Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Two monks, Wood and Wasi help assess King IV

Two companion monks came across a swollen, raging river on their travels. A pretty, young woman who had reached the same bank, asked them to help her cross the river.
Without hesitation the older and senior of the two picked up the woman and helped her across.
The younger monk was aghast because his companion had broken a vow that they had both taken – never to touch a woman. He kept his disappointment hidden for a long time as they traveled on, and then blurted out, “What a poor example! How could you? You blatantly broke your vow!”
The older monk responded gently, “I put her down long ago. Why are you still carrying her?”

The draft King IV report, South Africa’s corporate governance guidelines, has been released and is open for public comment for the next 4 months.

There are a number of improvements over King III, including:
·        It’s Easier to understand
·        More concise
·     There are far fewer principles (now reduced to 17). There were too many previously because principles were not clearly distinguished from practices
·      A wider audience or community is brought under the good governance umbrella, including smaller businesses and non-profits
·        Both tax avoidance and tax evasion are frowned upon
·        Sustainability is highlighted

·        There seems to be an inherent acceptance that the onus is on business to prop up poor Government policies and practices – for example in developing the required skills base, and turning the BBEEE quota system into a ‘sustainable practice’
·        The absence of any measurement guidelines is disappointing
·        In parts it reads like a high school essay and includes obvious statements (such as “Good ethics is the foundation of good business”, “Values are the foundation for the management of ethics”)

·    The document claims to be less prescriptive than King III, yet cautions/ warns of the legal consequences of straying from the guidelines – and strongly directs business in terms of internal controls and compliance mechanisms
·        The document deals with the who? and what? (for example establishing committees, monitoring and managing risk and assurance practices, setting up alternate dispute resolution practices, entrenching trust, agility, resilience) and leaves the how? to the enterprise
·        Tricky issues such as the evaluation of the CEO’s performance remain vague
·       The enterprise is tasked with managing the interconnected ‘six capitals’ (financial, manufacturing, intellectual, human, social/relational and natural) and to demonstrate integrated thinking regarding strategy, how value is created, and how interconnected people-planet-prosperity is positively impacted – both now and in future
 ·  The role of internal audit is being steered from hindsight (fixit) to insight (institute preventative controls) to foresight (advisory function on Board) 
(These neutral aspects do mean that the larger, savvy enterprise is free to develop its own policies and mechanisms, but also that the less well-resourced or knowledgeable enterprise may flounder)

King IV requires the enterprise to set, control, and ensure adherence to ethics and values – that is, internal compliance.  Even where forward thinking is advocated, the underlying sentiment is one of control. (An example is the role of internal audit shifting from being reactive to proactive in terms of a control mindset). 1

One of the lessons from the story of the two monks is that “all the laws, rules, regulations, ethical principles in the world will not guarantee virtuous behaviour”.  The psychology of ethics and sustainability is an often overlooked component that has a powerful bearing on how well character virtues and ethical behaviours may be introduced in organisations. Complex pycho-social factors apply at the individual, team, organisation and social levels.

Achieving sustainability and beyond requires enterprises to develop character, spontaneous behaviours, decision-making prowess, agility, resilience, and spiritual mindfulness in such a way that there is congruence throughout the organisation, and new, productive partnerships are formed across historical silos (Government, Activists, Suppliers, Competitors ….).  Beyond integrated thinking, second-tier, non-dualistic, integral thinking is the new order of the day (Both/And rather than Either/Or)

The economic, social and environmental challenges that we face call for a leading approach. King IV still inclines towards lagging behind what is required.  King calls on directors to care for and look after companies as if they would an incapacitated individual, “And so it should be with companies, which are even more incapacitated than disabled individuals”.1

The 14th January, 1998 Bangkok post carried an article by Prof Dr Prawase Wasi that I’ve never forgotten. He advocated a move from a narrow, inappropriate view (michadhitti) to a holistic ‘state of being’ approach to measurement (sammadhitti). 

This latter view incorporates inside-out and outside-in thinking and steers the enterprise into considering appropriate virtues, practices and outcomes.    


1. King, Mervyn King IV: embracing integrated thinking  http://trialogue.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/QA_Mervyn-King_final.pdf

2. Wood, Dr Robin Lincoln A Leader’s Guide to ThriveAbility:  A Multi-Capital Operating System for a Regenerative Inclusive Economy  Author-House 2015

3. Williams, Graham; Haarhoff, Dorian & Fox, Peter The Virtuosa Organisation: the importance of virtues for a successful business Knowledge Resources  2015

Sunday, November 22, 2015


By Suzanne Tesselaar

“The only weapons we have in change are words. We can change the world by changing how we talk and listen” - Adam Kahane 

Why the Humans of New York stories went viral, and how you too can make stories work…

It was a hard lesson: the photograph of a beautiful Sudanese woman and an old orthodox Jewish man, should never have been published. The two together, they formed such a striking image of New York's diversity.  That was the moment when Brandon Stanton (31) began his project - photographing 10, 000 New Yorkers. After listening to the story behind the photo, he realized that pictures alone may not tell the full story. "When I put my camera away and the man walked on, the woman cried and told me that this man had just offered her 500 dollar to have sex with him. I than decided I wanted to stand up for women and tell that story" (AD 2015).
Stories give context, they engage and connect, they frame and sequence events. They give meaning and make sense; they are versatile; they are lived.

The power of lived stories
Lived stories are as old as the hills and everyone tells them. They resonate, sometimes they go viral, become contagious and cause ‘social epidemics’. Like Humans of New York, where the image and the stories of individuals enchant us and capture our imagination. They are fun and we all want to be part of it, so we change our behaviour and donate to Stanton's causes, buy the HONY books. I just picked up my copy... We join the social media tribes and sites. And we narrate its stories, in turn influencing the behaviour of those in our own networks.

Social networks and storytelling
Christakis & Fowler (2007) extensively researched the often ignored and under-estimated  power of physical social networks, in which stories and stories about the stories circulate. They used the 6 degrees of separation and 3 degrees of influence;  researching how obesity, smoking, love and happiness spread through networks. Influencing the behaviour of those in our inner circle (18 %), on our friends friends (10 %) and our friend’s friend’s friends (6 %). They term this the 3 degrees of influence (Ibid 2008).
So, initially 10, 000 New Yorker stories have been shared with networks of the storytellers, the readers and ultimately the people that picked up the idea to make their own statement. Like me :-). These HONY stories take on a life of their own, causing the idea to spread like wildfire, covering the globe.  It’s going viral – and Bandon has all of us to thank!

Lived and corporate stories
Lived stories are not prepared. They are told in dialogue between the storyteller and his audience and emerge as they are told (Gabriel 2000). They are usually quite sloppy and have unfinished sentences and verbal tics, which makes them authentic or trustworthy and recognisable.  These small stories or ‘stories of the little men’, as David Boje (2001) calls them, can become contagious. Not the styled, sanitized, edited, made up (or fictional) version of a future situation; often created as corporate stories.
Lived stories can cause counter stories (Tesselaar 2015) which can sabotage organisational change efforts. Lived stories, like a running commentary  -  resonate (Bate 2004), are told and retold and can cause a social epidemic – spread like wildfire (Christakis & Fowler 2010, Gladwell 2000).

Change in organizations
Peter Senge wrote in The Fifth Discipline (1990-2006) that people do not resist change. Rather, they resist being changed. In a change intervention lived stories can be used to understand and to bridge the gap between the organization’s structure and culture:
·       Structure, deals with the goals, systems, processes and tasks.  Results can be measured and it follows a somewhat rigid, linear path. Stories emanating here tend to be told in ‘management language’ or jargon and can be designed to be manipulative.
·       Culture, deals with attitude and behaviour, with norms and values. Results are visible but difficult to quantify. Culture is fluid and follows a continuous path.  Culture is shaped and negotiated in lived stories. They are told in a common language of change.
Sharing lived stories with management and leadership enables them to understand the dynamic reality and versatility of their organization.

Co-creating a story of change
Change agents can show, or even better, teach leaders to listen to stories, take them seriously and retell them in the context of change.  Thus, a story of change is co-created, with the themes and language people recognize, relate – to and share.  Such a story (and the story about the creation of the story) will be told and retold as a lived story.  It has the potential of causing a social epidemic in the organization - in the same way that the Humans of New York story does. In a co-created story the “I” story becomes a “we” story (Bate 2004) that will drive the change. These story dynamics, themes, versatility and language are what I research and use in my consultancy practice as interactive interventions in organizations and communities. They exist not only in organizations but also in communities, as demonstrated by the Humans of New York phenomenon.   (And in my social Verbal Vaccine project, but that is a different story...   https://youtu.be/BlDkHlSbg8A)

Author Biography and Contact details
Suzanne Tesselaar is a storytelling consultant, PhD researcher and lecturer. She pioneered storytelling as interactive intervention and co-created this method with some 35 client organizations. With this knowledge she is determined to make a social contribution by research and development of  a ‘verbal vaccine’; A behavioural intervention for health workers, empowering local communities to cause sustainable change and become independent of outside aid.
She is actively looking for sponsors for this project and may be contacted  at:
WEB: www.storiesofchange.nl
Twitter: @SuzanneStories
LinkedIn Suzanne L:LinkedIn
Stories of Change Mobile: 0031(0)655357770

Bate, P. (2004) The Role of Story and Storytelling in Organizational Change Efforts, The Anthropology of an Intervention in a UK Hospital, Intervention Research. International Journal on Culture, Organization and Management 1(1): 27-42
Boje, D.M., (2001), Narrative Methods for Organizational & Communication Research, Sage London UK
Christakis N. (2008) Dynamic Spread of Happiness in a Large Social Network
Christakis N. (2010) The hidden influence of social networks, Ted Talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2U-tOghblfE
Christakis N., J. Fowler (2010) Connected, The Amazing Power of Social Networks and How They Shape our Lives, HarperCollins London UK
Gabriel, Y. (2000) Storytelling in organizations. Facts, Fictions and fantasies. Oxford University Press NY.
Gladwell, M. (2000) The Tipping Point, How Little Things can make a Big Difference. Abacus, London, UK
Houwelingen C. (2015) Speuren naar unieke types (searching for unique characters) AD/ Algemeen Dagblad 23 October 2015
Senge P. (1990/2006) The Fifth Discipline, The Art and Practice of Learning, Crown Publishing U.S.A.
Stanton B. (2015) Humans of New York Stories, Storytelling. Martin’s Press, NYC USA
Tesselaar S., (2015). Charlie Hebdo Why Je Suis Charlie is such a powerful counter story Communicatie Online, January 20 2015

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Temenos Retreat Centre Macgregor, Western Cape     http://www.temenos.org.za/
Tuesday 1st December – Wednesday 2nd December
Facilitators Peter Fox and Graham Williams.  

The demands of modern work, social and family life too often leaves us overwhelmed and even defeated.  A USA military acronym has become popular: VUCA, meaning a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous world. Building personal agility and resilience to change and adversity in this world is essential.
Resilient people tend to better manage their mind-set, mood, and responses. They know (realistically) where they are going and how they’ll get there, feel good about and care for themselves, empathise with and communicate well with others, are positive and proactive, make well-considered adjustments and adaptations.

They find contentment more readily, and success (in that order of course!).  The big questions is:  How do we build resilience?   The answer to that question is the purpose of this workshop.
Under the guidance of two gentle, experienced facilitators we consider various ways of coping and achieving well-being in challenging times. Each participant is given an interpretation of a short questionnaire that covers their ability to cope with the challenge of change, how comfortable they are during transitions, and how much in control of themselves they feel during change.

We find practical ways of ‘bouncing forward’ and engaging with a positive future.  Bring about inner and outer changes that are self – enabled, natural and unforced. Participants answer for themselves:

§  How do I find and apply the coping mechanisms and skills that I need?

§  How do I reinvent and re – story, write a new chapter in my life?

The end result is profoundly hopeful and life affirming.  Participants learn not simply how to endure shocks, adversity and change, but how to dialogue with them and benefit from them.