It had been long in the making.

It would be clay, Viktor said.

perfect for designing our new home, because

we should go away.

 

Away from the hectic, into the quiet.

so clear about our next destination, out there

my love.

 

The city, its culture, its cafés, its clashes,

duality - the hymn

I love.

 

Viktor said

enough was enough

he would take up flying, like an eagle.

 

I said

we are needed here, disruptors

work the transformation, wait.

 

There are 17 SDGs

sustainable development goals, which

the power brokers agreed upon

 

Water, energy, poverty goals,

education, gender equality, climate action,

can’t tackle one without the other

 

It’s all a system

we need systems change

take a systemic approach

 

2025 is looming

2025 is dooming

 

I agreed,

to take the chance

go off the grid

 

We had been long in the making

 

2013 Amsterdam, Dam Square, climate protests.

people holding mikes, shouting

‘There is no planet B!’

 

On my way to a restaurant

meeting colleagues

caught in the middle of the climate crowds.

 

and

 

Viktor

dark brown hair, tiny ponytail, dark glasses

tight jeans, T-shirt, All Stars

 

colliding with

 

me

 

long blond hair, big ear rings,

little black dress, stiletto’s

paralysed

 

by

 

Viktor

 

who had taken my hand

big eyes, raised eyebrows, grins, fellow protesters

I melted into the march

 

my transition had begun

 

I left my banker

resigned from Obyx Consultants

joined Fashion Transition

 

It had been long in the making

 

Viktor would walk. Deep dive nature hiking

forest bathing

he’d go all environmental, ecological.

 

I would dance. Dance like I had never danced before.

dance like a dervish.

I’d go all Sufi, hippie, witchy.

 

Three weeks ago I drove my Toyota Prius for the last time

bought a mushroom dress

had lunch in the Oxo Tower

 

I had been long in the making.

 

PURPOSE – FINDING YOUR MORAL COMPASS?

Could you be the ethics officer or corporate philosopher of your organisation?

Laila Pawlak of SingularityU suggests those roles could be the jobs of the future. A future, that is, in which we put sustainability at the centre of everything we do, making the sustainable development goals (SDGs) our most important ‘to do list’.

Laila was one of the keynote speaker at last week’s European Communication Summit in Berlin. Her address was part of a noticeable common thread, in which purpose played a central role. It was inspiring to see that what was once the domain of civil society now seems to be the common narrative of the business world. And can it indeed be that the communications function is driving the much needed change in the world? Are the CCOs indeed the ones who are posing the awkward questions that so urgently need to be answered?

Pursuing transformation in the face of information overload

Sitting among the Summit audience, something nagged me about parts of the conversation. The phrase ‘purposeful capitalism’, for example - isn’t that an oxymoron? Sure, there are areas for ‘win-win’, combining business success and purposeful societal contribution, but isn’t that all a bit too incremental? If we want to meet the dream that Greta Thunberg is pursuing and prevent her becoming just another poster child, then we need to pursue transformation. That means moving from words to action: to reference Laila Pawlak, “having great organisational transformation ideas is not enough. You need to tackle the immune system of the organisation, which will fight you every step of the way.”

What makes the quest for purpose even more challenging (and possibly more feasible, as well), is the fact we are living in a digital age in which information overload is such that the media can be described as a ‘weapon of mass distraction’. There could not be a clearer indication that the traditional communications function needs to evolve. In his opening keynote, Dr. Rand Waltzman suggested mass disinformation is here to stay as a chronic illness; several other speakers referenced the exponential rate of change we’re living through. Therefore, we need to build resilience. What would that resilience look like?

Basing leadership on a deeper wisdom

Throughout the Summit, different solutions were put forward: for example, in the first of several Summit panels, HSBC’s Pierre Goad called for a more critical relationship to the social media giants, and for a commitment to pay for traditional media. A less obvious contribution to creating sustainable progress lies at a deeper level: EgonZehnder’s 
Gizem Weggemans 
referenced the four pillars that will determine the true communications leader: curiosity, insight, engagement and determination.

Listening carefully to what was suggested by some of the presenters takes us even deeper and beyond communications, as it applies to overall leadership. It was framed differently by the various speakers: “sensing” (Gizem Weggemans), “mindful walking” (Mounira Latrache), “rehumanising” (Laila Pawlak). It is all to do with searching our deeper wisdom. Transitioning towards a purposeful world will only happen when we acknowledge the existence of this wisdom and work with it. Taking time to create time and reflecting to improve our work. Isn’t purpose really about finding one’s moral compass? And could it be that the only way for organisations to prosper in a true purpose-driven way – beyond short term goals and profit, taking future generations and Mother Earth into consideration – is to stimulate their employees to find their own moral compass and to join together in the journey of sustainability?

One of the remarkable things about the EACD community is the fact that it is always pushing the boundaries, always searching for ways of doing things better, challenging themselves. That is what I truly love. I see a huge opportunity – dare I say responsibility – for the communications function to be the one that drives an organisation forward, to a purpose-driven one. Nothing is stopping us: as OECD’s Anthony Gooch put it so eloquently at the Summit: “nobody has the monopoly on doing the right thing”.

This (slightly different) post was also published on the EACD web site:
https://www.eacd-online.eu/insights/blog/purpose-finding-your-moral-compass-eacdspirit

Borders, listening and fiction

Change is the new constant. Was that ever different? In his book "Thank you for being late" New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman describes that the speed of technological change, globalisation of the market, climate change and loss of biodiversity all have a huge impact on the way we work, live, on politics and ethics. He proposes to ‘pause in stride’. A worthy advice in these fast times.

We all move at a pace that appears faster than ever. Though the digital reality has seemingly created enormous possibilities, it has also generated a belief for nonstop reaction. We are more connected than ever, yet at the same time seem further apart from one another: striking contact but no real connection. People seem to have less trust and fear of the unknown is growing.

READ MORE ON LINKEDIN

Initiation Into Deep Democracy

We all know what it can feel like when our vote does not land with the majority, when our proposal is not backed or when our choice cannot see the light of day, even if all of this was dealt with democratically. It is painful. We react in different ways: we may give in, we surrender, we might joke or moan. Worse, we may become angry, we may start to sabotage, organise strikes and, in the worst situation, our (re) actions might lead to fights, to war.

READ MORE ON LINKEDIN

Video: The Three As of Communications

The world of communications has dramatically changed over the years. We are globally and totally connected, everyone can be a medium, we can send, share, comment, like and dislike... In this video, I imagine a connected world, where authenticity is what we strive for. In everything we do we take the two fundamental audiences -- Mother Earth and future generations -- into consideration and in which we all have the audacity to do the right thing. In that world transparency is a given, spinning something of the past, advertising happens for things we truly need and mutual respect is the overall mantra.

Video: Communicating In a Post-Truth World

In this video, I shared my take on the challenges of communicating online in a world that has been described as 'post-truth'. This was filmed at a gathering of EACD members and peers to discuss recent political developments and the effects (social) media dynamics have on political discourse. The European Association of Communication Directors (EACD) is the European network of in-house communications leaders: find out more at www.eacd-online.eu.

Video: On Insight-Driven Communications

As a consequence of various societal changes, the landscape of our profession is changing rapidly. How prepared are we to adapt to these developments? Are we challenged to redefine the purpose of our function?

In this video, I discussed these and other questions. This interview was filmed at the European Communication Summit 2015, held in Brussels on June 25 and 26, 2015. The Summit is the largest gathering of in-house communication professionals in Europe, and is organised by the European Association of Communication Directors (EACD: www.eacd-online.eu) and Communication Director magazine (www.communication-director.com).