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Archive for February, 2011

Core Competencies for Social Network Performance of Value

Banner Perhaps we need to shift our view in the way we think to have more progress.

Imagine if leaders could lead deliberate change; and this deliberate change could society and create an economy that is sustainable. Imagine if the definition of  a sustainable economy implied a culture of well-being and a culture of financial stability. Some educational thought leaders believe that the only way to achieve this is to embed continuous learning that repairs the harm to people, planet and economy.

I believe this includes developing a new view of education and introducing people to a foundation of social network and organization competence.  No change initiative can grow into future value without this understanding and the behavior implied.


John Sexton, President of New York University one of these educational thought leaders, who thinks this way. In a July 23, 2010 television  broadcast, Sexton described to Charlie Rose his vision for a “T” educated human being.  who seeks to learn and build their careers out of a search for meaning in life. This “T” human being seeks education that shapes this individual to think about the impact of anything they do on society, the environment and health. This form of education becomes  the foundation for  any individual to finding meaning and purpose in life.


Sexton assumed leadership of  NYU, May 2002.  NYU is one of the largest global educational institutions in the World.  At the time of his appointment, Sexton redefined NYU’s GeoStrategy as a global portal where educators and students are co-located around the world.  He perceived New York City’s connection to the World and saw that to think of NYU as a campus of buildings, limited its role in educating global citizens.

Sexton selected to co-locate NYU in other places in the world. The first place and space of co-location to NYU facilities in New York City is being built in Abu Dhabi.  He believes after Abu Dhabi, NYU will build facilities in Shanghai.  He is leading this premier educational institute to form as a global social network facilitated by a core group of economic decision makers to be a best practice educational institution.


The first 100 students accepted to this year’s global co-located program will spend their last semester in Abu Dhabi. This new global hub in Abu Dhabi  has attracted Nobel Prize winners and the best educators in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to become faculty.  The selection process for the first 100 students included 300 candidates divided into 5 groups of 60 applicants to attend a group live interview event and dialogue at NYU’s facilities in Abu Dabai.

The selection process, included observing the applicants’ capacity for interaction and emotional intelligence during the interview event and dialogue. . The admissions team reviewed the applicants for how they related to others exercising nuances in conversation that reflected the capacity to engage in conversations that investigated expertise and its relevance the conversations.

Sexton asserted that emotional intelligence is a critical competency that every student needs to develop through a global education experience. This format of forum as part of  the application process brought all the applicants into a global program where the direction and behavior is not guided by institutional walls and silos of expertise.

Hence, this forum became an experience in which these prospective students to interact with the University as an educational portal to learn if they could walk through the gateway of the portal to launch their life long learning from where every they are located.

Emotional intelligence integrates what a student knows how to do with how they respond to others on the job, and through how they learn to apply what they learned in school.  Emotional intelligence is how they discern opportunity and filter their actions to create a future success where they are recognized for what they contributed and how they performed.

These students can capture references, observations and reports on their contributions and performance and add this to their personal portfolio statements from which they can build and  define their learning, work and relationships as a pattern of asset and the future value they represent to potential employers or investors in their work.


Can Government lead Sustainability in Perpetuity?

Over the last few days, I have been struck by how much of news media is dedicated to political unrest globally. In fact, this morning I noted in review of my Blogged Networks feature on my desktop, that over 80% or bloggers offer posts that are positioned as “political causes for change,” “debating governmental harm,” or focused on what is wrong in the world.

Since the last 2010 BSR Conference, I can’t get Judith Rodin’s words out of my head.

Judith Rodin is the President of the Rockefeller Foundation that is asking for new thinking, new vocabulary and wicked solutions for wicked problems.  Wicked problems require wicked creativity and innovation.  I don’t think anyone this week after seeing what is happening in the Middle East or in the United States would say that we are not living in an era of “wicked problems.”

You can’t learn how to solve a wicked problem without getting to work and solving the problem and making mistakes.  We no longer have the luxury to do what is simple and easy. We have to broker critical partnership to innovate systemically and address complicated problems that address poverty, create jobs and build from impact investing with financial return that assures a global social impact.

Rodin described governments as the most risk averse; they obstruct change the most. Is this why the media is so filled with how people find government to be an imposition which are the greatest source of harm? Yet in recent weeks, it has become clear to me; governments are led by people who through plutocracy dictate the agenda. Most countries are not participating in building a response that the Rockefeller Foundation has described as “smart globalization.”

Unlike Egypt, where a political leader dictated for 30 years,  the United States has a democratic electoral system that requires we elect our leaders with some frequency. Yet many of the complaining citizens are not voting.   In a recent “special election,” to fill Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s absence in the Senate, approximately 2.2M  of the 7M registered voters in the State of Massachusetts voted.  A state notoriously Democratic elected a republican, with no background in politics or demonstrated skill solving “wicked problems.

So while Senator Brown is on the main-stream media circuit promoting his new book describing his personal challenges as kid , a new candidate has emerged with a background, education and track record to address “wicked problems.” Brown’s experience do make him human and align him with many others who have the experienced personally emotional and sexual abuse.  The irony is that these problems have become more pervasive as the US economy becomes more challenged economically.

Another problem in addition to the growing challenge of abuse and lost childhood, is the increasing problem of “medical bankruptcy, ” which may be the number one most complex “wicked problem,” facing the United States.  The problem amplifies and increases in risk for every US citizen because it is so complex and government is so focused on building a system of compliance to solve it, innovation is frequently obstructed.

Bob Massie on January 15, 2011  announced his candidacy as a Democrat for 2012 race to recover Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s senatorial seat. By January 23, 2012 CSRwire Talkback published my endorsement of Massie, in which I wrote

While I vote every election, I feel my vote has lost meaning. I am a declared independent because I feel all political parties have lost their focus on the most important issues of today. This lack of focus obstructs an ordinary persons survival and capacity to sustain their family by assuring a lifelong health care and education system that does not bankrupt them should they take ill.

…Bob Massie’s resume and passion for learning has led him to develop a thought leadership that cuts across the sectors of business, non-governmental organizations and government to influence change. He understands the domino effect and vicious systemic circles of obstruction that a person who lives life with chronic or life threatening illness can experience. He understands the ramifications of years of destruction to people and planet by environmental toxins and unsafe chemicals and the ramifications to the climate in accelerating global warming. To me Bob has an exceptional background for a Senatorial Candidate, which implies he has the background and perspective to win office.

What appealed to me is that Bob’s announcement and candidacy presents an opportunity for me with millions of others to find out if there is in fact a method of leadership from which a new candidate can come into the US Senate or Congress and actually lead government into practices that contribute to  solutions of wicked problems.

I am going to put my journalism to the test because I have selected to story capture Bob’s campaign, excellent position for a win and track how his proven leadership capacity can make the difference.

This column is the first of a new series – Politics & Accelerated Change.


Lavinia Weissman


Get Hooked on CSRWireTalkback

We all know mainstream press is filled with doom, gloom and conflict.  On October 4, 2010, this headline in The Boston Globe, titled “Sanofi-Aventis launches take over battle with Genzyme.”  The words “take over battle” particularly caught my attention and gave me more reason to believe the spiral of the bad and the ugly is never going to stop in mainstream press.

Mergers among the Fortune 500 have increased in recent years in biopharm; for example, Pfizer acquired Wyeth and Merck acquired Schering-Plough.  Acquisitions and mergers usually involve some form of workforce reduction, management of corruption and, of course, higher profits. The Boston Globe headline made me question if there was something different about Sanofi’s bid for Genzyme?

I decided to follow the press reports and judge for myself.  Most important to me,  I wanted to find a new format for my own journalism and oped pieces that could make a difference.   I did a detailed review of Genzyme performance and Sanofi’s current strategy in preparation for watching the story unfold of this potential acquisition.

This has become the key driver to all I am dong and what this magazine is organized to become. Synchronistic to these thoughts….I received an email, from Jan Morgan, President of Jan asked me if I would like to submit blog entries to their new blog, CSRwire TalkBack.  This request was not an ordinary request and it was offered in the context of a value for “shared sucess.”

Jan expressed interest to get to know me personally, so I took a day and drove out to Springfield, MA where is headquartered.

I thought our meeting  would be a 2 hour visit over lunch. The meeting was such a blast, it turned into a surprisingly quality exchange. We shared an amazing time time together that included a mix of good humor and serious  business exploration on media. We shared our views of potential changes for media and business education and Jan offered me an overview of  CSRwire’s current business plan.  Who wouldn’t have fun with this cast of characters.

I was still at the CSRWire office at 6PM, when Founder and CEO, Joe Siblia walked in and joined our conversation as we wound down.  We were having so much fun and then looked at our watches; it was 8 PM and time to call it a day.

You have to ask, “how in the world could such busy people give each other so much attention?”

The answer may surprise you.  These busy people care to lead into production a media format and portal that makes a difference for all they serve; with over 250,000 daily readers and 6,000 commercial clients, has leaped into changing the format and scheme of what any wire service can achieve. So on that note, why am I contributing to CSRWire Talkback?

The story does not stop in the parking lot upon my departure from Springfield, MA last September. Seeds of stealth got planted on the day  we met; the CSRwire’s team became a sounding board for me as part of my intent to develop a better format for my own journalism.

Most writers and researchers of the scale and quality that I am committed to work in isolation, have no benefit of team play that keeps you learning and improving and if you write, you rarely have an editor, like I do—–(in fact 2).  Jan Morgan and Sarah Peyok are both my editors at  Jan offers me business opinion and perspective from her experience in media and business. Sarah helps me shape my stories and get to the heart of the message I want to give.—- Both are committed to my success as much as I bring both an audience and my quality of strategic analysis.

This relationship and this result did not simply happen over night. Our little experiment in recent months resulted in these 4 posts.  Hard work that was accompanied by the confusion of learning and sometimes the experience of failure and frustration so bad you want to scream.

Ultimately as my historical virtual research has shown, high performance virtual team work is not a matter of tweets, email, exchange of documents, it comes out building trust, sharing what you think with your team and working it out.  Ultimately it comes in believing in your work and learning from how others work and finding a way to make conflicting views and feedback turn into something of quality.

So judge for yourself with these 3 posts….

Sanofi-Aventis & Genzyme Conspiracy
Hostile Take Over or Sound, Sustainable Business Strategy? – Post 1

Regarding Sanofi-Aventis and Genzyme: how do you construct a sustainable valuation of pharma? – Post 2

Can sustainability practices bring about better patient care? – Post 3

What do you think?
Did these 3 posts set a new standard for journalism that that will inform, connect, educate & empower CSOs and other CSR/Sustainability practitioners?
One way I have to judge is that the Boston Globe has  recently published these two quality analysis on the challenge to innovation at Novartis and Genzyme:
Fishman’s research tack, Cambridge ties pay off by Robert Weisman

What do you think?
Lavinia Weissman

CSRwire Talkback | join the conversation! CSRwire’s new blog is bringing thought leaders and readers together in thinking about the issues.

Sustainable Market Leaders Book to be Launched by Wiley

Editors Note:  Links to translations of this post are available here:

French Translation: Annonce de la Publication d’un Nouveau sur les Acteurs du Developpement Durable dans les Enterpries

Spanish Translation: Anuncian la Publicacion de un Nuevo Libor sobre Liderazgo en Sostenibilida

John Wiley, (publishers since 1807) will focus on telling the story of Sustainable Market Leaders, with the September 2011 publication of Eric Lowitt’s book, The Future of Value.

In my experience, there has been a long demand for story capture of the value that Corporate Sustainability Leaders form in their company by embracing CSR. The CSR Debate made clear that the language of corporate social responsibility, social responsible investments and sustainability is heard as jargon and often off putting to people who want to try to understand it. Lowitt offers a very simply definition to


To maximize stakeholder value in perpetuity

I have known of Eric’s work for sometime, beginning with his research at Accenture’s Institute for High Performance and as someone who lives local to me.  After a stint at Deloitte as a manager, Eric formed his own venture this past December 2010, when he left Deloitte to finish the book he had proposed, research, and wrote.


Eric is one of the people I know, who understands what I mean by the idea of an “accelerated action research lab.” In fact Eric has identified and researched ongoing sustainability accelerated action programs within every company on the 2010 Global Fortune 500 list. His research into the details of these initiatives, illustrated through interviews with sustainability and strategy executives at more than 25 of these market leading companies, companies he came to call Sustainable Market Leaders, forms the basis for the pragmatic advice  in The Future of Value.

An interesting pattern of discussion emerged as a result of Eric’s action research. With Eric’s support, a number of executives at the Sustainable Market Leaders have begun to form a team approach that will lead to the next book in The Future of Value series. The mission of this emerging roundtable is to identify and promote best practices and new solutions alike to achieve sustainable development via systemic change. Eric will become the Editor-in-Chief of the next book, while the Sustainable Market Leaders drawn from the companies that contributed to The Future of Value, alongside leaders from the fields of private equity, public sector administration and local community activities, will write up their own stories for submission to the next book.

From time to time, I will be annotating and announcing a new entry from Eric’s blog or custom research summaries that leaders may commission as briefings for new projects, they would like to begin.

The nature of this project was built from Stealth (trust and shared assets), which speaks to Eric’s own leadership skill and capacity as a sensemaker.

Wiley through Eric Lowitt and The Story of Meaningful Use will begin taking orders for this book in June 2011.  For people joining our combined research effort, we can take preorders for discounted volume purchase of 100 copies or more from professional associations, consulting firms and companies.  Contact for more information.



Lavinia Weissman


Dave Wann on Every Day Joe Meaningful Use!

Dave Wann left his “comfy” job in 1996, after having an excellent career stint  with the EPA in Denver Co.  During that time, he met and hired Paul Hawken when Paul began his career as a environmental activist and consultant.

Dave then moved into a co-housing village designed, built and occupied Dave and a group of local friends in Golden CO. This was the beginning of Dave sharing an  adventure with what grew to be a national community of friends to learn how to live with a high regard for the environment and a form of sustainable living.

Since then Dave has become a master gardener, authored 11 books on numerous perspectives of sustainability while he learned from his garden, his neighbors and the wide reach community of friends that Dave associated with. These people have helped form the movements of CSR, sustainability and sustainable investing. Dave became a man that walked his talk and learned to live by “making it so.”

Dave recently published his 11th book,

The New Normal is the sum-total of Dave’s  discovery in how people are reforming the way they live, including Dave.  As much as this book is for individuals, it is a book for numerous professions that include

  • HR Professionals — can understand how the people you hire want to live or live and define a corporate culture compatible for people who value sustainability;
  • Consumer Market Researchers —  can learn what influences purchasing decisions for this growing normal today;
  • Politicians —can grasp the needs of a growing constituency of people who want to change the way we live today;

For the “every day Joe” whether your drink of choice is fair trade or organic coffee or chai or simply filters water ….reading this book helps you see how your interest in living more sustainably is shaping in communities today where citizens are driving the infrastructure change for their personal life style with primary benefit to their children.

Dave’s new website, includes a blog that describes the change taking place of societal scale that is also relevant to anyone hard at work in their community that chooses to work wisely to live well.  Dave is giving new definition to the word “well” with 11 books, essays, articles and  video broadcasts..

I met Dave over 4 years ago as a neighbor, while living at Harmony Village, the cohousing community where he lives and gardens.  Over the breakfast he cooked for me of pancakes, berries, yogurt and maple syrup and good java, we became friends and c0-travelers in this journey of authoring tales of “meaningful use.”

Since then Dave’s keynote roster has become quite global and international in flavor.

From time to time,  we can expect short missives linking to Dave’s posts at his own website.  Please join me in welcoming Dave Wann to The Story of Meaningful Use and our blog roll.


Lavinia Weissman


Can CSR morph into a Sustainable Value Proposition?

There is a new movement in all sectors to move beyond the idea of sustainability and CSR as a movement of change to forming groups of stakeholders, who build future value as sustainable market leaders.

Over the the last 25 years, the global audience of companies interested in CSR has formed a learning infrastructure that has accelerated learning and adoption of this approach to core business practice. CSR has gained the traction of a living system of thought that millions of people in business and outside business now grapple with.

Yet the jargon of CSR and Sustainability can often be off putting to people who know their job is to adapt industry practices to integrate strategies that assure future value for the environment, health and economy.

August 2010, Dr. Aneel Karnani’s #WSJ Blog post, “The Case Against Corporate Social Responsibility?” brought an explosion of blog posts and commentary on what works in CSR and what does not work. Christine Arena, Founder of SparkUp and Susan McPherson, Senior VP of CSR at organized a panel at the Paley Center for Media, entitled CSR and the Role of Business, A Spirited Discussion. This panel discussion provided an accurate benchmark of CSR today and how it has matured and now operates beyond the “movement” that formed in the late 1970’s from which it has taken form.

The event marked a point in time out of which many people could see an opportunity for embedding sustainability as a value proposition in a company culture. If you are someone who wants to understand a bit more about the movement of change that has translated as a practice into an economic landscape led by Sustainable Market Leaders. In reaching this understanding, sustainability is now transforming into a practice of business as usual, rather than a movement driven/jargon filled causal marketing approach to change.

Any leader or member of today’s workforce can value in reading a bit about the history of this movement and what it accomplished as part of developing your personal or organizational competence in building capacity for future value creation.  Read this post now

Hello world!

Welcome to my new magazine annotating the best and latest “stories of meaningful use.”

Take a minute to  read what this new venue is about

Review  our invitation to see if this blog is of value to you and become a subscriber.

Warm regards,

Lavinia Weissman


Brilliant Minds, Sweet Hearts