System Citizenship

Topics: Sustainability, Agriculture, Global warming Pages: 19 (4819 words) Published: December 2, 2013

The SoL Journal

on Knowledge, Learning, and Change


Systems Citizenship
Peter Senge

The Natural Step

Karl-Henrick Robèrt
Manfred Mack

Gross National Happiness:
Measuring What Matters
Frank Dixon

John Ehrenfeld

Seventh Generation:
Education for the Consumer
Products Business
Jeffrey Hollender

Cloudy Skies

John D. Sterman
Linda Booth Sweeney

Tom Fiddaman


Building a Sustainability
Institute in Russia
Jeff Lindstrom


Profit for Life

Published by The Society for Organizational Learning
ISSN 1524-1734

Joseph H. Bragdon


Sustainability is one of many focused areas of interest
within the SoL community, and the theme of this issue of Reflections. Many of our corporate members became interested in the subject of sustainability when they recognized that they needed to lessen or neutralize the environmental impact of their processes, services, and products. Their need and desire coalesced interest, and SoL has been home to the SoL Sustainability Consortium since 1999. The Consortium supports its members’ intention to create value and change by combining the analytical rigor of systems thinking with insight into C. Sherry Immediato

how social networks improve the triple bottom line (people, planet, and profit). SoL has also spawned a number of related initiatives in which SoL members participate, including The European Sustainability Group, Project ELIAS, and the Sustainable Food Lab. In addition, SoL’s newest publication, Profit for Life by Jay Bragdon, represents a commitment to promote research and dialogue on the relationship between corporate practices, social and environmental impact, and business results.   In the opening feature of this issue, Peter Senge offers his view on “Systems Citizenship: The Leadership Mandate for This Millennium.” When asked if the basic fundamentals for sound leadership remain the same in a changing world, Senge responds “yes.” He offers a range of examples which highlight the fundamentals as he sees them: a deep capacity for systems intelligence, and building partnerships with the “other” in a context of openness of mind, heart, and will. These ancient and currently underdeveloped capacities are essential for helping us see the world we now inhabit, and to guide us in acting as good systems citizens.

   Karl-Henrik Robèrt was recently interviewed by Manfred Mack for Les Cahiers de SoL – SoL France’s version of Reflections. “The Natural Step: A Vision for Sustainable Societies” offers an overview of a systemic effort to affect the systems intelligence to which Senge refers. Many readers will already be familiar with the start of The Natural Step, a grassroots initiative in Sweden which resulted in widespread awareness of four principles of sustainable societies. Robèrt describes their work with companies to adopt and integrate these principles into practice.   Of course we all know that we tend to focus on and value what we measure. Inspired by the nation of Bhutan’s measure of “Gross National Happiness,” investment analyst Frank Dixon explores how we can measure real social wellbeing. In this article, based on an address to senior leaders in Bhutan, he summarizes the implications for an economy where social wellbeing is a critical indicator of success. Recognizing that significant social wellbeing requires collaborative effort between corporations, government and civil society, he offers “total corporate responsibility” as the way companies can and should work toward system level change in their role as system citizens. SoL research and Sustainability Consortium member John Ehrenfeld comments.

  In a recent conversation hosted by the Sustainability Consortium, CEO Jeffrey Hollender discussed his company’s founding and evolving purpose. The article developed...
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