The participants, referred to as Catalysts, of the fourth year of Xynteo's Leadership Vanguard met in Oslo on 26-27 November for the year's final face-to-face Exchange.
The Leadership Vanguard Exchanges are interactive gatherings that provide the Catalysts an opportunity to meet to advance their progress in the programme and be inspired by Xynteo's network of leaders. The first two Exchanges this year were held in Mumbai and Berlin. The purpose of the final Exchange was to mark the end of the catalysts' participation on the Leadership Vanguard as they presented the system intervention concepts that they had been working on through the year.
Day 1 of the Exchange started with setting the context of what is happening in the world and how that will affect the Catalysts as leaders. This was followed by a deep dive into each of the system intervention concepts, feedback and planning of next steps. In the first session of Day 2, the focus was on the lessons that the Catalysts can bring with them back to their day jobs. The next session focused on the practical use of the tools the Catalysts have learned in the Leadership Vanguard programme, followed by the Flywheel session, which gave the Catalysts an opportunity to evaluate how fit for the future their own organisations are. As none of this matters unless you are leading the way, the final session of the Exchange honed in on the significance of being a change agent.
"It's been a blessing to attend the Leadership Vanguard Exchanges with such a diverse group in terms of companies, background, nationalities and viewpoints. It's been extremely energising to interact with all these people — all very driven and skillful, and many very senior in their organisations. When we are here, we are all present and relaxed, connecting as friends while learning from each other", said Mamadou Sow, a Vanguard Catalyst and Operations Coordinator for the Africa region at the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC).
"The Leadership Vanguard journey is unique for each one of us, because we all experience reality differently based on the different lenses that we use to understand reality", said Vânia Bueno Cury, Owner and CEO, Anima Productive Interaction, who was a speaker at the Exchange.
Creating solutions to wicked problems
The system intervention concepts are ideas to intervene in the world's biggest problems. The Catalysts have developed these concepts by exploring emerging risks to global growth and conducting field trips to Uttar Pradesh, Bogota, Nairobi and Johannesburg. This year's concepts are in the fields of big data privacy, plastic waste, digital megacities, agriculture and rural energy and resilience. At the Exchange, the Catalysts received feedback on their concepts from industry experts such as Per Heggenes, CEO of IKEA Foundation and Royston Braganza, CEO of Grameen Capital India among others, to help advance their intervention concepts. The most promising system intervention concepts will continue to be developed by the Catalyst groups in the upcoming months.
"Receiving critical feedback on our system interventions was extremely helpful. To successfully develop our ideas to projects, we don't just need support, but criticism, so that we can create pilots that can be scaled", said Hajar Alafifi, a Vanguard Catalyst and VP Household Care Europe, Unilever.
Some previous examples of system intervention concepts that advanced into pilot stage and beyond were also presented at the Exchange. Among these was Embark, a reverse mentoring service that connects young, talented refugees with business leaders to build meaningful connections, spotlight the potential of migrants and explore pathways to their fuller inclusion in host economies. Embark featured at the Paris Peace Forum earlier in November, as one of the global solutions to trans-border challenges.
"We can all push for global change"
The Catalysts, who come from Unilever, Shell, DNV GL, EDP, International Committee of the Red Cross and Mastercard, also heard from a range of speakers and contributors, such as Anita Krohn Traaseth, CEO of Innovation Norway, Chetna Sinha, Founder and Chair of Mann Deshi Foundation and Mann Deshi Mahila Bank, and Felipe CalderÓn, former President of Mexico.
President Calderon delivered a powerful message to the Catalysts on how each one of us can be change makers: "We can all push for global change if we know how to access and utilise the right tools and arguments".
While this year's Catalysts will join the growing Vanguard alumni community, which continues to work towards a growth model that is fit for the future, a new group of Catalysts will soon be onboarded to the fifth year of Leadership Vanguard, starting in early 2019.
Leadership Vanguard is a year-long programme where senior leaders from across industries and around the world collaborate intensively to incubate solutions to the problems that threaten the future of growth.