A Unique Inquiry Into How To Develop Good Organisations, a Good Economy, and Good Leaders
Our world has become complex and defies simple solutions. Yet, instead of amplifying our collective wisdom and nurturing our capacity for critical thinking, it appears our commitment to thorough inquiry has gradually waned. Instead of asking more profound questions, more often, we endorse reductionism and convenient pragmatism; prioritizing subjective preferences, scientific dogma, or monetary gains. Instead of being guided by radical care for the humanities, we proclaim that markets and technology are intrinsically ethical and emancipative. Exacerbating our plight, we have siloed our expertise – between society and economy, academia and practice, scientific disciplines, philosophy and business. Paradoxically, we have thus become both the most powerful creatures that ever were, and the most constrained in our ability to reconnect with the essence of who we are, in order to flourish together.
Therein lies great danger. Societal challenges are rapidly growing, demanding urgent and thoughtful responses. If we agree that the power of economic activity must, first and foremost, enable our humanity, then leaders across institutions must step fully into their civic responsibility - beyond any superficial maximisation of profits or customer satisfaction. Businesses and organisations must honour and nurture their impact on human well-being and the natural ecology. Yet, alternative blueprints for and exemplars of good leadership and management are hard to find; and contemporary recipes for societal and organisational transformation are often fragmented, unethical, or not based on the best available evidence.
Thus, for our own sake, we must abandon the comforts of unsatisfactory certitudes and embark on an inquiry to discover what it really means for modern organisations and modern leaders to become "good". We must abandon Business Schools and the propaganda of many best-selling management textbooks that perpetuate a reductionist and dysfunctional myth of leadership, socialising an anglo-american ideology of utility maximisation, rather than developing true capacity for wisdom across society. Resurrecting a "philosophical approach" to management and leadership, and rekindling an ancient spirit of contemplative wonder, we shall use transdisciplinary dialectics to bring to life the best of our humanity within the best of our economy.
Admittedly, this will not be for the faint of heart. As Andre' Comte-Sponville, the French philosophy, eloquently stated: philosophy is an arduous task, requiring effort, study, and the use of appropriate tools. To philosophize is to think critically and act responsibly within context, whilst drawing on the wisdom of both past and contemporary thinkers. Likewise, good leadership requires both personal and intellectual development, as well as courage, commitment and compassion to challenge established authority and the status quo. And it needs credible practices to foster organisational transformation and emancipation on a societal scale. Only through the dialogic development of 'ourselves-in-organizations-in-economy-in-society' can we hope to attain a good society for all.
Therefore, we are reaching out to a select group of distinguished minds; researchers and practitioners who share our passion for ethical transformation, and who are willing to impart their wisdom and lessons learned. Our hope is that these dialogues will help to generate a powerful and practical narrative about good organisations, and guide us in becoming the conscious, courageous and caring leaders humanity needs.
Like any voyage into uncharted territory, the initial steps must be intimidating and discouraging for many. But fear not! Once you have mastered the sometimes arcane and esoteric vocabulary of philosophy, the rewards can be profound! We hope you will find as much joy and insights in these discussions as we have, and wish you the very best on your personal odyssey of learning.
Leaders for Humanity interviews
THREE NOT SO SIMPLE QUESTIONS
In our interview series we invite global thought leaders to explore three apparently simple questions:
- What is 'good'?
- How to craft 'good organisations'?
- How can we become 'good', individually and collectively?
Each session approaches the inquiry from multiple and transdisciplinary perspectives: e.g., a) philosophical or political perspective; b) a macro-economic perspective; c) a management and organisational perspective; or d) a personal development or educational view. Each view examines a specific layer of social reality, whilst seeking to explore the wider system.
Of course, our queries reveal themselves quickly to be everything but simple.
For every interview we prepare extensive pre-readings, recommended books, suggested further study, selected quotes, "best bits" and full transcripts.
Welcome to Leaders for Humanity (Season 1)
Series 1 and 2 Interviews now available online for FREE
Engage in the ongoing discussion on social media by searching for #leadersforhumanity!
Please always use the hashtag if you want to connect with us or directly post on the GoodOrganisations LinkedIn page
Starting from a philosophical or political perspective: Good Life and Good Society
Starting from a (political-) economic perspective: Good Economy
Starting from management and organisational behaviour perspective: Good Organisations
Starting from personal development and education: Good Leaders and Good Leadership
Our best essays about the interviews
INTERVIEW WITH ALICIA HENNIG
4 Reasons Why New Narratives Cement the Old Status Quo and Avoid the Real Work — and Why Good Is the New Black
(25 min read)
How Economic Science Lost Its Heart and Soul
INTERVIEW WITH STEFANO ZAMAGNI
Imagine a society where people interact with trust, solidarity and fraternity. Where welfare is not measured in terms of GDP, but lived in terms of public happiness. Where the economy is virtuous and markets aim at shared prosperity through mutual exchange and generous reciprocity. Where organisations are, first and foremost, positive agents of societal change — creating communities, not commodities. And where work is centred on the integral development of each person, not solely on products…
(9 min read)
Homo Economicus is Dead — Long Live Homo Cooperativus!
INTERVIEW WITH BLAINE FOWERS
We have looked everywhere - the infamous 'homo economicus' has gone missing like Ötzi the Iceman! This abstract model of men are exclusively guided by self-interest exists mostly in the heads of economists and corporate finance departments.
(9 min read)
Pluralists of all Countries, Unite!
INTERVIEW WITH HENRY MINTZBERG
Once upon a time, around 1989, the righteous cavaliers of capitalism trounced the evil communist forces and freed the beautiful Princess of Liberty! “Mankind had reached perfection, thanks to the invisible hand and relentless greed”. Henceforth, neocapitalism ruled with precious splendour and all people shall be living (read: consuming) as mini capitalists happily ever after… WRRRRRRRRONG!!
(5 min read)
100 Years of Messy Leadership Theories
INTERVIEW WITH SIMON WESTERN
In spite of millions of hours spent on corporate coaching in the last few decades it appears that neither the world has become much wiser, nor that our societies or organisations are flourishing more.
Stop the Corporate Crooks… Now!
Our corporate world seems to have gone mad as a hatter! Newspaper around the globe are chock-full of distressing stories — featuring corporate managers as greedy tycoons, opportunistic gamblers, eccentric narcissists or hubristic superstars, busily designing billionaire-only resorts on planet Mars. And every day some CEO somewhere makes the headlines for getting away with phenomenal bonuses in spite of miserable performance.
(5 min read)
Find all our articles and posts about topics related to the inquiry here