Sunday, September 19, 2010

Forward Focused Thinking and CSR

I was struck by a recent article by Aman Singh that referenced the multi-modal skill set that today’s CSR manager must have. They must be focused on diversity, HR, communications, stakeholder engagement and to an extent, reputation management. The ability to manage a complex and shifting agenda often creates such large and varied challenges that the manager has to shift into firefighter mode, dousing the flames of a crisis before they get too big. This broad approach focuses on “after-the-fact” interventions rather than future oriented, planful and systemic thinking required by corporate leaders.

A study conducted by Ashbridge Business School in the UK and reported to the European Academy of Business in Society, indicates several interesting factors that can assist an organization be truly responsible. First, the study lays out the need for the need for integration of social and environmental issues in to the day-to-day decision making processes. While corporate culture can play a role in this, the study goes further and outlines five competencies or “reflexive abilities” of leaders which they believe can be taught and developed.

1. Systemic thinking
2. Embracing diversity and managing risk
3. Balancing global and local perspectives
4. Meaningful dialogue and developing a new language
5. Emotional awareness

An excerpt from the reports states that competencies “…describe the more fundamental features of an individual’s character and personality. Giving people the opportunity to question, explore and make meaning of the values and assumptions that inform their decision-making process requires a carefully structured process of analysis and reflection”

A second recommendation suggests that such learning has to be taken out of the classroom and should be the product of experiential learning, exposing people to a new experience and then allowing them the opportunity to reflect and adjust their behavior and thinking.

Finally, through cultural diversity and respect it is essential that the participant rid themselves (as best they can) of their cultural bias of their Anglo-American lens and the associated notions of “I have the solution” and replace this with an openness to understanding not only different ways of functioning but expanding their view of how businesses can be operated.

These competencies are a departure from the traditional content heavy emphasis of most MBA programs as they focus on process, discovery, and insight; and focus instead on the creation of leadership leading to transformative change. Managing the list of portfolios previously outlined is a big ask, so why don’t we focus on the creation of leaders who can convey the fundamental competencies outlined above, and who have character and personality that aligns with their mission?

Do organizations increasingly care less about what you know and more about problems are solved and information processed?

Are these the right competencies?

Which schools or programs are promoting this kind of thinking? – Let us know.

The Acacia Group provides services to organizations who are serious about growing their CSR and who recognize that leadership development is the lever to their success. For more information contact , call 1-877-313-8822 or join us at the end of November on our next international residency in Guatemala.

No comments:

Post a Comment