After a delightful dry-run at SustainAbility’s London offices, we proceeded with the launch of our new publication, The Stretch Agenda: Breakthrough in the Boardroom. I headed to Bonn to keynote the first Bonn Conference for Global Transformation. This was co-hosted by the State Government of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The theme: ‘From Politics to Implementation.’
The Stretch Agenda is one output of the Breakthrough program we have been working on since late last year. Originally, we were thinking of a short report, which then morphed into a White Paper and then, only 5-6 weeks back, into a ‘playper,’ a dramatisation of an extraordinary Board meeting at a fictional company, MN-Co.
After introductions at the Bonn conference by Angelica Schwall-Düren (Minister of Federal Affairs, Europe and the Media, North Rhine-Westphalia), Tanja Gönner (Chair of the Management Board, GIZ) and Friedrich Kitschelt (State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development), two of us kicked off the main event with TED-style presentations: Su Kahumbu Stephanou, Creative Director of Green Dreams TECH based in Nairobi, and myself – spotlighting the launch of The Stretch Agenda. Stacks of the publication were available throughout the reception area. Several people suggested staging the ‘play’ for their top teams, which was very encouraging.
Wonderful to be in cahoots over these several days with Tell Münzing, who I worked for 9 years ways back at SustainAbility, and later a co-founder of Impact Solutions, our strategic partner based in Berlin. We had several meetings outside the remit of the conference, including a Rhine-side lunch with Jeffrey Sachs (who I knew passingly via our joint work the Nestlé CSV Council) and various people from his Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and from companies, including Richard Northcote of Bayer MaterialScience.
Not quite sure why, but I left my camera behind several times, in taxis and similar places, but each time had them returned in the nick of time. Then the case went missing and failed to reappear, despite a judicious search. Happily, however, it was found and returned by Fiona Bywaters of the Global Policy Action Plan, part of the World Future Council, where she works with Jakob von Uexküll, someone I first met when a bunch of us were in the process of forming The Other Economic Summit (TOES).
The conference was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends like Bunker Roy of Barefoot College, Alejandro Litovsky of the Earth Security Group and Ed Gillespie of Futerra. And to meet new folk, including people like Su, and Guido Schmidt-Traube and Adolf Kloke-Lesch of SDSN. In addition, Tell and I had a wonderful session with Katharina Tomoff of Deutsche Post, high in their Bonn tower.
Then back to the Ristorante Forissimo, in Kurt-Schumacher-Strasse, for a coffee. We had had dinner there on the first evening with Birgit Klesper of Deutsche Telekom, where she is Senior Vice President for Transformational Change & Corporate Responsibility. (One of these days I must compile a list of all the job titles that have surfaced in this field over the years …)
I had been struck by the beauty of the horse chestnut that graces the Ristorante Forissimo garden. After the Deutsche Post session, Tell and I decided to turn our coffees into lunch – and had a very productive brainstorming session in the dappled sunlight.
The back to London, first leg on a very crowded ICE train to Frankfurt. The following day I went along in rain to the Aviva offices at One New Change, overlooking St Paul’s, for the first meeting of the Friends Life Stewardship Committee under its new Chair, now that Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has stood down: Julie McConnell. A time of change, which is always interesting.
Then back to 2 Bloomsbury Place to do conference calls with the likes of The B Team in the US, GlobeScan in Canada and Grupo Bimbo in Mexico.
Rain continued through the day, off and on. After a fairly intensive week, something in me longs to be alongside a river, watching the wildlife. So it was strange, as I walked back home past Barnes Pond, that my eye caught sight of a large dead carp floating in the water. It looked like the ghost of a carp, or perhaps a 3D-printed version of a carp.
In any event, we had been discussing only a few days before whether there were still large fish in the Pond? As I took the picture, waiting until the duck hove in view, I noticed at least one more large shape underwater, further out. This carp had not been alone.