Summaries for Concurrent Sessions

Summaries of Concurrent Sessions
New Terms of Engagement for Global Leaders
April 3-5, 2002
Hosted by:
The Centre for Innovation in Management, Simon Fraser University
The Sustainable Enterprise Academy, York University
Sponsored by:
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue
Ontario Power Generation
SFU Business
Shell Canada
Session Title:
Day, Time, Room:
Strategies for Multi-Sectoral Collaboration & Learning:
From Global Networks to Local Communities
Steve Waddell, The Collaboration Works
Henry Klassen, Nechako Watershed Council
2:00 p.m., Thursday, April 4, Room 320, approx. 25 attendees
Steve described business, government and civic society as three different “organizational
structures” distinguished by unique attributes and ways of thinking about the world. He
outlined a three stage approach for creating ‘intersectoral collaborations’ (ISCs). Stage 1,
"preparing the ground", involves working within your own sector first to build your own
understanding of ISCs and to identify the nature of the problems and opportunities. Stage 2,
"achieving the goals", entails agreeing that change is necessary, convening the stakeholders,
and then moving the process along to the point where stakeholders can develop plans that
respect their differences and interests. Stage 3, "building the capacity for greater results", is
about expanding and replicating the collaboration.
Steve facilitated a discussion on the challenges of ISCs. Two that were mentioned were
holding people accountable while not alienating them, and balancing the conflict between the
conversation in the room and the group that one represents. Steve finished the session with
several key points. First, an ISC process changes your way of doing business, even in your
own organization. Second, the process must be started by someone who most of the
stakeholders can trust. Finally, all resource contributions to the process (e.g., monetary and in
kind) must be recognized.
Henry Klassen presented the experience of the Nechako Watershed Council (NWC) as an
example of an ongoing and successful ISC. This group of 25 organizations from north central
BC, with diverse views and seeking common solutions, has been meeting regularly since 1997.
Their aims are to enhance the long-term health and viability of the Nechako Watershed with
consideration for all interests, to provide a forum to address water management issues in the
Watershed, and to work toward collaborative resolution.
Henry described the history, the process, the challenges, and the questions posed over time. The
group established criteria for their meetings, including equal opportunity for speaking,
inclusivity, commitment to decisions that would be enduring, and flexibility to different needs
and interests. There were no firm rules except respect, transparency and congruency. They
resolve issues using consensus. Henry advised being careful about committing to this process,
as it is a lengthy one. The NWC is now considered a primary consultative body. It
complements the government process.
A participant asked Henry what, in retrospect, they might have done differently. His answer
was, “Nothing." It was all part of a necessary and important process. It was necessary to take
the time for the anger to be expressed. Anger expressed becomes issues recognized. It also took
time for the ‘right people’ to join the group so the cohesive and collaborative process could
begin. We could then go from compromise to a co-operative approach to the bigger picture.”
Session Title:
Day, Time, Room:
New Models of Engagement with Indigenous People/First
Susan Joyce, Golder Associations
Christine Burton & Jerry Welsh, Suncor Energy
2:00 p.m., Thursday, April 4, Room 420, 17 attendees
Susan compared her experiences with indigenous communities around mines in Latin America
and Kazakstan with those of First Nations communities in Canada. She noted strong similarities
in the struggles and lessons learned. For example, mining companies usually see their project as
the central focus of engagement initiatives. However, she has learned that the project has to be
recast as just one stakeholder in a network of community stakeholders. This raises
uncomfortable questions for mine management, like, "Is 'the project' the best way to improve
the community's future at this time?" She also observed that many indigenous communities do
not view their own governments as friendly, credible, or even legitimate. A World Bank study
showed that the most vulnerable stakeholders bear a disproportionate share of the negative
impacts of projects. Past conflicts lead many of them to emphasize their separateness from
outsiders, which makes it more challenging to find win-win paths forward. Susan mentioned
several approaches for promoting the equitable distribution of costs and benefits. "Impact
benefit agreements" are private contracts, but as such lack transparency. "Participatory
agreements" emphasize building understanding in the community so they can get involved in
sharing decision-making. In still other cases, the indigenous communities own the resources
and enter the development partnership with much more power (e.g., Red Dog Mine, Alaska).
Other useful approaches include linking communities with one another to share experiences
and learning, using NGOs as certification bodies for sustainable development, and the
certification of companies by the communities themselves.
Jerry talked about how his Metis background made it possible for him to understand the
importance of self-reliance to First Nations communities. That is why employment and
business development are always their first priorities. Jerry said the most important lesson
anyone could learn about dealing with First Nations is to listen and understand how you are
affecting them from their viewpoint.
Christine described the business side of Suncor's oil sands project and then reviewed the history
of the relationship with the Fort McKay aboriginal community. The community did not have
the knowledge needed to deal with the company so Suncor spent $1.4 million to create a body
that could interface between the community and the company. It was a very successful
approach and is being replicated elsewhere. It built a relationship that included mutual learning
and understanding. The company made better business decisions because of it and the
community got equitable and sustainable benefits. The partnership now deals with numerous
issues and agreements from youth apprenticeships to regional infrastructure. Suncor also
participates in the Cumulative Environment Management Association, which uses a mediated
consensus decision process to recommend policy regarding the cumulative effects of all the
developments being undertaken in the oil sands area by all the petroleum companies.
Session Title:
Day, Time, Room:
From Conflict to Collaboration in the BC Forest Sector
Ann Svendsen, Centre for Innovation in Management, SFU
Linda Coady, Weyerhaeuser
2:00 p.m., Thursday, April 4, Room 370, approx. 28 attendees
Using the conflict and subsequent collaboration between the stakeholders in the logging of old
growth forests in Clayoquot Sound? as a case study, this session stimulated discussion around
the nature and necessity of conflict in building social capital.
Ann opened the session with an overview of the context and stakeholders involved in the
Clayoquot conflict - MacMillan Bloedel (now owned by Weyerhaeuser), environmental NGOs,
local First Nations and communities - and the principles that guided the transition to
collaboration. The key to this process is building social capital, which includes talking (to each
other), trusting (each other’s intentions) and thinking (from the other person’s perspective).
These elements helped overcome the barriers in the dispute: hostility, isolated social networks,
and differences in gender/ethnicity/life experience. Experiences such as a MacMillan Bloedel
employee traveling to a local First Nations village by traditional war canoe helped to immerse
the stakeholders in each other’s cultures, bridging the divides. An outcome of this process was
the creation of Iisaak, a logging company with a new conservation forestry management goal,
run by the local First Nations and given support by Weyerhaeuser.
Linda contributed from her first-hand insight into the Weyerhaeuser involvement in the
creation of Iisaak. She showed a short video telling the Iisaak story and talked about some of
the drivers towards change within Weyerhaeuser, including willingness on the part of the CEO
to “let go of noble uncertainties” and risk trying something new. She spoke candidly of the
Clayoquot conflict and the challenges of Iisaak. She made it clear that although many lessons
had been learned in Clayoquot Sound?, it was by no means a straightforward “success story”.
Rather it cost many stakeholders a great deal. Similarly she shared that although Iisaak was an
exciting product of collaboration, it continues to face serious economic challenges to its
The subsequent conversation was centered on the question: “Do we really need conflict to start
us on the path to collaboration?” There seemed to be some consensus that although
organizations can deal with potential conflicts pro-actively, a great deal of progress is a direct
result of companies “getting burned” by bad experiences. One participant reminded the group
that stakeholders can have different perceptions of conflict; what one party considers as conflict
may seem to be a normal way of operating for another party. Another perspective shared was
that conflict is not the beginning of a process towards collaboration, but is rather required in a
healthy co-existence with collaboration.
Session Title:
Day, Time, Room:
Community Economic Development:
Collaborative Strategies for the New Economy
Mark Roseland and Sean Markey, SFU Centre for Community
Economic Development
Monte Roulier, Community Initiatives
2:00 p.m., Thursday, April 4, Room 470, 13 attendees
In an overview of community economic development (CED) Mark described it as being rooted
in sustainable development and providing a different way of looking at development. He
outlined the challenges of economic development, which include resource management, waste
management, infrastructure and housing, employment and income, education and health,
capacity building, traditions and values. Mark proposed that CED is dependent on many types
of capital, the aggregate of which he described as community capital. The process of CED must
respect Natural capital; improve Physical capital; strengthen Economic capital; multiply Social
capital (enhance the glue that holds society together); increase Human capital; enhance Cultural
capital. He said that CED arose because externally driven development did not respect these
forms of capital nor take much notice of local needs.
Sean spoke of CED strategies and the importance of community organizing and planning in
developing them. He reminded us that the need for CED derives from the restructuring
generated by the global economy and government activity changes. This restructuring impacts
both the strength and adaptability of the local economy and the area’s social cohesion, and
hence the importance of CED to ameliorate these impacts. Sean spoke of the need to clarify
CED objectives, as this will determine the strategies employed. For example, is the CED
program intended to revive a declining community or help any community adapt to the new
economy? Is it aimed at community self-sufficiency, or enhancement of relationships with the
outside world? Sean stressed the importance of comprehensive community organizing and
planning supported by strong processes and a community-based coalition are important in
addressing the generally limited experience and management capacity in many communities.
Monte described CED as a concern with helping communities improve their health and quality
of life. He used the city of Scranton, Pennsylvania to illustrate a number of important CED
principles. Scranton, a coal-mining town saw its population decrease by about 50% over a
couple of generations to about 80,000 people in 1995. There was high unemployment and half
the space in the business district was vacant. A CED intervention raised the occupancy rate to
85% and changed the people’s outlook. Some features of the approach:
1. It built on diverse participation by all parts of the community.
2. A group of 240 citizens created a shared vision based on community values.
3. The focus was on system change – economic development is not separate from all other
facets of the community.
4. Instead of starting with a needs assessment, they inventoried the strengths to build on.
5. They measured their progress and outcomes not as a watchdog but to help with collective
learning without blame attached.
On the question of maintaining momentum Monte said that the results of any CED must be
meaningful to people. If outcomes are superficial or not widely valued, social capital is lost and
participation drops off.
Session Title:
Day, Time, Room:
Engaging Investors Who Care About Sustainability
David Wheeler, Schulich School of Business, York University
regrets: Deb Abbey, Real Assets
2:00 p.m., Thursday, April 4, Concourse Level, 17 attendees
There is an evidence of a correlation between social and environmental performance in
publicity quoted firms and superior stock performance. What has emerged in the last three or
four years is an interest in a more pragmatic approach to sustainable development. Ethical
screening has appeared, but is still quite minimal. Companies may be excluded from the
investing portfolio because they are seen as less sustainable, tobacco companies for example,
but companies are rarely included in the portfolio because they are seen as sustainable.
David illustrated some of his comments by sharing his experience at The Body Shop where he
was Director of Environmental and Societal Policy. It was a highly interactive group discussion
where questions and problems were raised and explored. Participants drew on their experiences
to propose solutions and attempts at answers. The issues and themes were, among others, the
challenge of measuring CSR and the communication between an organization and its investors.
Participants underlined that communication between organization and investors is quite often
lazy. It appears that there are not enough opportunities to discern what investors are looking for
and how the market perceives the organization.
The discussion then turned to the Van City experience with collecting and sharing information
with investors. VanCity has a strong reputation of being socially responsible. It collects
information from diverse stakeholders and uses it to drive the internal process. They also use
various communication activities to inform their stakeholders, such as posting the social report
on the website. However, as Tim mentioned, it still needs to be made more user friendly.
Sustainability is all about identity. It is complicated to communicate the link between identity
and performance to the investment community. The market place is traditional, pragmatic and
slow to change its attitudes. Efforts must be made to communicate with investors, make reports
more readable for investors, and co-ordinate investor communications.
Session Title:
Day, Time, Room:
Values & Identity:
Building Loyalty Beyond the Call of Duty
David Wheeler, Schulich School of Business, York University
Adine Mees, Canadian Business for Social Responsibility
8:15 a.m., Friday, April 5, Room 320, 22 attendees
Adine addressed four main themes: the articulation of values, acting on values, values shifts,
and embedding values in the daily operations. The articulation of values is the first step towards
becoming a values driven organization. In entrepreneur led organizations, the values of
entrepreneur tend to be the values of the organization. Entrepreneur led companies take more
risks and are more innovative when acting on their values. Manager led organizations are more
likely to use verification processes such as social audits and reports on environmental and
social performance. The values of an organization are most likely to shift when there is a
change in ownership (e.g., buyout, merger) or leadership (i.e., CEO). As one participant put it,
to stay true to your values, you have to have so embedded in daily practice that they are "CEOproof". Embedding values in to the fabric of daily business is a major challenge. It often leaves
committed people feeling burnt out or marginalized. When Canadian Business for Social
Responsibility (CBSR) works to help its members embed values the first thing they look for is
a written commitment or ethical policy. That is often combined with stand-alone programs that
express the organization's values.
The next phase is to institutionalize the commitment to the values by putting in place
management systems that track and measure performance against values relevant outcomes.
This often involves third party verification. The most difficult step is to systematize practices
that are core to the business, as opposed to stand-alone philanthropic activities. Stakeholder
engagement and dialogue usually requires going back to revisit the written commitments and
policies. Bringing the values of stakeholders into the picture means being willing to revise the
embedded practices.
David gave examples of how this process unfolded at The Body Shop. When they got to the
point of stakeholder engagement, competitors started entering their niche. That stalled their
growth. Without the growth, the task of using stakeholder engagement as a driver to
organizational change became overwhelming. There was rapid turnover in senior management.
Financial priorities began to take precedence.
The ensuing discussion covered several points.
 ISO 14001 might do more harm than good because it takes up so much time that could
otherwise be used more creatively.
 The various departments of a company should each be treated as stakeholders first.
 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) people have to be intimate with the core business.
They should work in various departments before trying to embed values in daily practice.
 As governments in developed countries cut back, and business and NGOs move into
countries with weak governments, businesses and NGOs are being forced to change.
Businesses must be more values driven. NGOs must be run in a more business-like way.
 As CBSR and others become more successful in making businesses more values driven, a
generic CSR orientation loses its power to distinguish any one company. Further values
articulation is then needed.
Session Title:
Day, Time, Room:
Designing for Engagement:
Changing the Way We Change Organizations
Dick and Emily Axelrod, The Axelrod Group
8:15 a.m., Friday, April 5, Room 420, 12 attendees
Dick and Emily presented eight principles to guide the design of meetings to create an
environment for people to become engaged. Throughout the session, they embodied these
principles in action, for example by using different learning methods and having the group
apply the principles to the design of a meeting that one of the participants was planning.
1. Personal connection enables high performance: Space has to be made for people to get to
know one another as individuals. Real change occurs in a community, so taking the time to
connect, legitimizing the personal element and creating safety are important.
2. Engage the whole person: People have different learning styles so try to incorporate visual,
audio, kinaesthetic (movement) and tactile (e.g. props) experiences into the design. Adults learn
mostly through experience, so design activities for people to work through themselves.
3. Make the whole visible: Use activities such as mapping to allow people to understand the
whole system and how parts are connected. This helps people feel more in control. It can build
a collective picture of the current reality and show directions for the future.
4. Foster curiosity: Encourage playfulness, use exaggeration or polarization, or take things
apart and put them back together – this all supports creativity and enhances learning by getting
participants back to mindset of childlike curiosity.
5. Establish and hold tension: It is important not to force resolution. Design so that participants
feel the tension of the current reality – most people do not like the tension and become
motivated to resolve it. It is important to stay with the tension and let it set in. Often in multiday meetings people leave feeling the tension and return the next day refreshed and motivated
to move on to solutions.
6. Take time to reflect: For better learning and creativity there needs to be an antidote to a “do
and decide” mentality of constant action. Some practices to encourage this include
opportunities for journaling, silence, taking a walk or just sleeping on it.
7. Enable people to discover what they know naturally: When people believe they are smart,
they act smart. It builds self-esteem and confidence to have people identify problems and
resolve them themselves.
8. Public commitments create momentum: Give people the option of making realistic and
simple commitments in front of the group. It also helps to ask people to identify a “buddy” to
make sure they see though the commitment.
These principles can be applied to any design, but the exact practices and techniques used
should vary according to the specific needs of each group and situation.
Session Title:
Day, Time, Room:
Developing a Stakeholder Strategy
Ann Svendsen, Centre for Innovation in Management, SFU
Lynn M. Calder, Shell Canada Resources
8:15 a.m., Friday, April 5, Room 370, 25 attendees
Ann noted that the sources of wealth creation and competitive advantage have become much
more intangible: reputation, alliances, know-how, brands, etc. Since these intangibles depend
on stakeholder perceptions, it is important for management to develop positive stakeholder
Ann proposed a set of steps to follow for the development of a stakeholder strategy:
 Assess existing relationships
 Identify key stakeholders (immediate and extended)
 Engage stakeholder opinion formers in on-going dialogue
 Clarify mutual expectations and needs/ goals
 Develop stakeholder strategy linked to business plan
She then presented the “F.O.S.T.E.R.” model for stakeholder relationship building. It is an
organizing framework that has six critical elements:
 Foundation: Creating a foundation of social vision and values;
 Organization alignment;
 Stakeholder engagement;
 Trust-building;
 Evaluation and measurement;
 Renewal.
Ann emphasized that top management must be committed and must engage stakeholders
proactively, starting with employees. Also, she underlined the mutuality in stakeholder
relationships by saying “We don’t manage relationships, we build them”.
Lynn Calder, Manager of Public Consultation at Shell Canada, presented the case of on the
Ferrier sour gas project that caused Shell to re-evaluate and redesign its public consultation
program. She showed a portion of “The Worst Scenario”, a documentary video about this case.
Lynn explained what the stakes were in this conflict and reviewed the public consultation
program, the causes of its failure, the opportunities for improvement, some recommendations
for action, and Shell’s vision of public consultation’s future. Shell knows they have the
capability to extract sour gas in a safe way, but that they failed to convince the public.
The group discussion that followed covered topics like the competencies needed to conduct a
successful consultation program and get stakeholder support, the advantages and strategic
benefits that arise from putting partners together, and company behaviours toward stakeholders
when it withdraws from a community. One participant suggested that, instead of provoking
frictions and then trying to resolve conflicts, organizations should begin by trying to determine
what they could do to promote a better society.
Session Title:
Day, Time, Room:
Becoming a Change-Able Organization:
How to Make Fast Changes
Jake Jacobs, Robert Jacobs and Associates
8:15 a.m., Friday, April 5, Room 470, 24 attendees
Jake challenged the participants to let go of their assumptions and preconceived notions and to
walk away with big ideas. He began by presenting a model of our Work/Life (where we do and
be) as the intersection of our Guiding Ideas (our principles & assumptions), Theories & Tools
(the step by step practice we use) and Innovations in Infrastructure (the context in which we
find ourselves). This was followed with six principles of Real Time Strategic Change to
accelerate and sustain change in an organization:
 Think and act in real time: think and act as if you were the organization you want to
 Get clear on your preferred future: create a compelling vision of where you want to go.
 Create community: develop an environment where people come together as part of
something larger than themselves.
 Build common understanding: ensure that key information flows so that people can know
the big picture.
 Make reality a key driver: don’t oversimplify; seek to make sense of the complex,
ambiguous issues.
 Empower and engage: find out who the key stakeholders are and engage them in working
He then guided the participants through a practical tool to aid in achieving the stated goal of the
session: to move further, faster into our desired futures (and those of other stakeholders) by
busting assumptions we have about our world and the way it works.
In order to allow first-hand experience at applying this tool, Jake directed the participants to
divide into groups of three or four and guided them through the following steps:
1. Identify the challenge or need for change (using a real situation faced by one of the group
2. Brainstorm about who the stakeholders are.
3. Think from the perspective of each of the stakeholders.
4. Describe the typical approach you use in response to the challenge and the typical results
you get.
5. Identify the underlying assumptions of the way you are operating.
6. Challenge one of your assumptions (preferably the most sacred, untouchable assumption!).
As the group worked through this process, Jake related a case study of using the tool with one
of his clients, an auto insurer. He described how a new employee who had not picked up the
company’s familiar prejudices challenged the company’s assumption that the auto body shops
with which they worked were out to “rip them off”. This led to an innovative change in the
company’s relationship with the auto body shops. The company chose to develop preferred
service provider relationships with auto body shops they could trust, rather than pursuing the
usual drawn-out haggling with the shops. The new, less adversarial relationship with the auto
body shops created a less stressful workplace and better results for the company.
Session Title:
Day, Time, Room:
Creating and Engaged Workforce:
Building the Inner Workplace
Don Haythorne and Myriam Laberge,
Breakthroughs UNLIMITED Inc.
8:15 a.m., Friday, April 5, Concourse Level
Myriam and Don opened the session by modelling engagement – discovering who was in the
room and why. What would energize (motivate) the participants to engage? Then, Myriam
described our changing business environment as we move from the Industrial Age, through the
Information Age to the Awareness Age. Social and cultural capitals are the emerging source of
competitive advantage, with the cultural capital being the measure of internal relationships, and
social capital the quality of relationships with external stakeholders.
Myriam then drew the contrast between outer architecture (external stakeholders) and inner
architecture (the employees). The premise of the ‘Inner Workplace’ is that the potential for
healthy and positive external relationships (strong social capital) is determined by the
organization’s cultural capital and that this decisive element is often ignored. In other words, a
strong, healthy internal culture enables the potential of becoming a stakeholder responsive
After citing some powerful McKinsey and Hewitt research, Don explained that this model has
evolved out of Breakthroughs’ organization transformation work. Recognizing that there are
four levels of human needs (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) the model suggests that
personal motivation occurs when an organization supports the needs of the whole person, as
opposed to the historical focus on only physical and mental needs. The process begins with an
inventory completed by employees to measure their motivations and satisfaction in a variety of
areas, energies, motivations and dimensions. The full model can be viewed by going to, clicking on “Our Services", and then clicking on "Inner
Myriam facilitated a discussion on the differences between a job, a career, and a mission. The
group agreed that the highest degree of commitment and personal satisfaction is to a personal
mission which fits with the organization’s vision, and the importance of having the ‘whole self’
of each person safe and welcomed in the organizational environment. This reinforced a
comment made by Peter Senge the previous day that the ‘real change (the shift) occurs when a
person is no longer willing to live a divided life’.
In closing, Don observed that ROI comparisons now show that the soft stuff matters!
Companies already acknowledge the importance of the human capital (i.e., knowledge, skills)
of their employees. Now they are starting to recognize the importance of the social capital too
(i.e., networks of relationships).
Session Title:
Day, Time, Room:
The Stakeholder 360:
Measuring the Quality of Stakeholder Relationships
Robert Boutilier, Centre for Innovation in Management, SFU
10:15 a.m., Friday, April 5, Room 320, 32 attendees
Bob reviewed the benefits of having positive impacts on stakeholders and then explained that
the best way to achieve them is to begin with a focus on the quality of the relationships with
those stakeholders. He said that a great deal of research in management and sociology points to
the importance of three primary factors in determining how likely it is that two organizational
will collaborate to solve a problem that has no obvious solution and that no one can solve
The first factor is talking. Do the parties communicate with each other? The second is trusting.
Does the relationship have reciprocity, honesty, fairness, similarity, dependability, and any of
the many other elements that contribute to trust? The third is thinking. Do the two parties use
the same language, make the same assumptions, and seek the same visions for the future?
These "three T's" have been shown to be associated with highly collaborative interorganizational relationships. In most cases, organizations seek collaboration with their
stakeholders. For that reason, Bob equated relationship quality with those qualities that most
strongly promote inter-organizational collaboration.
The Stakeholder 360 measures each party's perception of the other on talking, trusting, and
thinking. It also measures their motivation to collaborate in terms of how high the stakes are in
the problem area and how interdependent the parties are in terms of developing solutions. The
first step in using the Stakeholder 360 is to identify the stakeholder groups and organizations.
The next step is to interview two or three leaders from each organization. The assumption is
that these people reflect, direct, and create the opinions of the members of their organizations.
Therefore, the Stakeholder 360 is a census of opinion leaders, not a random sample of
individual stakeholders.
Bob showed how to graph the findings using an example from his research in Papua New
Guinean community where there was a mine that was closing. One graph showed how to
identify relationships with too wide a gap between the quality and the importance of the
relationships. He described how the Stakeholder 360 findings diagnosed the root problems in
various wide-gap relationships. Some needed more communication. Another needed more trust.
A third needed more common understanding. Another graph showed how the links between
organizations form different network patterns. Different patterns are appropriate for different
situations and tasks.
The discussion covered topics like the arithmetic of combining questionnaire responses in to
relationship quality scores, the benefits of having dialogues with stakeholders about the
findings, and the importance of being open to changing your plans or objectives in order to
achieve higher quality relationships.
Session Title:
Day, Time, Room:
Social Auditing as a Learning Process
Susan Todd, Solstice Consulting
Tim Reeve, VanCity Credit Union
10:15 a.m., Friday, April 5, Room 420, 10 attendees
Susan argued that many companies are not yet reaping the full benefits of social auditing
because they do not connect engagement with their learning infrastructure. Tim outlined how
VanCity Credit Union has embraced social auditing as a way to learn and adapt.
The term “social auditing” refers to social and ethical accounting, auditing, and reporting. It is a
way for an organization to measure, report and improve on its social performance. To
undertake social auditing, the involvement of stakeholders and an independent auditor is key.
Susan outlined a cyclical social audit process based on the AA1000 framework developed by
the Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability:
 Review policies and commitments: company defines how they engage with stakeholders
 Decide audit scope: with the expectation that eventually it will encompass all interactions
 Stakeholder-based design: involve stakeholders in defining what and how to measure
 Define indicators: an external auditor can observe the process, advise on industry standards
 Stakeholder consultations: gather data from external sources
 Gather and test data: from inside the organization. An external auditor tests the data.
 Draft report: be balanced and humble!
 Set commitments and targets: company’s management decides what it will and will not do
 Auditor signs off on report
 Disclosure: make report and commitments public
 Stakeholder dialogue: ask stakeholders “did we get it right?”
Susan made the distinction between first and second-generation approaches to social auditing.
Most companies are motivated to undertake audits primarily due to a need for accountability. In
this “first generation”, the premise is that audits build trust and accountability. The objective is
to embed stakeholders in the business process and the desired outcome is business results that
meet the needs of stakeholders.
A smaller number of companies adopt a “second generation” approach from an inner
motivation of learning. The premise is that stakeholder engagement drives innovation. It creates
insights into new opportunities and risks. From this may come commercially rewarding
innovations. The objective is therefore increased responsiveness to stakeholders. The outcome
is on improved value for all stakeholders. In this way the social audit becomes much more than
just a report.
Tim illustrated the concrete changes made at VanCity as a result of their social audits, first
undertaken in 1996. VanCity developed an overarching ethical framework to guide its business
and the ongoing audit process. Now they have embedded social auditing into the business
planning cycle. The social audit is helping VanCity fully integrate financial, environmental,
and social elements of its business. VanCity aims to produce a single, comprehensive annual
report by 2005. However, Tim said it is still a challenge to remain objective and measure
performance while the indicators are constantly changing as result of the audit process.
Session Title:
Day, Time, Room:
Designing and Convening Stakeholder Dialogue
Anne Lawrence, San Jose State University
Myriam Laberge, Breakthroughs UNLIMITED Inc.
Catherine Auger, Health Canada
10:15 a.m., Friday, April 5, Room 370, approx. 28 attendees
Anne introduced the definitions of stakeholders - quite simply those who have a stake in the
actions an organization takes - and dialogue, whose meaning is often misinterpreted. Dialogue
is a “collective, multiparty conversation that seeks to draw on the understanding of all parties to
develop solutions that none of them, acting alone, could have envisioned or implemented”. It is
not restricted to two people and it contrasts with debate, which is about defending an answer
presumed to be correct. Dialogue is not adversarial but collaborative. Dialogue tends to
increase the quality and range of solutions, build trust, and increase the chances for success
because the parties to the discussion assume “ownership” of the solution.
Myriam followed this with a story-telling activity in which each member of the group
contributed one word each in turn. Amidst the laughter, the group reflected on how dialogue
allows us to create stories together. Then, after dividing into smaller groups, Myriam instructed
each group to ask each other in turn “Why engage stakeholders?” In the feedback session,
participants remarked that as the initial awkwardness of repeating the same question wore off,
they noticed how they began to build on each other’s metaphors and draw out new insights.
This experience demonstrated the practical benefits of engaging stakeholders, rather than doing
it simply because it is “the right thing to do”.
Catherine continued with a discussion on creating the conditions for dialogue, drawing on the
experience of the group. Suggestions for creating comfort with dialogue included:
 Give the participants a preview of the typical group dynamics of a session of dialogue.
 Set out behavioural guidelines for those who are unfamiliar with dialogue processes.
 Be careful to gauge the group beforehand.
This was followed by a lively discussion led by Anne on when dialogue would and would not
work. The participant's ideas were as follows:
Dialogue is Not Appropriate
 Predetermined outcome exists
 Stakeholders don’t care
 Problem is very simple
 Immediately following violent or extreme
 Time pressure exists, or required result is
an action
Dialogue is Appropriate
 Challenge is ongoing and difficult
 Shared, complex, or value-laden problem
 Multi-party or cross-cultural problem
 Time to carry the process through
 Solution requires interdependence
Catherine closed the session by describing her experience with Health Canada building internal
capacity for dialogue. She shared how they were developing a community of practice drawing
on nation-wide expertise and knowledge, and what practical tools they were using.
Session Title:
Day, Time, Room:
Using the Internet for Citizen Engagement
Alexandra Samuel, Harvard & University of British Columbia
10:15 a.m., Friday, April 5, Room 470, 12 attendees
The main subject of this session was the use of the Internet as a tool for stakeholder
engagement. Alexandra said there are reasons to think that Internet can increase the level of
social capital.
She introduced the session by listing some Internet characteristics and some advantages of
Internet engagement. Then she presented the steps to follow in using the Internet as part of an
engagement strategy. They are:
 Prioritize the goals: legitimization vs social capital
 Specify the mandate: information to decision-making
 Identify the success factors
 Choose the method(s)
She showed a few websites as examples of organizations using the Internet to communicate
with stakeholders. She then asked the participants to answer a few questions about how and
why they would use the Internet in their organization, and to share their responses with the
Some issues were raised in the group discussion that followed. First, the participants pointed
out the difficulty of joining the people you really want to join. Because of easiness and the
anonymity of the medium, a representative sample of the critical stakeholders of a project, or
an organization, can be hard to get. Second, participants were concerned with the processing
and the management of the information collected. It can generate a very high volume. Finally,
participants agreed that the challenge is to build relationships and trust by using the Internet,
and to increase the quality of online communication.
Session Title:
Day, Time, Room:
Centred on the Edge:
Harnessing Collective Intelligence and Spiritual Wisdom
Alan Briskin
10:30 a.m., Friday, April 5, Concourse Level, 24 attendees
Alan began by asking what questions participants were bringing to the room. Some sample
questions were:
 How much truth is tolerable in an organization?
 How do we build certainty into our operating life systems without losing innovation,
growth & change?
 What ‘strategic’ truths do people use?
 How do we get to the whole truth?
 What is it about collective intelligence that allows people to align in intent and action?
 How do we get to ‘right time’ and ‘right relationship’?
The group gave responses and comments to these questions in a non-structured way, allowing a
moment of silence between contributions and with the group listening deeply to what was being
Alan then read a ‘patterning’ story from Centered on the Edge. In his research he began to see
patterns in stories and interviews. These often involved an unexpected turn of events, a healing,
and a clarity that spirit can be made manifest in action.
During this time others came in to join the group (as much as an hour into the session) and later
commented how welcomed they felt as the circle opened to include them upon their arrival.
When he completed reading the story, Alan asked for comments from the group. In response to
the story one participant had an ‘unexpected’ emotional reaction, with the story actually being
the catalyst for a painful personal/organizational experience she is currently processing. A
profound sense of safety, support and kinship emerged in this group of relative strangers.
The Eight Patterning Elements were passed out and read at random by participants. The
elements were:
 Love
 Storytelling
 Movement of the whole
 Surprise, mystery and alchemy
 Synchronicity
 Quickening
 Silence
There was a closing dialogue on these elements and principles of collective intelligence. The
participants expressed an appreciation of how the depth and quality of the group
communication can unleash unexpected and very valuable outcomes and wisdom, for the
individual and the collective.
All conference participants have a copy of Centred on the Edge with an invitation from Alan
for feedback and experience with the material and the concepts. An optional ‘Dialogue’ from
this session is available on request.