Monday, September 23, 2013

The da Vinci Bridge

Terje Johansen, Studio S
In 1501, Leonardo da Vinci designed a bridge to span the Golden Horn inlet between present-day Istanbul and Pera, Turkey.
A pedestrian bridge designed by Leonardo da Vinci was finally realized in Oslo, Norway by acclaimed Norwegian artist Vebjørn Sand.  From a tiny drawing done more than 500 years ago was born the first ever civil engineering project based on a Leonardo da Vinci design.  On October 31, 2001 it was dedicated and unveiled by Norway’s, Queen Sonja. A powerful metaphorical image of crossing barriers, forging connection, peace-making, mediation.
The Leonardo Bridge Project, Inc. ( is a non-profit public art project, with status through the Allied Arts Foundation, that promoted construction of the Oslo bridge.  Vebjørn Sand’s artistic intention for the Project is to build reinterpretations of the eloquent design in local materials in collaboration with local artisans and architects in communities throughout the world, creating a global network of public footbridges symbolizing our shared human destiny.
Their hope is the global project will inspire the best in human creative endeavour across cultural, political and ethnic lines. It is a rare opportunity to bring public art, science, civil engineering and architecture together to create permanent, functional and unique footbridges that will both enhance the beauty of public space for local communities and extend those communities into a shared network of Earth’s human community: Our goal for building the bridge on every continent is what we call ‘ citizen diplomacy through art’.
After five years of concerted effort, design work has now begun on the footbridge to be built in Istanbul, Turkey, across the Golden Horn (Halik) where Da Vinci originally intended the project. 
The Istanbul Leonardo Bridge will span 240 meters as Leonardo intended. The materials will combine Leonardo’s granite with modern, environmentally sustainable building materials expressing the powerful, timeless beauty of the bridge’s ingenious geometry.
The Project has also has had a global educational impact.  Vebjørn Sand has built four bridges – two intended to melt – in ice.  In 2007, the Ice Bridge was a featured part of “ANTARCTICA: On Thin Ice” at United Nations headquarters in New York.  This bridge, a sister bridge to the permanent installation in Antarctica (see photo below), was intended to melt to dramatize the fragile condition of the Earth’s ice cover.  In 2009, Vebjørn Sand built the ice bridge in Greenland and later that year built another ice bridge sculpture which was part of the COP15 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
Our new eBook, The Virtuosa Organisation, which plugs into the da Vinci values and virtues, uses his bridge as a metaphor for crossing divides at very levels as organisations strive to become virtuous.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Organisational Values Under Threat


Natural disasters, war, food and water shortages, rank poverty, protesting communities, jittery markets.  Volatile events that can quickly escalate into crisis mode.  We are living on the edge in a fragile (even broken) world of increasing tensions – political, ecological, religious fundamentalism, social , financial and economic – which all feed off each other.
 We’re surrounded by accidents waiting to happen – within businesses and in the outside world we operate in.  Malcolm Gladwell  eloquently showed how positive and negatives are subject to a process which may well lead to a critical mass which then suddenly take off, erupt, ‘go viral’.  What he termed ‘tipping points’.
 Organisations espouse values, but often fail to live them. The profit-motive rules. We see fraud, corruption, tax evasion, excessive executive pay. When things go wrong there is denial, avoidance, cover-up, deception.  Credibility, confidence, trust, values are eroded.  Organisational life for many becomes dysfunctional.
 Ukulungisa is an African concept, essentially meaning a chance to put things right, restore order, aspire to higher things.
The time has never been more right for businesses to become virtues-led. Arguably this is our greatest challenge. Business needs to move beyond responsible capitalism, beyond the triple- bottom- line, and set the tone for society at large. Shift from a vicious to a virtuous cycle.
If values do not become lived virtues, then what’s the point?
Our eBook sets out a detailed, practical process for achieving the dazzling, virtuoso performance that is required. There are stories, illustrations, reflections (looking without and within in with clarity), practical exercises and checklists. Application leads to a reframed story, reputation, cultural dynamics, performance.
 How to arrive at the right values, and the right way of implementing and inculcating them – so that they become habitual virtues, is explained.  Leonardo da Vinci’s life and virtues are used as an illustrative, non-threatening set of virtues that resonate at the individual and organisational levels.
For an outline and to place an advance order go to: