Marc Le Menestrel
Home > Events > The Spirit and the Power of Money: (...)

The Spirit and the Power of Money: A Creative Session at THNK

Save this article in PDF

by Marc Le Menestrel (30/06/2012)

On June 27, I discovered THNK, the Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership by delivering a creative session on the Spirit and Power of Money.

I met the participants of their main Creative Leadership Program in an old brick building, entirely renovated as a spacious, open, colorful and adaptable place. We all sat in a circle on cubes with a very diverse energy. Some of us had taken a short Taï-Chi session while some others were arriving straight from their outside life.

We began with a dialogue exercise of active listening. In pairs, one was responding to the question “How have you been doing with money so far in your life?” while the other was trying to offer the most trustful space by simply listening, without judgment nor interpretation. This already brought us to a common space and we could follow with a guided journey.

We all reached a safe and comfortable place to meet ourselves in the future, learning about who we are, about the Very Important Persons who accompany our inner and outer life, about work and about our achievements. Those who wanted could prepare themselves to be taken in a journey inside the journey in an attempt to meet the spirit of money. In this first exploratory step, there was no other intention than having a first meeting, and maybe also collecting some appropriate message or share some feeling.

I liked very much the sharing of one participant, who met a horse that would flee whenever he was getting closer. On the other hand, the horse would come to him whenever he was walking his own path. Then, as the encounter developed, he was able to ride his "spirit of money" in a transformed relationship.

The atmosphere was thick with our spiritual presence and it was joyful at the same time. I attributed this success to the maturity of the participants, already so much open to living their life as an adventure. After a pause, we could then move to the second part of the session dedicated to the power of Money.

Participants had read my case “A Day at the Big Bank” that I had prepared with Julian Rode in early 2008, anticipating the financial crisis for the top leaders of Bank of America. They presented their strategy to a Board chaired by Brenda Childers, the Director of the Amsterdam Institute of Finance and featuring Kwela Hermanns and Menno Van Dijk from THNK. The board was prepared to be tough on them in order to explore the tensions between corporate strategy of a Big Bank and our willingness to move towards a more ethical financial system.

Participants did a wonderful job, but to some extent, maybe not as creative as they could have been. When trying to analyze their strategies and the way they were presenting, I had the feeling they were somehow impressed by the board and the power of money it represented.

The ambiguity of our relationship with money, well expressed and analyzed by Lynne Twist in her book “The Soul of Money” (which was by the way a main source of inspiration for my work on my own relation to money), was somehow preventing them to express their full potential. Clearly, this could be a good learning, in particular when participants will later look for financing their own projects. I hope our experience with the Big Bank will motivate them to be fully daring with their own social entrepreneurship endeavors.

Eventually, this session allowed us to audaciously raise the fundamental questions of the role of money. I think of them as divided in three main realms of different scales:

-  What is the role of money in this world?
-  What is the role of money in a company?
-  What is the role of money in an individual?

In the design of my pedagogical flow for this special creative session, I looked for each participant to develop their answers from themselves to the world. For most individuals, money is a means at the individual level. Maybe it could also be considered as such at the corporate and global levels?

Dreaming of a world where money would truly be at the service of society, of companies and of individuals, as a sort of universal means towards infinity of specific purposes is nourishing a paradigmatic change that I am trying to contribute to.

Dreaming to change the role of money is at the same time obvious and impossible: a perfect opportunity to re-invent ourselves.


* *

Further Reading in this website:

Can you teach ethics to The Big Bank?

How can Business Schools continue to make people dream?

The intention of the Foundation for a New Ethical Business is to research, teach and promote business models at the service of people, society and the environment.