The Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0 officially kicked off with a two day workshop in Berlin (Germany) in early February 2015. The Lab aims to shift institutions beyond the pursuit of narrowly measured parameters of economic progress (such as growth) to broader aims that translate into sustainable wellbeing for our societies.
GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti was among the 25 innovators invited to the Lab from all over the world. He had the opportunity to discover new ways of looking at leadership, sustainable development and wellbeing, as he tells us in this interview.
What is the Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0?
Lorenzo Fioramonti: These Labs are an initiative of the Global Leadership Academy, a programme funded by the German government to convene “thought leaders” and innovators from all walks of life and from all over the world to discuss, network and share ideas about promoting change at the global scale. In particular, the Wellbeing Lab focuses on new approaches to economic progress and what type of cultural, social and political change we need to build a different economy. It is led by Prof. Otto Scharmer, from the Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT) and world renowned for his Theory U, and co-hosted by the Presencing Institute in Boston (USA) and the Gross National Happiness Centre in Bhutan.
What happened in Berlin?
The Berlin kick-off event was a very enriching gathering of extremely motivated individuals, from very different backgrounds. There were young innovators from the Silicon Valley, like Nipun Metha, who gave a very inspiring TED Talk on the economy of generosity watched by tens of thousands of viewers. We had the first lady of the State of Oregon, Cylvia Hayes, who is a dedicated environmentalist and has led the introduction of the Genuine Progress Indicator in Oregon. There was also my friend Katherine Trebeck from Oxfam, who has developed the Humankind Index (another great Ted Talk to watch).
We had managers from the clothing giant Eileen Fisher and Google’s sale manager, Alfred Tolle. We then had representatives of various governments, from Costa Rica to Brazil, USA, Vietnam and the UK. From South Africa, I was joined by Louise Van Rhyn of Symphonia and Mary Jane Morifi from the Nelson Mandela Children Hospital Trust.
We were invited to spend a few days, in almost complete isolation, in the beautiful ecological resort of Landgut A. Borsig, one of the hallmarks of the civil resistance against Hitler. It was a great opportunity to share ideas on how to foster a well-being based economic transition for our countries.
How does the Lab work?
LF: This first meeting gave us an opportunity to get to know each other better. Indeed, the Lab will continue for 2 years and will become a ‘journey’ taking us to different locations around the world. It’s designed as a space for reflection, but also as an incubator for action. It is based on the Theory U approach, which shows how collective change is ultimately the outcome of a journey. This journey includes personal change as well as continuous interaction with likeminded individuals from different cultural backgrounds. We all share a conviction that the current economic system is not delivering on wellbeing, but the journey will help us identify a common ground on how to make the change happen in practice. Academics, business leaders, government officials and civic activists are all brought together to shape this intellectual and personal journey over the course of the next two years.
What is happening next?
LF: We will start scanning interesting social innovations in South Africa and then bring them back into our global debate. We will also need to identify ideas for change that could become prototypes for action. In May we will then meet again in Bhutan, where we have been officially invited by the government. After that, the journey will take us to other destinations. In the end, the initiative aims to build a strong network of leaders and innovators with a set of shared practical ideas to change the world!