LILA ~ Learning Innovations Laboratory at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

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The Edge Game –

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How do we solve the global crisis the our system is currently experiencing when we are not talking to each other?  

In her insightful talk, Tima Bansal challenged traditional business paradigms and advocated for the adoption of systems thinking, which she deems increasingly pertinent.Tima underscored the adverse effects of uncertainty, cautioning organizations against the propensity for short-term solutions that undermine sustainability efforts.

What is Sustainable Development?

Historically, our economic development focused on growth at all costs, resulting in significant advancements, but failing to adequately address wealth distribution and environmental consequences. Economic development narrowly defines temporal and global edges, it considers the short term; when we think short term, we lose sight of the local and the long term. Sustainable development expands those edges and encourages individuals to think about the edges differently. Global uncertainties narrow those edges again, making sustainable development elusive.  

Tima highlighted the alarming climate data, emphasizing the urgency of addressing environmental issues from a systems view, and offered the Sustainable Framework as a way forward.

Development Goals as a framework.
Sustainable development, as defined in 1987 by both the World Council for Environment and Development and the United Nations, refers to development that satisfies the needs of current generations without jeopardizing those of future generations. This concept encompasses several key aspects:

  • Intergenerational Equity: This emphasizes fairness in resource use, ensuring that the needs of both present and future generations are considered and met.
  • Systems Thinking: Sustainable development approaches problems holistically, taking into account the interconnectedness of social, economic, and environmental systems.
  • Meeting Human Needs within Natural Limits: This aims to fulfill human needs while recognizing the finite nature of natural resources, thus promoting responsible resource management.

Tima acknowledged the challenges in translating these goals into organizational practices due to politicization and current global complexities. She prompted LILA members to envision possible futures after having identified the current tsunamis we are experiencing. A key learning was that when you think about the future you want, it’s easier to reach alignment.  

LILA members were keen to bring this approach back to their organizations as a way to achieve alignment between different parts of the organization and keep focused on long term sustainable futures even as we need to make short term decisions.

 

 

Harvard Graduate School of Education