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The power of narrative in politics, as seen in the Swiss referendum

John's reflections, Leadership in the news, Storytelling Leave a comment

In the previous entry, we looked at the recent referendum in Switzerland, where the people voted to require the government to negotiate quotas on immigration with the European Union.  The results of this February 9 election were completely unexpected for many people here, Swiss and foreigners alike. Everyone with whom I spoke in the run-up to the vote said that there was virtually “no chance” the measure would pass. My friends and colleagues reasoned that there were simply too many powerful business and political interests that favored integration with the EU, as opposed to a policy of isolationism.  On the other hand, I was one of the few people in my surroundings … Continue reading

The recent Swiss immigration referendum as a study in storytelling

authenticity, leadership Leave a comment

Though discussion of political issues has often left me cold and bored in recent times, I watched the latest debate about immigration in Switzerland with considerable interest. As a foreigner and property owner living in this country, it is a matter that could potentially have a direct impact on me and some of the people close to me. Beyond my personal situation, though, I found this incident to be a fascinating case study in storytelling. As I often tell my audiences, I am somewhat dismayed by the uses of storytelling I see in modern politics. Far too often, the narratives crafted by candidates and public officials, aided by their consultants … Continue reading

Making any experience transformational

John's reflections, leadership, Leadership training Leave a comment

In March 2013, when I was preparing to speak at EFMD’s annual MBA conference about “creating a positive group dynamic” in an MBA classroom, I first thought of the word culture. As I noted in a previous post, in today’s world we must do something in all our learning environments that goes far beyond the mere transfer of knowledge. Certainly, co-creating a culture with the members of the group is a powerful element that can help take us “beyond”. My reflection about creating a positive dynamic in the classroom then led me to think in terms of any group, and in particular about the notion of transformation. Years ago, as a student … Continue reading

Group culture in a classroom: doing things differently

John's reflections, leadership, Leadership training Leave a comment

When I first read Phil Jackson’s book Sacred Hoops in 1996, I was struck by his descriptions of the Chicago Bulls and what I have come to call their “culture of difference”. Of course, they were elite athletes playing basketball at a world-class level, but so were many of the other teams in the NBA. The Bulls  felt that they were different from other teams, that they were breaking new ground and setting new standards for the way the game could be played. The Bulls were playing the game unselfishly, with deep respect for each other, and perhaps most importantly, with their “heads in the game” at all times. It sounds obvious that … Continue reading

Creating a group culture

authenticity, John's events, John's reflections, leadership, Leadership training, Leading by autobiography 1 Comment

This week, I am teaching a two day seminar to MBA students in Grenoble. As I am working far less in business schools now than in previous years, coming here got me thinking again about how I like to run my classroom and interact with students. Almost exactly one year ago, the European Foundation for Management Development ( invited me to speak at their 2013 MBA conference, on the subject of “creating positive group dynamics” in an MBA classroom. At that time, one of the first words that came to my mind was culture. In all the varied situations where I work, be it in business, in teaching or elsewhere, I always try … Continue reading

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