In 1994 I helped found the New Academy of Business together with the Centre for Action Research in Professional Practice at Bath University, as I wanted to change the way business is carried out - to combine business and education, which is sadly cut off from the real issues of life, like poverty, ethics and creativity Ė with a sense of moral purpose and creativity.
The idea for the New Academy of Business came about after I was invited to be guest lecturer to the MBA students at Stanford University and it was a profound lesson for me. Here was all this huge intelligence, but no guidance about new business thinking, nothing on human rights or corporate codes of conduct. The only explanation of ethics the students seemed to be given was an instruction not to take bribes. I felt business education needed something better.
The New Academy was set up to try to bridge the gap between visionary business leadership and what is being taught in conventional management schools. Personally I feel that there is a real need for business education to champion values-aware management. Business schools need to move away from the emphasis on short-term stockholder-based solutions, away from the concept that business is either about profit or principles but not both.
As the successor to the New Academy of Business, The Association of Sustainability Practitioners (ASP) has been launched. ASP continues to support learning that transforms behaviour from unsustainable to sustainable practices
ASP is a dynamic living experiment, based on the idea of an organisation that reflects natural systems. It is shaped by its membership, and leadership is seen as an energy that moves between people. It does not seek to out-compete others in the field, but to co-operate wherever the positive opportunities of sustainability can be promoted.
ASP creates strong social contracts between members through a commitment of time to each other. Members create a form of quality assurance for values based work through a disciplined approach to learning and review.
Members benefit from the opportunity to act as part of a large and flexible team of independent consultants and gain from the ongoing support and feedback of skilful and experienced colleagues.
Clients gain a one-stop shop from which to create teams with the skills to match the needs of life in the 21st century. They receive a supportive learning experience, quality assurance for work that is hard to measure, and a source of inspiration to those trying to act for change, whether their work is based in the business, political or community spheres.
Applications for membership to ASP are now open, and you can get further information on becoming a member by visiting ASPís website.