Ben Emmens

Bring on 2012!

So a new year arrives, and like many others, I find myself staring into the ‘fog’ and ‘storms’ ahead, searching for the path my journey will take me on… When it comes to challenge and change, I’m so much better at helping others prepare for it and face it! But when it’s my turn, the eagerness evaporates. This year promises to be a very big one, almost certainly characterised by… Read More »Bring on 2012!


Sitting in Singapore Chiangi airport listening to the piped muzak yet again (lost count how many times this year already) I got thinking about my strategy to beat jetlag… It’s a strategy that’s mostly worked to date but is essentially a triumph of mind over matter. Much the same way as one overcomes weariness in everyday life. So for those of you unable to purchase over the counter remedies, here’s… Read More »Jetlagged?

‘Humanitarian intuition’?

Reflecting on some work I’ve had the privilege of doing with a major consortium (, namely to establish a core behavioural framework for humanitarian agencies, I’ve been thinking a lot about competencies and how our understanding of competencies is evolving / maturing. Common consensus has moved us beyond Schein’s ‘Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes’ (1989) to an emphasis on the ‘behaviours required for effective performance’ (CIPD 2009). The meltdown in the banking… Read More »‘Humanitarian intuition’?

Cold turkey…

It’s been a while since my last post – family duties have been fun but consuming. And as for work: growth and impact are exciting, but after a while, the “humanitarian endeavour” gets, well, to be tiring. And so, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of two like-minded friends who understand my second predicament and are soon to discover the joy of the first, I found myself, with family in tow,… Read More »Cold turkey…

“A convergence of yes’s”

I’ve realised I’ve got a problem… It’s not a constant, ongoing problem, rather it’s one that rears its head from time to time. It happens when my ‘yes’s’ converge. I say ‘yes’ to many things, and ‘no’ to a few. This can happen over a short or a long period of time, but one thing’s for sure, the yes’s accumulate over time. Periodically, a number of those yes’s come home… Read More »“A convergence of yes’s”

Building capacity…

‘Building capacity’ – quite possibly one of the most hackneyed terms in the whole of the humanitarian / international development realm. I have misgivings about the term ‘building capacity’ – if we’re going to do anything with (or to) capacity, then let’s acknowledge that it almost certainly exists already (to a greater or lesser extent), and let’s talk about ‘strengthening capacity‘ instead. Anyhow, I have noticed a growing trend for… Read More »Building capacity…

Social capital?

I’ve been thinking about the notion of social capital a great deal over the last year or two – and the thinking is gradually becoming less ‘inchoate’… As a leader in a global network of nearly 200 NGOs, I have an opportunity to connect people, and to play my part in bringing about transformational results for the organisations we work with, and the communities they serve. And that’s what’s got… Read More »Social capital?


I’m privileged to be working with some like minds at Nokia, Thomson Reuters and the London Business School and together we are exploring what community means in the workplace. It’s a journey of discovery – and it feels like we’re creating a new language through which businesses and non-profits can understand and engage with communities. This week we reflected on our role through a community’s lifecycle, from initiation, to discovery,… Read More »Community

The quality of our thinking…

I received a copy of this inspiring book (Nancy Kline / Time to think) through the post a couple of weeks ago –  a gift from a coach / consultant I’d met a couple of times. Receiving a gift is a wonderful thing – all the more so if it turns out that it’s a gift that changes your life… I met the her [the consultant] again on Friday and experienced… Read More »The quality of our thinking…


This is the last post from the ‘archives’… November 3-5 (2008) in Washington DC was very memorable, but a lot can change in 18 months. For the record, here is what ‘dreams’ look like: Working in Washington this week has been inspirational. I watched Barack Obama be elected President of the United States of America. On Monday and Tuesday, I had a sense of being part of something very historic:… Read More »Change