Dear Partners, Associates and friends of GRLI
‘The most sublime act is to set another before you’ — William Blake
There is nothing more grounding than reading the words written in a previous year foretelling what is to come, the people to be involved and actions planned. Those words are often compiled in a state of calm intention, knowing there is much to do, believing that the year to come will be full of unknowns and challenges, located within a context brimming with change but one that overall will allow for continuity and a degree of consistency in thought and deed. So it was in December 2019.
For the Core Team of John North, Anders Aspling and Claire Sommer, early 2020 was such a time, allowing as it did for the honing and fine tuning of the GRLI’s core message and essential intent. As indicated at our AGM, John has worked tirelessly and successfully on creating a sound infrastructure based on espoused and practised values, which regardless of ever-changing landscapes remain pertinent to the times. Building on firm relational foundations, the partners of the GRLI co-created effective, transparent, action-oriented projects, connections and governance structures, serving then as now as vigilant guardians of the integrity of the GRLI. We worked from the ‘outside in’ .
In the middle of 2020, the world we know was transformed into an unrecognisable and for some unimaginable landscape. We have moved from a planned environment with elements of emergence to one of evolving and shifting scenarios with moments of planned activity. The GRLI’s modus operandi of virtual gatherings and meetings accelerated, and our early adoption of zoom meant we were quickly able to maintain our connections with our Partners and Associates.
Thanks to The Antwerp Management School, we experienced our first virtual Deans and Directors Cohort in November. A Zoom-enabled, in-and-out ease-of- access enabled over seventy Deans, Directors and business leaders from around the globe to engage in exploration and experimentation. The Cohort and the Partnership reinforced itself as a global community of responsible action and hope focussed on how all of us learn and facilitate learning, how we live and make a living, and how we lead and for what purpose.
As agreed with our Partners, the Core Team continued to work on the co-creation of a strategic direction that enables the GRLI to amplify and accelerate our work on global responsibility, through every action, intention and relationship, whilst holding true to our roots and principles of being the best for the world rather than being the best in the world. We know and understand that we now more than ever we have a responsibility to do more than ever and, in all humility, we believe the GRLI is in the best position possible to strengthen and grow not, we hasten to add, for growth’s sake but to grow in impact, in diversity and representation, in engagement, experimentation, collaboration and connection. The time is right to turn the GRLI ‘inside out’.
Over the coming year, we will be calling out to you, our Partners, Associates, individual and institutional, and inviting you to get closer to the core; to increase our numbers at Partner level so there is even more influence and involvement in our governance and direction of travel. We will be extending our geographical reach, engaging with more organisations, corporations and businesses, including management education but also beyond, in order to ensure we are not only representative but much more global and diverse. We want to convene, facilitate and encourage dialogue across traditional boundaries, ensuring we meet complexity with inquiry and inquiry with action.
We recognise that in such challenging and straitened times, taking such action may be counter-intuitive. So often when the external context is uncertain, organisations and corporations hunker down until the storm has passed. The orientation of the GRLI has always been one of experimentation and so we reach out to co-create a ‘contagion of boldness’, to utilise these disrupted times to best advantage, the aim being to avoid any return to even a hint of business as usual.
Within an ever changing context, however, there is always some constancy. Whilst taking nothing for granted, I wish to express my sincere thanks to those people and institutions who have remained committed to the GRLI throughout the last year: our strategic partners EFMD and AACSB International, our ever vigilant and influential Guardians, and Board. In particular, thanks to Vanessa Duckenfield as Chair of the Guardians and to Professor Sheila Killian of the University of Limerick for another year of external oversight on our Audit Committee. And thanks to you, our Partners, associates and colleagues of the GRLI, all of whom are committed to utilising these strange times to ensure we do not surrender to the conventional and the ordinary, but keep pushing for substantial and impactful change that is beneficial to all of us on this fragile and beautiful planet.
On behalf of the GRLI, I wish you health, love, and joy in 2021 whatever you may be doing or where-ever you may be at this time of the year.
Chair: GRLI Foundation