Curated Content for Alumni

Articles, podcasts and thought pieces relevant to Cranlana alumni and Fellows.

philosophy

The Usefulness of Philosophy

Where our scientific knowledge is insufficient and where theological answers fail to compel and convince us, philosophy remains a useful endeavour.

That doesn’t mean that all philosophising done at the frontier is useful, interesting, or worth listening to, however. Philosophy that is ignorant of science, or of the bizarre and arcane logical rules that science can often follow, will lead even the most brilliant of thinkers astray. To the speculative, curious mind, however, what is known today will never be satisfactory. Until science makes those critical advances, philosophising will be a necessary tool for gazing beyond today’s frontier.

Which is why Cranlana’s programs draw on more than two millennia of philosophical thinking to foster in-depth, practical discussions that sharpen critical reasoning and strengthen moral courage.

Forbes, 30 June 2020

remote working

Implications of Working Without an Office

How do leaders considering what work after the pandemic looks like for their organisation ensure that the model they create brings together the best of the virtual and real worlds for the organisation and its staff?

In early 2020 the world began what is undoubtedly the largest work-from-home experiment in history. Now, as countries reopen but Covid-19 remains a major threat, organisations are wrestling with whether and how to have workers return to their offices. Business leaders need to be able to answer a number of questions to make these decisions. Among them is “What impact has working from home had on productivity and creativity?”

Harvard Business Review, 15 July 2020

alumni

Then Little Things Started Clicking in Place

Imposter syndrome, the doubt that gnaws at you while you wait for others to realise you’re a fraud, is all too real.

Fortunately for us, Executive Colloquium alumna Esther Roadnight discovered the rewards of stepping out of her comfort zone. She was among peers at the table, and their experiences and hers were very similar.

Peter McMullin

Walking Away From Omelas

Lead Moderator Peter Mares talks with alumnus Romlie Mokak about the new strategy being developed by the Productivity Commission for evaluating policies and programs affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

via Inside Story, 2 July 2020

machine learning

Does Conscious AI Deserve Rights?

Does AI—and, more specifically, conscious AI—deserve moral rights?

In this video thought exploration, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, ethics and tech professor Joanna Bryson, philosopher and cognitive scientist Susan Schneider, physicist Max Tegmark, philosopher Peter Singer, and bioethicist Glenn Cohen all weigh in on the question of AI rights.

via Big Think, 8 July 2020

diversity equals success

Improved Diversity Means Better Results

A world-first study, based on six years of Australian companies’ gender reporting to the federal Workplace Gender Equality Agency, has identified the causal role between greater gender diversity and business success.

It established that companies who appointed a female CEO increased their market value by 5 per cent — worth nearly $80 million to an average ASX200 company.

“If you’re a member of a board or a CEO or executive and you don’t take notice of what this report is telling you, then you are not meeting your obligation to your shareholders or your owners,” says WGEA Director Libby Lyons

via ABC, 19 June 2020

black lives matter

How To Sustain Your Activism Against Police Brutality Beyond This Moment

Scholars and activists have debated how effective empathy is as a tool for behaviour change—particularly when it comes to fighting racism. Paul Bloom argues that empathy allows our bias to drive our decision-making, bell hooks states that empathy is not a promising avenue to systemic racial change, and Alisha Gaines analyzes how an overemphasis on racial empathy in a 1944 landmark study, “An American Dilemma,” led to a blindness about the impact of systemic and institutional racial barriers. This more general understanding and application of empathy has not been an effective aid to fighting systemic oppression.
Bethany Gordon posits that a more nuanced understanding of empathy—and its related concepts—may help us use it more effectively in the fight against racism. There are two strains of empathy that are relevant and can help us better understand (and possibly change) our response: empathic distress and empathic concern, also known as compassion.

via Behavioural Scientist, 15 June 2020

Embedding a Culture of Ethics

Bernie Wise, Senior Manager, Disputes & Customer Advocacy, found the Vincent Fairfax Fellowship made her more effective at embedding a culture of ethics and getting that across to her teams and the broader business. “Ethics in business has been in the spotlight over the past few years. It’s all about the question: what do you do when no one’s looking? That’s what I think ethics is – doing the right thing even when no one is watching”

covid-19

Navigating the “New Normal” Through Philosophy

Umang Kumar responds to Italian Philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s philosophical protests against the restrictions introduced in response to Covid-19, and finds Agamben’s distinctions between “bare life” and the “good life worth living” deeply problematic. Focussing on this distinction is a luxury a Western philosopher might have, but for many the bare life and the good life are intertwined.

via Madras Courier, 28 May 2020

virtue ethics

If Anyone Can See The Morally Unthinkable Online, What Then?

Discussions of ethics tend to focus on matters of conscious choice: which moral rules to follow, or advice on how to approach moral dilemmas. But a hugely significant part of ethics concerns what is unthinkable. You might, for example, be strapped for cash, but robbing the neighbours is unlikely to be an option for you. That’s because, whenever you deliberate, you have already ruled out all kinds of unthinkable possibilities. Some because you can’t contemplate them, some because you’re genuinely not aware of them.

Which brings virtues that by their nature restrict thought and imagination into tension with the prevailing spirit of the internet which operates on the principle that everything should be viewable and thinkable.

via Aeon Media, 17 May 2019

diversity innovation

True Innovation Starts With Diversity

Innovation begins with the courage and willingness to think differently. That begins at the board and C-suite levels. When leadership is thinking differently, they will challenge others in the company to do the same.

via Entrepreneur, 24 October 2019

corporate culture

How to Design an Ethical Organization

No company will ever be perfect, because no human being is perfect. Organisations should aim to design a system that makes being good as easy as possible. Nicholas Epley and Amit Kumar say that means attending carefully to the contexts people are actually in, making ethical principles foundational in strategies and policies, keeping ethics top of mind, rewarding ethical behaviour through a variety of incentives, and encouraging ethical norms in day-to-day practices. Doing so will never turn an organisation full of humans into a host of angels, but it can help them be as ethical as they are capable of being.

HBR, May/June 2019

public policy

Coronavirus Lays Bare 5 Big Housing System Flaws To Be Fixed

Australians had become used to walking past rough sleepers. Policymakers too, seemed unmoved by the people huddled in doorways or sheltering in parks under plastic sheets. That’s until the COVID-19 pandemic rendered rough sleepers visible, because we’ve all been told to stay home and anyone without a home presents a risk of passing on the virus. Hal Pawson and Cranlana Lead Moderator Peter Mares explore the five major vulnerabilities this crisis has laid bare.

The Conversation, 12 May 2020

politics

Here Are 10 Steps To Build A Stronger Australia After Coronavirus

We must be on the right side of history says Travers McLeod, chief executive of the Centre for Policy Development and a Cranlana moderator. Institutions need to be reformed to tackle 21st century challenges. In this article he outlines 10 steps to do that and build a stronger nation.

The Guardian, 4 May 2020

pandemic leadership

What Good Leadership Looks Like During This Pandemic

When the situation is uncertain, human instinct and basic management training can cause leaders — out of fear of taking the wrong steps and unnecessarily making people anxious — to delay action and to downplay the threat until the situation becomes clearer. But behaving in this manner means failing the coronavirus leadership test.

Harvard Business Review, 12 April 2020

alumni Executive Colloquium

The Golden Rule

Alumnus Paul O’Farrell reflects on the longer term influence of the Executive Colloquium, and the epiphany he had during it.

Cranlana programs

Tour Cranlana’s Gardens

Alumni who have participated in programs at Cranlana, the Myer family home in Melbourne, understand that the gardens form a peaceful backdrop to the hard work and challenging conversations happening inside the ballroom. Taking participants out of their familiar environments is an important part of the format, providing surrounds which allow full immersion in the business of interrogating practices and approaches.

Enjoy this rare glimpse of this historic Victorian garden.

via ABC 1 April 2020

The Psychology Behind Unethical Behaviour

“The reality is that, for many leaders, there is no true straight-and-narrow path to follow. You beat the path as you go. Therefore, ethical leadership relies a lot on your personal judgment. Because of this, the moral or ethical dilemmas you experience may feel solitary or taboo — struggles you don’t want to let your peers know about. It can sometimes feel shameful to admit that you feel torn or unsure about how to proceed. But you have to recognize that this is part of work life and should be addressed in a direct and open way.

Even though most companies have some cultural and structural checks and balances, including values statements, CSR guidelines, and even whistleblower functions, leaders must also be mindful of the psychological conditions that push people — including themselves — to cross ethical lines. Understanding the dangers of omnipotence, cultural numbness, and justified neglect are like installing the first few warning signs on the long road of your career. You will inevitably hit some bumps, but the more prepared you are to handle them, the likelier you are to keep your integrity intact.” Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg

via Harvard Business Review, 12 April 2019

alumni executive Colloquium

What’s The Brave Thing To Do?

Ro Allen, Commissioner for Gender & Sexuality and part of Cranlana’s alumni, says “Cranlana called us into that space where you understand that making the right decision calls for bravery.”

Equipping senior leaders with the courage to make ethical decisions in challenging circumstances is what Cranlana Centre’s programs do, so that they can help build a better society.

ethical fade

Shareholders Feel The Pain When Companies Take An Ethical Hit

Ethical fading is a legitimate business risk. It occurs when the ethical aspects disappear from the decision-making process and happens when people focus heavily on some other aspect of a decision, such as profit. CEOs and executive teams may focus on compliance, but other competing priorities within the company might influence the final decision. That can lead to court, and penalties. Fines can convert ethical issues into business problems by attaching a price tag to them.

This piece draws lessons from the case of Carnival Corp. and its subsidiary Princess Cruise Lines, which were initially fined $40 million for dumping waste, and then another $20 million for violating their probation terms, by the US Department of Justice.

Via Markkula Centre for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University, 24 June 2019