Tag Archives: sustainability

Reflections on the Systems Thinking/Leadership workshop at MIT Sloan.

As part of my recent trip to Boston, I attended a Leadership/systems thinking workshop at MIT taught by Peter Senge. The goal of that workshop was to pair teams of Leadership Lab (or “L-lab”) students with various organizations of different sizes and scopes. Among the organizations represented were Caterpillar, West Elm, and OCP. This arrangement had a dual purpose: to assist these organizations in developing their sustainability initiatives through systems thinking, and to provide real-life learning opportunities and challenges for the students of L-lab.

I went as a part of NOS (Noroeste Sustentable), a small NGO based in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. My role as an attendee was primarily to provide support to Alejandro Robles, the organization’s director. This was, of course, an amazing opportunity to learn about systems thinking from Peter Senge. But I also went with “half an eye”—as I told one of the instructors—towards learning about the Leadership MBA they offer at MIT Sloan (and PhD opportunities, as well).

Systems thinking is a framework for thought and leadership developed from the multidisciplinary approach to engineering provided by systems dynamics. Systems dynamics quantitatively and qualitatively studies the components of physical systems, their interactions, and tries to model and predict otherwise unpredictable behaviors that occur from the complexity of the interactions involved. Systems thinking takes this discipline and and focuses on teaching people how to view the world in terms of a complex set of interactions, which are predominantly hidden and inaccessible to our firsthand experience.

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It’s really all about sustainability: Reflecting on the Sustainable Brands conference at MIT Sloan.

Earlier this week, I attended the Sustainable Brands: New Metrics conference hosted by MIT Sloan in Boston, Massachusetts. It was a privilege to observe and participate in an event where business leaders have come together to act on climate change and other systemic risks. At New Metrics, the hot topic was, well, metrics: the cutting-edge of what we can measure statistically and probabilistically, with the goal of applying it not to measure climate change per se, but to the impact that leading businesses are achieving, in taking us towards a sustainable future.

One of the core philosophies of this conference is that brands—the web of ideas that surround a particular product of service—already have a great amount of influence in shaping society. Brands can become the leaders for creating the kind of society (and culture of social responsibility) that will drive a sustainable future. Businesses and corporations are increasingly beginning to realize that there is no future but a sustainable future. New Metrics (and Sustainable Brands) offers the platform for intellectual, social and corporate leaders to organize around the idea that sustainability and social responsibility must form the core, rather than the fringe, of how brands address society’s present and future needs.

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