POC21, a unique ‘proof of concept’

Co-living, co-working, co-creating innovations for climate change for an open source economy.

POC21 is an international innovation community, that started as an innovation camp. The camp brought together 100+ makers, designers, engineers, scientists and geeks. Late summer 2015, they have joined forces in a stunning french castle to prototype the fossil free, zero waste society. The ultimate goal was to overcome the destructive consumer culture and make open-source, sustainable products the new normal. Over the course of 5 weeks they developed 12 sustainable lifestyle technologies and built an international community of innovators and supporters, that continues to grow.”

Here is a documentary about the 5 week camp:  Docu POC21

I really believe we need more gatherings and spaces like this. It was very powerfull!

This is a video they created about week 3:

I let the pictures below tell the story  of my visit to the POC21 camp in August. Simply brilliant how they organised the camp and the harvest/communication.

And at the bottom you find a blogpost of Ole Seidenberg, written during the second week.

IMG_4522 IMG_4536 IMG_4543 IMG_2021 IMG_2023 IMG_2024 IMG_2028 IMG_2029 IMG_2035 IMG_2040 IMG_2050 IMG_4578 IMG_4590 IMG_2075 IMG_2081

FROM EGO TO ECO by Ole Seidenberg

HOW TO CO-SURVIVE AS HUMANS

Outside of our castle walls, the murder of refugees at European borders is continuing and in Germany the Nazis are back on the streets. Supporter Ole Seidenberg has visited us for one week and tries to connect this madness with the solutions build at POC21, seeing it as a disproof of „homo homini lupus“, the concept that man is wolf to man.

71 dead refugees in a truck. It took the death of 71 human beings, found on an Austrian highway, to finally realize that we cannot stop a crisis of humanity by closing our borders, our eyes and thus our hearts.

It might seem insensitive to bring up our current inability to welcome refugees in Europe to explain what I have experienced at a so called „innovation camp“ in a French Castle, obviously far away from what is happening elsewhere.

We might be co-living in Millemont with 100 people, we might have felt certain cultural differences among the participants. And we might have been overwhelmed with organizing both the two washing machines, the limited number of mattresses and the beer supply in a coherent manner. All of which is certainly ridiculously insignificant given that we are living in the luxurious environment of an ancient castle, packed with high tech machines and highly educated minds that enable us to build whatever we envision.

Yet, there is an underlying pattern that both the mission of POC21 and the refugee crisis have in common: We cannot cut the cycle of responsibility by turning the other way once the backlash of our in/action is visible. If we want to tackle our current challenges in human co-living on planet earth, we need to generate a common understanding of the roots of our behavior and stop wasting too much energy on handling or ignoring the symptoms.

It might be difficult to see the connection between an electric cargo-bike (Velo M2) or a solar-driven generator (Sunzilla) and the riots against new neighbors happening in Heidenau (Germany) and other places across Europe. But these stories that seem far away from each other are rather interconnected – and seeing this connection is important to understand what POC21 was actually set out to achieve.

When we listend to Julie from the MIT U.Lab one chilled Sunday afternoon explaining the „Theory U“ to us, she underpinned our current societal disconnect with the following example: In the Netherlands, there are so many drugs in the groundwater that purification plants are already unable to make clean drinking water available. To develop them in a way that would take out the leftover chemicals, enzymes, hormones etc. would cost billions and many years to implement. So when working with her clients, Julie explored the reasons and root-causes rather than working on the symptoms. She and her team interviewed those taking the medication and those giving the prescriptions. As a matter of fact, we take in 70% of all the drugs we ever take in the last 7 years of our lives. And that´s because of all the side effects we try to suppress with even more drugs. We do so, because we were socially trained to think we must live as long as possible. And feeling sick for a day or two is something we need to prevent from happening. We want to be in control. Yet, we lose the most the more we try to win.

Since that afternoon, I consider this story as a metaphor for many of our current disconnects. We try to optimize ourselves and try to gain as much as possible for our current state-of-ego. Whether we try to prevent ourselves from being sick, whether we try to keep „the others“ out of „our country“, whether we try to patent and protect „intellectual property“ rather than sharing solutions to problems that we all suffer from, whether we try to plan obsolescences in our products or stick to fossil sources of energy: All these behaviors prevent the greater common good in order to keep the current state-of-ego alive.

POC21_HomoHominiLupus-11

While living at POC21 for roughly one week, it took me a couple of days to realize that this social experiment is not just about makers building machines. It is about a place packed with humans trying to overcome their socially constructed short-sightedness that most of us are taught when going to business-school, building a start-up or acting as a price – rather than impact -sensitive consumer in the given market-based society. POC21 is about the ability to see the greater common good in the products and solutions we are building. It is a disproof of the concept of „homo homini lupus“ (man is a wolf to man). It is, after all, a journey to reformat our common mindset.

But there is certainly a long journey ahead. One week into the camp, 220 Gigabyte out of the 400 GB of satellite-based Internet traffic had been consumed in spite of more than one appeal to be conscious about our „streaming behaviour“. Hundreds of eggs from caged chicken appeared in the kitchen, 3D-printers were used for random stuff and and it took a while until each camp participant fully understood, that if they do not show up to their working shifts, there will simply be not enough food to eat and the buckets of the compost toilets will overspill.

Moreover, at this early stage, the successful development of the 12 camp projects is still open: Realizing the foot-print of all the materials needed to actually build your vision and speculating about the outcome of your invention to human behavior is for many projects still a question to be answered. On top, most need to find the right financial model to make a living out of their idea, in parallel to documenting their idea for open source use and adaption for a worldwide community.

On the other hand, I’ve experienced so many signs of what I’d like to call „eco-consciousness“. Mauricio, who is currently developing Fair Cap, an easy-to-use water filtration system, rebuilt my tent when he saw it being taken away by the strong winds. Gabriela jumped in when no one else felt responsible for cooking food one night for the other 99 people around. I’ve instantly felt connected to most of the other participants and never felt more comfortable with leaving my wallet and mobile phone somewhere in the hallways while using the shared shower outside – next to the wild boars in the woods, that kept an ongoing issue of interest among participants. And when Alana and Mix from Enspiral presented Loomio, an open source tool for distributed decision-making, it gave me goose-bumps to realize how much that little tool represented the way I would like to interact with others.

Going down that path is – I think – probably the only way to the eco-consciousness we all need to co-survive and co-enjoy our shared creativity and humanness rather than hiding from it, leaving lonesome creatures on both sides of the wall.

I wish POC21 and all its inhabitants the patience they’ll need to make that path by walking.

 

Frozen Figs with Hot Chocolate

Is there a more appropriate title for a circle of women?

It is defenitely the most divine dessert on the planet: picking fresh figs from the trees on the Island Andros (Greece), putting them in the freezer and then pouring hot chocolate on top of them.

Ria and I were in Paleopolis, visiting Luea, for a week. A week of deep conversation, swimming, divine desserts and hundreds of pictures of the constantly changing Aegean.

The 3 of us have been meeting occassionaly for over a year, for lunch or on skype. Every time we touched upon great themes and questions and feeling the wish to deepen this conversation during a longer period.

So we decided to spend a week together on Andros.

We started with an empty paper with 3 post-its, each holding a word that came up in every conversation we had had so far: entrepreneurship, impact and consciousness.  Every day we sat in circle and explored all the dimensions and layers of the field connecting those 3 words.

It was amazing! and the beginning of something that is unfolding slowly.

IMG_4293

2015-08-17 12.44.46IMG_4296IMG_4416 vrouw in zeeIMG_4482 olijfboom

Voices for the Earth @ Schumacher, with Charles Eisenstein and Polly Higgings

The last 2 weeks of May, I was at Schumacher College attending a course “Voices for the Earth”.

I’ve heard a lot about Schumacher College and was scanning their programs once in a while, waiting for the right moment to visit this remarkable place. The title “voices for the earth” sounded great and when I saw that this program was offered by Charles Eisenstein and Polly Higgings, I almost immediately registered. What a unique opportunity!!

It’s difficult to capture into words what I “learned” during those 2 weeks, because it was not about new “knowledge”. It was a deep dive into ourselves and into the new story that is unfolding or I should say, the new story that is becoming visible to us, if we dare to see it and live it.  And this story is actually not New, it’s very Ancient. But the era of Separation made us forget it, we were on on another learning journey as humanity. Luckily, as Charles points out in his last book, there are 3 seeds that help us remember: indiginous cultures, stories/myths/legends and the lineage of wisdom traditions like Sufism, Kabbalah, Taoïsts, Christian mystics…. It’s not lost, just forgotten.

How do we invite ourselves and others into this new story? Not by blaming and shaming. By sharing stories about what’s possible, and even more by creating possibilities to experience the new story. By becoming storycatchers, storycarriers and storytellers, true to our inner compass.

The gifts for me are clarity, courage, knowing, relationship, faith, purpose….

Another seed that was planted in me, is Polly’s work with the law on Ecocide. This is huge! It would reframe our society on the deeper level of values and beliefs. If I try to sense into the consequences of this law coming into being, I can imagine how this will affect many of the challenges we’re facing today, by redirecting attention and intention. It would redirect what we believe is valuable, and with that what we- as a society- would invest in, attentionwise and moneywise. Polly compares this law with the law that abolished slavery, which also generated a paradigm shift into our values and into our beliefs about being human. “All humans are equal”. Of course a law can’t solve everything, but it redirects attention, it creates the start of a long process. Even slavery still exists in our world.

The law on Ecocide does take our awareness even further than “all human beings are equal”, it says “all beings are equal” and the universe, nature, is as alive and intelligent as human beings. Charles calls this the last stage of the Copernicus Revolution.

These two weeks were a gift, that will take it’s time to generate the next step into my own journey, but I “know” that it will.

17-51fc869e0d

 

2014-05-23 01.07.47 2014-05-23 12.10.24

Down the quantum-theory rabbit hole

I read the two books of Joseph Jaworski: Synchronicity & Source. Very accessible reading, thanks to Jaworski’s open style of expressing his life story and his beliefs.

His story took me on a journey through my past and present. I often put the books aside, to dig into my memories: How did that happen in my life? How do I handle that?

There are many similarities in the “seeking”, in the beliefs, in the dreams. And of course there is Theory U, that I use in my work, and that Jaworski co-created long time ago.

So his story was kind of a mirror for my own. And it offered me an immense clarity, on reality, on my life.

The highest recognition occurred when Jaworski spoke about his experience in Pari. Months before that gathering took place, I was in Pari to attend a course on New Science, given by David Peat. That’s where I was introduced into quantum theory and David Bohm’s ideas. A mind-blowing week. I remember that David Peat told us, that sometimes people’s mind effectively blow up because of these theories. That week I also read, David’s book “From certainty to uncertainty” and my journey into the ”new” paradigm started. A step down the rabbit hole, a step that cannot be undone. You can’t go back.

That’s when I experienced my own first shift in identity and perspective. The world was still the same and yet totally different.

At that time, David Peat was making the arrangements for the Bohm-gathering, that Jaworski attended and extensively described in his book “Source”. I remember asking David whether I could ‘pleeeease’ attend, even if it was only to pour coffee or sweep the floors . But there was no space in the room or the village. Oh, if only I could have been a fly during those conversations!!

In 2009 I attended a Pari Roundtable Dialogue on the New Economy. Amazing week! And an opening into a whole new chapter in my own life. This Roundtable lead to another week in London, where we all met again, for a Bohm conference and several meetings around the Pari Dialogues in the House of Lords.

Memories…….

All this “new” knowledge, these relationships and ideas were re-awakened by reading the book Source.

As if I discovered a new and deeper layer below all these “theories” that I know and deeply belief, but where are they in my daily life?

Do I dare to look at every little event and big decision from that worldview?

Do I dare to step with both feet in the river of “interconnectedness”?

Especially when things are difficult and times are turbulent & uncertain?

 

I intentionally invited myself to do so.

To live from that worldview of “interconnectedness” that requires a fundamental shift in our perspective on reality. A worldview that is based on principles like:

  • Everything is process and movement. All that is, is interconnected (“separation without separateness”) through a web of relationships.
  • The non-locality of human intentions (the impact of human intentions on physical reality)
  • “We do not describe what we see, we see what we describe.”
  • The reality that impacts us the most is the one we cannot perceive with our senses, and which we cannot describe in words.
  • Our destiny enrols itself according our destiny. (we need to change our relationship with the future, which we can create)

To live from that place of trust and surrendering, knowing that what will happen is what we each need, to reach our destiny. All we need to do is intentionally wait for the chances to occur.

Only if I can make that shift in my entire being, I will be able to weave Bohm’s ideas about the transformative powers of dialogue into the my work with the U-process.

Indulge in spitfire “thinking”: Prototyping for the future

Linda Mitchell introduced me to an interesting concept: spitfire thinking.

It’s the metaphore that speaks to me, although the “story” around the Spitfire is one of war: The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War.

The story goes like this:

During the second world war, a couple of engineers, started developing a concept for a new kind of plane, based on a need they perceived. In the beginning they didn’t find any allies or interested partners. They were “busy” and didn’t see the need to develop a new type of plane at that moment. But the team continued with their research and development.

As the war continued, a sudden need rose for that plane, it’s uniqueness was recognised. And…it was realised in a very short time, since everything was prepared and prototyped.

Linda’s metaphore was:  Many of us are indulged in spitfire thinking, in our work and in our lives: in our dialogue gatherings, changelabs, in the ventures & innovation processes we facilitate, through experiencing ‘living wholeness’, ….  Maybe we are prototyping things that we might/will need in 5 to 10 years time?

‘Things’ could be ourselves, new perspectives on the world and relationships but also products, processes, social entrepreneurship, ways of collaboration, capacity to hold complexity, ….

And when the moment comes, there will be those that will be -kind of- ready to act in an instant when that is required.

Mindfulness for our Leaders

Today I had lunch with an old friend, in London. I had a couple of hours in between flights from Brussels to Amman, and it was wonderful to spend that time having an inspiring conversation.

My friend told me something, that made me happy, so happy, that I’m still smiling about it today. I can’t really explain why. But I think it is because I see this story as a sparkle of light in these times.

Every day, we can see more and more of those sparkles, if we pay attention. Sparkles that tell me that consciousness is rising, that the awareness on awareness is spreading.

They are popping up around us, in the most surprising and unexpected places. I hear people saying things, I listen to organisations asking questions, I notice that institutions are organising processes, that I wouldn’t have considered to be possible 5 or 10 years ago!!

So here is my sparkle of today: My friend told me that Lord Richard Layard introduced a Mindfullness course, inviting all members of the Parliament and the House of Lords in the UK.

The invitation said:

Mindfulness. “Using Neuroscience to Develop Resilience and Manage Stress”: Rigorous experiments have shown that mindfulness training increases concentration, work performance, personal contentment and physical health. This has led to worldwide interest in using it not only in schools and healthcare systems, but also in businesses (e.g. Apple and Google).

30 peers, of the 1400 that were invited, responded positively and will attend.

Isn’t this amazing?  Make me happy and smile 🙂

WaterWorld

I co-facilitated an innovation process in Jordan, around the future of water.

I always like to immerse myself in the subject of the work, so I asked a friend who is a water-engineer, to give me an introduction into the world of water-management in The Netherlands: How does it work? What are the innovations? What are you worried about for the future? What are the key-issues in the West versus the Middle-East?

All this information left me feeling strongly connected to the theme, positively surprised by the innovations in this field but also deeply shocked about the urgency of the global situation.

On the one hand, there were these wonderful “did you know…?”-data, like

  • Did you know that the water that people in some of our cities drink is hundreds of year old, maybe even thousands, pumped up from deep levels in the soil?
  • Did you know that the introduction of sewerage systems in the 60’s extended our life expectancy with 20 years?
  • Did you know that long time ago, there was a profession in these regions, called “pee collectors”, they travelled from village to village, and asked people to pee in jars, which they sold to farmers as manure?
  • Did you know that our waste water is purified by millions of bacteria, that feed themselves on the waste, leaving the water clean again for re-use? It’s perfectly clean, but because of the human “Yuck-factor”, there is a whole process after that to give people idea that is clean and purified?
  • Did you know that dead fish in a polluted river don’t die of the pollution, but because of a lack of oxygen, due to the bacteria that use all the oxygen?
  • And so on…

 

But there were all these horrible “did you know…?”-data:

  • Did you know that water is “alive”, but that by the time it arrives in our houses, it is “dead”. A new innovation are water-vitalisers. My friend installed this and said that his children didn’t have a cold anymore since.
  • Did you know that there are rivers in The Netherlands were male fish are changing sex and become female or bi-sexual? Due to massive presence of hormones in our water. This will affect our fish-population in the coming era. Technologies exist to clear the water from these hormones, but it’s just too expensive to do so on a large scale. If the fish are impacted now, how will this impact our children and men?
  • Did you know that almost all cosmetics use micro-plastics in their products to make them feel soft? We can’t see them, but we also can’t filter them out of the water, so we all drink them? What is not consumed, ends up in the ocean creating Plastic-Islands as large as the state of Texas
  • Did you know that we urgently need to raise our awareness on our usage of water, through the upcoming concept of water-footprint? It takes 80 L of water to produce 1 L of beer in The Netherlands, and in the Middle-East it goes up to 200 L of water (the irrigation of the resources).
  • Did you know that if cities keep growing, which we all know will happen, there is going to be a huge problem of clean water?

 

Shouldn’t we all know this?

Water is something I -kind of- take for granted, in my house with full-option-plumbing.

East and West deal with different problems, when it comes to water, but insight number one was for me: it’s a global problem, asking for a collective response. The water cycle is the same everywhere in the world and water goes far beyond geographical borders.

Each of us must choose how we will approch the future.

The past 3 years, I was part of the facilitator-team of Pluk Ideas:

a social innovation & learning platform in the housingsector in The Netherlands. Participants stepped in, as a team of stakeholdes, with a complex societal challenge they were facing in their environment. With a lot of inspiration, on-the-edge knowledge of MIT & the coaching of Adam Kahane, we applied Theory U in 18 months-changelabs.

It was great work that offered me a lot a learning opportunities that I’m very grateful for:

  • We went to Boston for a 10-day, very intensive, Executive Education Program at the the Sloan  Management School (MIT).
  • Adam Kahane was the lead facilitator, and he offered us many stories about his work, all over the world.

 

pluk

At the last Pluk Innovation Festival (Sept 2012), Adam introduced his new book: “Transforming scenario planning”. (which I recorded entirely as you can see in the picture :-))

I read the book- with a bit of delay- this January. Adam starts his book with “This book is for people that have chosen to try to change the future and have realised that they cannot do so unilaterally. … This book is for those people, who are looking for a way to work together – not only with friends and colleagues but also with strangers and opponents- and so to be able to get unstuck and move forward and create change.”

Key message of the book (for me) about HOW to do that:

The revolution lies in changing how we look at things. Through tranforming our understandings, intentions, actions and relationships.

What I liked a lot is that Adam introduces a process for dialogue, not about what people predict WILL happen or what they believe SHOULD happen but only about what they think COULD happen.

The book offerend me many insights and stories, that I weave into my work.

 

The sentence that stayed with me the most is:

“Succeeding in the inner game of transformative planning requires dealing with a mystery, wrapped in a dilemma, inside a paradox.”

What a wonderful way to describe the work 🙂

 

The paradox

is that we move forward by pausing and stepping back. The capacity that that takes is suspending “taking our thoughts about our situation and hanging them in front of us, as if from a string.”

 

Inside the paradox is a dilemma

the dilemma is that we need to work with 2 apparently oppsed imperatives, 2 drives that are in permanent tension: power and love. Love is the drive to open up and connect to other ideas, actors and possibilities. Power is the drive realise one’s potential and to grow. We work with power and love by working with the parts and the whole.

 

Wrapped in this dilemma is a mystery

the mystery is that we cannot know the future, we can investigate it and influence it, but we cannot calculate it or control it. We can plan and must prepare but we cannot know the outcome of our efforts.

Ontmoeting met Johannes Witteveen

johannes

Eind december had ik de eer om Johannes Witteveen te ontmoeten, thuis in zijn studeer/mediteerkamer. De heer Witteveen was Minister van Financiën in Nederland in de jaren ’60 en Voorzitter van het IMF (Internationaal Monetair Fonds) in de jaren ’70. Maar dat is maar deels waarom ik hem graag wilde ontmoeten, Johannes Witteveen is ook Soefi Meester in het universeel Soefisme.

Toen ik over deze boeiende combinatie las in een interview, net voor de zomer, voelde ik de wens om hem te ontmoeten, om van hem te leren.

Ik heb behoefte aan de wijsheid en mildheid van een “Elder”. Dat mis ik sinds het overlijden van mijn grootmoeder.

In november woonde ik (samen met een collega die hem ook graag wilde ontmoeten) een interreligieuze dialoog bij, in de Soefi Tempel in Katwijk-aan-zee, en daar vroegen we of hij ons wilde ontmoeten.

Eind december kregen we een mooie gelegenheid.

Wat een inspirerend gesprek! Wat een mooie man!

“Het universeel soefisme is het streven naar harmonie, liefde en schoonheid, het is het leven vanuit het hart. Het centrale idee is: ‘in Hem bewegen wij, beleven wij en zijn wij’.

Universeel soefisme is geen religie, maar het heeft een religieus aspect, zoals het ook een mystiek, psychologisch en filosofisch aspect heeft. Soefisme is een beweging, het is een nieuwe zienswijze. Deze mystieke zienswijze is ook nauw verbonden met recente ontwikkelingen in de wetenschap: alles is met alles verbonden, door een energie, die gericht is op coherentie.

Het Soefisme wil geen mensen overhalen om hun religie te verlaten, maar wil hen laten zien dat er verschillende manieren zijn om hun religie te beleven. Het creëert ruimte voor eenheid in verscheidenheid.

Je kan deze zienswijze niet opleggen, maar je kan ze wel uitstralen, uitleggen, het voorbeeld geven.  Er zijn steeds meer mensen op zoek, ze missen geestelijke inspiratie, ze worden zich bewust. Er komt weer openheid voor het goddelijke.”

Mijn collega en ik werken beide in de publieke sector, aan complexe maatschappelijke vraagstukken, vanuit een idealisme om bij te dragen aan harmonieuzere wereld. In onze gesprekken vragen we ons vaak af welk leiderschap er nu nodig is. En deze vraag stelden we aan De Heer Witteveen.

“Er is nood aan een verandering van instelling, aan ontwikkeling van ons innerlijk leven. Als de mens het Goddelijk licht in zichzelf ontdekt en ziet dat dit ook in alle mensen aanwezig is, dan ga je anders met andere mensen om, dan kijk je anders naar het leven, naar de wereld.”

Hoe kan je je innerlijk leven ontwikkelen?

“Universeel Soefisme geeft een innerlijke scholing, geschikt voor mensen die in de gewone wereld blijven staan. Het begint met oefeningen, zowel uit de tradities van het Soefisme en Hindoeisme, oefeningen om zowel je gedachten als je gemoed beheersen, zodat je op gegeven moment helemaal open kan staan en in stilte kan komen, opdat iets van dat Goddelijke naar je bewustzijn komt.

Vraagt tijd en toewijding.

Geestelijke ontwikkeling in geestelijke ontspanning.

Er zijn ademhalingsoefeningen, inhoudelijke oefeningen en concentratie-oefeningen. En dan zijn er de zijn gebeden. We gebruiken heilige woorden. De islamitische traditie kent 99 namen voor God. Universeel Soefisme ziet dat als 99 kwaliteiten die we allemaal hebben. Daar gebruiken wij er een aantal van die geschikt zijn voor geestelijke ontwikkeling. Concentratie op dat aspect van het goddelijke opent de weg er naartoe, maakt contact met die goddelijke kwaliteit in jezelf. De vibratie van het woord in jezelf laten weerklinken, waardoor diezelfde kwaliteit in je hart wordt ontwikkeld. Dat gaat je hele leven beïnvloeden.

Je leert het door tijd en toewijding, maar daarna kan je dit ook doen op elk moment in je werk. In moeilijke vergaderingen:  je spreekt de woorden niet uit, maar je ademt het woord in en uit.

Hoe meer mensen dit ontwikkelen, hoe meer harmonie er in de samenleving zal komen. Disharmonie komt omdat we aan onze beperkte kant vasthouden, dat we ons identificeren met wat we willen bereiken, met wat we willen hebben & houden. Ook nodig, maar je moet dankbaar zijn voor wat je krijgt en klaar zijn om los te laten als dat van je gevraagd wordt. Om harmonie te scheppen, is het altijd nodig dat je iets van jezelf opgeeft, om naar die ander toe te kunnen gaan.

Harmonie in je werk:

Je brengt verschillende mensen samen met verschillende ideeën.

Harmonie maakt schoonheid uit verschillende noten in de muziek, uit de verschillende meningen van mensen, harmonie bindt ze in schoonheid.

In IMF en als minister moest ik vaak tegengestelde belangen verbinden. Als minister van Financiën komen vele mensen naar je toe met standpunten, behoeftes en vragen, dat kan niet allemaal, dan probeer je een evenwicht te scheppen tussen wat ze vragen en de middelen die er zijn. Samen zoeken, om het meest mogelijke te bereiken, met beperkte middelen.  Ik probeerde in die regeringsperiode tot harmonische oplossingen en een evenwichtige begroting te komen.

In IMF nog belangrijker & nodiger, al die verschillende landen (toen 120) die moesten samenwerken, samen tot besluiten komen over monetaire problemen.  Daar was mijn taak om die consensus te zoeken = samenvloeien van de verschillende opvattingen. Dus ik luisterde heel goed naar wat alle directeuren en staf naar voorbrachten, wilde het probleem goed begrijpen, en dan stelde ik een consensus voor.

Kwaliteiten hier zijn goed luisteren en soort objectiviteit hebben. Maar vooral inspiratie. Het moest ineens gebeuren, ik kon niet weggaan om na te gaan denken. Ik luisterde naar alle standpunten en direct moest ik consensus voorstellen. Dat vraagt om concentratie en om het openstaan voor inspiratie.

Ik heb altijd veel geleerd van die oefeningen voor mijn werk.

Het ging er makkelijker door, je zag vlugger en helderder wat de oplossingen voor problemen konden zijn, kon ze helderder naar voor brengen. Ik was niet gehecht aan een bepaalde uitkomst.”

———————————

Ik ben dankbaar voor dit gesprek en kijk er naar uit om deze voort te zetten in de toekomst. Het raakt heel erg aan mijn zoektocht. Waar ik ook “zoek”, steeds kom ik terug op hetzelfde Punt. En steeds blijf ik een andere weg nemen, om te zien of er toch geen andere waarheid is. En die zoektocht wordt mooi gereflecteerd in bovenstaand vraag-antwoord: wij vroegen naar leiderschapskwaliteiten, input voor systeemverandering, hoe we leiders kunnen ondersteunen, wat de juiste beslissingen zijn om echt verandering te brengen…

En zoals in de Alchemist (P. Coelho), kom ik steeds terug thuis. Het start met individuele ontwikkeling, individueel ontwaken, bewustwording, … al de rest zal daaruit voortvloeien. Er moeten geen grootschalige systeemveranderingen gebeuren om de juiste condities te creëren. Die zijn het gevolg.

En als ik dan in de spiegel kijk:

Ik vind het makkelijker om systeemtheorie, leiderschap en maatschappelijke innovatie te studeren & te doorleven en die kennis door te geven, dan om dagelijks, gedisciplineerd en met toewijding aan mijn geestelijke ontwikkeling te werken.

Een stemmetje in mezelf zegt: is dat dan niet “het” voornemen voor 2013?

The International BankWiser Conference

I spent, the past 5 days, in an old convent in the Netherlands, where I co-faciltated, the International BankWiser Conference.

The BankWiser is a tool for transparency in the financial world initiated by Oxfam Novib, and 5 of their partners in The Netherlands.
MONEY

BankWiser” is a web-based tool enabling bank clients to make their bank more socially responsible, fair, and sustainable by benchmarking them  on some twenty themes and sectors.
The initiative is the first of its kind  to systematically assess banks’ management  of sustainability and poverty-related issues.
The tool has become very successful in promoting awareness and has resulted in direct improvements in the banks’ practices.

What I personally like about this tool, is that it is used to open a dialogue with banks, by mirroring their actions and decisionmaking when it comes to social responsibilty and sustainability.

A mix of activism & dialogue & collaboration.

The next step and purpose of this gathering was to internationalise this tool, it has proven it’s impact and the financial world is a global system, many banks operate in many countries, and across borders.

A group of 40 people, working in different ngo’s, coming from Belgium, France, Switserland, Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil, Indonesia, India & Japan, gathered to explore the potential, strategy, structure, …

Many different purposes, not easy to balance or to serve in only 4 days:

  • getting to know eachother and building long term partnership
  • creating a shared vision on the -long versus short term- purpose of the tool
  • creating a structure and defining principles for collaboration
  • preparing a document to find funding

That’s what I like about my work. It was hard work for us but so worth it.

It’s a very meaningful subject and I learned a lot by listening to everyone’s stories about their cultures, their economies and their dreams for their countries.

This was also a very good example of a multi-stakeholder process: they share a mission, and therefore they will share a tool, to upscale the impact. But there was no formal authority in the decisionmaking. Of course there were the initiators and creators of the tool, but they had to let go of ownership in order to share it with others. The tool had to have a clear commonality in all countries to realise the potential of upscaling and yet every country is different and had different relations with the bank and different laws.

 

Beautiful chaotic and yet effective dance.

 

In the evenings we planned “inspiration”, related to what we were doing:

The first evening we showed the movie “As it is in heaven”. The second evening there was a performance of Dette Glashouwer, who had an act about money (see picure). After her performance she invited us to dive into our own relationship with money, that we explored in small group conversations.

“what is your first memory of money as a child?”

“what was the meaning of money at your home, while growing up?”

“when is money “enough” for you?”