This is the end of my first year as CEO of Common Purpose in the
UK. It has been a long year!
Keeping focused as the UK has struggled, delivering our courses
which seem ever more relevant as we continue our efforts to connect
leaders locally and nationally across UK cities and taking
advantage of the growth of Common Purpose internationally to forge
new links for the UK around the world.
It's incredibly exciting that in my first year as CEO of the UK,
we successfully launched two new Ventures - Dao Xiang (between
London and Shanghai) and Itijah (between cities of the Arab world and
cities of Europe) in addition to Dishaa (between India and the UK) - to link
leaders in the UK with leaders in other countries. I am truly
delighted with the continued support of Prime Minister David
Cameron as Patron of Dishaa and Mayor Boris Johnson as Advisory
Group Member of Dao Xiang.
All this could not have been possible without the help of our
alumni, Advisory Groups and supporters giving us your valuable time
to speak and contribute on our courses. Thank you very much, and
all of us at Common Purpose UK look forward to working with you in
Common Purpose Ventures connect future leaders, across the
world, to tackle challenges which are common and compelling, big
(enough to be worth the effort) and small (enough to be grasped).
Ventures encourage participants to work in new directions to
develop innovative approaches to new (and old) problems - this is
why the names of all our Ventures mean "direction".
In the first week of July London played host to the inaugural Dao Xiang Venture, bringing together a diverse
group of leaders from Shanghai and London to tackle the challenge
of making our cities more sustainable and resilient for future
generations. The week has proven to be a huge success and the
collaboration demonstrated throughout was of the highest calibre.
The enthusiasm and willingness of the group to delve deeper into
the challenge they had been set was clear to see, and we are
delighted with the results that they have been able to produce over
the 4 days. The challenge was:
With rapidly rising urbanisation (more than 50% of people
now live in cities, expected to rise to 70% by 2050), we need to
find new ways of making cities sustainable and resilient. What
practical mechanisms for collaboration could be established that
would allow ground breaking action on the social challenges facing
London and Shanghai?
Participants had the opportunity to learn from a series of
speakers, visits, panel discussions and innovation processes, and
also from the individual experiences of the group. The group
also met with key individuals in the field of sustainability such
as Ian Short, Chief Executive of the Institute for Sustainability,
David Wardle from the Environment Agency, Helen Woolston from
TFL, Paul Grover of WYG Group, Mark Bradbury of Think Vertical
and Peter Head CBE of the Ecological Sequestration Trust, all of
whom gave key insights into the social challenges our group would
have to bear in mind as they broke the challenge down into its
various elements, as well as the growing need for new ways of
On the visits we looked at challenges facing infrastructure,
social housing, the movement of people and business, regeneration
and collaboration between organisations at the highest level with
visits to the Institute for Sustainability, Good Homes Alliance,
Liverpool in London, The Useful Simple Trust and the London Legacy
Throughout the Venture the group explored the role of leadership as
an instrument of change. The process of innovation was at the core
of the week with the group exploring the barriers evident across
both London and Shanghai which hinder people from innovating at the
The Venture allowed the group to really immerse themselves into the
challenge, giving them a deep understanding of the key issues they
would have to examine in order to effectively develop a new
practical mechanism for collaboration that would allow for ground
breaking action on sustainability across both cities.
The group has now created initial prototypes for four key
projects, two applicable to Shanghai and two for London, which
they feel will help achieve the goal of more resilient and
The groups will develop these prototypes further over the coming
months in order to develop a report which they will then present to
key stakeholders. We have had excellent support from the Mayor's
office in both London and Shanghai, with London Mayor Boris Johnson also sitting on our Advisory
Group. City Hall also kindly hosted a reception for the group
on Wednesday 4 July where Sue Riddlestone, Director of Bioregional,
spoke to the group on the importance of One Planet Living as we aim
to create a more sustainable community within our cities.
Here are some of the comments from our participant group after
taking part in the week:
"I am coming out of the Venture energised with new friends and
potential collaborators and new tools to turn ideas into creative
Alastair Mackenzie, Director, Limina & Leadership
and Management Adviser, Exemplas Ltd
"Dao Xiang enabled me to reflect, to think differently and dive
deeper when I am confronted with problems"
Qilan Shen, Chief Editor of Arts and director of
International Projects of Shanghai Insight Media, Shanghai Insight
"The strength of Common Purpose is the bringing together of
diverse people from different organisations countries and
cultures. We all have so much to learn from each other"
Robin Smith, Chief Superintendant, ACPO
"Dao Xiang was a fantastic opportunity both to meet
exceptionally talented and high achieving others and to rethink my
own situation and gain new perspectives on the challenges I
Daniel Stanley, CEO, Small Axe
"Dao Xiang has been a great venture allowing me to connect with
interesting and amazing future leaders from different industries
and backgrounds and work together to create a dream future. My
leadership abilities have been further developed and I feel more
confident about making some real changes."
Emilie Wang, International Arts Co-ordinator, Southbank
Our next Dishaa
Venture will take place in Mysore, India, from 1 - 5 October 2012.
This will be the third Dishaa Venture we have undertaken, following
the initial launch of the project by
British Prime Minister David Cameron back in July 2010.
The challenge has
now been set and we are delighted that the next Dishaa group will
be working on the following over the 4 days:
"As economies are driven by technology and knowledge in a
rapidly changing environment, how do we ensure appropriate skills
development to bridge the gap between education and
This challenge is highly relevant to all organisations looking to
develop the key competencies required to successfully create a more
skilled workforce in today's environment.
We are looking for exceptional leaders in the mid-stages of
their careers to take part in Dishaa who can really
They do not need to have experience in the field in which the
challenge is set as the Venture will take them through a process of
innovation and change with a diverse group from organisations
throughout the UK and India.
The closing date for applications is Tuesday 31 July.
In December 2012 the inagural Kompas Venture will take place in
Budapest, brigning together leaders from major cities in Czech
Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia to learn and work
on a common issue.
The region is dispersed however and countries often see each other
as competitors rather than potential partners. CEE needs leaders
who can think and act locally, regionally and internationally and
who are capable of leading across boundaries both new and old - be
they geographical, professional or sectoral. The Kompas Venture
will bring together and develop these leaders, building links at a
very practical level and helping them to work more effectively
together to identify new approaches to complex problems.
We are now looking for further members of the Advisory Group, which
will provide strategic direction on the challenge for Venture
participants and who will work together with our newly appointed
members of the Advisory Group, Erhard Busek, Vice Chancellor A. D
and Eszter Szabó, Public Affairs Leader in GE.
We also seek to find committed applicants and initiating sponsors
for Kompas, like GE, our first sponsor.
The inagural Dou Heung Venture between Scotland and Hong
Kong will take place in 2013. Sir John Elvidge, former Permanent
Secretary to Scottish Government, now Chair of Edinburgh Airport
and Sir Andrew Cubie, consultant, Fyfe Ireland LLP, just been
confirmed as the first two members of the Dou Heung Advisory Group.
More information about Dou Heung will be available soon, keep an
eye out on the website.
For more information on all Common Purpose Ventures, please
visit our Ventures