"If you're in a bad situation, don't worry, it'll change. If you're in a good situation, don't worry, it'll change."
-- John A. Simone Jr.
W is for Me, Becoming We. John Lennon: Instant Karma’s gonna get you, gonna knock you off your feet. Better recognize your brothers, ev’ryone you meet. Why in the world are we here – surely not to live in pain and fear. Why on earth are you there – when you’re ev’rywhere, Come and get your share.
I wonder if these were the words dancing through Obama’s mind and the collective consciousness of other heads of state as they watched, helpless, as China systematically eviscerated the Copenhagen accord. China played a key role in wrecking Copenhagen because they are still firmly rooted in a scarcity mindset – our scarcity mindset.
In a growing number of commodities and products including grains, meat, coal and steel China and the Chinese are the largest consumers in the world. And, to paraphrase the Carpenters, they’ve only just begun…China is also one of the largest producers of consumer goods in the world, a growing number of which are being consumed domestically.
In Copenhagen China, and to a lesser degree, India demonstrated that they do not intend to let limits on CO2 emissions hobble their rapid economic ascensions. The problem is their rise is linked to models of straight line consumer spending and growth. To clothe, feed and outfit the burgeoning consumer class of China and India in the “Western” tradition of the last 100 years, requires more resources than we have on this planet. Is this an argument against abundance? No. It is a demand for true abundance-oriented thinking and action.
China is adapting a model development pioneered and perfected by us. At Copenhagen they flatly and consistently refused to deviate from this model. There are other models available. Look at what was accomplished at Kalundborg. Look at how companies like Burgerville are reinventing the business of fast food. Look at what plants like hemp can do to disrupt and reorient agriculture, energy, nutrition, building and manufacturing. Look at how you can go from one can of trash a week, to one can a month, and maybe, to putting out only one can a year.
“Me” becoming “We” is not about putting on birkenstocks, joining hands and dancing in fairy circles in a pollyanna world of ponies and rainbows. It is about self-interest. Self-interest in which our sense of “self” includes and transcends the ways of doing and seeing and being that brought a disingenuous China to the Copenhagen summit.
How dare they deign to beat us at own game? How dare we become passively complicit to a future of scarcity and suffering for our children?
The words of Larry Gopnick the Job-like protaganist of A Serious Man come to mind here: “I’ve done nothing”, he says in limp resistance to the calamities that befall him. And, when he does move in a desperate act of scarcity-minded self-interest, the phone rings with ominous news from the doctor and black, funnel-shaped clouds appear on the horizon.
Instant karma, baby. Instant karma.
J is for Jewels in Indra’s Jeweled Net. Roger Waters: Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine! What’s really cool (and can really suck) about being a living open system enmeshed within living open systems is that the health of the systems around us (political, economic, ecological) are directly reflected within us. Our individual and collective health also affects and influences these systems. Think about neighborhoods. Healthy neighborhoods are generally populated with people who regularly interact with and support each other. People spend more time, money and energy in the neighborhood. Unhealthy neighborhoods are typified by rising or rampant crime, disconnection and fear. People spend more time, money and energy protecting themselves. What’s the cause? We and the systems we create and effect are. If, as consumers and members of communities, we can find a way for more and more of us to shine, all of Indra’s Jeweled Net will radiate with our joy.
K is for Kindness and What it Begets. Jimmy Buffett: Were you born an asshole, or did you work at it your whole life? At a spoken-word performance back in the day, Henry Rollins told a story about living in New York and how it takes just one asshole to touch off a chain reaction of negativity and acrimony throughout the city. Now, turn it around. Well-targeted or even random acts of kindness and compassion can have the same effect. And, just to set the record straight, I’m not talking about some illusory feel-good bliss binge. I’m talking about a simple everyday practice of just being decent to each other, producing and buying that which does no or little harm, and creating opportunities for each of us feel valued and add value as we go about living our lives.
L is for Love that Binds and Connects. Morihei Ueshiba: A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind. I have learned more about love getting beat up in the martial arts than in anything else I have done. Love is connection. The deeper the connection, the deeper the love. And that love can be pretty tough. Scarcity, fear, unbridled anger, distrust all arise from negative reactions to changes around us – off balance – insatiable hunger, addiction, desire to consume more and more stuff come from a search for connection. Our capacity for love is bounded by our understanding of our selves. Our ability to love depends on our stance and posture as we face and engage with the world. Being grounded, centered, aligned and aware allows us to connect first with our selves and then with others. Extending love is enabled through practice, discipline. It’s not easy and it’s not free. Just ask the folks at Burgerville. Their mission is “to serve with love.” Realizing that calls for a culture of constant reflection and improvement. But when it works, you get some darn good burgers and some really good shakes.
“Sustainability” is not always sustainable. Simply, doing and describing what you do as sustainable does not make it so. For organizations (and us, personally!) to be sustainable in what we do, we have to be sustainable in who we are and how we see the world. This gives us our best shot at doing something that is actually going to get or generate sustainable results. In the following series of six posts I will introduce the six levels of engaging in sustainability: Compliance, Conformity, Cooperation, Collaboration, Coherence and Constellation. We use these at Interkannections to help our clients clarify their current goals around sustainability and map out their paths for deepening their practice and impact.
Constellation is characterized by reaching across industry, sector and national boundaries to create “constellations” of organizations capable of making systemic level change that benefits a multitude of stakeholders including, of course, the constellation members. These constellations are characterized by high degrees of transparency and innovation in a rich learning, rich opportunity environment. They are driven by a strong sense of purpose to build systemic capacity wherever they may be operating.
- Sustainability is internally driven and collaboratively realized in multi-stakeholder interventions
- Example sustainability activities: Kalundborg, a workable, meaningful approach to changing climate change, expanding Burgerville’s quality of supplier relationships throughout Cascadia, the “Integral Cities” movement.
- Being at Constellation innovating and organizing from an abundance mindset.
- What we see at this level is our capacity to effect systems level benefit and change with an array of other capable stakeholders.
- What we are doing is creating long-term value and resilience in the systems in which we do business thus making them and us more sustainable.
- What we get from Constellation is a strong, healthy, positive-value, business opportunity generating Value Web.
- Operating at Constellation is our best bet at sustaining the systems that sustain us and allow us to economically innovate and ecologically flourish.
We are just beginning to see Constellation level work emerge. The simplest way to imagine it is collaboration at a systems level. The project, instead of being clean tech. development project would entail a focus on a node or multiple nodes of the value web. Again, if the way Burgerville develops and maintains relationships with suppliers was expanded and implemented with a number of restaurants and suppliers across Cascadia we would be looking at a constellation-like scope and impact.
Tags: abundance, Burgerville, Cascadia, Coherence, collaboration, Compliance, Conformity, Constellation, cooperation, Country Natural Beef, integral cities, Interkannections, Kalundborg, resilience, sustainability, systems level change, systems thinking, transparency
“Sustainability” is not always sustainable. Simply, doing and describing what you do as sustainable does not make it so. For organizations (and us, personally!) to be sustainable in what we do, we have to be sustainable in who we are and how we see the world. This gives us our best shot at doing something that is actually going to get or generate sustainable results. In the following series of six posts I will introduce the six levels of engaging in sustainability: Compliance, Conformity, Cooperation, Collaboration, Coherence and Constellation. We use these at Interkannections to help our clients clarify their current goals around sustainability and map out their paths for deepening their practice and impact.. We use these at Interkannections to help our clients clarify their current goals around sustainability and map out their paths for deepening their practice and impact.
Coherence is signified by an organization or reorganization around a clear sense of purpose and deeply embedded principles that promote sustainability beyond the scope of simply doing business in the conventional sense. The organization and its people begin to fulfill an intentionally larger role in the communities and ecosystems in which they operate.
- Sustainability is generated from clearly articulated and realized principles and purpose.
- Example sustainability activities: Intentional long-term and multi-win relationships with suppliers that connect with developing and implementing community enhancement programs internally and with community stakeholders while creating and enacting related business practices that create zero waste and actually restore land and stream quality that significantly lowers risk and increases revenue and value for the business, suppliers and local communities.
- Being at Coherence is striving to be the change you want to see in the world while being successful.
- What we see at this level is a multitude of business opportunities and potential through engagement with the value web.
- What we are doing is “walking” our sustainable “talk” by leveraging value web relationships to generate multi-win, interconnected value as the example activities cited above demonstrates.
- What we get from Coherence is excellent risk management, long-term stability through a healthier, more robust relationship with the world.
- Remaining at Coherence has little in the way of negative consequences unless the culture becomes stagnant, insular or arrogant.. As the company evolves it is highly likely that opportunities to begin doing Constellation level business will appear. To seize these opportunities the role of proactive leadership throughout the organization, high levels of awareness, communication, innovation and resilience are necessary.
When we think of companies at this level, Burgerville, a Portland, Oregon area quick service restaurant chain comes to mind. Their mission is simple: To serve with love. Their inter-relationship with the communities and market in which they operate is complex. In terms of engagement with the value web they are actively generating positive, clearly visible interconnected returns in nearly all of the nodes. They don’t so much have suppliers as they have deep, mutually enriching, value generating relationships. More on Burgerville coming soon.
Tags: Burgerville, Coherence, collaboration, Compliance, Conformity, Constellation, cooperation, innovation, Interkannections, Oregon, Portland, principles, purpose, resilience, risk management, sustainability, walking the talk, zero waste
Great article over at worldchanging called: Enlightened Capitalism: Building a New Corporate Consciousness.
Rachel Botsman writes that for corporations to make the shift to new, truly sustainable ways of doing business they need to look at the best practices of companies like Timberland, Seventh Generation, Eileen Fisher, Patagonia and Stonyfield Farm. I would also add Burgerville in Portland OR to this list of sustainable business leaders.
She lists the following practices as key to making and maintaining the shift to sustainability:
- Abolishing the term or notion of “Corporate Social Responsibility”: Couldn’t agree more. The thinking behind CSR tends to create a separate culture of giving, donating and contributing to causes. It is often a band aid approach instead of a coherent, organization wide commitment to generating value.
- Shifting from linear to systems-based thinking: The world is neither linear nor solid. Everything is connected, constantly changing and affecting that around it. Markets are fluid and unpredictable. We, our communities and organizations are open systems. To understand them and their interactions requires systems thinking capacity and competence.
- Teaching employees new types of collaboration: Creativity and innovation emerge from the chaotic soup of interaction and interrelation. This requires unlikely and unconventional partnerships and communication. Co-opetition in place of competition.
- Showing respect for employees: Why, if everyone I speak with wants a Theory Y workplace, do we have so many Theory X organizations? People want empowering, life-enhancing relationships and work. Yet what we often create for each other are demotivating, controlling and dispiriting working conditions. Showing respect means finding a way to help employees live and work in fully engaged and healthy ways.
- Empowering employees by helping them to make a difference: Increased capacity for performance needs learning, development and sincere support. When people can see how to and actually do make a difference in or outside of work they grow in unpredictably wonderful ways.
- Setting goals that challenge the imagination: No waste! Try that one on for size.
- Using transparency to solve problems: It’s amazing how many problems remain problems simply because no one is willing to discuss them. Or, we just shut them out. Many problems are actually not problems at all. They’re dilemmas or polarities that need to be managed. Understanding that can free many of us from the dark traps our problem avoidance routines put us in.
Tags: Burgerville, capacity evolution, creativity, csr, Eileen Fisher, enlightened capitalism, innovation, Patagonia, Seventh Generation, Stonyfield Farm, sustainability, systems thinking, theory x, theory y