short news from ebbf members

Arlette George

Rethinking Organisations and #BuildingCapacity with a View of Abundance

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-18-51-54Vahid Masrour who works for the Wikimedia Foundation led the pre-learning online event ‘Rethinking Organisations and Capacity Building with a View of Abundance’ to give a foretaste of the adventure the ebbf #BuildingCapacity International Learning Event, Bucharest 6 – 9 October is fast becoming.

Participants from Sweden, UK, Romania, Ecuador, Italy, USA enthusiastically discussed their insights of Vahid’s myth-busting accompanying presentation “From Crisis to Abundance: Exponential Organisations” in which he quickly demonstrated how people and organisations unwittingly hold themselves back from creating the adaptive and meaningful workplaces that they seek, by unwittingly maintaining a scarcity mass consciousness mindset.

It turns out, the way we use our own media spaces actually drives our views on scarcity and therefore our views on Abundance too.  We have this tiny amygdala in our brain which triggers reactions to what surrounds us and to what we witness such as impulsive need to fight back, flee danger or become frozen to the spot.  By our daily consumption of ‘bad news’ distributed in mainstream channels and, if we are not careful, our own social media channels we become hooked into media consumption, and unfortunately for us the viewer, we innocently keep ourselves wired into a negative feedback loop through the constant retriggering of the amygdala by consuming stories that reflect and trigger our ‘survival’ instinct states.


Fit for the 21st Century

Good news on the other hand, decouples us from the negative feedback loop and instead takes us back to the present moment, bringing us face to face with the immense possibilities standing before us in this 21st Century.

To illustrate, Vahid opened up the parameters of what becomes possible when we begin to appreciate stories of progress and what has enabled it to take place.  He showed a 19th Century photograph of the King of Siam entertaining Napoleon III at a banquet table set with gold cutlery and aluminum plates.  What?  Isn’t aluminium for regular consumption of a ready-made can of drink or food prepared in its microwave proof container?  Right.  Today, we consume aluminium as a recyclable material.  Yet in the days of HRH King of Siam, aluminium was more expensive than gold. To serve a meal on an aluminum platter was both the ultimate brag of wealth and a befitting show of respect to a potentate.  What enabled this switch from rare materials to readily available recyclables is technology.  Technology is the key to Abundance. The  interaction between technology and the Abundance mindset is where the force for progress and transformation in the new age has its greatest potentiality. Abundance is, at its core, a techno-optimistic outlook.

The US-based entrepreneur Peter Diamandis whose maxim for HeroX is “Everything is impossible till it happens – and someone’s got to do it – so why not you?” co-authored with Steven Kotler the book ‘Abundance: the future is better than you think’ (2012) to provide evidence that, in opposition to what the media would have you believe, the future is already better than you or I tend to think.


Understanding and developing latent talent in people and organisations

Vahid, went on to demonstrate the Malthusian food production model predicted that the medical advances of 20th Century which preempted the exponential world population explosion would reach an inevitable intersection whereby we simply would not be able to produce enough food and – according to his calculations – it should have happened by now. However, in a nutshell, we now discover, there is enough thanks to the advances in agriculture and farming.

The fear of not having enough comes out of the instinctual brain, generosity on the other hand, and the desire to share what we have, arises from the volitional powers of thought.

Given that we have more than enough, sharing is a realistic option, and therefore how can we move towards a mindset that leads in the direction of generosity and justice?

In the 19th Century, an eighteen hour work day was typical, child labour was normalised and vacations were rare – and although these features of work are not yet universally eradicted on the planet – many societies now enjoy a 8 hour working day but are also faced with a new 21st Century issue to also deal with, namely, what are people to do with their new free time? In the next ten years, for example, half the planet’s population will be overweight: genetic science; the labelling of non-nutritional consumable products as ‘food’; exercise and lifestyle will be re-examined in order to address this rising issue of obesity.

Cultivating an Abundance mindset means we need to re-examine the narratives of threat and disaster that impinge on our sense of survival. We need to understand how that models the future – a future we now inhabit – superseded by innovation and technology.  Extreme poverty and displacement, it is  being demonstrated, can be eradicated through promoting the means to universal abundance using society building innovation and technology.

Indeed, learning how to work with technology and sustainability, environmental and social agendas is where advances and necessity both now lie:

“The future civilization envisaged by Bahá’u’lláh is a prosperous one, in which the vast resources of the world will be directed towards humanity’s elevation and regeneration, not its debasement and destruction..” – Universal House of Justice, 29 December 2015.


Enabling adaptive and meaningful workplaces

The gap lies in human thought and consciousness.  Human beings excel at spotting differences. But does this need to be a threat? In what circumstances does it also become a source of what we see as beautiful #BuildingCapacity in humanity? Is the only way of working together possibly when we adopt narrow codes of uniformity or are there ways in which we can find ways to coexist whereby our diversities also enrich us?  To what extent are we able to perceive what’s common among human beings as a unifying force for progress?  We already know how organisations that have a mixed gender board of directors outperform those that don’t.  It is becoming evident that diversity creates value, upon which Abundance can be modelled:

“The enormous energy dissipated and wasted on war, whether economic or political, will be consecrated to such ends as will extend the range of human inventions and technical development, to the increase of the productivity of mankind, to the extermination of disease, to the extension of scientific research, to the raising of the standard of physical health, to the sharpening and refinement of the human brain, to the exploitation of the unused and unsuspected resources of the planet, to the prolongation of human life, and to the furtherance of any other agency that can stimulate the intellectual, the moral, and spiritual life of the entire human race.”  – Shoghi Effendi ‘The Unfoldment of World Civilization’,11 March 1936

To consciously cultivate an Abundance mindset means to adopt a posture of learning. It reflects a willingness to examine opportunity from new perspectives.  It works with technology to reconsider the ways we work and use our free time. It reconsiders how when we drop the scarcity mindset, we can start to utilise the digitalised domain as an essential component of a limitless and available domain of knowledge. Abundance, certainly from an economic perspective, is happening simply by the existence of the ‘copy and paste’ distribution of knowledge, but how can we work with the simplest and the most complex of technological advancements in creating exponential collaborative and Abundance cultures? How do shareholders, organisations and society collaborate to make the kinds of improvements that make everything better?

The scarcity mindset perceives the need to control both resources and access to them. The new age coming asks of managers to let go and allow people that responsibility needed to create new types of organisations, meeting needs and problems in new kinds of ways both from the macro economic perspectives and the micro abundance perspectives in people’s lives.The abundance mindset liberates people to interact with responsibilities in their jobs, recognises their achievements and allows the nature of work and the workplace to evolve. In evolutionary terms, those that do not or cannot adapt, become the dinosaurs on a path to extinction.  Don’t be a dinosaur.


Use the ebbf International Learning Event #BuildingCapacity Bucharest 6-9 October to make things happen. Creating the future as Abundance is the under-told story of the 21st Century and we are part of it.

Arlette George

#BuildingCapacity in a Collaborative Culture - what traits are required and what are the results? with Valerie Davis

s200_valerie.davisHere at ebbf, we are fortunate to have access to Valerie Davis who shared the findings of her PhD research, studying the specific ways in which leaders apply collaborative leadership and the consequences of that mindset in their companies. Earlier this year, she was awarded a Doctorate from Fielding Graduate University for her contributions to research in Human Development and she will be one of the speakers at ebbf’s next international event taking place in a few weeks.

Register now for the conference

Launch of ebbf Research Group for Collaborative Leaders

During this ebbf online leaning session participants from Romania, Italy, Switzerland, China, United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland and United States explored the role of collaborative leaders.

It was a two-fold opportunity, firstly to hear Valerie Davis share her expertise in creating the space for leaders to gain a critical perspective on their goals, vision and effectiveness and secondly to begin the very exciting process of launching a Research

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Arlette George

#BuildingCapacity - what we learnt about accompaniment and capacity building

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 14.02.03In one of the series of pre-event learning session Nabil Elias, Business Faculty Emeritus from the University of North Carolina gave a beautifully tempered presentation on Accompaniment as a powerful tool for #CapacityBuilding.  Participants joining the call came from Italy, Croatia, Romania, England, Portugal, Scotland and the USA. It was also an opportunity to be introduced to some of those attending the #BuildingCapacity ebbf event in Bucharest 6-9 October.  Below are some of what we learnt in that interactive online session.

Check out here the next online learning session you can attend

What is Accompaniment?

Accompaniment envisions at least two friends, with different levels of experience in a specific area of action, learning together. What Nabil Elias described as taking “a posture of collective learning” that endows #BuildingCapacity with new meaning.

Whether talking about #BuildingCapacity in Non-Profit Organisations wanting to achieve their service mission or in For-Profit Businesses setting out to meet demand and build operational capacity, it is Accompaniment which is the foundation of all successful #BuildingCapacity.

What makes Accompaniment different to Training and Mentoring?

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Guam - Courageous Followership what we learnt from the last ebbf breakfast

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 11.02.54The team at ebbf in Guam have been offering a successful series of ebbf breakfasts covering topics such as “the value of service”, “gender equality in banking”, “cultural changes, transforming companies into communities”.

We share some of the learning from the last ebbf breakfast dedicated to the concept of Courageous Followership held at the  Bank of Guam training centre. The speaker Dr. John Rivera began his talk with the idea of leaders/leadership where people get caught in the “person” rather than the “idea”.

Leaders have certain qualities – Hitler/Ghandi – same charisma in leadership but significantly different outcomes. Understanding leadership requires understanding of groups and teams.  Leadership has been studied in academia for only about 100 years and only about 50 years ago did the study of followership get studied.  And only very recently have we come to recognise that …

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Introducing ebbf's new knowledge centre dedicated to Capacity Building and Accompaniment, by Nabil Elias

nabil elias - accompaniment cxapacity building - ebbf knowledge centre

A new ebbf knowledge centre has just been added with a new paper that collects new thinking on the concepts of Capacity Building and Accompaniment. In this document Nabil Elias offers how Capacity building involves empowering individuals to participate in a purposeful collective effort. Accompaniment invites and supports individuals into expandable teams that humbly traverse uncharted paths of learning and serving together. Corporations and not-for-profit organizations alike can apply this process to transform the organization and its trajectory towards solving complex issues.

You can read there initial replies to questions such as “who are the partners in Capacity Building and Accompaniment?” , “How Does Capacity Building Apply in Business Organizations?”.

Join Nabil in an online learning session on this topic this Thursday

Read his new ebbf knowledge centre here


#BuildingCapacity - first in series of online pre-event learning sessions, created for you

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 16.24.01


Capacity building is essential to develop individuals, teams and companies; but which kinds of capacities are most useful to allow thriving and sustainable organizations to be built?
What is the environment and leadership style that allows capacity to be developed?
How can we awaken in individuals the will to develop their capacities?
These are just a few of the questions you can come and explore either in one of the next online pre-event learning sessions (see below the next dates) and / or in Bucharest during the next ebbf international learning event dedicated to this theme.

1. Accompaniment as a foundation of capacity building, with Nabil Elias
Thursday 1st of September at 19:00 CEST / 13:00 EDT
Click here to register for this ebbf online learning experience

2. Building Capacity in a Collaborative Culture, with Valerie Davis
Thursday 8th of September at 20:00 CEST / 14:00 EDT
Click here to register for this ebbf online learning experience

3. Rethinking organizations and capacity building with a view of abundance, with Vahid Masrour

Taking place Thursday September 15th at 20:00 CEST / 14:00 EDT
Click here to register for this ebbf online learning experience

View here the full article


#BuildingCapacity - what we learnt in our first pre-event online exploration of "Building Capacity"

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.44.51It will never be as good as one of these face to face meaningful conversations we enjoy at ebbf’s international learning events (if interested to attend, click here to book still a few places available) but all the same ebbf is offering the opportunity to join online explorations of the themes we will cover in the next international event.

Click here to view your next online learning session opportunity.

Interested to hear what we learnt in one of the online explorations of what building capacity means and of what it takes to create the right culture to allow capacity building in a company?



ebbf 2015 annual report - growing the impact of ebbf accompaniment on its members and global community

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 13.55.26Click on the image on the left to download ebbf’s 2015 annual report

with a few of the highlights of ebbf’s activities and results from the last ebbf financial year of 2015.

It includes ebbf’s first attempt at measuring the global impact of ebbf’s activities,
and a report of ebbf’s local activities complementing the two main international learning events,  in a growing number of cities around the world including New York, Rotterdam, Stockholm, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Toronto, Basel, Utrecht, Quito, Lisbon, Geneva, London, Milan, Guam, Zurich.

Not a member yet? Contribute actively to ebbf’s positive impact joining here.


Washington - global views on local Brexit and on wider together vs divided debates. by Augusto Lopez-Claros

Augusto Lopez-Clarosebbf member Augusto Lopez-Claros offers some fresh global views to a local issue with much wider consequences.

“Why would Brexit be a blunder of historic proportions?

Since the vast majority of the problems which humanity faces today are global in nature, the world needs more, not less international cooperation. Major planetary issues are being neglected—we are failing massively and risking being overwhelmed by a broad range of problems the solutions to which require effective “problem solving” mechanisms and institutions. The list of inherently global issues that are insoluble outside a framework of global collective action involving most nations of the world is long and includes: climate change, biodiversity loss, the depletion of tropical forests and fisheries, nuclear proliferation, widening income disparities, a flawed global financial architecture, illegal drugs, the rise of terrorism and the still high levels of poverty and deprivation afflicting much of the developing world, to name a few.

Against this background, those who argue that the United Kingdom would be better off outside the EU do not seem to understand the extent to which economic integration has been a key driver of prosperity during the past half a century and the extent to which membership in a body such as the EU is a way to magnify a country’s voice and influence, as we rise to the challenge of helping resolve the above global problems.

Is EU membership beneficial?
EU membership has been highly beneficial to the United Kingdom. It has contributed to a huge increase in trade and to gains in productivity and economic output. It has given its politicians the opportunity to influence and shape EU policies in areas that have had a major impact in the world, such as the enlargement of the EU to Central and Eastern Europe that took place after the collapse of the Soviet Union and that did so much to transform these countries’ institutions and policies. Because the EU is the world’s largest trading bloc, it has huge clout when it comes to opening other countries’ markets and, as a member, the United Kingdom has greatly benefited from these efforts. Furthermore, contrary to the assertions of supporters of Brexit, the United Kingdom has not been prevented by EU membership from carving out approaches to particular issues that better suited its own preferences and interests. So, it has a very flexible labor market, which has contributed to lower levels of unemployment than in the rest of the EU, it has a friendly business environment that tends to be less overregulated than the rest of the EU (Denmark and the UK have the highest rankings in the EU in the World Bank’s Doing Business report), and it has maintained its own currency,.

Over the past several decades there have been massive shifts in the structure of the global economy. High economic growth rates in countries like China, India and other parts of the developing world have drastically reduced the relative size of countries like the United Kingdom. Because political power and influence are highly correlated with economic size, the United Kingdom, as an active member of the EU, has managed to maintain a degree of influence in global affairs that has gone well beyond its actual (and relatively declining) economic size.

It is highly irresponsible to argue that outside the EU the United Kingdom will be anything other than a minor power in a world of emerging economic and political powerhouses. This process will be accelerated if, as is widely expected, Scotland opts to stay in the EU by claiming independence. The EU will remain, for the foreseeable future, the United Kingdom’s most important trade partner. But because trade with the EU is far more important to the United Kingdom than trade with the United Kingdom is for the EU, it will be the case that the EU will largely dictate the terms of access to its enlarged market. That access, by virtue of Brexit, will, of course, be less preferential than for full EU members. Indeed, negotiating the terms of separation and the features of the UK’s new relationship with the EU is likely to create a long period of uncertainty for the economy, with exporters in the country asking themselves: how long?, on what terms? and not having ready answers to such vital questions. It is also naïve to think that, outside the EU, London will retain its unique position as one of the world’s two largest financial centers (together with New York). To the extent that finance has been an engine of economic growth over the past several decades, leaving the EU will have a permanently contractionary effect on the UK economy.

Indeed, all that the United Kingdom can hope for is an eventual relation with the EU that is similar to that which Norway has and which involves, ironically, largely accepting the bulk of EU laws, without having a say in their formulation, including, of course, the free movement of people.

One final word on migration.

The sooner we find creative ways to live in a multinational, multiethnic world, the better. It is not only large income disparities that create incentives for people to move. There are other forces at work that are likely to remain with us for some time to come and that could turn migration into one of the main development challenges of our time.

One of them is the shrinking of our planet fueled by rapid changes in technology and globalization. Our societies are far more mobile today than used to be the case. The real cost of travel has fallen precipitously in recent decades and people feel far less rooted to their place of birth than in the past. More and more people, particularly the young, feel like global citizens, very much at ease with the concept that

“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.”

More importantly, we live in a world in which we face a broad range of global problems for which we do not seem to have the adequate institutions to find workable solutions. And the sense of insecurity that these problems feed can often act as a powerful additional incentive for people to want to move, to seek opportunities and a better life elsewhere, since many of these global problems have had and will continue to have a disproportionately larger impact on the developing world. Furthermore, in coming decades, with rising sea levels linked to global warming, we are likely to have to deal with the problem of “environmental refugees”; potentially dozens of millions of people who will have to be resettled in other parts of the world.

So, to those who argue that by leaving the EU Great Britain will be able to turn itself into Little England, isolated from the rest of the world: dream on. It is not going to happen. Migration has been, over the past several hundred years, one of the most powerful engines of economic growth, innovation and prosperity. All we can hope to do is to manage it in a way that enhances its benefits and smooths out its at times destabilizing effects.

So, where will all of this end?
One possible scenario: Britain will spend three years trying to get out and the next three trying to get back in, when it fully realizes the magnitude and ramifications of its blunder.”


Johannesburg - Leyla Tavernaro's ideas on rethinking and making virtuous popular talk shows

Leyla Tavernaro HaidarianIn this insightful article published in South Africa’s The Conversation, ebbf member Leyla Tavernaro offers new ideas on how to create enriching as opposed to destroying talk shows, thus offering new ways to use these very influential media opportunities.
Below a couple of excerpts with some of her views:

Denouncing the ‘other’

Talk shows exemplify one prevalent way that communication pans out, particularly in the West. Often, two or more camps are formed. Each side presents and defends its position while challenging or even denouncing the “other”.

For example, “stay-at-home moms” are pitted against “working moms”, implying an inherent conflict of interest between “equality” versus “child care”, as an episode of the “Tyra Banks” show once did. This adversarial model of communication is often replicated in other parts of the world, including the Middle East.

This type of what journalist and scholar Deborah Tannen calls “argument culture” became influential with the ascendancy of Western liberal thought. According to her, it has successfully challenged and confronted oppressive, authoritarian systems but may not be entirely unproblematic.

Addressing full complexity

Its agonistic emphasis excludes many less aggressive or argumentative voices. It reduces issues into binaries, failing to address their full complexity. It also obscures facets of discussion where common ground often does exist. For example, in many cases talk show guests do agree and game show contestants suddenly cooperate. This became particularly apparent in the first season of Endemol’s “Survivor South Africa”, where contestants took a significantly more collaborative posture towards their tasks than their American counterparts.

It would then be compelling to explore what would happen if we engage in a form of public discourse that deliberately draws out collaboration. What if there were common ground between “stay-at-home moms” and “working moms”? As a mother who spends a lot of quality time with her child and still manages to carve out a meaningful career, I am compelled to investigate the efficacy of such framing.

In many such societies like South Africa, globalisation has involved bringing in Western liberal democratic values and systems. They include discourses on human rights or justice that are at odds with local realities.

You can read Leyla’s the full article here

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