Sustainable Training

The Grains for Health Foundation’s mission in integrated education is to guide young scientists, business people and health professionals to collaborate in sustainable grain-based, multidisciplinary research and application projects that ultimately promote public health.

The resources we provide are the latest published research findings, books and projects.

Our goal is to establish real-world environments so students can fully examine each link in the grain chain from development and marketing to distribution and delivery of healthy, grain-based products.

Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation

Design thinking is described by the author as an alternative approach to the traditional linear, predictable processes used in most of today’s project management systems. Design thinking starts by analyzing humans, or an end user, first, but also includes elements of the technical and commercial concerns during the life of a project. Because this approach in nonlinear, it may seem disorganized at times; However, creating connections between and across ideas fosters unexpected innovations. These innovations often achieve notably better results than those products of a more traditional approach, because they often inspire the end user to say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” A nonlinear approach also does not imply lack of constraints. When design thinking is performed well it balances the competing constraints inherent in the project. In the end, design thinking is about challenging the ordinary and noticing what we take for granted for the purpose of creating new connections. Brown ends the book with the challenge, “Make it a rule that at least once a day you will stop and think about an ordinary situation. Take a second look at some action or artifact that you would look at only once (or not at all)…”

Brown, T. (2009). Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Selected Excerpts from The Speed of Trust

Peter Drucker, a world-renowned leader in business, stated “Trust does not necessarily mean people like one another, but that they understand one another” (Drucker, 2006)*. Many books and articles have been written dissecting trust in an attempt to define it and offer the reader insight into how to build it. Stephen R. Covey offered multiple suggestions in The Speed of Trust. The following are select excerpts:

  1. Listen before you speak. Don’t presume that you have all the answers or all the questions.
  2. Be honest. Call things what they are. Demonstrate integrity. Don’t manipulate people or distort facts.
  3. Genuinely care for others. Treat everyone with respect, especially those who cannot do anything for you. Don’t be “efficient” with people.
  4. Address the tough stuff directly. Don’t skirt the real issues.
  5. Don’t assume that expectations are clear or shared. Clarify expectations.

Although these statements may seem as if the author is stating the obvious, many collaborative efforts have been lost due to one or more of these principles being ignored. Indeed, organizations experience the effects of a low-trust environment routinely.

Drucker, P. (2006). Selected Excerpts from The Speed of Trust. Harvard Business Review, 84(2), 144-153.

The Necessary Revolution: Working Together to Create a Sustainable World

Senge, et al. discuss what is needed for creating changes that last, truly sustainable changes. Three guiding ideas are elaborated upon:

  1. There is no viable path forward that does not take into account the needs of future generations.
  2. Institutions matter.
  3. All real change is grounded in new ways of thinking and perceiving. (pgs 9-10)

Supporting and surrounding these three guiding ideas are explanations of what true change requires- the ability to work together differently than we have in the past. Rather than focusing only on solutions for one piece of the system, we must think broader and begin to look at entire systems. Seeing in systems forms the basis of being able to create lasting change

Senge, P., Smith, B., Kruschwitz, N., Laur, J., & Schley, S. (2010). The Necessary Revolution: Working Together to Create a Sustainable World. New York: Random House.

Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization

In Plan B 4.0, Brown describes what he views as the four top challenges facing the world today:

  1. Climate change
  2. Overpopulation
  3. Poverty
  4. Restoration of the natural systems that support mankind (such as soil, forests, natural fisheries, and fresh water supplies)

Brown focuses heavily on the food supply throughout the book, but especially in chapters 8 and 9. In chapter 8: Restoring the Earth, Brown explains how no-till farming has reduced carbon losses from the soil increasing the health of the soil and decreasing carbon emissions. He briefly discusses the political and economic repercussions of restoring the earth. In chapter 9: Feeding Eight Billion People Well, Brown looks at strategies such as raising land and water productivity (Did you know that it takes 1,000 tons of water to produce 1 ton of grain? P.223), producing protein more efficiently, the localization of agriculture, and others for improving food security for all.

Brown, L. R. (2009). Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership

Synchronicity is an intriguing read on what can be through personal leadership development. Overall, the author discusses his personal path to discovery. The author, Jaworski, a former Watergate lawyer describes his journey related to personal development, organizational learning and effectiveness. The personal road of commitment describes the initial “puny, un-free will” which begins by stepping over the threshold to accept a challenge all the way to the “grand will” which becomes grounded in the leader’s being. The commitment becomes not what I ought to do; rather I could not do otherwise. Through servant leadership the wisdom and power to serve others becomes the destination.

Jaworski, J. (1996). Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership. San Francisco: Barrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc..

Thinking for a Change

Thinking for a Change highlights the importance of shaping one’s thought life in order to shape one’s actions. Good thinking is the only way to produce good results. Maxwell describes 11 skills necessary for good thinking:

  1. Seeing the Wisdom of Big-Picture Thinking
  2. Unleashing the Potential of Focused Thinking
  3. Discovering the Joy of Creative Thinking
  4. Recognizing the Importance of Realistic Thinking
  5. Releasing the Power of Strategic Thinking
  6. Feeling the Energy of Possibility Thinking
  7. Embracing the Lessons of Reflective Thinking
  8. Questioning the Acceptance of Popular Thinking
  9. Encouraging the Participation of Shared Thinking
  10. Experiencing the Satisfaction of Unselfish Thinking
  11. Enjoying the Return of Bottom-Line Thinking

Through these exercises Maxwell defines what “The Right Thought plus the Right People in the Right Environment at the Right Time for the Right Reason = the Right Result” can look like.

Maxwell, J. C. (2003). Thinking for a Change. New York: Warner Books, Inc..

Scenarios: The Art of Strategic Conversation, 2nd Edition

Scenario-based planning “does not attempt to predict what is unpredictable, but copes with uncertainty by considering multiple, equally plausible futures.” Used properly scenario-based planning is a powerful tool in effective strategy formulation. This tool combines strategy setting with organizational learning to integrate strategic thinking into the culture of an organization, ultimately providing the organization a competitive advantage. Both the systems that make up the organization and those that act on the organization are detailed feedback loops that can be better understood through cross-discipline, cross-sector conversations with this integration leading to original insights.

der Heijden, K. v. (2005). Scenarios: The Art of Strategic Conversation, 2nd Edition. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc..

Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future

In Presence, Senge, et. al discuss being in the moment of ideas, the value of suspension, and of collaboration for creating sustainable solutions rather than quick fixes. Suspending ideas allows concepts or ideas to be spoken without immediately casting judgment. It allows for the thought that anything is possible, provides creative space for ideas to grow, and encourages out-of-the-box thinking. Quick judgment can stifle creativity and discourage authenticity in sharing of ideas. Hanging our assumptions in front of us brings the way that we think to light. It allows us to think about ideas as well as how we talk about ideas with others. Recognizing our assumptions is a crucial step in learning to work across sectors and disciplines. Working across multiple teams is where real change can occur.

Senge, P., Scharmer, C. O., Jaworski, J., & Flowers, B. S. (2004). Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future. Cambridge: SoL.

The Opposable Mind: Winning through Integrative Thinking

Integrative thinking is the ability to hold opposing ideas in the mind while reaching a solution that contains elements of both. This process allows integration of the advantages of one solution without canceling out the advantage of alternative solutions. By refusing to accept unpleasant trade-offs and conventional options, integrative thinkers are able to find creative solutions to seemingly intractable problems.

Integrative thinking allows more features of the problem to be considered relevant and provides the thinker with a broader view. Integrative thinkers don’t flinch from considering multidirectional and nonlinear causal relationships. They keep the entire problem firmly in mind while working on its individual parts. Integrative thinkers allow complex ideas to come home in designing their decisions. The complexity presents a cognitive challenge that integrative thinkers welcome, because they know that complexity brings along an opportunity for a breakthrough resolution.

As you learn to see that opposing models exist to be leveraged, you grow more comfortable wading into the resulting confusion, confident that you will come out the other side with deeper understanding.

In Summary:

Integrative Thinkers…

Believes that whatever model exists at the present moment does not represent reality.
Believe that conflicting models, styles, and approaches to problems are to be leverage,
not feared. They believe that better models exist that are not yet seen.

Believe that not only does a better model exist, but they are capable of bringing that better model from abstract hypothesis to concrete reality.
Are confident that by wading into complexity to ferret out a new and better model, they will emerge on the other side of the resolution.
Give themselves the time to create a better model.

Martin, R. (2009). The Opposable Mind: Winning through Integrative Thinking. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.