Sustainability Leadership for the 21st Century

A project between Business, Local Government and the National Centre for Sustainability at Federation University Australia to transform the way leaders make decisions.

These articles by Michael McAllum are designed to help you make better leadership decisions in the 21st century. The ideas and practices we built our success on in the 20th century are obsolete and we find ourselves in new territory without a reliable map. With an abundance of information and advice available our challenge is to recognise what is relevant and why. These articles will prompt you to integrate new ways of thinking and acting in order to generate new narratives that transform the social and economic framework of your organisation.

Pre-Workshop Reading

There are 10 key articles by Mike McAllum. Please take the time to review them prior to coming to the training.

Three New Articles

1. Why we are at the start of a third industrial revolution

It is happening in Europe and China. It is at the cutting edge. The logic is sound. Substantial energy and communication technology heralds rapid and dramatic transformation. The ideas and resources that underpinned current thinking and practices are at their limits. The shift from a mechanistic age to a collaborative age is happening now. Key platforms for energy, communications and economic revolution are here. Developments in these areas can be the impetus for significant investment opportunities or can leave behind those who fail to read the signs and take action.

Click here for full article: The Third Industrial Revolution (pdf, 301KB)

2. Understanding the nature of narratives

Not all narratives are equal. Narratives that transform have superior qualities that re-frame patterns of knowing and which prompt actions that move beyond BAU. This article outlines those qualities and demonstrates the imperative to create superior narratives for the 21st century.

Click here for full article: Superior Stories (pdf, 218KB)

3. From strategy to total design: 7 principles for a networked world

This article details 7 principles which provide guideposts for creating value with new ways of thinking and behaving in a networked world.

  • From sustainable competitive advantage to transient collaborative advantage
  • From knowledge economy to networked society and distributed capitalism
  • From economies of scale to economies of scope
  • From industries to missions
  • From strategic planning to systems design
  • From contractual to interpersonal relationships
  • From change management to reinvention and (rapid) evolution.

Click here for full article: A Future of Total Design (pdf, 238KB)

The Original Articles

1. Shifting Sands

This article outlines the cause for transformative change and articulates why transactional thinking will no longer do. It offers a model for consideration that shows a pathway from operating on 'business as usual' to being able to anticipate, design and integrate what is needed as the basis for future advantage - when the name of the game is doing more with less. It provides a potted history of the Agricultural, 1st and 2nd Industrial Revolutions and a summary of the Networked or 3rd Industrial Revolution.

Importantly, the article outlines seven possible steps to managing the shift: 1. Step beyond our current limits; 2. Create patterns of thinking; 3. Frame new business models; 4. Understand the new system; 5. Compose and design; 6. Integrate at speed; 7. Think acupuncture. The F2F workshop will focus on developing the capacity to implement the suggested steps.

Click here for full article: Shifting Sands (pdf, 453KB)

2. A World of Limits

Perhaps one of the most important lessons that emerged from the 2008 economic crash was the realisation that our global society was now confronting a series of limits or cliffs. While prediction of exactly what might happen is always fraught with difficulty, the cumulative effect of these is hard to deny. They can perhaps be summed up as economic limits, energy limits and environmental limits. Each in its own way will trigger a re-think in what we do and how we behave.

Click here for full article: A World of Limits (pdf, 713KB)

3. Patterns - Create New Patterns of Thinking

According to the IBM Global Study 2013, Making Change Work, only 34% of corporate change programs were considered successful. The main reasons for their limited success were – the inability to change mindsets – 58% of participants; the lack of attention to changing organisational culture – 49%; and the recipients' underestimation and lack of understanding of the complexity of the changes required – 35%.In our rapidly changing landscape the ability to look from a different perspective and change the prevailing mental models is paramount.

Article 3 reminds us that the future will not be a linear extension of today, but will be a product of many facets and ideas. To navigate successfully we have to think differently, because it is a place that none of us have been to. The article describes the process of foresight. When we can stand in the future from a difference perspective we can begin to see the weak signs of the future that are already present. This enables different conversations and exciting perspectives. Using foresight can open up new possibilities for the way local government plans for the future. You will do a foresight process in the F2F workshop.

Click here for full article: Create New Patterns of Thinking (pdf, 829kb)

4. Ladies' Home Journal 1911

Yes they were making future predictions in 1911. It's an interesting read with some surprisingly close results. They must have had some foresight!

Click here for full article: Ladies Home Journal 1911 (pdf, 1,357kb)

5. Changing form and shape V2

This article focuses on how the coming distributed society changes form and space. There are five important features that underpin this shift:

  1. The shift from mechanistic and centralised thinking to distributed and networked based thinking – new technologies are changing everything;
  2. Organisation form changes – internet is the dominant technology and the cost of information transfer is close to zero;
  3. Shift from supply side power to demand driven thinking and consumption – where consumers run the show;
  4. The future of competition – it is about collaboration;
  5. How we create value using far fewer resources to deliver value is being used in many fields to undermine traditional offerings

Click here for full article: How the coming distributed society changes form and space (pdf, 727kb)

6. Design considerations for sustainable leadership and Local Government in a distributed and networked world

This article outlines five design principles to help frame thinking and sustainable leadership in a networked world:

  1. See the whole system first, not just the parts
  2. Understand form and shape – focus outwardly on distributed nodes of activity
  3. Design everything from the consumer/client/citizen backwards – don't get caught up in economies of scale
  4. Learn from Biomimicry – learn from nature. See also Janine Benyus
  5. Do more with less – Factor 4 by 2020 and Factor 10 by 2030.

Click here for full article: Design considerations for sustainable decision making and Local Government in a distributed and networked world (pdf, 427kb)

7. Local Government Rethought

This article describes how we can Use Technology to Deliver More with Less delivering services using network technologies. It describes what the technologies are and it identifies some of the key areas where action might be taken. These technologies require a new literacy and new conversation among Councillors and senior managers.

Four technologies that will reframe everything – how and where people participate, socio-economic activity, shape and design of planning governance and oversight frameworks

  • Location based services
  • Mobile devices
  • Cloud based computing
  • Increased bandwidth

Click here for full article: Using Technology to Delivery More for Less (pdf, 2,039kb)

Great outcomes in designing and planning for the 21st Century meet the test of three interrelated questions; resilience, adaptability and future focus. Advantage will go to those who embrace the new technological opportunities and those who share information.

For further reading click on: Driving Sustainable Change Through Unravelling the Onion (pdf, 301KB)