December 12, 2018

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Business The Way Nature Intended

Submitted by: Giles Hutchins

Posted: Nov 11, 2016 – 06:00 AM EST

Tags: business, leadership, organizational behavior

 
Giles_hutchins

There is an old saying, ‘May you live in interesting times’.

When someone said this to you it was viewed as both a blessing and a curse, because to live in interesting times means to face both danger and opportunity, to simultaneously embrace both breakdown and breakthrough, which is exactly what these transformative times demand of us.

The UN Secretary General refers to these times as the Great Transition; Joanna Macy, Thomas Berry, Charles Eisenstein and others have referred to it as the Great Turning, due to a trilemma of social, environmental and economic factors.

My own contribution to this Great Turning is to shed some light on our relationship with Nature, to help illuminate the way we live and work with Nature; Nature - not ‘out there’ but within and all around us. Because I see this as primary to the challenges we face today.

Whether it’s climate change, neo-liberal economics, rampant social inequality or rising stress in the workplace, these are symptomatic of a deeper underlying cause – the way we relate with life, and our sense of place and purpose within life. Our relationship with ourselves, each other and the world us, is in desperate need of our dear attention. This way, we move beyond applying the very same logic to our well-intended solutions that created the problems in the first place.

For several years now, my focus has been on attending to the relationship our leaders, managers and business change agents have with Nature by exploring how our organisations can be perceived as vibrant emergent living systems that thrive by tending towards harmony with life (regardless of whether they are for-profit, non-profit or public bodies). 

My latest book Future Fit builds on my explorations over the years by synthesizing a new business logic in harmony with the natural rhythms of life. This is a much needed {r}evolution for leadership and organisational development. And it comes at a time when many forward-thinking leaders know in their hearts that a ‘new norm’ of operating and organising is now essential. The rapid rise in interest across the globe in ground-breaking approaches such as: Teal, Theory U, B-Corp, Conscious Leadership, etc. exemplify the rumblings of this {r}evolution.

What does the term ‘Future Fit’ mean?

The scientific definition of a Future Fit organisation is one that in no way undermines – and ideally increases – the possibility that humans and other life will flourish on Earth forever.

In practice this means:

1) The organisation is actively working towards going beyond a threshold of performance across a range of social and environmental factors.  This is quantifiable through the Future Fit business benchmarking goals (supported by a non-profit open source Foundation).

2) The organisation’s sense of purpose, culture and leadership is aimed at becoming a regenerative life-affirming business. This life-affirming strategic intent drives behaviour throughout all operations and stakeholder relations (including society and the environment). 

What do we mean by ‘regenerative business’?

Regenerative business seeks to create the conditions conducive for life, by operating in ways that contribute, replenish and evolve within the evolution of life: business that is not just copying living systems logic but deeply embodying this logic, by seeking harmony within the rhythms, flows and evolutionary currents of life.

It is a strategic intent to serve life; a heart-felt mind-set that guides our journey.

This mind-set can be characterised as a shift from an overly mechanistic and materialistic perspective of the world rooted in separation, self-maximisation, fear and control, towards a realisation of the inter-connectedness of life.  It is an awakened recognition that our selves and our organisations are living systems immersed within the living systems of society and our more-than-human world.

A friend of mine Andy Bradley, of Frameworks4Change, describes this shift from fear to love as, ‘a shift from simply providing services to creating connected, inclusive, balanced organisations and communities.’   It’s time to ask ‘why on Earth would we wish to work in an organisation that doesn’t value the livelihood of ourselves, the next generation and our more-than-human kinship?’

The purpose and soul of our organisational endeavour beyond mere sustainability measuring and monitoring is what is explored here. As it is root causes that need addressing in these metamorphic times as well as downstream effects.

Regenerative life-affirming business is not a utopian dream; it is how life really is. It is our prevalent practices that are a deluding aberration. It’s fallacy to think we need to be singularly at odds with life. We are waking up to this reality, and a number of forward-thinking organisations are paving the way.

There are lots of useful learnings, techniques and tools, as well as plenty of case studies we can take inspiration from to help us ‘home grow’ our own unique brew of life-affirming business, as no two organisations are the same.  And it’s not about ‘being holier than thou’ but embracing our foibles and failings; learning and sharing as we go; creating safe space for learning to become more human in our more-than-human world, and having fun as we become.

Purposeful work can enliven and enrich us – we all know this in our hearts. This is not rocket science – sure there are some complexities and, for certain, facilitation and coaching help.  But essentially, this is about learning to respect our own selves, respect each other, and respect life. This is simply good business sense, as hot-off-the-press research shows that organisations embracing this regenerative logic consistently out-perform their mechanistic counterparts in these volatile times.

We are living through a supreme moment in our human history. It is what the ancient Greeks referred to as Kairos, an indeterminable period of time during which old assumptions fall away and a deeper, more authentic worldview takes shape. Each of us has the humbling responsibility to seize the moment and make a stand for Life, in-so-doing enabling our organisations to become more resilient, purposeful, vibrant future-fit enterprises. 

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by CSRwire contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of CSRwire.

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