odd phenomenon. In order to be able to recognize weak signals one has to have a sufficient level of understanding firstly in that behind each change there are several driving factors and on the other hand by the fact that each emerging fact signals its environment in many different ways. No signals should be rejected in advance. The recognition, analysis and interpretation of each signal are only work processes that follow the creative and unbiased observation period.

In general, possible identification and interpretation methods of weak signals are: Think-tank groups, brainstorming, Delphi method, or a pattern management framework, which means collecting signs of weak signals from magazines, mainly economically related. General observations from one’s surroundings and environment are another way of identifying weak signals.

In the analysis of weak signals, it is useful to take into consideration at least the following: 

– To whom and for whom weak signals are identified? 

– How comprehensive/wide is the search area and fields? 

– How complete is the analysis?

The identification process of weak signals occurs before or simultaneously with an identification of trends. In a Delphi-study, experts must decide when a phenomenon should be defined as a weak signal. Challenges occur, when weak signals are not searched in right places or enough (detection filter). This is also the case when right persons are not looking for them (interpretation filter). Another challenge could be that discovered findings or made interpretations are invalidated or denied (power filter). To succeed in the identification, the identifier of weak signals should have a position or forum where to tell about opinions and impressions freely. The organization in question should be receiving and the environment should enhance creativity.

Most issues change very slowly while some are expected to change fast and very radically. Others are expected to remain always the same. Surprises may come from foreseeable sources that change slowly (e.g. China phenomenon, virtual technology, globalization and EU-integration). Common issues that may face surprising changes are the importance of home, the conception of time, importance of salary or money, ownership and ethics.

Pattern management (Kuosa 2010) suggests that the existence of phenomena is concluded in the same way as the existence of black holes or planets of near-by solar systems by observation of refraction of light, changes in the orbits of near-by planets, quantity and movement of energy etc. It uses the same way that also phenomena in our own operation environment can be concluded. There clearly exists information and signals in our environment that belong together and can be clustered. Several phenomena can rise from one observation. Phenomenon emerges through signal observation.

 

1.Totally unexpected

Observation is not linked to any other known clear trend

2. Changes in trends

Observation indicates a change in trends

3. Drivers of change

Phenomenon that leads to an observation or has a legal commission

4. What keeps us in the old?

Trends, mega trends and main stream

Figure: Four-step observation frame for weak signals (Source: Tuomo Kuosa). 

Weak signals are a continuous or non-stop process which should be taken seriously in any sector of business. The anticipation phase shows the opportunities of the future and helps in minimizing risks. The appropriation phase is where strategies are made by realizing how the future might affect the community in question. In the action phase, changes of the future and effects of chosen policies and operations are carried out in practice. As an example – although it might seem that e.g. the financial sector is static, there are always changes taking place, and these changes are caused by the actions of human beings not only in the industry itself, but by everyone who is somehow involved in the financial sector. A bank itself would be no bank without investors, loan takers, private persons keeping their money on their account etc. This is why the financial sector is as vulnerable as any other industry, and should respond to the market in a similar way as any other sector of business. 

(Pfeffer, J. & Sutton, R.I. 2000. The Knowing-Doing Gap. How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action. Boston: Harvard Business School Press;Kamppinen, M., Kuusi, O., Söderlund, S. 2002. Tulevaisuudentutkimus. Perusteet ja sovellukset. Senior, Barbara and Fleming, Jocelyne, 2006. Organizational Change. 3rd Edition. FT Prentice Hall; Kuosa, T. 2012. The Evolution of Strategic Foresight – Alternative Futures).