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Launch of the new WeDreamBusiness.Org website!

Thanks to the support of the Zermatt Summit, we launched in June 2012 the new website of a key initiative of the Foundation for a New Ethical Business: WeDReamBusiness!

We Dream Business was founded in 2008 by Professor Marc Le Menestrel, who wanted to inspire his students by creating a gallery of companies that made them dream and, besides, be able to inspire visitors all over the world. The idea was to show that businesses could be profitable while being at the service of human values, social justice and environmental responsibility.

The website was born simple and available to everyone: any visitor can upload any company that has inspired him/her, being the inspiring power the main criterion to upload a project.

Nevertheless, as time went by, we realized that the website needed to be more interactive: visitors should be able to share they knowledge, discuss and express their opinions as well as rate the companies in terms of their positive impact in society. We had to give the opportunity to students to express what they think about the different projects, as some of them may be very inspiring examples of social business but some others may not.

This was an ambitious objective for us. We wanted to improve the webpage the best way possible and we performed a survey among 70 students to analyse the main strengths and weaknesses of the website. The survey helped us in the design of the features for the new version of www.wedreambusiness.org.

Thanks to the support received during the 2nd Edition of the Zermatt Summit, held in June 2011, we were able to develop our ambitious project and we have been able to launch a pilot version in June 2012. We hope you like it!


Step 1. Analyzing the main strengths and weaknesses through a survey


Since 2008, the website has positively achieved its goal as a tool of inspiration among students and many other visitors.

Nevertheless, in 2011, we decided to make a survey among 70 students in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the website for developing an improved version.

The survey helped us draw the following conclusions:

Message, transmission of the global idea

Some of the visitors did not really understand the main purpose of the site and believed that the webpage served as a tool to make a distinction between “ethical” and “unethical” firms. They focused on firms and brands instead of focusing on the model that students want to transmit with their project. We had to be able to explain better the purpose of the website.

Design and appearance: motivation

Part of the motivation and inspiration comes from what enters by sight. The design of the original website had to be improved both aesthetically and functionally in order to contribute further on motivation. Most of the surveyed students identified the following subjects to be improved, among others:

- The quality of the images was low and the uploading process for images was not easy.

- The text fonts: the font size was small; besides, some symbols and typographies were not readable.

- The structure should be more practical and intuitive: add a search button; add links to words and filters to organize the information. The number of uploaded projects is increasing and adding tools such as a search button can make things much easier for visitors.

- The projects could be presented in a more attractive way: possibility of highlighting relevant information or add videos.

Interactivity and updating: looking for loyal followers

One of the main problems identified by the surveyed students was that it was not updated constantly. If a page looks the same because it is not constantly updated, visitors soon get bored and forget about it.

Allowing visitors comment and adding news/articles can turn the site much more lively and attractive to students. Besides, due to the diversity of opinions, it can become much more useful and enriching.

Expanding our horizons

Surveyed students considered that We Dream Business was an innovative and interesting idea, with a lot of potential, and they considered that we had to expand our scope and promote the initiative through social networks.

When We Dream Business was founded, a Facebook profile was created, too. It will soon be reactivated, as soon as we believe that the new website is ready.

About expanding our network, last year, the project was presented to a group of MBA students in China and it was an enriching experience. However, we still want to expand our horizons even more and create a stronger network of students, professors and business professionals.

These were some of the conclusions drawn from to the short survey done in 2011. These conclusions became the basis for designing the new website.


Step 2. Designing and defining the new features and technical specifications


Once analyzed the main strengths and weaknesses of the original website, we could begin designing the new one.

The first theme was to design the structure and layout. We wanted it to be very simple and intuitive in order to make things easier to maintain and edit the website. Any effort on organizing the website in the present saves time in the future. Besides, the ease with which visitors can navigate the site is one of the keys for the success of a website.

We decided to create three main sections: About us, Gallery and WDB Recommends.

In the “ABOUT US” section we would explain the initiative, the history of WDB, an introduction to the team and acknowledge the sponsors.

The “GALLERY” would show the projects and highlight the outstanding ones. This section would also include a discussion page where visitors would be able to improve the projects or discuss on several matters.

Finally, at “WDB RECOMMENDS” we would make suggestions about initiatives, events and books which the team think might be interesting for visitors.

The second step became the technical specifications we wanted to include. For instance, adding a search button and defining the characteristics to administer the discussions. We had to design a system for having subscribed members and allow them comment and see which were the best alternatives to administer their profiles.

Finally, we had to be assessed by a website developer and see the feasibilities of our project and how much it will cost.

Once done that, we were invited to attend the Zermatt Summit. There, Professor Le Menestrel presented the initiative and we obtained a generous donation to start working on the new website.


Step 3. Working on the website and launching the pilot version



In June 2012, and thanks to the generous support obtained from the second edition of the Zermatt Summit, held in 2011, we have happily launched the second version of www.wedreambusiness.org.

We are facing this new phase of the We Dream Business initiative with a lot of enthusiasm and we are still working on it.

Launch of the Metronomics Global Health Initiative

The Metronomics Global Health Initiative combines cutting-edge scientific research, new business models and social innovation to develop alternative anti-cancer strategies at the service of children in the developing world.

Through the building of hybrid forms of institutional support, the smart development of cheap and non-toxic sustainable protocols, the innovative search for generous financing and the empowerment of local physicians, we want to be the pioneers of emerging and promising sustainable strategies to fight cancer for children in developing countries.

With this initiative and its website, we want to create a community of pioneers who embark in this forward-looking project as inventors, ambassadors and supporters. We welcome enlightened individuals whose heart is touched by the relevance and novelty of our ambition and who want to see the world transformation through our project. We welcome institutions thatembace social innovation and look for a long-term association with the development of innovative therapeutic and business strategies to fight children cancer in the developing world.

Visit our website at http://metronomics.newethicalbusiness.org/!

2nd Intergenerational Encounter on Dreamin Business: Values for Nature and Willingness to Act

After the success of the first Encounter in 2009, the Foundation for a New Ethical Business (www.newethicalbusiness.org) is happy to announce the 2nd Intergenerational Encounter on Dreaming Business, which we organize this year jointly with the Barcelona NGO eco-union.

As last year, the event provides a day for intergenerational exchange between senior executives, academics, and business students. In this International Year of Biodiversity 2010, the particular intention of the Encounter is to reflect on our relationship with nature and how it can guide us towards action for a more sustainable world. Hence, the topic will be

“Values for Nature and Willingness to Act”.

The encounter will provide an inspiring environment and use innovative techniques to guide participants towards recovering their connection with nature, to (re)discover their value for it, and to nurture their willingness to act upon it in private and professional life.

The event will take place on Thursday, October 28, 2010, 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. in Barcelona.

The deadline for registration will be October 10. You can find more information in the attachment or on the event website at http://wedreambusiness.newethicalbusiness.org where you can also register online.

Should you have any questions do not hesitate to write us an email to info@wedreambusiness.org .

We look forward to hearing from you or seeing you in Barcelona.

With best wishes,

Marc, Julian, and Mathieu (2010 Organizers)

1st Intergenerational Encounter of We Dream Business: It happened!

We were finally a bit less than 40 executives, students, academics and representatives of NGOs to meet at the Casa-Asia in Barcelona for the 1st Intergenerational Encounter of We Dream Business. I have received many messages of gratitude indicating how fruitful the experience has been for participants. For some, it seems that such an event provoked or accompanied a genuine transformation. In return, I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to all participants, to Julian Rode, MBA students and the Foundation for a New Ethical Business for the organization, and to HP, Edelman, Bancaja, UPF Business Shuttle and MediaResponsable for their support.

As always with these “Dreaming Sessions”, I am impressed by how quick participants connect with what really matters to them. The power of evocating dreams and the intensity of the dialogues they generate create intimate and meaningful experiences that seem to truly inspire. The collective sharing, when it allows each one to participate at her will, raises the awareness and feeling of being part of a community. In this particular session, the intergenerational character of the encounter was adding an additional richness to these moments. I was especially fond of this because I believe that we cannot construct the future ignoring the experience from our elders. I also found the mention of Icarus, who died by getting too close to his dream, particularly powerful. It acted as a counterpoint to remind us that dreams are a mere vehicle. They must be used appropriately to live our life at present and should not be misunderstood as the “ultimate recipe for success”.

Overall, the dreams and values we shared show many similarities with dreams and values I observed in the past 18 months in other contexts. Nevertheless, I remark that “Profit” as a value remained on the table when we talked about the values for the business of our dreams. I interpret this as a lesson from the elders that efficiency is a useful value to keep in mind when promoting ethical values.

It was also a genuine satisfaction to see how our work with dreams somehow naturally transforms into concrete and bold actions at the end of the day when we clarify our vision. Raising the willingness to act for the world of our dreams was an objective of the session. We learned how each one of us can make a difference.

The encounter also had the intention of building a common and public message. Of course there is a common dream to make business a more harmonious part of our life, society and of the planet. But I also realized that my intention to build a single message may not have been fully appropriate. I may rather have looked for valuing and honouring the diversity of our perspectives. A patchwork of dreams could be more powerful and inspiring than a single one. In the future, I would like to build on this learning. For instance, we could try to make sure that the process of such a session teaches us the richness of our plurality.

I hope such an encounter will have a second edition. To this aim, it would help that the Foundation gains momentum and support. I will work on improving the website and give more visibility to the activities of the Foundation. In the meantime, I would encourage you to comment on the posts of the website, become Friend of the Foundation (just send a picture and a short text), or even post yourself an article (members of the Foundation can all obtain a username and password upon request).

I wish your dreams come true,

With many thanks,

Marc Le Menestrel

Download the full report (pdf 700 kB)

Nightmares, Dreams and Business Decisions : Teaching Ethical Values for Leadership Development


As a decision scientist specializing in ethical values, I have been drawn to leadership development in a difficult and rather painful manner. Taking an analytical and systematic approach to ethical values in business decision, I was to uncover an array of nightmarish considerations. Think about it. Which leader could honestly face the contribution of business to the current destruction of our natural habitat? With whom can you joyfully discuss the subversion of the public sphere using powerful influence practices or manipulative techniques? What sort of emotions arise when one share personal situations of corruption, intimidation or coercion? You are likely to arouse strong and negative emotions. In my experience, most business people avert thinking about it too much. This avoidance of a direct conscience of the unethical aspects of business turns executives into a reactive mode. They still think a lot but their cognition is trapped in various forms of denial, rationalization and externalization of their locus of control. By constructing these protections, they also isolate themselves from the source of future and dramatic problems. They are preparing themselves for bad surprises. In my executive teaching about “Values, Ethics and Leadership in Business Decisions”, I create situations where emotions are close to the real situations and I attempt to establish the trust that is necessary for them to dare experiencing in the classroom the unethical person they can be. I then share a series of analytical tools to uncover the specific logics of ethical values in business decisions at the cognitive, behavioral and communication levels and we work on strengthening their ability to be proactive in front of these difficult situations. Months later, I may receive feedback that these experiences succeeded in empowering them to be the ethical person they wanted to be in crucial decisions.

Along the years, my own development lead me towards being less judgmental, giving more space to the participants and their values, while feeling less the need to impose my own values on others. In this manner, I reduced the rate of reactance behaviors and increased my ratings. It is true that the context also helped me, the prevalence of unethical behaviors in public business discourses having increased. Still, these sessions take energy from me. I was in need of a more direct relation with the positive self in each participant. This pushed me to creating sessions where dreams will balance nightmares.

My intention in “Dreaming and Visioning Sessions” is to connect participants with the source of their motivation and help them clarify their vision for the life of their dreams. These “quasi-spiritual” dimensions become additional layers, below and above, for their decision-making process. Hence, my objective remains to empower participants to take decisions that reflect their own values and aspirations. Even if the level of participants’ commitment is often very high, the childish connotation of the word “dreams” for what could be conceptualized as mere imagination leaves space for those who want to live the experience lightly. Also, the distinct use of the words “dreams” and “objectives” allows some distance with the fear of failing. These strictly experiential sessions are structured as a series of exercises about 1) connecting with the past, 2) dreaming the future, 3) distinguishing shared and non-shared values and 4) building a vision with concrete bold actions. My explicit input along the process is kept to the minimum: I merely give instructions before each exercise and ask participants what they have learned afterwards. This allows me to dedicate myself to observing the processes, being present when someone needs it and keeping the group together when appropriate. It turns out that dreams, objectives, values and concrete decisions that are uncovered are rather fundamental. Over the hundred or so participants that I observed during AMP sessions at INSEAD, it seems that a great majority dream of someone that would love them or continue to do so, of an harmonious combination of their personal life with their professional life, of a social context where their values could be aligned with the ones of the community they are part of, and of opportunities to contribute to others. The diversity of the bold concrete actions they identify is high but many say the first thing they will do is talking with their partner about the result of the session. Since the start of my teaching a year ago, these elective sessions seem to have had an impact on participants. They are happy to find there an opportunity to dedicate time to an integrative decision-making process about the conduct of their life. It is too early for me to have a sense of any lasting effect but these sessions have already contributed to my own development. I feel more balanced in my teaching of ethical values in business decision-making, thanks to the direct observation of executives who better see who they want to become and feel strong in their capabilities to move towards the life of their dreams.

Introduction Video of wedreambusiness.org

Our new video, to introduce our  gallery of existing companies that inspire business students is now available on the website. Check out We Dream Business on Youtube and post your comments! wedreambusiness.org

How can Business Schools continue to make people dream?

Prepared for the 20th Anniversary of INSEAD PhD Program

Money as a primary goal of business organizations falls short of liberating the full potential of business executives and business students. Business leaders dream of a more inclusive business life where the values of the company they work for would be more aligned with their personal values and the values of stakeholders. Accompanying the changing role of business, business schools can contribute to the rising consciousness that money is a fantastic means to achieve the world we dream of, but can be a poor end in itself.

I like money. You probably like money too. Overall, most people like money. However, for me, and I guess for most of you, money would not be the main goal of your career. Empirically, it appears that for most people, money is not an end in itself but a means to achieve our goals and satisfy our needs. Few of us would organize our life in order to make as much money as possible, without consideration of what you can do with it, how you earn it and so forth. For most of us, we wouldn’t like to waste our life earning it.

For business organizations, things are different and money takes a very predominant role. The institutional context, the social culture, the legal framework, the ideological discourses, the theoretical models, the practical teaching of business school, etc. seem to reflect the idea that the role of business organizations is to maximize the creation of economic value.

Why would business organization make money an end in itself if individuals do not share that hierarchy of values? Why business organizations could not have an end beyond money, attempting to achieve some super-ordinate goal for which money would be a means?

To avoid misunderstanding, let me share that I believe that the primacy of money in the structuring of business organizations is not without reasons: for instance, money is the most powerful invented concept of mankind that allows us to share the valuation of things and exchange them in a manner that reflect our mutual interest. It is not without ethics too. With its universal character, money is somehow neutral. To some extent, having business organizations endorsing another end than money would mean to promote a politically-valued goal. And business organizations, which are not democratic, do not naturally have the legitimacy for this. Hence, there is an ethical risk in attributing a role beyond money to business organizations.

Alas, we need to be realist. My experience is that business leaders, senior executives, middle managers or talented business students dream of something else in their business life.

In the past 12 months, I have had the chance to animate “dreaming sessions” with students or executives and listen to hundreds of stories about what would enthusiasm business individuals. We use “dreaming techniques” in order to go beyond the cognitive levels and, while also drawing from our emotional intelligence, clarify our deepest source of motivations. Don’t make me wrong: I didn’t switch from being a decision scientist to a sort of pseudo-guru offering a nice massage to the brain of my students. No, the idea is to better integrate the unexpected in our decision-making. The combination of a thorough analytical approach to our most important decisions with a deep anchorage in the values that would make our life, or our organization, a success and a true accomplishment, helps to manage the grey zone of the ethical relation between business and society and strive on the stormy waters of a hardly predictable business environment. In my experience, no senior executives attending my sessions has ever alluded to a money dream. To the contrary, most dreams are simple, and call for more alignment of business values with personal values.

For senior executives, they would love if business organization could be like they are: a project at the service of values for which money would be a powerful, efficient and demanding engine.

Also, through the Foundation for a New Ethical Business, I set up a website, called wedreambusiness.org, that is a gallery of existing companies that make people students dream. In this website, you can find many companies that reinvent business and shaken our paradigm of business organization as sole profit maximizers. All these companies share the common trait that they are at the service of human values, social justice or environmental sustainability.

This is not just the “experimenter effect”, where they try to please me by acting in a conformist way. I believe it is also the reflect of a profound transformation of the business world that business school could accompany and even lead. Business has gained much power in this world. For the best and for the worse. There is a demand from our public to go beyond the view that the role of business organizations is to maximize economic value.

If business schools want to keep making people dreams, they could embrace this transformation by developing a thorough reflection at the theoretical, methodological and practical level. This could be done in a scientific spirit, which in social sciences mean taking distances with ideologies, whatever they are, and also a bit of skepticism, if not humor, towards established dominant power.

Download the INSEAD PhD Anniversary Brochure

A flower for the Spring!

With the Spring, we are glad to share with you this new design for the webpage of the foundation. We hope you like it and will welcome your comments and suggestions! You will find here the report from our first workshop in Mannheim about ethical business decision-making. It was a great success in terms of attendance, content and atmosphere of the debates and we wish to renew the experience soon! As you will discover, the Foundation continues to push for the “We Dream Business” project, with a debate in April hosted by HP and the organization of the 1st Intergenerational Encounter on Dreaming Business planned for November 2009. This project will be coordinated by Antonio Marquez. We launch the “Biodiversity and Ethical Business” project which, coordinated by Julian Rode, intends to generate research and activities that promote awareness that biodiversity is crucial for a sustainable development. We remain in the spirit of not putting pressure on the agenda of the already busy life of everyone. However, you may like the more interactive nature of the IT platforms that we now use. If you have inspiration of one of these projects, or for others, do not hesitate to contact us, get registered and be one step further in participating in the Foundation. In any case, enjoy the flowers of the Spring!!!

We Dream Business 1st Intergenerational Encounter (Barcelona, Spain)

This event will bring together socially and environmentally conscious Senior Managers, talented Business Students and ethical Academics leaders from around the world to share their dreams about the business organizations of the 21st century.

The objectives of this encounter are:

• To share inter-generation dreams and experiences on ethical business

• To inspire the design of 21st century business

• To generate initiatives born from our dreams and visions that could be put into practice

• To award a prize to the most inspiring existing business organizations

• To create a knowledge cluster and a human community about ethical business organizations.

This event will be organized by a team of UPF MBA students, during their official project starting April 27th, 2009 and under the supervision of Antonio Marquez, Adjunct Professor at UPF and fellow of the Foundation for a New Ethical Business.

We expect 100 to 150 participants.

This 1st We Dream Business Encounter is glad to enjoy the lead-sponsorship of Hewlett-Packard.

For more information, please contact Antonio Marquez at antoniorso@iservicesmail.com.

Halo Virtual Roundtable: Dreaming Business

Hosted by HP Halo telepresence, the overall aim of this event is to stage a highly-engaging, interactive debate on the concept of ‘Dreaming Business’. What does it mean to dream in business? How does dreaming work in a business context? What advantages are delivered and can dreaming business offer a route for senior executives out of the current global downturn? The debate will aim to involve all participants – panelists and journalists – while illustrating the power of the HP Halo telepresence solution in a genuinely compelling way.

The following participants are expected:

• Marc Le Menestrel (Professor of Business, UPF/Visiting Professor of Ethics, INSEAD)
• Ludo Van der Heyden (Former Director of AMP/Professor of Technology and Operations Management, INSEAD)
• Anthony Simon (Former President, Marketing, Foods Division, Unilever/Former board member, Unilever Bestfoods)
• Jean-Pierre Le Calvez (VP, Marketing, HP IPG EMEA)
• Moderator: Roger Darashah (Edelman for HP IPG EMEA)
• Media attendees (senior business journalists from UK/France/Germany/Spain)

HP Halo studios have been reserved in London, Paris, and Munich.

In exchange of the participation of the speakers to this event, HP will provide the We Dream Business project with a donation that will be seed-money for the “1st Intergenerational Encounter of Dreaming Business” to be held in Barcelona around November 2009.