29 Sep

Two days well spent: The Relational Thinking International Conference 2015

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Photograph by Julian Claxton

A ground breaking event emerged from 100 participants belonging to 19 nations (Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, and the USA).

The theme was “Relational Risk and Sustainability”, and participants presented, listened to, and discussed ideas in plenary sessions and in specialist tracks on business, international development and public services, in order to examine how to build strength in companies, organizations and communities around the world.

The ground covered included: the global economy, business, management, leadership, good governance, peace-building, freedom of thought, politics, international aid, development, measuring and mitigating Relational Risk in companies and supply chains, and how Relational Risk surfaces and can be managed in public sector organizations working together as well as with communities, schools and health care systems.

Peter Lacey, Co-ordinator of the Public Services Track (education, health care, community work), concludes that “public sector organisations have perhaps been too quick, with their local community’s implicit consent, to ‘take responsibility’ for key areas of provision rather than to work in partnership; and that greater community engagement in these areas should contribute to, and result in a greater focus on, the prevention agenda.”

Here is the list of Presenters at the Conference (all speaking in their personal capacity, and unless mentioned otherwise, they are UK-based):

  • Nabeel Al-Azami / IR Worldwide, Murabbi Consulting
  • John Ashcroft / Relationships Foundation
  • Jyoti Banerjee / International Integrated Reporting Council
  • Julia Bicknell / World Watch Monitor
  • Brendan Bromwich / Consultant
  • Sir Paul Coleridge / Marriage Foundation
  • Andy Corley / Quadralene Ltd
  • Beat Fasnacht-Müller / Businessman and social entrepreneur, Switzerland
  • Matthew Frost / Tearfund
  • Ram Gidoomal CBE / Fair Trade Pioneers Traidcraft plc, Traidcraft Exchange
  • Dr. The Lord Maurice Glasman / London Metropolitan University
  • Dr Khataza Gondwe / Christian Solidarity Worldwide
  • Dr Janet Goodall / University of Bath
  • Professor Prabhu Guptara, William Carey University, India
  • Beris Gwynne / World Vision International, Switzerland
  • Robert Hall / Author and speaker, USA
  • Per Holmström / Region Örebro County, Sweden
  • Dr Justine Huxley / St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace
  • Dr Nick Isbister / Listening Partnership Ltd
  • Revd Dr Jeremy Ive / Relational Peacebuilding Initiatives
  • H.E. Peter Kallaghe / High Commissioner for the United Republic of Tanzania
  • John Kennedy / Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust
  • Trish Knight / Whole Systems Partnership Ltd
  • Dr Danny Kruger / Political commentator, co-founder of Only Connect
  • Professor Dale Kuehne / Saint Anselm College, USA
  • Jeff Latsa / Global Hope Network International, Switzerland
  • Jeremy Lefroy / Member of Parliament
  • Rob Loe / Relational Schools Project
  • Dr Ted Malloch / Saïd Business School
  • Jill McLachlan / The Academy for Chief Executives
  • Prof. Colleen McLaughlin / University of Sussex
  • Dr Paul Mills / IMF (speaking in his own capacity)
  • Dr Koleka Mlisana / University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
  • Dr Zolile Mlisana / District Hospital in Soweto, Forensa, South Africa
  • Vincent Neate / KPMG
  • Pádraig Ó Tuama / Corrymeela Community, Northern Ireland
  • Susan Pinker / Author, Canada
  • Prof. Julian Rivers / University of Bristol Law School
  • Adrian Sieff / The Health Foundation
  • Dr Sarah Snyder / Rose Castle International Centre for Reconciliation
  • David Strang QPM / HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Scotland
  • Richard Thorby / Matrix Consulting
  • Dr Arleen Westerhof / European Economic Summit, Netherlands
  • Prof. Bob White FRS / University of Cambridge
  • Tim Young / Renuma Consulting Ltd

Responses from participants and speakers were enthusiastic and included the following:

“I was amazed at the variety of contents presented and the quality of the presentations”

“I appreciate the wide range of speakers/backgrounds/industries”

“I was surprised by the breadth of the subject…”

“Very thought provoking, and good opportunity to network with others of like mind”.

“Was great to be presented with material outside my realm of interest”

“Thank you. Two days well spent”

New Initiatives

The Relational Academics Forum held its first public Symposium on 16 September, Chaired by Professor Julian Rivers, and focused on the carefully chosen fields of Theorizing and Measuring Relationality, Relational Perspectives on Social Development, on Health Care, and on Corporate Governance & Finance (authors: Brendan Bromwich, Dr. Paul Grimshaw, Dr. Henk Hadders, Dr Jeremy G.A. Ive, Peter Lacey, Sarah Pawlett Jackson, Professor Linda McGowan, Dr. Elaine McNichol, Dr. Zolile Mlisana, Alexandre Gajevic Sayegh and Lorna Zischka). The 25 participants decided that the initiative should be continued, and a committee is tasked to organize the 2nd Symposium next year. If interested in the Forum or the Symposium, please contact Ms Marjon Busstra, m.busstra@relationalresearch.org

 

 

27 Mar

Transforming Business

SONY DSC

If you’re thinking of attending this years Relational Thinking conference in Cambridge, from 16-18 September, here is an event that you might be interested in. On the 15-16 September, Transforming Business, a research and development project based in the University of Cambridge, are holding the Oxford and Cambridge Symposium for Enterprise, Ethics and Development 2015 (SEED).

More details will follow but the theme for SEED 2015 is ‘Virtuous Business in Human Flourishing’ and the symposia are research-based yet practice-oriented. As such, they are not merely academic but aim to fulfil a fivefold objective: inquire – inform – innovate – inspire – impact. They are geared towards the practical value, not merely the innate value, of new knowledge and fresh thinking.

We are pleased to be able to offer a 20% discount to SEED 2015 delegates who wish to attend the Relational Thinking International conference, while they are offering a 20% discount for their conference to delegates of the Relational Thinking conference.

If you are interested in receiving an invitation to SEED 2015, please drop Transforming Business a line here, and put the dates in your diary, as space will again be limited.

Picture by Helena Eriksson

24 Mar

Building more relational roads

Mill road resurfaced and without centre line

Mill Road after its resurfacing.


By Samuel Fisher

Mill Road in Cambridge, UK, is well established locally as an ‘alternative’ area popular with both local residents and international visitors alike.  It is famous for international supermarkets, independent shops, restaurants and cafes not to mention a great variety of pubs.  For locals it has also been perceived as a place that has been beyond the reach of the University, which otherwise has a strong presence across the city.

In the past few months Mill Road has undergone another transformation that continues to uphold its reputation for being slightly alternative; after resurfacing the road Cambridge City Council, as a trial, has decided not to replace the white centre-line that adorns every other major, single lane road in the city.

In orthodox highway design philosophy the centre-line is considered necessary to delineate where vehicles can travel to avoid oncoming traffic. It was self evident this approach improves safety and efficiency. Or so it was assumed.

There is an emerging street design philosophy that emanates from the late Dutch urbanist Hans Monderman that takes, in my view, a more relational approach to considering the purpose of streets.  In the case of Mill Road it is accepted that the road is so narrow that cars find it difficult to overtake cyclists. It is argued by the Council that the centre-line caused a further, subliminal, obstacle to overtaking drivers since the centre-lines highlighted that drivers were infringing upon the ‘wrong’ side of the road. By removing the centre lines it was argued that drivers would feel less encumbered by the orthodox laws and give cyclists a wider berth when overtaking them.

More broadly Hans Monderman understood a wider benefit to this approach; for drivers, the absence of a centre-line increases the perception of hazard from oncoming vehicles. This naturally encourages drivers to pay more attention to their driving and the activity of other road users.  It may not increase eye to eye contact with other road users but, from personal experience, it does certainly make you more aware of how you are interacting with the vehicles around you (and by extension, those driving them).

My argument is that the built environment often provides both symbols of the dominant socio-political paradigm of the day and physical mechanisms to facilitate behaviour favourable to that paradigm. Whether intended or unintended it is possible to view centre-lines as both relational detractors and an omnipresent symbol of relational detractors elsewhere in our everyday lives.  Whilst the centre-line purports to be a safety aid it actually creates a law that, so long as we adhere to it, enables us (perhaps even encourages us) to largely ignore those around us. Subconsciously its message is ‘stick to your lane and you can enjoy right-of-way, moreover you will hardly need to think about any other road user.’  Whilst ostensibly innocuous the centre-lines, as the argument of the Council goes, even discourage drivers from providing the greatest level  protection to the most vulnerable road users – cyclists.  So in some very small way, whilst giving the illusion of safety and order, the centre-line it is argued acts as both a relational detractor and works against the most vulnerable.

If these potential safety benefits were not reason enough to rethink their use, there is also the added benefit that Mill Road simply looks much better without them.

Whilst it might appear to be counter-intuitive, the Mill Road trial continues and it has my full support.

Samuel Fisher graduated from Cambridge University in Architecture before becoming a chartered town planner. He now researches on relational cities and is a policy development partner for the Relational Schools Project.

13 Mar

Registration for 2015 International Conference now open!

Conference banner

We’re pleased to announce that registration for the 2015 Relational Thinking International Conference is now open! You can register here.

You can expect a full two-day programme with interesting and inspiring speakers. Some of those who have confirmed are

  • Sir Paul Coleridge (UK), Former high court judge in the family division. Founder and chairman of Marriage Foundation.
  • Prabhu Guptara (India), Distinguished Professor of Global Business, Management and Public Policy, William Carey University.
  • Beris Gwynne (Australia), Director and Representative to the UN for World Vision International in Geneva, Switzerland ; former Australian Diplomat.
  • Robert E. Hall (USA), Author, Consultant, and former company Co-Founder and CEO.
  • Per Holmström (Sweden),Manager, EU Funds for East Central Sweden 2014-2020.
  • Rob Loe (UK),Education Research Director, Relational Schools Project.
  • Dr Michael Schluter CBE (UK), Author, speaker, and founder of the Relational Thinking movement.
  • Dato’ Dr Kim Tan (Malaysia), Founder and Chairman, NCI Cancer Hospital (Malaysia)  and Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine.
  • Dr. Robert White (UK), Professor of Geophysics in the Earth Sciences department at Cambridge University.

For more names, a briefing paper on Relational Risk and tickets, please visit the Conference web page. We hope to be able to welcome you in Cambridge in September!

03 Mar

Relational Thinking International Conference: Relational Risk & Sustainability

Cambridge

This years Relational Thinking conference will bring together thinkers and practitioners from around the world to look at the issue of Relational Risk; how it manifests itself in different contexts and how we can learn to manage and build with it: from business to the environment and from international relations to communities.

We’re pleased to announce that the following speakers are confirmed for our annual conference:

  • Professor Bob White (Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth Sciences at Cambridge)
  • Dr. Ted Malloch (Research Fellow at the SAID Business School and former US Ambassador to the World Trade Organization),
  • Dato Dr Kim Tan (Scientist and investor), and
  • Mrs Beris Gwynne (Director Global Advocacy, World Vision).

Conference registration will be up very soon on our website, so watch this space!

RTN Conference

 

05 Nov

Relational Thinking™ International Conference 2015

CambridgeSquare

CAMBRIDGE – After the successful Relational Thinking™ conference earlier this year in South Africa, we’ve started to prepare for next year’s International Conference. We’re excited to announce that the theme will be Relational Risk & Sustainability: Building strong companies, organisations and communities.

In a time where the world faces a variety of challenges on many different levels, relational risk surfaces in almost every area, from schools to healthcare to business to family.

Please note the dates in your diary – it will be from 16-18 September 2015 in Cambridge, UK.

More news will follow in due course, so watch this space.

Hope to see you all there!