Last week, on December 4 and 5, around 300 management educators (deans, directors, professors) met in the UN Headquarters in New York, for the First Global Forum for Responsible Management Education (PRiME). The principles themselves have been drafted by an Academic Task Force and handed to the Secretary General of the UN on the Global Compact Summit in July 2007 in Geneva.
This Forum, amongst others, was a continuation of an ongoing discussion amongst academics, on how the Global Compact Principles, already translated in the PRiME Principles, apply in Management Education. There were workgroups on Research, New Learning Methodologies, How to start, etc. I had the pleasure to present the results of the workgroup on New Learning Methodologies and I am happy to share with you the findings/suggestions.
It was nice to be in a gathering of people that do feel that they have actively contributed to the economic and financial mess in which we are, due to what we teach management graduates. Moreover, they do commit to try and make a difference. It will be a difficult task, certainly if we see how in the press we already seem to pass again to "business as usual" (as far as we can for the moment). Some unethical behavior, yes, but the basics are OK.
The Global Forum (and in particular the new learning methodologies group) felt that sustainable principles in management should address a number of domains: the spiritual one, the biosphere, the social domain, the economic domain and the material domain (materials, energy). By preference all together, not just one of them. We felt there was a tremendous need for systemic understanding of and approaches to management, and this was broadly shared throughout the Global Forum. More hands on, more of the dirty work, more of development of the self. Consistent with the demand for a sytemic approach to a new paradigm of the firm, current and future managers need to learn new competencies. And yes, it was suggested that we stopped giving mixed signals. One cannot serve only the shareholder, hoping that this is the best for all stakeholders.
On my return, and probably equally important (if not more), my friend Ezanne gave me an interesting web-link. Go down to the song "Humming Bird" (by Daheen) and just listen to it. In essence it says the following. It does not help to go to the UN. As long as you don't dig a hole, plant a tree, give it water, nothing is changing; it is all talking. But if we all gave the best we had, nothing more, we could really make a change.