Kicking off our Ubuntu journey with DatB Europe and DatB South Africa
The perception of Africa varies ... People of the Western countries may have several stereotypes and misconceptions. But Africa is not only one country, it is a continent that comprises more than 50 countries. Africa is diverse, multi-layered, multicultural and rich in skills and expertise.
The team of Design at Business in Europe wanted to trigger an intercultural conversation and exchange with our peers in South Africa - totally free of bias. Is that even possible?
In fact, some weeks ago we started our exploration on subjects that are directly related to our recent work at Design at Business and most importantly we wanted to venture out and exchange on topics that are close to our hearts and soul. Especially in our context and our vision at Design at Business to connect design and business in conjunction of innovation, future trends, social innovation and education.
In this regard, our presenters Dr. Phumzile Mmope, an established speaker and consultant in the field of leadership, management and strategy as well as our valued Design at Business chapter lead for South Africa Ulrich Meyer-Höllings lead an interesting discussion on the notion of humanity and mindfulness in today's business environment.
One of the key highlights was the focus on the African philosophy of “Ubuntu”, which can be expressed in the phrase 'I am because we are'. Phumzile encouraged all participants to engage in the conversation but also challenge our perspectives and views to conduct meaningful exchanges and embrace diversity and inclusion.
“Ubuntu” goes beyond mindfulness and is deeply rooted in the African culture:
a guiding principle interwoven in environment, society, politics, relationships, community, spirituality, business and design Ubuntu as a shared Philosophie fosters collaboration to drive innovation and creativity.
Analogous to have Design Thinking "as a mindset" rather than “as a process and toolkit", Ubuntu might encounter similar challenges of being perceived as non-tangible and vague. Especially in the organizational and corporate context, Ubuntu might cause frictions between showcasing a feeling and emotion as opposed to an applied practice and methodology.
However, there needs to be an approach of mutual respect and reinforcement of an inclusive "And and And" rather than a dividing perception of "And or And".
“Leading from the heart”
Ubuntu can co-exist with existing tools and shall re-affirm the humanity and vulnerability that is highly needed in today's business operations. Global Initiatives, like "Humanizing Business" by SAP or other purpose-driven activities are integral part of how corporations run their operations. A renewed and authentic leadership and governance are the new business paradigms and in the local context of Africa, Ubuntu will have a relevant stake in strategic decision-making.
“We need plurality instead of singularity.”
As Ulrich noted in his presentation, the local icons and winners in Africa are not iconized just as Steve Jobs, Elon Musk in Western spheres etc., but African businesses and excellences are determined by values of family and humanity. The notion of leadership is infused by those values of togetherness and the thrive for connectedness.
We, as Design at Business community, are committed to working towards these values ... let's all embrace the Ubuntu spirit! In the next months, we will be working on further formats to highlight our meaningful collaboration and co-create the next profound initiatives.
Stay curious and tune in regularly!