The foundation’s activities have evolved through four phases.
The first phase (1981–2003) involved the convening of informal workshops that gathered up to 100 participants in the bucolic town of Tällberg, Sweden. Bo Ekman, then a top executive at Volvo, organized these workshops to focus on topics related to the strategic agendas of large, transnational corporations.
In the ‘80s, deregulation, technological innovation and changing values were pushing business into a new global context and much of Tällberg’s work focused on understanding the implications of the changing environment. In the early 1990s, the conversations shifted to focus on understanding the wider effects of the ever-increasing pace of global integration, not only on corporations but also on governance, public policymaking and society at large.
The second phase of the Foundation’s activities (2004–2007) evolved as a con- sequence of this early work. Beginning in 2005, yearly gatherings took the form of a several day Tällberg Forum, with more than 400 participants addressing the over-arching question “How on Earth can we live together?” These award-winning events were widely acknowledged as important inspirations for hundreds of leaders not only from business, but also from many diverse disciplines and from more than 70 countries.
In 2005, we initiated the Tällberg Foundation Leadership Award for Principled Pragmatism. This was given to an individual who turned his or her insights into practical strategies and action, consistently applying humanistic, social and ecological values.
The Foundation expanded its activities during the third phase of our develop- ment from 2007 to 2013. The Tällberg Foundation provided a growing number of leaders, from widely diverse backgrounds, with opportunities to find new ideas, new networks, new concepts and new systems designs. Besides the annual Tällberg Forum, we did this through workshops, learning journeys, global stud- ies and advisory projects.
Our fourth phase began during 2014. We have renewed the leadership of the Tällberg Foundation: our founding chair, Bo Ekman, has become Chairman Emeritus; and we have elected Alan stoga as Chairman along with a new Board. In parallel, we have committed ourselves to rethinking the intellectual under- pinnings of our explorations at a time when the pace of change in society, the biosphere, and the universe is clearly accelerating.
We started this rethink with a simple observation: even as mankind’s under- standing of the cosmos, the planet, and life itself is exponentially accelerating, our ability to cope with the consequences is becoming increasingly fraught. Our goal is to define new ways of thinking about this contradiction. Drawing on Tällberg’s tradition, we believe that the best way to do so is to cut across the rigid disciplines that typically define who talks to whom and whose opinions are “legitimate” in any particular context, and to ask questions that others avoid.
In addition to the TW@C, this effort is being conducted through a number of channels, including small workshops, focused outreach and “Virtual Work- shops” that leverage web technology to convene small groups of experts to explore specific issues.
One of the defining elements of the Tällberg approach is to integrate art and nature into our thinking, our networks and our activities. Artists – painters, musicians, dancers, filmmakers and others – offer unique insights into how the world works (or how it doesn’t) and, hence, are an essential part of what makes Tällberg different.
Finally, who is Tällberg? Over the years, our activities have been built around and for an ever-expanding network of individuals whose intellectual approach mirrors ours in the sense of being fundamentally curious and always open to new thinking, but rooted in principled pragmatism. We have no “members.” More importantly, we have a global network of people who have participated in and grown through their participation in Tällberg’s activities over the past three decades.