Omgaan met complexe vraagstukken – van óf-óf naar én-én

Bij complexe vraagstukken is de wijze waarop er naar de context gekeken wordt bepalend voor de kwaliteit van de ‘oplossingen’.

Migratie, bijvoorbeeld, kan je niet geisoleerd bekijken; het is een internationaal vraagstuk waar verschillende perspectieven spelen, maar niet samenkomen.

Zowel de levensomstandigheden, de levensopvattingen en levenskansen zijn heel anders in Afrika dan in Europa. Ghana, waar ik actief ben, is een hele andere samenleving dan Nederland, waar ik de meeste tijd van het jaar woon.

Er zijn dus verschillende werkelijkheden (perspectieven/overtuigingen) die tegelijk bestaan en elkaar soms lijken tegen te spreken. Om dát te kunnen beslechten, zijn interventies/oplossingen nodig die deze verschillende werkelijkheden omarmen en verbinden.

Dat vraagt een holistische blik met bijbehorende methoden voor analyse en interventies. Maar een model is zo goed als degene die het hanteert. Kennis van de modellen alleen is niet voldoende; er komt ook aardig wat ‘persoonlijk werk’ bij kijken.

Dat laatste geldt overigens – in wezen – voor elk transformatie proces. Veranderen is mensen werk en niet alleen aan de buitenkant.

Ik werk al 12 jaar met Spiral Dynamics en vind dat nog steeds een van de meest werkbare modellen om te werken met complexiteit en verschillende werkelijkheden; om spanningen/blokkades te vertalen van naar doorbraak/groei.

Wat wij doen als Leap into Life in Ghana en in Nederland is op maatschappelijk niveau in een hele specifieke context; we werken aan maarschappelijk vraagstukken die in beide landen spelen, maar onze projecten zijn met de allerarmsten in Noord Ghana die hele concrete uitdagingen hebben om dagelijks te overleven.

Het leren zit aan beide kanten; als stichting in Nederland proberen we een organistie te zijn die in termen van bedrijfsvoering en besluitvorming is ingericht om met verschillende werkelijkheden te functioneren; een Meshworks foundation dat opereert als een Conscious Company.

Niet alleen in de samenleving als geheel; ook in het bedrijfsleven in teams en bij ieder individu spelen waarden die elkaar lijken tegen te spreken. Ook hier kan Spiral Dynamics zeer waardevol zijn.

In plaats van elkaar te overtuigen van ons eigen gelijk is de opgave om de spannigen tussen de verschillende ‘waarheden’ te overbruggen en wegen te vinden voor ‘inclusieve oplossingen’.

In Nederland probeer ik mijn brood te verdienen door mensen, teams en organisaties te ondersteunen om de transformatie te maken van óf-óf naar én-én. Ontvankelijkheid voor ‘een andere opvatting dan de mijne’ speelt daarin een belangrijke rol. Dit vervolgens vertalen naar anders samenwerken is waar het meeste werk (en begeleiding) zit. Zelf werk ik het liefste ‘ervaringsgericht’ en zo dicht mogelijk tegen de werksituatie aan (action learning); met pilots waar ‘fouten’ mogen worden gemaakt en het leren van fouten is georganiseerd.

The proof of the pudding is the eating.

Website stichting Leap into Life

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Posted in action learning, Africa, leadership development, leap into life, learning, management development, meshworks, Social Entrepreneurship, Spiral Dynamics integral, Theory U, Uncategorized, Value Based Economy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abandoning pesticides – a harsh reality

With ATMA Ghana, Umar and Alain have initiated organic farming in 3 communities in Ghana Northern Region. We started these projects because the farmers came to us saying they didn’t want to use the chemicals anymore, but didn’t know how to. “Neither do we, but let’s try” we said.
 
This is the 4th consecutive year we are planting crops on our lands. We are gaining experience and we are suffering severely.
 
It is not climate only that makes us suffer. Yes, we lost crops due to extreme drought, the rain coming 2 months later than it normally does and we have lost crops due to too much rain when it comes. The army worm has caused huge damage in Ghana, but our crops were safe due to our organic pesticides
 
Other farmers noticed, they also see how our land looks compared to theirs and still the step non-chemical farming is too large and too risky for most.
 
The (international) trade and regulations/procedures on certification of organic crops is a huge problem.
 
Coming back to the army worm. We had a cheap organic and local solution, Ghana government invested with World-bank money in chemical pesticides from Canada. Farmers could buy them at lower costs, but they were still more expensive than the local alternative. And the money that could be saved or used within the community is going to Canada, the World-bank and Government officials.
 
For a local farmer, chemical farming is cheap and convenient. You just plant your seeds – bought from a foreign company – put the chemicals en fertilizers – also from foreign companies, often as part of an agriculture aid program – on the land and you wait for harvest.
 
It works on the short term, but the price on the longer term is high. It is a business model for foreign aid programs and companies. No farmer can allow to lose crops, let alone think more than one season ahead.
 
Doing non-chemical farming we face issues related to finance. On the short term it is more expensive not to use chemicals; you need to weed and maintain the land which costs labor = money. We have a small shop where we sell organic fertilizers/pesticides, but we are not selling. The chemicals are cheaper; subsidized as developmental aid.
 
Secondly there is no (access to) market for non chemical farming. That is, unless you have the certification papers to ‘prove’ that you are not using chemicals. The international market requires certifications. But what farmer can afford the costs of certification?
Also most farmers do not have the literacy skills to apply for an organic certification and follow the administrative procedures and requirements. Unless you are working for a foreign owned company who has the certificates, unless you have access to the international organic market, it is slightly impossible for small scale local farmers to go organic.
 
We have tried to sell our crops to hotels and expats in the area, but they also want to see a certificate before they want to buy. It is a “catch 22” situation.
 
We are selling our crops on local markets for local prices; meaning we make a loss on each crop, every year again. We take our loss, though we do not have much, because we strongly believe in non chemical farming and we hope to survive long enough for us to bring the farming activities into Leap into Life foundation.
 
Not without reason, our current focus is on Sheabutter and realizing the Sheabutter production center. It is a crucial base for other future projects as Leap into Life foundation. We are moving towards a Value Based Economy with Shea and farming as key pillars. We are coming from a situation of pure, raw survival on a daily base for most in the communities we work with. Food on the table is priority 1; healthy food on the table comes second, if ever.
 
Stichting Leap into Life - projecten Ghana
Hopefully we’ll manage to survive long enough to keep up the land and bring the farming activities in Leap into Life.
You can learn more about Leap into Life foundation and our projects in Ghana here:
 
To conclude; an article about chemical farming in Ghana I wrote while there in 2016.
 
Posted in Africa, agriculture, Business, Climate & Climate Change, Dagomba tribe, foodsecurity, Ghana, Uncategorized, Value Based Economy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

React – Respond

Why reflection is a crucial part of Action Learning

I am of the generation that experienced the introduction of the computer, mobile phone, email and social media. My Master’s thesis on Ahold as a Learning Organization was written on my first computer, a large grey-green machine. Before I had that computer I was writing my papers on a typewriter, using white ink to correct spelling. Sometimes I had to rewrite whole pages because I’d changed the structure of a chapter or paragraph. Having a computer saved me much time and effort; time I could use for other things. The computer has made my life easier in that perspective.

Working at Twynstra Gudde, the largest Dutch independent consultancy company, I build a reputation with Competency based Human Resource Management (HRM). Together with colleagues I wrote a book on Competency based HRM that became a standard work in the Netherlands and we wrote the chapter on Competency based HRM in a standard HR toolkit book used on most Dutch universities. The computer and email made some aspects in the process of writing much easier and faster.

Everybody in the company knew me as “Mr Competency Management”. I introduced the theme when not too many had yet heard of it and it became popular because of collaboration with my colleagues and clients. For 10 years I was able to deepen my knowledge, skills and competence as expert and to share it with colleagues/clients in assignments and with a broader audience in articles, training and as speaker on stage.

Human Resource Management is a profession and Competency Based Human Resource Management is a specific expertise. However both, in general, are considered as something one could also do without having the specific training or experience. When Competency based HRM became popular and became a ‘cash cow’ colleagues of mine who were trained in complete different areas took up assignments in this field of practice. One consequence of this was that I, more often than I liked, became involved in assignments at a stage that already a lot of ‘damage’ had been done. A part of my work became to repair mistakes of others. I was doing that on the side of my own assignments.

Competency and competence

At that time I was working about 60-70hrs a week; also in writing the articles and in further development of the expertise. The topic of ‘clearing other peoples mess’ was addressed in my performance appraisal and it was heard by my management. I did not have a mobile phone yet and my managers suggested I should have one. At that time a mobile phone was only for partners in the company and I was a medior/senior consultant. It would be useful because colleagues could reach me by phone for consultation. I was already spending an hour an evening replying emails other than those that were functional for my own projects and rejected the idea to be available in daytime as well. In hindsight this looks rather strange, because nowadays I use my mobile phone quite a lot and not only for calling.

In the early days of email and mobiles I did not only see the advantages of it. I also felt and addressed a few peculiarities of these new technologies; peculiarities that I did not experience as positive. My workload increased because of them and I noticed that people started to spend less time for conversation. Email is a one way medium and I noticed that most people expected to receive an answer on their mail within very short notice after them pressing the send button. I also saw email correspondence getting out of hand and turning into disputes, simply because there was no time taken to ask “what do you mean?” Email introduced a lot of space for interpretation and diminished the time taken to check those interpretations with purpose to de-escalate exchanges that seemed to get out of hand because of misinterpretation.

Internet Bully

Both technologies have brought elements that make professional life easier; they are contributing largely to a significant improvement of efficiency. At the same time, with the pressure on efficiency and the convenience of texting, the level of communication went downwards. Instead of looking up from their desk and speak with each other, people sharing a desk were emailing each other. Emails were not only about work, but also about something as lunch. A colleague of mine and I always made fun of these “are you joining for lunch?” emails by saying “In the old days we used to speak with each other at the office, now we do not want to be disturbed by those talking.” I was in my early 30s at that time.

Another time consuming e-HRM tool was the introduction of intranet. Where we used to have support staff for certain tasks. I now had to complete these tasks myself using the intranet tool. It took me an average of 4 extra hours a week in my already packed agenda. And it confused me.

This long introduction on how technology entered my professional life brings me to current times. I do not know if what I write above is recognizable for others my age. I do see that with introduction of social media and e-HRM tools these patterns have increased intensely. The pressure on speed, efficiency and quick reply has grown and now it is not only email or voicemail that need attention.

When I travel I see a lot of people staring at their cellphones, checking their Facebook messages, Instagram accounts, scrolling through Twitter, LinkedIn etc. What I also see is that there is a strong decrease of genuine contact between people. The algorithms of Facebook and LinkedIn are set to confirm what people believe and create virtual flocks of like minded and increasing gaps between different opinions.

Social Media tree

Texting is not the same as talking. It is interesting to see how fewer of my friends call me to ask me how I am doing, partly because they think they know because they follow my Facebook or other social media accounts. But Facebook is not my life; it is just a small part of it.

I also notice that the quality of conversation is decreasing; the span of attention is low, there is little listening and instead of responding many conversations are a rapid flow of reactions. Don’t get me wrong, internet, email and social media do have enriched our lives and I could not do my work without it. But the ‘dark sides’ of it in terms of decreasing social cohesion, lack of time for reflection and the addictive element of them is hardly discussed and young people are not educated how to use the tools without losing, well basically, without losing themselves. It has a deep impact on human to human relationships with negative consequences for society.

This time of rapid change, fast business and global connectedness asks for specific skills that are not part of traditional learning programs. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) social emotional skills are critical components of 21st century skill framework but not a core focus in today’s curriculum. WEF has identifies 16 skills most needed for students to learn (see figure). Besides 6 foundation literacies, competencies as communication and collaboration have become increasingly important. Among the 6 most significant character qualities are curiosity, adaptability and social/cultural awareness.

WEF 21st century skills

Looking at the top 10 skills defined in the WEF “Future of jobs” report one can see a shift towards inter-relational skills. I notice a huge paradox here; in my opinion social media is actually creating a decrease of the skills mentioned and technology will not teach people these skills. Yes, one can design a computer simulation program, but human beings are irrational and unpredictable. A machine can come close to reality, but it can’t replace real time human to human communication.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an intergovernmental economic organization with 35 member countries. Its mission is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world (source; OECD website). This organization also refers to oral communications, written communications, teamwork/diversity and diversity as 4 of the 11 most crucial skills for 21st century employers and leaders. Two other interesting skills mentioned there are ethics/social responsibility and creativity/innovation. I could mention a few other reports from acknowledged institutes, but most mention the same or similar skills.

Those skills are not learned when the people we communicate/collaborate with are people who have the same view, opinions or background. As an expert in group dynamics I know that even without social media confirming what I already know and believe it is difficult to teach and learn those skills. Most people have the tendency to mix with like minded and selection processes by companies do not filter these biases.

WEF future of jobs skills

One can read a book or go to a course, but these skills can best be learned in real life situations. And even then it is quite difficult to change the tendency to mingle beyond ‘people like us’. It needs practice, practice, and practice. And even then the experience of this practice will only be integrated when time is taken for reflection. And it requires honesty towards one self and one’s own biases.

My point is that pressure on efficiency and speed in jobs and society, in combination with the pressure of the bleeps and notifications from social media push people deeper into reactive behavior where capacities to respond are required. But what is the difference between reaction and response?

A reaction is unconscious behavior in which we focus our energy towards the world around us in an attempt to protect ourselves or to attack someone else. A reaction actually is an act with the purpose to control or eliminate the cause of unpleasant experiences.

The process of reacting is actually a very subtle one; most people don’t even notice that they are reacting. And it is a violent act that comes from feelings as blame, accusation and revenge. Something is done to us, at least that is what we believe. In reality this is not the case.

Buddhism knows a principle called “Second arrow”. In my understanding this is a synonym for reaction. But the teaching of Buddhism is that there is no first arrow. The irony is one is reacting to something that is not actually there, but perceived a real. You are literally chasing a ghost of your own mind, a fantasy.

React and Respond

A response is a conscious choice to experience the unpleasant feeling we are sensing and to transform the information it brings into constructive action. Instead of pushing that unpleasant feeling away, one takes responsibility for it and literally feels the emotion. The hard part of responding is not only the feeling part, but also to be able to recognize the negative label we unconsciously give to the sensation and the ‘story’ we have built around it blaming the other as the cause of that negative sensation.

To respond instead to react is not easy, not something one can learn as a trick. It is a practice that, for most people, takes years to comprehend, let alone to become competent. We have the strong tendency to embrace emotions we label as pleasant (joy, happiness, love) and to reject emotions we label as unpleasant (anger, fear, pain). And we have the tendency to take ownership of the feelings we like and to judge others for things we feel and dislike. Those are subtle processes most people go through unconsciously on a daily base.

A practice in Shambhala Buddhism is one called “Basic Goodness”. The teaching is that Basic Goodness does not push and does not pull. I will be honest with you; I have been trying to integrate this practice in my daily life and I am more often than I’d like not very good at it. But at least I see myself fail. And that is just as important to me as I want to master this this practice. Because if I see myself fail, I can always try again. If I am not aware, I will make the same mistake over and over without even knowing it.

Now I am not saying that everyone should become a Buddhist or practice Basic Goodness. But what is important is that we – looking at the qualities needed for success in business and school – learn to acknowledge our own reactive patterns and practice to change those into responsive behavior. Another point that I am trying to make here is that, though these skills are acknowledged as crucial, business and society are taking us away from practicing them. That is where a big gap is between what is needed and what is stimulated. It is this gap that creates more tensions; within people, between people and in groups (teams) and society.

White Tara Alain

An alternative for a spiritual practice like Basic Goodness is Action Learning; at least when it is framed and facilitated in a proper way. Unfortunately most meditation practitioners are ‘enlightened’ on their meditation cushion and end up in (their car towards) work full of tensions because of traffic or what others ‘do to them’. And unfortunately most of these skills needed to respond instead of to react are taught in classrooms and not on the job. Most Action Learning programs on the job focus on more technical skills, not the social skills. I do not believe this is effective and can be done differently.

To conclude I will give a small practice one can easily apply in any situation without other people noticing it and without too much knowledge of social psychology. You can do this at work in a meeting, in your car or in public transport or in basically any common situation on ordinary life when tensions arise.

When you feel tension rising, do not look outwards to find the cause of that tension. Just be with it and notice it. Then ask yourself “when did I feel this tension before?” to see if you can discover a pattern. If you have not yet pushed the sensation outwards you can look at the ‘story’ your mind has made of what is causing this sensation. You will notice that the sensation might first grow stronger, but if you can hold it, it will relax. Once you get more advanced in this practice you can look at patterns from your early childhood that have imprinted these stories in your mind. The latter is transformative, it is much cheaper than going to the psychologist and very effective.

If you want to learn more about these forms of Action Learning you can go on the internet or buy a book in the shop. If you want to work with it in your professional life or with your team I am happy to support you as individual coach or a team facilitator. By no means I am an enlightened teacher that has surpassed all these patterns, but as an experienced practitioner/student I can relate and facilitate.

 

Posted in action learning, Business, leadership, leadership development, learning, management development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why it is unwise to discuss climate change

and why it is wise to act like it is real and caused by human behavior

Climate change is a popular topic in a sense that is currently is under a lot of attention. It is also a topic on which one can find a huge range of information from many different perspectives. Despite the attention and the information one can find, for many climate change is an abstract concept. It is something not everybody thinks of on a daily base and those who do seem to be more in dispute than in dialogue.

The key questions on climate change are:

  • “Is climate change a reality or a phantasy?”
  • “Is climate change caused (or accelerated) by human behavior?”

Most people do not have an opinion at all about climate change OR they have a very strong opinion about it. It seems to be hard to find something in between, a more balanced perspective that goes beyond the two key questions above. For every research paper that shows that climate change is reality and accelerated by human behavior, one can find a publication that proposes that the impact of human behavior on climate change is minimal to zero. For every newspaper article that expresses why it is important to take climate change serious, one can find an article that propagates climate change is a hoax. There are governments combining their actions to have a positive impact on climate change as well as governments that withdraw from these initiatives. And if you want to spoil the good atmosphere at a party, it can be very effective to bring climate change up as topic of conversation.

For many people climate change is abstract and something far away from their own perception of reality. But every time there is a major disaster like a serious drought affecting food crops or a hurricane destroying houses and infrastructure, the topic of climate change comes up, causing serious discussions and intense disputes. The discussions don’t help the average person to understand; it doesn’t make anything concrete at all. It confuses, irritates and enables people to find information that supports their opinion (downloading) or encourages people avoid the whole ‘issue’ of climate change (ignoring).

In this article I will explain why the whole discussion about climate change is irrelevant and obsolete. At the same time I will share why ignorance isn’t a proper thing to do, but very unwise instead.

Let’s assume we do not know anything about climate change and that we do not have an opinion at all about climate change. If we can postpone our judgments and if we can ignore all the information, four options remain:

  1. Climate change is a reality
  2. Climate change is a hoax
  3. Climate change is caused by human behavior
  4. The impact of human behavior on climate change irrelevant, to zero

The 4 options seem to hold 2 opposites; A: climate change is either ‘real’ or ‘fake’ and B: climate change is caused by human behavior or it is not. But let’s translate these into a more workable construct. ‘Real or hoax’ and caused by human versus not caused by human are two of a kind. What is relevant is: should we do something or not?!? A much better quadrant to approach this question with is one holding two questions:

  • Is climate change caused by human behavior or is it not?
  • Should we take actions on climate change or not?

The image below shows these questions in a 2 by 2 table we can work with.

Climate Change - quadrant empty

Now, let’s look at this table from a rational perspective to find what is wise action. We can choose to do something or we can choose to do nothing. When we are able to keep our open mind installed and to ignore all the information, all four possibilities have an equal chance to be real. That means that – no matter if climate change is real or not – we have a 50% chance to do the right thing and a 50% chance to make a mistake.

It would be a wise decision not to do anything about climate change if it would not be caused by human behavior. But if climate change is not caused by human behavior and we do take a lot of effort to change our behavior, one could say that would be unwise. When climate change is accelerated by human behavior, it would be very wise to take action. Not taking action would increase the negative effects with consequences we do not know; it would be very unwise.

Climate Change - quadrant percentage

More interesting than the discussion above it would be to look at the consequences of making the right or wrong decision. What are they? We will look at this in a few steps.

When we decide to take climate change seriously and to act accordingly, we will have to transform our societies in many different ways; we have to change the way we live and work together. The whole cycle of how we produce food and goods should be transformed; we should change individual consumption patterns of food and materials; we should rethink a whole economy without fossil fuels and reinvent our use of water, land and resources. We should be very creative and we would have to spend billions in money.

But what if we take something seriously that is not real and never will be? In that case we have spent billions of money; we will have used many resources and hours of creative thinking on something where we could have spent all that time, money and resources on better things. If we succeed to transform our economies and our patterns of behavior we might have created a whole new economy and society, but the costs of it would have been far too extreme. We have spent our money, time and efforts to ‘heal’ something that didn’t need healing.

When we do nothing and the impact of human behavior on climate change is limited to zero, we are good. We can continue with what we are familiar with and continue to improve what we are good at now. All models for economy and society we have now are functional and – though with ups and downs – the global economy will continue to grow in the long term. Next generations will live in more prosperity and harmony, just like this generation lives in more peace and prosperity than the ones before us. We didn’t waste money, time, creativity and resources on things where it could have been used in a better way. We haven’t gone through the tensions come along with a process of transformation and we haven’t changed something that didn’t need change.

But what if we do nothing and climate change is caused by human behavior? Tensions will rise to an extreme on social, economic and ecologic level. There will be an increase of heavy droughts and heavy rains destroying our food crops. The intensity and frequency of natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis will increase causing much more destruction than we have ever seen. There will be wars over territory and over clean water and air. The amount of people on a drift, leaving their homes to find a safe place for survival will explode causing more tensions between groups and nations. Many species and many people – if not all will – die. And, with today’s technology and interconnection, it is not very unlikely that we will destroy all life on Earth; maybe even Earth.

Climate Change - quadrant images

If you would be a decision maker and want to act wisely, there is a choice. Basically we are all making decisions and we are all making choices. It doesn’t matter if you are a member of the ‘elite’ and have the position to make choices that affect many, or if you are a ‘common’ member of society, making decisions that only affect your own life and that of your family. The impact is different – yes – but numbers count as well and one small action can have huge impact. We all know stories of a little boy raising awareness on national level for a rare disease by polishing nails or of a little girl ending up on the front cover of Time magazine by telling her personal story of life in a country far away from our homes. It is not about them reaching the headlines in media, they had impact and brought (a movement for) change.

Most of us do have children and most parents want their child to have a bright future; we want our children to have a life as that is good as our own or better than we ever had. If we would replace “climate change” for “my child”, would you accept a 25% chance for your child to die? Would you even allow yourself choosing for something that will cause a certain death of your child of you had any other option? Wouldn’t you do everything that is in your possibilities to prevent that from happening? Most parents would. Even if the alternative doesn’t give any guarantee for a better result, most parents would choose for ANY other option than the one that of certain death. This is a reason why people in deprived areas and war-zones risk their children’s lives to send them on a dangerous trip to the unknown. There is hope that the alternative and unknown is better than the chance-less situation of the known. Even if the child doesn’t survive, the parent at least has tried everything in her/his possibilities to have saved it’s life.

If you are a business person with responsibility for the continuity of the company you work in, would you accept a 50% chance of certain failure with a 25% chance of certain bankruptcy? Good governance includes scenario planning and risk management, and most companies rather prevent risks than take them. When you would be in the boardroom and would have to make a choice from 4 options and one of these options is a certain elimination of the company and its business; what would you do? Most successful business(wo)men would make decisions to prevent that scenario ever becoming reality. The scenario leading to sure bankruptcy would be a definite ‘no go area’. If there are alternatives to choose from, the manager who chooses for liquidation will be blamed and shamed for bad governance. If there are options to choose from they must be taken seriously and explored. Even when they fail, at least everything has been tried to prevent.

Yet with climate change this all seems to be different. The logic in the examples above doesn’t seem to count. That is actually very strange. We do accept a 50% failure in our decisions and we do accept a 25% chance of certain death. But the stakes are much higher at the same time. We are not talking about the possibility of one or few children dying, but of billions and maybe all. We are not talking of one company going bankrupt, but of whole societies collapsing and maybe even destruction of Earth. And yet we accept 50% failure. It is gambling, not governance, nor making a smart individual decision.

Climate Change - quadrant earth

The matrix I present shows we have a 50% chance to make a proper decision. The decision is either to act or not to act. The worst thing that can happen when we act is that we have transformed a world (economy, society) that didn’t need transforming. Yes, we have spent a lot of time, thinking, resources and money that we could have spent otherwise, but the future for our children is bright and the opportunities for business have changed, but are still there. The worst thing that can happen if we do not act is destruction and death. Even if you are one of the few who would survive, life will never be the same as it was before and, for sure, it will not be better than it was before.

This is why the only logical thing to do is to invest in society and in economy as if climate change IS real and IS caused by human behavior. Any other choice would be illogical and – I even dare to say – unethical. This is why the whole discussion doesn’t matter. There are no prizes for predicting the weather forecast, the only wise thing we can do is bring an umbrella just in case it might rain.

It might be easier not to anything and to rely on the 50% chance you have – to gamble – that all will be well or the ‘issues’ will be solved by others. It will be much more effective to do that (one little) thing you can do.

But what can one do? That, of course, is depending on where you are and what position in society you are in. But that you can do something is for sure. I will not give a list of tips here, you can find many on the internet. And it doesn’t need to be big, as long as it comes from certain awareness. Some decide to eat less meat, others not to let the tap running while brushing their teeth. Some decide to reduce their consumption and to buy less in the store (how many pair of shoes can you wear at the same time and how many do you need?) others decide to buy organic. A ‘tipping point’ can only be reached by a group of many, all doing a small thing.

No transformation has ever started from the top by those in ruling positions; it has always come from ordinary people like you and me doing simple or extraordinary things. Governments search for new ways of governance because citizens pressure them to; companies invest in ‘greener’ and ‘more sustainable’ products and in ‘fair trade’ because consumers pressure them to. You are that citizen, you are that consumer, and you have that capacity for change.

In this context, leadership isn’t about position or power. Leadership is to take lead by example, to take responsibility by action. Words don’t count and talking about climate change doesn’t do us well. Let’s do something!

Posted in Business, Climate & Climate Change, leap into life, politics, sharing economy, Social Entrepreneurship, Spiral Dynamics integral, Theory U | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leap into Life – Deel Economie en Projecten 2017/2018

Stichting Leap into LifeConcept logo Stichting Leap into Life Nederland

Stichting Leap into Life zet zich in voor een Deel Economie. Delen is een principe dat in traditioneel Afrika meer gebruikelijk is dan in moderne Westerse samenlevingen. Wij werken met klassieke waarden van de Dagomba stam in noord Ghana én met moderne, holistische principes voor samenwerken en bedrijfsvoering.

In Ghana werken we met vrouwen en boeren die in extreme armoede leven. In plaats hen te leren hoe ze anders moeten omgaan met geld en hun traditionele waarden, ondersteunen we ondernemerschap dat de Dagomba traditie van delen en gemeenschap versterkt. We brengen waardigheid en welvaart vanuit traditie. Momenteel Werken we aan twee projecten; “Buy a Brick” en “Share with a Sister”.

Een deeleconomie vraagt van mensen de bereidheid om te leren en het vermogen om het aangeleerde los te durven laten. In Nederland vertalen we onze ervaringen in Ghana door op een eigen, specifieke manier samen te werken met onze partners en donateurs. Daarnaast delen we de ervaringen en principes van onze deeleconomie – het business model – via lezingen, coaching en training.

Buy a Brick

IMG_3694Dagomba vrouwen leren al generaties lang om Sheaboter te maken. Sheaboter is een basis ingrediënt dat in cosmetishce crèmes zit en in chocolade. Wij werken met Dipaliya Womens’ Association, een groep van 1.000 vrouwen die ambachtelijke Sheaboter maken. Dankzij dit werk hebben de vrouwen economische zelfstandigheid en eten voor hun gezin. We hebben een aantal investeringen kunnen doen die het inkomen van de vrouwen verviervoudigd heeft.

IMG_3491Op dit moment bouwen we een Sheaboter centrum in Sakuba. Het gebouw is nog niet af en we komen geld tekort om de bouw af te ronden. Met een eigen gebouw kunnen we het netto inkomen van de vrouwen nog eens vergroten. Minstens zo belangrijk is dat we met een eigen centrum veel effectiever de gemeenschap bijeen kunnen brengen voor overleg en opleiding.
Voor € 2,– kan je een baksteen kopen. Deze wordt ook lokaal gemaakt. Met jouw bijdrage help je ons niet alleen om het centrum af te bouwen; je geeft enkele gezinnen de gelegenheid om inkomen te verdienen met werk dat ten goede komt aan de hele gemeenschap.

Share with a Sister

Woba 02
Dagomba hebben een traditie als akkerbouwers en veehouders. De relatie met het land is belangrijk; Dagomba geloven traditioneel niet in bezit van land, maar in beheer van land voor de volgende generaties. Een traditionele Dagomba chief is geen eigenaar van het land, maar beheerder namens de gemeenschap.

Mede als gevolg van Westerse invloeden zijn veel landbouw projecten gebaseerd op het gebruik van chemicaliën. Boeren wordt geleerd om met kunstmest en chemicaliën te werken. Resistente zaden moeten ze kopen van een Westers bedrijf. Het zorgt voor oogsten die weinig inspanning vragen van de boer, maar het land wél uitput. Ieder jaar neemt de vruchtbaarheid van het land af.

Wij hebben een organic seedbank opgezet met lokale zaden en zijn een landbouw project gestart waarin we boeren leren om lokale, natuurlijke pesticiden en in Ghana geproduceerde, biologische mest te gebruiken. Zo brengen we traditionele kennis terug in de gemeenschap en leren we boeren om het land te verzorgen met oog voor de volgende generaties.

IMG_3711

Voor jouw donatie van € 250,– krijgt een Dagomba vrouw in Ghana een stuk land, oorspronkelijke zaden, biologische mest en biologische pesticiden. Haar wordt geleerd hoe deze te gebruiken en de opbrengst van het land is voor haar. Jouw donatie is éénmalig, het gebruik van het land door de vrouw die je hiermee steunt is voor langere tijd. Zij kan daarmee haar gezin voeden of de oogst verkopen op de lokale markt.

We registreren het land en de gebruikers; jij ontvangt een certificaat met daarop de gegevens van de vrouw die van jouw geld een eigen bestaan kan opbouwen en de GPS coördinaten van het land dat met jouw bijdrage aan haar is gegeven.

Alain Volz

https://www.facebook.com/LeapIntoLife/

 

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Leap into Life – a new business model for a Sharing Economy

Based on traditional values of the Dagomba tribe in Ghana Northern Region and 21st century Holistic principles we are developing a Sharing Economy called Leap into Life. The last 2 years we have been working from grass root level in Ghana and The Netherlands on the design of an informal economy where people and planet are more important than profit.

Key principles Leap into Life Business Model

The Leap into Life Sharing Economy is to preserve traditional values in Ghana by creating life conditions for a flourishing local economy; to create resilient communities. In Ghana we have been working with a Cooperative called Dipaliya Womens’ Association to create an informal economy where 1.000 women at the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ benefit from. The Social Economy System in Ghana is based on the family sharing tradition of the Dagomba tribe.

Dagomba family sharing - informal economy

With Dipaliya Womens’ Association and members of the local traditional Dagomba community we have started initiatives to create a local economy based on traditional local principles that is resilient to grow into 21st century; we stimulate local entrepreneurship. Focus of our activities is in production of traditional handcrafted Sheabutter and in organic farming.

LiL - creating life conditions for local entrepreneurship

In the Netherlands we are applying the principles developed in Ghana by the way we collaborate and do business. We use other principles for economy and business than those common in Western society. Instead of doing trade only we share resources and money. We also provide in lectures and consulting/coaching in how to apply the principles of sharing in business. We do individual coaching and support teams to become more congruent and resilient with engaged team members. Payment is not always in money; it can also be done by sharing.

Concept logo Stichting Leap into Life Nederland

A foundation is setup in The Netherlands to catalyze Sharing Economy initiatives in The Netherlands and to strengthen the Sharing Economy in Ghana. The purpose in The Netherlands is to help create more engaged communities.

LiL - towards engaged and resilient communities

In the Leap into Life Sharing Economy there IS actual money flowing round; we do not only share as an alternative for money. However we apply totally different principles for money and have completely different rules for cash-flow than those common in global economy. Money is shared. This is more common, but declining in African tradition. But for a Westerner this is a complete different mentality that needs to be ‘learned’. That is not about technology, but about consciousness and willingness.

Leap into Life - action learning and sense making

We have developed purpose and principles of our Sharing Economy by using Chaordic Design (Dee Hock), Spiral Dynamics integral (Dr. Don Beck) and Theory U (Otto Scharmer/Peter Senge). Some key elements in the Leap into Life Sharing Economy are:

  • WE is more important than ME
  • Employment is more important than efficiency
  • Prosperity is more important than profit
  • People are more important than money
  • Planet is more important than wealth
  • Abundance is there but the divide is not fair.

LiL - Key principles for a Sharing Economy

Though we work on a local scale in Ghana and The Netherlands, we are bending and changing the rules for economy and business on a larger scale. Actually by working on grass root level in both countries and by working bottom up we are very effective to reduce the pain of global issues as global warming; poverty and migration; and exclusion by social and economic divide.

Dynamics and effects of Global Economy

Alain Volz

Social Economy Entrepreneur – Leap into Life Foundation
https://www.facebook.com/LeapIntoLife/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/alainvolz/

Posted in Africa, Business, Dagomba tribe, leap into life, meshworks, sharing economy, Social Entrepreneurship, Spiral Dynamics integral, Theory U | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

7 Vragen voor de Nederlandse samenleving

Over ongeveer 2 maanden zijn er verkiezingen voor de Tweede Kamer. Voor mezelf heb ik 7 vragen opgesteld die ik belangrijk vind voor Nederland. Ik deel ze graag. 
Een oplettende lezer herkent de kleurcodes van Spiral Dynamics:
1. Wat verbind ons als natie en in historie? 

– Hoe is Nederland ontstaan, wat is onze verbinding met het land waarop we staan, en welke waarden zijn in de loop der eeuwen daaruit voortgekomen?

2. Wat wordt gevraagd van iemand die hier woont? 

– Hoe hebben mensen ons land opgebouwd, wat is de rol daarin geweest van migranten en nieuwe groepen?

– Wat moet iemand nu doen (en laten) om een bijdrage te leveren aan de welvaart en het welzijn van Nederland?

– Welk gedrag kan wél en wat kan níet? Wat dwingt respect en gezag af in onze samenleving? 
3. Wat zijn de belangrijkste regels waar iedereen zich aan dient te houden? 

– Hoe maken we afspraken, waarover, hoe zien we toe op naleving daarvan, en hoe sanctioneren wij? 

– Wat zijn de pijlers van onze samenleving in termen van bestuur en recht; welke instanties zijn daarin bepalend, met welke rol? 
4. Welke mogelijkheden bieden wij aan inwoners om succesvol te zijn in de samenleving? 

– Hoe zorgen we er voor dat mensen bijdragen aan de samenleving; wat maakt iemand succesvol? 

– Wat vraagt de samenleving van mensen van verschillende achtergrond en/of verschillend opleidingsniveau en welke kansen wordt hen geboden?
5. Hoe zorgen we voor een goede balans tussen welvaart en welzijn? 

– Hoe zorgen we voor een eerlijke verdeling van de welvaart; op grond van welke criteria? 

– Hoe gaan we met elkaar om als buren, hoe gaan we om met de ‘zwakkeren’ in de samenleving, hoe zorgen we dat de stem van de minderheid gehoord blijft en hoe vangen we mensen op die buiten de samenleving dreigen te vallen?
6. Hoe zorgen we ervoor dat de diversiteit die Nederland kent tot haar recht komt in beleid dat ten gunste is van de samenleving als geheel, zonder mensen of groepen uit te sluiten? 

– Welke processen, procedures, netwerken en relaties zijn cruciaal voor de samenleving als geheel; hoe daar sturing in te geven in onzekere tijd?

– Welke subculturen kent Nederland, wat kenmerkt hen, en hoe zijn hun onderlinge verhoudingen? Hoe gaan eigen identiteit en eenheid samen? 
7. Hoe doen we dit als speler in een internationaal krachtenveld waar Nederland sterk mee verbonden is? 

– Welke unieke kwaliteiten heeft Nederland als Natie, wie zijn onze belangrijkste medestanders, en waar liggen onze mogelijkheden; hoe komt dat tot uiting in beleid/functies, resultaten, en internationale rankings?

– Welke rol wordt van Nederland gevraagd door de wereld/aarde, de internationale handel en de geopolitiek; hoe komt dat tot uiting in beleid/functies, resultaten, en internationale rankings?

  

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