Changing our perspectives
Guibert del Marmol about being sustainable.
by Guibert del Marmol
Guibert del Marmol was invited to Hager Group Management Summer School in September 2021 to speak about the value of changing our perspectives in a world which is at a crossroads.
The Management Summer School is a yearly hands-on event where top managers of the group exchange ideas, share best practices and asses the future. What can changes can be made and how can we sustainably empower people, were just two of the focuses of the event.
We asked Guibert ten questions.
Guibert, what state is the world in today?
Guibert del Marmol: The world today is really at a crossroads, we are faced with many choices and many difficult situations. The world is becoming increasingly more unstable and volatile and as Covid-19 has accelerated this we find ourselves living in a chaotic world. The word chaos comes from ancient Greek, for the ancient Greeks chaos used to mean the very moment just before the creation of the world – the very moment where everything was possible. I do believe that it’s exactly where we are today. The system could collapse but also it could be reborn. Collectively we are potentially on the doorstep of a new renaissance. If we go on producing and consuming in the same way we have always done we are facing the potential collapse of the whole system. However, the theory of chaos explains that another option exists if people are able to learn from past mistakes and consequently change their behaviour.
Are we capable of change?
To succeed at this crossroad one of the most important things to do is to create a new narrative. I’m deeply convinced that we have all the tools and technology to solve the biggest problems of this world. We must build a new narrative to make the majority of people want to participate, to give them the desire to be part of it. Offer them the possibility to look at the future with passion to become an agent of change. We need a narrative that creates hope rather than fear.
We live in an individualistic society and when people are scared, don’t they withdraw even further into themselves and their own little world rather than turning to others?
We need to create the awareness of the interdependence between everything. We live in an interconnected world, we are not alone, we are all connected and when we realise this it’s easier to go from being in competition with each other to cooperating with each other.
Can you elaborate on the notion of interdependency and cooperation?
We have to stay connected to exchange information, to share best practices, to learn from others. It’s both global and local at the same time. By this I mean, for example, bring production close to consumption for very fundamental things such as the production of food or energy. Today the majority of the worldwide population lives in big cities, if you cut or if you stop the logistic chain of big cities in three days there is no more food and this will create chaos. Take big cities such as New York or Paris, you see that greening building roofs and creating kitchen gardens is gaining in popularity. How do we bring back energy production close to the place where we consume it? It’s possible today with solar or wind systems. Electrifying to abandon the fossil-based system we are very dependent on is key.
Let’s take an example from the circular economy; one man’s waste is another’s raw material. Certainly better for the environment. It’s a bio-inspired economy it’s exactly the way nature works and nature is local by definition. Nature recycles everything and it’s not surprising to see that actually the solution is to create a more ethical and clean economy. When you respect the laws of nature by developing a regenerative economy you do not put your business in danger. Creating an economy with an abundance for all – respecting humans and the environment – is no doubt exactly what a customer or employee would expect from global businesses. It’s about becoming even more accountable and responsible for the whole system.
I would like to be the best for the world in my industry.
So how can an organisation be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem?
In my view the first step would be to develop a noble purpose, a vision-mission led company. Your mission is what you do but the vision is really why you exist & how you want to contribute to a better world. There is a sentence explaining this very well, it’s not “I want to be the best in the world in my industry”, it’s “I would like to be the best for the world in my industry.” This noble purpose is very interesting and important. To succeed we also need collective intelligence. Nobody will succeed alone, we need to connect with others to learn because the change we are facing is so huge that we have to be very innovative and creative. Collective intelligence must be at the core of every organisation. A third element for success is an agile organisation. We live in a very unstable world; this will only accelerate so if we want to succeed or only to stay alive we will need to develop very agile organisations.
That’s the organisation, but an organisation is made up of people. How do people enter into this equation?
We also need to change the way we manage people – if you want to interact with people and work with them you have to develop empathy and compassion. You have to develop the ability to look at a problem from someone else’s perspective. Developing holistic management is another factor to key in; it concerns values and a common vision, giving sense and meaning to your life. Thinking about how you align your private life with your professional life. How you connect your personal values with what you do on a daily basis on the job. When you do that, it’s actually much easier to develop an agile organisation because to be successful with an agile organisation you will need a noble purpose, a way to gather all the people around the same objective.
When you address a problem, or brain storm a topic, diversity is the key.
And what about inspiring and visionary management practices, how can leaders inspire their people?
First I’d like to say that we are all leaders, everyone is the boss of something. Really knowing oneself, knowing who we really are is what gives sense to our life. What kind of legacy do we want to transmit to our children, our colleagues, those around us. The challenge is to be inspiring in our daily life, for this we need to develop courage, especially if we have a responsibility in a business. Sometimes hard decisions need to be made to keep the organisation alive. It’s not easy but in our world today it’s too risky not to take risks. It requires courage. If you want to inspire people and manage them well you have to love them and celebrate their diversity.
So is diversity also the key to making changes?
Let’s say that creativity & innovation stem from diversity, so you have to go beyond just acceptance of diversity you have to really celebrate it to benefit from it. Also when you address a problem, or brain storm a topic, diversity is the key. If you call upon a group of people with the same background and education, they’ll often have the same perspective. Call upon people from different cultures who share the same values such as openness, transparency and respect. If you ask them to address the problem together you will always have more innovative solutions as their diversity creates added value.
Would you care to comment on the statement “the business of business is business, not ecology”?
It’s simply not true! When I went to business school 30 years ago, I was taught that. Yet when you look at the root of the two words economy and ecology – they both stem from the same word in ancient Greek: ecos. In ancient Greek ecos means home. One means the science of the home and the other the management of the home. It’s impossible to separate them. So in my view the business of business, the reason why a company exists, is to create shared abundance while respecting humans and nature. Of course, a company must be profitable, but it’s not the ultimate objective, it’s the consequence of what it does.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Yes, I’d like to quote two people. First Albert Einstein, who said “you cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it, you must learn to see the world from a new perspective.” Einstein represents an intellectual need, the mind, however that is just one part of it. To truly succeed in our challenge we also have to connect with another intelligence, the intelligence of the heart, and here I would like to quote Mahatma Gandhi, “you must be the change you want to see in this world.”