The current and past participants (catalysts) of Xynteo's flagship programme, The Leadership Vanguard connected with the Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Yves Daccord on the criticality of systems thinking. The thought leader and change-maker spoke about 'systems and pain points – where to intervene'. The session took place on May 16 2018.
Daccord drew on his wealth of experience leading a large humanitarian organisation like the ICRC. He talked about strategies to intervene in complex situations, for example, to provide health services to civilians in multi-level and multi-actor conflicts such as those in Yemen or Syria. Daccord further spoke about how big data can transform the ability of an organisation such as ICRC to analyse on a systemic level, and emphasised the importance of never seeing people and problems in a vacuum but as part of a larger system. He covered several topics that the Leadership Vanguard catalysts and alumni can apply to their own work and organisations, such as ICRC's approach to complex systems and choosing where to intervene and their unintended consequences. This approach to systems thinking is equally relevant for business leaders and can help them become ready for the future and navigate in an increasingly complex business climate with a web of actors and interests. The catalysts were highly engaged and asked questions about how to identify and work with power and impact agents in a complex system. Such interactions between evolved and emerging global leaders emphasise the strength and mutual benefits of collaboration and mentorship. The purpose of the Leadership Vanguard session was to guide the participating catalysts and alumni on how to use systems thinking in decision-making. It is an essential capability aimed at enabling leaders to be better equipped for designing commercial solutions that can create positive impact and change. Daccord has long experience in humanitarian work, journalism and international relations. Daccord joined the ICRC in 1992 and has worked in Israel, Sudan, Yemen, The Northern Caucasus and Georgia. As the Director-General, Daccord has overseen a period of transformative change within the ICRC in response to ever-increasing humanitarian needs in armed conflicts and other situations of violence around the world. He has spearheaded significant institutional reforms in areas such as human resources and people management; partnerships and stakeholder management; and innovation and technology.
The Leadership Vanguard is a year-long programme where senior leaders from across industries and around the world collaborate intensively to incubate commercial solutions to the problems that threaten the future of growth. This year the participants come from Unilever, Mastercard, DNV GL, ICRC and Shell. This year's catalysts are exploring ideas aimed at solving human challenges on a systemic level. The topics that the catalysts are investigating include big data privacy, plastic waste, digital megacities, agriculture and rural energy and resilience. Previous initiatives that have emerged from the Leadership Vanguard include a reverse mentoring scheme Embark, which connects talented young Syrian professionals and Unilever business leaders in Istanbul. Plastic Maker Hubs, another Leadership Vanguard initiative, aims at tackling the wicked and highly critical problem of plastic waste at source.
Featured image: Yves Daccord and year 3 catalysts at The Leadership Vanguard Exchange in Singapore, 2017