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Regenerative Leadership:  A New Approach That Values Life

December 11, 2019

There is no doubt. We are living in a time marked by great upheaval and volatility.  Leaders – both political and business – are  being forced to cope with rising challenges: resource scarcity; high levels of stress in the work place; disruptive innovations; social inequality; constant competition for top talent; rapid digitization and globalization; mass migrations; fragile supply chains; mounting social tensions; political extremism; and much more.

On top of all this, the climate of our planet is breaking down and we are facing what scientists have called the sixth mass extinction.

Our production systems are based on a linear, take-make-waste approach. Our financial systems based on short-term profit maximization that ignore life and debase human integrity. Our organizational systems are dominated by hyper-competition, power-and-control hierarchies, and rising stress.

We need a new approach that values life. A new leadership logic where organisations flourish, ecosystems thrive and people feel alive. This is what Regenerative Leadership is all about.  This book is written by leadership and sustainability specialists Giles Hutchins and Laura Storm, and has been referred to as the ‘must-read book of the year’.

“This book invites leaders to catalyze the necessary regeneration to not just catch up, but to lead the world into the 21st century.” 

CHRISTIANA FIGUERES, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY UNFCCC 2010-2016

Find out more about the book here: www.regenerativeleadership.co

This book weaves a new leadership framework with inspiration from pioneering thinking within biomimicry, circular economy, adult developmental psychology, anthropology, biophilia, sociology, complexity theory and next-stage leadership development. It connects the dots between these fields through a powerful DNA model that enables leadership to become regenerative, building thriving, prosperous, flourishing organizations amid these transformational times.

Regenerative organizations will be tomorrow’s success stories. Those that hold-on to yesterday’s logic will become yesterday’s news. It’s simple: adapt or die.

 

 “This book is full of wisdom and determination! It will inspire leaders to succeed in the 21st Century.”

TIM FLANNERY, SCIENTIST

Regenerative Leaders bring vitality and wellbeing to all our living systems….In-so-doing, we wake up to what it really means to be fully human – Giles Hutchins & Laura Storm

 

Feel free to connect with both Giles Hutchins and Laura Storm on www.regenerativeleadership.co

be a part of the new business paradigm discussions with the Facebook community  and if interested in Regenerative Leadership Immersions see the LinkedIN Group 

A Supreme Moment in Our Humanity – Now is the Time!

November 26, 2019

We are in the midst of a metamorphosis, profound shifts are affecting the way we work, how and why we do things, and the purpose and meaning we bring to our organisations, social systems and wider civilisation.

It’s what the ancient Greeks referred to as Kairos: a supreme moment in our human history, which if not adequately acted upon by us, may pass us by.

So how do we – the leaders and change agents in our organisations and social systems – adequately act upon this metamorphic moment in our midst?

It’s this question that’s fueled my inquiry into business transformation and leadership development over the last 25 years; formerly as Head of Practice with KPMG helping all sorts of organisations around the globe through various transformations, then as Global Head of Sustainability Solutions for the multinational technology provider Atos Origin, and more recently as executive coach and senior adviser to leaders and organisations, and in my co-creation with the sustainability specialist from Denmark, Laura Storm, in our co-creating the 350 page book on Regenerative Leadership.

Now, if I was to get right to the heart of what Regenerative Leadership is about and try to summarize these 350 pages into this blog article, I would start with the words of the well-respected business futurist John Naisbett, who said:

‘The greatest breakthroughs of the 21st Century will not occur because of technology, they will occur because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.’ – John Naisbett, futurist

I love that. To be involved in this expanding concept of what it means to be human; to help us Homo sapiens – wise beings – in a deeply wise, sentient and interconnected world: It’s this that is at the heart of Regenerative Leadership – a way of leading that doesn’t just help our organisations become more profitable, more vibrant and agile in these times of fast-moving change and increasing volatility. A way of leading that cultivates the conditions for developmental cultures; culture that enables us to become more of who we truly are in the workplace; cultures that we would be proud of our children working in when they come of age; cultures that create strategies and solutions, products and propositions that enhance the very fabric of society and the more-than-human world upon which we all depend.  Why would we wish for anything less?  It’s what I refer to as life-affirming business.

Is this some kind of fanciful utopian dream, heavy on rhetoric but light on substance?  Well actually no, it’s quietly going mainstream and has been for some years now. The myriad business examples packed into the book Regenerative Leadership are testament to this, and the research of myself and Laura Storm draws from many pioneers before us exploring this necessary revolution in leadership consciousness. For instance, Peter Senge’s work on systems thinking in business, Otto Scharmer’s work at MIT on Presencing and Theory U, Frederic Laloux’s work on Teal-Evolutionary business, are just some examples of well-received research and practical approaches helping this metamorphosis.

Let’s take Peter Senge. The Harvard Business Review refers to him as one of the most seminal business thinkers of the last 75 years. Myself and Laura Storm had the pleasure of spending time with him in upstate New York last summer, sitting round the camp fire. He says that the Number 1 most important thing facing our leaders, managers and change agents today is a fundamental shift in logic, a shift in way of thinking, from an essential mechanistic control-based narrowing-down reductive tendency that so much of our managerial logic is inured in today, to a recognition that our organisations are living-systems. And these organisational living systems are intimately interrelated with the living-systems of society which are intimately interrelated with the living-systems of our more-than-human-world.

This is a profound shift. A shift I refer to as a shift from a Firm of the Past, to a Firm of the Future.

Top-down, hierarchic, command-and-controlled, KPI-obsessed organisations transforming to firms of the future which are living, emergent, distributed with decentralised teams of people locally-attuning to their ever-changing environment without having to rely on hierarchies of bureaucracy and control.

It’s what the business philosopher Nassim Talib refers to as Anti-Fragile, and what the complexity theorist Ralph Stacey refers to as complex adaptive systems.

Complex Adaptive Systems Theory is a branch of non-linear dynamics that comes out of Complexity Theory, it’s a scientific study of the logic of life. And when we apply this Logic of Life to our organisations, we start to see that our organisations are not predictable machines, they are actually made up of messy, unpredictable, bottom-up, emergent human relationships: The chat next to the coffee machine, down the corridor, in the corporate boardroom, the meeting conventions and decision-making protocols, the informal power-plays, informal leader networks, etc. all contribute to either enlivening or stifling the organisation’s future-fitness.

The more we – as leaders and change agents in our organisations – can become conscious of these living-system dynamics in our organisations, the more we can enliven them. Hence, this shift in leadership consciousness is at the heart of Regenerative Leadership.

So what are we shifting from-to?

It’s a shift from  Yesterday’s Logic, a mechanistic logic that finds its roots way back in human history, born out of a militarised mind, rising patriarchy, an ego-explosion, etc. which I write about elsewhere (see The Illusion of Separation).  This mechanistic way of attending really came to the fore with the Age of Reason, Scientific Revolution and Industrial Revolution it spawned, whereupon it became dominant in our Western worldview.

This mechanistic way of attending is a narrowing-down reductive tendency that focuses in on the bits and bytes. It is an important part of our human repertoire, and this ability to drill-down is a powerful tool we most certainly need. It has brought great advancements in modern medicine, technology and transportation that we all enjoy today. There is nothing wrong with it per se. The problem comes when this way of attending starts to dominant, crowding out our other natural ways of knowing, then it creates imbalances in us and in our collective worldview.  Let’s briefly look at a couple of these imbalances:

To draw on the insightful research of the neuroscientist Iain McGilchrist, we can see an imbalance in how the left and right brain hemispheres inter-relate. The left-brain hemisphere enables us to focus on the parts, to drill-down on the detail, and isolate things abstracted from their lived-in fluid and relational context. This is a powerful tool, and yet can start to dominate the right brain hemisphere’s natural capacity to sense the inter-relational nature of reality ad wider systemic context. We get more and more caught up in the bits and bytes and de-emphasise the contextual relations. Hence, we need to re-align or re-balance this.

Another imbalance that needs addressing is the advancement of ‘masculine’ or ‘yang’ qualities of attention prioritised over ‘feminine’ or ‘yin qualities. (NB – to be clear here, we are not referring to gender qualities, rather these are ways of attending that each person has regardless of gender).  Masculine qualities of focusing-in, driving forward, responding, asserting, doing, competing and such like are prioritised by social systems and organisational cultures than the feminine qualities of listening, reflecting, empathising, being, collaborating and such like.  While both qualities make up healthy human growth, we have tended towards the prioritisation of one over the other, this needs re-aligning.

Another imbalance is that of a prioritisation of the ‘outer’ over the ‘inner’. One of the hallmarks of the Scientific Revolution and the materialism that has followed is the outer objectification of reality, where we emphasis the forms, materials, what-gets-measured-gets-done tangibility of reality while impoverishing the inner, the intangible, the psychological and metaphysical dimension of life. Again, this needs re-aligning as we move into a more regenerative and life-affirming way of leading and operating.

There is also another major imbalance – humanity’s sense of separation with and domination of nature. We shall touch on this shortly, as this also needs re-aligning.

So what are we shifting into?

We are shifting into the Logic of Life, where a re-alignment within our leadership consciousness happens at 3 levels.

The first level is at the cognitive head-level, re-aligning our left and right brain hemispheres. It relates to what leadership specialist Otto Scharmer refers to as Open Mind. We allow our capacity to focus-in on the parts to align with our capacity to comprehend the inter-related context of life.  We allow the left and right brain hemispheres to work together like two hands on the piano each doing different things yet making music together in a coherent fashion. This is the land of Systems Thinking, where we draw upon systems-tools to help us understand both the parts and the inter-relations of the systems we are attending to.

A practical example here is the work of systems designers, for instance my collaboration with a leading design agency Halogen that applies the systems-tool of Giga-Mapping, where the technical, material, social and ecological parts and inter-relations between the parts of the system are mapped out.  This helps us understand the feedback loops and systemic effects of systems change, and is a very important part of implementing circular economics approaches across an ecosystem of stakeholders.  Such systems-tools are becoming more widely used in organisations these days thanks to the work of pioneers like Peter Senge who have been championing systems-thinking in business for many years now.

Then there is the second level, which is a move beyond systems-thinking into systemic-awareness. This is no longer a head-based re-cognition of systems-behaviours, a mapping of the system on paper but also an embodied shift in our ways of knowing. It relates to what Otto Scharmer calls Open Heart, where we re-align the inner-outer and masculine-feminine dynamics that came out of kilter through yesterday’s mechanistic logic.  We sense in to the living system dynamics at play within the organisation and throughout the ecosystem of stakeholders.  This calls upon an embodied tuning-in and sensing-and-responding to living-system dynamics.  Tools such as Systemic Constellations, Social Presencing Theatre, Art of Hosting, Deep Listening and Systemic Coaching come in handy here.

A practical example of embedding this systemic-awareness into the organisational leadership, is the systemic coaching and intervention work did with a fast-moving consumer good company going through significant change. We identified leaders with innate systemic capacities across the business and throughout the organisational hierarchy, provided some systemic training, and then held-space for deep dialogic sharing to uncover the systemic dynamics, nodes, stuckness and flows unfolding in the organisational living-system during a time of transition for the company. The insights gleaned from this systemic work would not have been uncovered through traditional methods, and future-fitness was embedded into the system at myriad levels.

Then there is the third level of the shift. This is from systems-thinking and systemic-awareness into ecosystemic-awareness.  This is where we re-align the human-nature relation, and with it unlock transformational regenerative energy for redesigning life-affirming futures.  Yesterday’s logic is rooted in separateness, which projects a Neo-Darwinistic perspective on to life, and warp Darwin’s original observations through a mechanistic lens.  This perspective views life as separate species struggling for survival in a dog-eat-dog world, and the whole process of evolution seen as nothing but selfish ascendancy. It’s a deeply divisive logic and woefully inadequate and yet it still underpins much of our ideology in business, politics and beyond. Science shows us that life is actually very far from this simplistic portrayal.  In opening ourselves up to nature and reigniting our sense of place and purpose in this interconnected world, we allow a re-aligned of this human-nature separation.  This shift in awareness is an existential shift, and related to what Otto Scharmer calls Open Will, where our small ego-will opens up and permeates with the deeper interconnectedness of reality. This relates to shift identified through detailed research undertaken by several adult developmental psychologists. For instance, Clare Graves work shows a shift from what he calls Tier 1 adult consciousness (rooted in separateness and individual development) into Tier 2 consciousness (rooted in interconnectedness and service for all life).

One of the most powerful tools I have found through my own research in this ecosystemic space is to take leaders into nature on leadership immersions where we embrace living-systems thinking and being away from the office, round the camp fire while taking direct experience from how life embraces complexity, agility and emergence.  It is why I recently purchased 60 acres of ancient woodland in close proximity to London and international airports, so leaders from around the globe can gain access to all three levels of re-alignment so essential for the shift in to Regenerative Leadership Consciousness.

‘Look deep, deep, deep into nature and you will understand everything better.’ – Albert Einstein, genius

As the genius says here, when we look deep, deep, deep into nature, at these three levels of head, heard and will,  we see with new eyes. We bring a fundamentally different quality of consciousness to our solutions than which created our problems in the first place.  It’s this shift in leadership consciousness that this metamorphic moment we are living in fundamentally needs.

‘The greatest voyage of our lifetimes is not in the seeking of new landscapes but in the seeing with new eyes.’ – Marcel Proust, philosopher.

The time has come for the leadership capacities we have within ourselves to step-up to the systemic challenges our social systems and organisations now face.

The times we are living and operating in are simultaneously deeply troubling yet deeply rewarding for those who are courageous enough to let-go of the status quo logic so ingrained in how and why we do things, and open-up to the Logic of Life, in-so-doing step-in to what it really means to be human.

 

Giles Hutchins is a pioneering practitioner and senior adviser at the fore-front of the [r]evolution in organizational and leadership consciousness and developmental approaches that enhance personal, organizational and systemic agility and vitality. He is author and co-author of several leadership and organizational development papers, and the books The Nature of Business (2012), The Illusion of Separation (2014), Future Fit (2016) and Regenerative Leadership (2019).

For more on Giles’ latest book co-authored with Laura Storm see Regenerative Leadership

You can also connect with Giles on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/giles-hutchins-015a7b/

And join the Facebook Community on next-stage leadership and organisational development:

https://www.facebook.com/businessinspiredbynature/

 

The time has come for Purpose-Led Politics not Point-scoring Politics

November 11, 2019

By Peter Hawkins and Giles Hutchins

In the UK, as we enter the intense period of electioneering, we are witnessing politicians from all sides trying to score points, rather than lay out a vision for the country and our interconnected world for the next five years.  We have many promises of spending more money whether it is on Doctors or Child Care, Police or infrastructure.  Much of it feels like repetition of unfulfilled promises from previous elections.

Trust in politicians has reached an all-time low and yet there is a yearning for political leadership that provides a clear way forward – one built on values and which is purpose led.  A way forward that addresses the root-and-branch challenges our country is facing.

We need national and international leadership to urgently address the most critical global and local  threat we all face, that of the climate crisis. This is no longer a threat to future generations, for 2050 and beyond; its effects are already with us.  The climate crisis has the potential to cause more human death than either of the world wars, let-alone the carnage it wreaks on other-than-human life – yet it hardly features in main-party election debates and speeches.  UK politicians speak with pride about how they are doing more on carbon reduction than other countries, but that is meaningless if everyone is doing far too little and too late, to avert global catastrophe.  The UK goal to be carbon neutral by 2035, with no measurable firm commitments before that date, is hardly a wise response to the climate crisis, regardless of how it compares to other nation-states. It is reminiscent of shuffling deck-chairs on the Titanic.

It is impossible to create the world wide and national alliance necessary to create the radical action needed to limit the impact of the climate crisis, without also radically addressing global and social inequality. We hear talk about immigration, the fear of which was cynically used to win votes in the Brexit referendum, yet there is little or no exploration of how migration will be exponentially effected by widening global inequality and the unfolding climate crisis.  Adequately dealing with social inequality means tackling an out-dated economic paradigm, which many leading and well-respected economists the world over are working on in detail. We have the thinking, the models, the solutions, but no political will. These new economic approaches are absent from today’s political ramblings, mired as they are in yesterday’s economic logic. The political will, it seems, for root-and-branch transformation is sorely lacking.  This gets us nowhere fast, at a time when we need to be transforming at pace.

All we currently have on offer are empty promises – from both left and right party politics – empty promises that are essentially materialistic: how you can have more for less, not how we learn to consume less while deepening our humanity and becoming more purposeful, equitable and wise.

True leadership, does not lie in individual leaders, it is created by three elements, a clear purpose, articulated into a call to action by collective leadership, in a way that aligns and orchestrates individuals to take a collective and collaborative course of action.  Without a shared purpose we are left with a popularity contest, and politics reduced to Twittersphere and reality TV:   “Who will be the last to be voted out of the Jungle?”

So much needs to change.  The old ways of doing things are no longer fit for the future.  Whether its leadership in business, economics, institutions or politics, the systemic challenges humanity now faces demand a new way of leading, not just in the UK but across the world. This new way of leading draws upon next-stage leadership consciousness – Regenerative Leadership Consciousness – which is significantly different from the old ways of leading.    The epic challenges we now face as a nation, as a human race – from climate change to social inequality and from mental health to biodiversity loss – demand leadership of a different order.

There is hope.  Where there is breakdown, there is the potential for breakthrough, if we have the courage.  This mess that has been created in UK politics might just create the very conditions that stimulate a breakthrough innovation in UK democracy; a step-change in the kind of leadership consciousness humanity now needs. This new kind of leadership consciousness is actually already emerging in all sorts of places within business, community development and social change.   This new kind of leadership conscious is what Giles Hutchins and Laura Storm write about in their new book Regenerative Leadership – a way of leading that is not just nourishing, developmental and life-affirming for the leader, but for everyone the leader serves and the wider society and ecology of life on Earth.

This way of leading puts purpose at the heart of what the organisation or political initiative is all about.

It is the quality of purpose that creates the quality of the leader, and the quality of the leadership team or political party, not the other way round.

What we now need is purpose-led politics, not opportunistic point-scoring politics.  Many hard-working politicians go in to politics to serve their communities and nation-people, yet end up spending a lot of energy on point-scoring, power-playing, vote-winning sound-bites; purpose gets lost along the way, along with the soul of politics and the soul of leadership.

It begs the question – so what is the real purpose of politics?  What is the real purpose of society, of civilisation?  To satisfy ego-urges and material-needs or to serve our diverse communities and rich interwoven ecologies of life in ways that actually enhance evolution, that actually leave a better future for ourselves, our children and grandchildren, and the rest of life on Earth?    We can no longer leave politics to politicians. Its times for us all to participate in how we can refocus politics on  purpose – by the questions we ask, the conversations we engage in, and the way we campaign, collaborate and dialogue.  Yesterday’s politics is not longer fit for purpose.  Something new can (and must) emerge out of this current breakdown.

 

This blog-article is co-written by world-renowned leadership Professor Peter Hawkins of Henley Business School and Chairman of Renewal associates www.renewalassociates.co.uk and  Regenerative Leadership specialist Giles Hutchins www.gileshutchins.com  We share our perspectives on the timely and important topic of leadership in politics.

 

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Regenerative – the word abounds, but what does it mean for business to be ‘Regenerative’?

November 7, 2019

There is much buzz about the word ‘regenerative’ these days, which is good news as we desperately need to become more regenerative in our leadership and business practices, as well as our product, place and process design practices.

 

But what does ‘regenerative’ actually mean?

 

Let’s look at the definition of regenerative from the book Regenerative Leadership, co-authored by Giles Hutchins and Laura Storm:

 

The word ‘regenerative’ means creating the conditions conducive for life to continuously renew itself, to transcend in to new forms, and to flourish amid ever-changing life-conditions. This primary principle underpins life-affirming leadership and organizational development, where our organizations help rather than hinder the logic of life. This goes beyond traditional CSR initiatives and sustainability as it is not primarily aimed at reducing negative impacts created by the current mind-set; rather, it is a move in to an entirely new mind-set, a ‘new way’ of being-and-doing in business and beyond.

 

With this regenerative logic: externalities become opportunities for additional value creation; waste of one output becomes food for another; stakeholders become partners to engage with through authentic communications and reciprocating relations; linear-thinking is replaced with systemic-thinking and circular economics; resources are not simply managed and controlled for short-term gain but perceived holistically in the wider context of the inter-relational matrix of life; rather than exploitation through manipulation we open-up into ‘right relationship’ with all life. Differing needs, perspectives, conflicting views and emotional dissonance are not avoided but given the space for something to be revealed through the tension into right relation. This is all about learning to become more human, while also focusing on the day-to-day reality of a profitable vibrant business.

 

Regenerative Business enriches life – its ‘life-affirming’. It enriches ourselves, our customers, and the wider stakeholder ecosystem, and applies the Logic of Life: a shift from mechanistic logic to the logic of living-systems.

 

As we explore in the book, there are three levels to this regenerative living-systems logic:

 

Living Systems Design:  We take inspiration from nature’s patterns, principles and processes and apply these to the designing of our products, processes and places. This is the land of biomimicry, industrial ecology, circular economics, biophilic design and more. It’s an exciting area which is revolutionizing how we design our products, processes and places.

 

A practical example here is Interface the multinational carpets company which is going beyond its Mission Zero sustainability objective to exploring radical innovation in its products, processes and places. Two initiatives are: 1) ‘Factory as a Forest’ – where biomimetic insights from nature are applied to factory design to enable factories to sequester (absorb) more carbon from the atmosphere than they emit, just like a forest does. 2) ‘Net-works’ – where global and local collaborations and circular design approaches spark innovation in local fishing communities who collect plastics from the sea and then work with partners to enable Interface to upcycle this plastic into carpet tiles, so the local communities benefit, the marine ecosystems benefit and so does Interface and its clients.

 

Living Systems Culture: We apply insights from living-systems to our organisations, helping cultivate conditions for developmental, self-managing, agile cultures. These cultures unlock the brilliance of their people, heighten the sensing-and-responding capacity of locally-attuned teams, and spark creativity and innovation across the organisation-as-living-system. These organisations are far more able to adapt and thrive in times of increased volatility and turbulence. What galvanizes these vibrant living-organisations is a strong life-affirming purpose – a focus on creating solutions, products and value propositions that enhance the fabric of society and the more-than-human world upon which we all depend.  The upshot is vibrant purposeful organisations with motivated, liberated employees. These organisations become life-affirming future-fit businesses.

 

A practical example here is Triodos Bank the financial services organisation that makes money work for social and environmental benefit. Its organisational culture is deeply purposeful and also collaborative, developmental and vibrant. Its relationship with its customers and suppliers form part of a rich ecosystem that serves life, not just for the partner ecosystem but for wider society and the environment. Every project the bank invests in has clear social and environmental benefits – the bank simply does not invest in anything else. By example, Triodos helped my own social enterprise with its 60 acres leadership immersion centre so that we could expand the work we do to shift leadership consciousness towards life-affirming futures and activating regenerative leadership consciousness; and also preserving natural ecosystems by preventing ancient woodland being bought by commercial developers.

 

Living Systems Being: Underpinning the organisational culture and design of products and processes, is the leadership consciousness we bring to our conversations, meetings and decisions – a quality of being that reaches beyond the power-playing ego-separateness and control-and-predict thinking that mires so much of today’s mechanistic managerial mentality.  Through cultivating our own leadership resilience, presence, self-awareness and systemic-awareness we create psychological safe and deep spaces for our peers, team members and wider stakeholders to journey towards wholeness, applying the wisdom of life as we step into soul-service beyond ego-machinations.

 

A practical example of activating this living-systems being is through well-held leadership immersions in nature where leaders can open up to and gain perspective on blind-spots, ego-masks, and projections we all inevitably have, and explore how our organisations can become more purposeful, vibrate and life-affirming. Sharing round the camp fire with people from different departments or from different organisations, in a space that encourages heart-sharing, vulnerability and deep-listening rather than ego-posturing, show-boating and self-projection, enables leaders to come up with solutions with a different quality of consciousness from that which created our problems in the first place. See  here for feedback on the value people gain from engaging in these leadership immersions.

 

The time has come for us to become regenerative – as leaders and as organisations. The time is now – our organisations, societies and planet depend on this shift in leadership consciousness.

 

 

Hence Regenerative Leadership – the book by leadership and sustainability experts Giles Hutchins and Laura Storm which provides an exciting and comprehensive framework for building regenerative life-affirming businesses. It offers a multitude of business cases, fascinating examples from nature’s living systems, insights from the front-line pioneers and tools and techniques for leaders to succeed and thrive in the 21st century.

 

Regenerative Leadership draws inspiration from pioneering thinking within biomimicry, circular economy, adult developmental psychology, anthropology, biophilia, sociology, anthropology, complexity theory and next-stage leadership development. It connects the dots between these fields through a powerful DNA model that enables leadership to become regenerative: in harmony with life, building thriving, prosperous, flourishing organizations amid transformational times. The book is a combination of theoretical frameworks, case studies, storytelling, tools & practices: Everything the leader needs to pave the way for business becoming a force for good in the world.

 

‘This is the must read book of 2019. I couldn’t put it down.’ Dr Lynne Sedgmore CBE

 

See here this short video:

 

 

And visit the book’s website:  www.regenerativeleadership.co

 

If interested in Leadership Immersions, you can join the LinkedIn group :

https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13767578/

 

and for next-stage leadership and organisational development, the Facebook group:

https://www.facebook.com/businessinspiredbynature/

 

Giles Hutchins is a pioneering practitioner and senior adviser at the fore-front of the [r]evolution in organizational and leadership consciousness and developmental approaches that enhance personal, organizational and systemic agility and vitality. He is author and co-author of several leadership and organizational development papers, and the books The Nature of Business (2012), The Illusion of Separation (2014), Future Fit (2016) and Regenerative Leadership (2019).   see Giles Hutchins for more on his coaching, speaking and advisory work.

Regenerative Leadership – what we need in times of great winds

November 2, 2019

 

In times of great winds, some build bunkers, others build windmills – so the old Chinese adage goes.  As I write this blog, strong winds are shaking the trees and swirling the leaves as the autumnal colours begin their surrender to the grey skies of winter.

It has taken me many years to fully love winter. I have such an immense love of summer:  The warm sun on my skin, long days, camping out on dry ground, with tender-twigs to hand for camp-fire making – what joy.

But how can we have summer without winter?  How can we have breakthrough without breakdown?  The rich soil that feeds growth in spring would soon become poor if it weren’t for winter’s breaking down of the leaves.

It has taken me years to embrace winter in a wholesome, rejuvenating way. As the trees let go of their leaves, and the nights draw-in, transformation is afoot.  Winter is where things breakdown to provide nourishment and insight for the breakthrough of spring.  This is Nature’s Wisdom.

Today, in our world, we face breakdown; our systems are stressed and winter looms. A time to pause, reflect, dig deep and bring fresh insight to our sea of challenges. To face tomorrow with a logic fundamentally different from yesterday’s; that’s what today calls for.  And yet we find ourselves all-too-busy, all-too-consumed, to even pause and reflect, let alone let-go of what no longer serves us.

The time has come to let go of old ways and create space for the breakdown to reveal breakthrough.

This is why Laura Storm and I published the book Regenerative Leadership this summer, for the winter times of breakdown/breakthrough ahead of us.

 

The clarity, inspiration, synergy and wisdom of this book is breath-taking…This is the must read book of 2019. I couldn’t put it down.

Dr Lynne Sedgmore CBE, former Chief Executive  of 157 Group, Centre for Excellence in Leadership

As we say in the book – ‘There is no doubt. We are living in a time marked by great upheaval and volatility. Leaders — both political and business — are being forced to cope with rising challenges: resource scarcity; high levels of stress in the work place; disruptive innovations; social inequality; constant competition for top talent; rapid digitization and globalization; mass migrations; fragile supply chains; mounting social tensions; political extremism; and much more.

On top of all this, the climate of our planet is breaking down and we are facing what scientists have called the sixth mass extinction.

Our production systems are based on a linear, take-make-waste approach. Our financial systems based on short-term profit maximization that ignore life and debase human integrity. Our organizational systems are dominated by hyper-competition, power-and-control hierarchies, and rising stress.

We need a new approach that values life. A new leadership logic where organisations flourish, ecosystems thrive and people feel alive. This is what Regenerative Leadership is all about.’

Times they are a changing, and now more than ever, we need insight into what the future calls of us today.

 

This is why myself and Laura Storm have written the book Regenerative Leadership released this summer, ready for the winter of breakdown and breakthrough ahead of humanity. We live in interesting times. Its time to get radical and deal with the root problem as well as myriad symptoms – to get to the underlying leadership logic that can create life-affirming futures for ourselves, our families, our organisations, our social systems and the interconnected web of life that we all depend on.

 

Giles and Laura bring their vast experience and deep wisdom to create an evolutionary blueprint for a sustainable future for business, people and the planet.

 Richard Barrett, President of the Barrett Academy for the Advancement of Human Values

This book is full of wisdom and determination! It will inspire leaders to succeed in the 21st Century.

Tim Flannery, scientist

A must read for anyone who wants to shape a regenerative organization.

Jean-Claude Pierre, CEO Scott Bader

I have been heartened by the interest in Regenerative Leadership not just as a business subject but as a practical and applied way into a new kind of leading.  The latest two talks in London on Regenerative Leadership have been sold-out well in advance.  This encourages me to get out of the magical autumnal woods here in this 60 acre woodland I use for regenerative leadership immersions, and increase the number of transformative conversations I have with business leaders.

 

In this regard, I am providing free 2hr conversations in confidence with senior leaders interested in embarking on the journey towards Regenerative Leadership. These conversations aim to uncover the key steps you and your organisation need to embark on to become a next-stage Regenerative Leader & Business – one that not just survives but truly thrives in the volatile times ahead.

If you are interested in such a conversation, please contact me on gilesjphutchins@gmail.com

and connect on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/giles-hutchins-015a7b/

Also on Facebook you can join the Community exploring next-stage leadership and organisational development:

https://www.facebook.com/businessinspiredbynature/

Poetry on Nature’s Wisdom

October 18, 2019
tags:

Selected extracts of some quality timeless poetry exploring the wisdom of Life:

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;

Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,

But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,

Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,

Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,

There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

 

— T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton, 4 Quartets

The flute of interior time is played whether we hear it or not,

What we mean by ‘love‘ is its sound coming in.

When love hits the furthest edge of excess, it reaches a wisdom.

And the fragrance of that knowledge!

It penetrates our thick bodies,

it goes through walls –

Its network of notes has a structure as if a million suns were arranged inside.

This tune has truth in it.

Where else have you hard a sound like this?

 

— Robert Bly, 16, The Kabir Book

Sing, my heart, of unknown gardens poured in glass,
transparent and unattainable.
Fountains and roses of Ispahan or of Shiraz,
Praise and joyfully sing of them, incomparable.

Show, my heart, that you could never truly miss them, since
it is you, alone, for whom their figs have ripened.
That in your revery, envisioning powers heightened,
you are kin to each flowering branch the sweet breezes evince.

Avoid the error of thinking something dear was shed
in the transaction of your grave decision to be!
You are part of the very weave, o silken thread.

Whatever the motif constricting you internally
(if only for a moment in the painful life you lead)
intuit the full meaning of the glowing tapestry.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, The Sonnets of Orpheus

 

Feel free to join the Facebook group:

https://www.facebook.com/businessinspiredbynature/

Diversity and Inclusion through the Lens of Living Systems

September 25, 2019

The systemic challenges we now all face call for systemic solutions.  All too often (and largely unwittingly) we apply the very same level of consciousness (a ‘mechanistic’ and ‘reductive’ mind-set) in attempting to solve problems that have been created by that very same mind-set.

 

Diversity and Inclusion with a Living-systems lens is a key part of the systemic solution, and it’s also a key part of the new mind-set that we now need to call upon during this time of breakdown/breakthrough.

 

Sometimes we may sense that our explorations into Diversity and Inclusion can get bogged down by yesterday’s mind-set.   Sometimes the very same blind-spots, corruptions, illusions, fears, control-issues, hierarchies, power-plays, blame-games and habitual ego-tendencies feed into onto our well-intended solutions.  In part, this is a natural stage in the evolution of any area of development that is moving out of a challenging historic tendency.

 

In our book Regenerative Leadership we (Laura Storm and Giles Hutchins) explore a new kind of leadership consciousness – a way of living and leading that creates life affirming futures by drawing on the Logic of Life.   We present a Regenerative Leadership DNA Model where learning from living systems is applied to our social systems at three levels: Living Systems Design; Living Systems Culture; Living Systems Being.

 

Living Systems Design: applying inspiration from nature’s patterns, principles and processes to transform how we design and build our physical world and the products and services we use.

 

Living Systems Design explores nature-inspired design methods such as biomimicry, circular economics, cradle to cradle, permaculture, and biophilic design. It explores how leaders, engineers, architects, designers, and innovators can draw upon the wisdom of nature while designing new products, services, processes, structures, and places.

 

Living Systems Culture: applying inspiration from nature’s wisdom to transform how we structure and lead our organizations.

 

Living Systems Culture explores living-systems-thinking applied to organizations and communities and incorporates pioneering schools of thought relevant to exploring the organization-as-living-system, such as: Systems Thinking, Holism, Complexity Theory, Complex Adaptive Systems Theory, Adult Developmental Psychology and Integral Psychology, Deliberately Developmental Organizations, Evolutionary/Teal Organizations, Theory U, Conscious Capitalism, Systemic Leadership and Conscious Leadership.

 

Living Systems Being: applying the wisdom of nature and embracing its way of being to transform our physiology, psychology, and wellbeing as leaders.

 

Living Systems Being explores our physiological, emotional and psychological nature and the qualities and practices we need as leaders to adapt, develop and flourish amid fast-paced business climes while tending towards harmony with nature within and around us. This draws on research from psychology, biophilia, neurology, quantum physics, ancient wisdom traditions, and other schools of thought.

 

As you can see from this image, Diversity and Inclusion is a key DNA strand within Living Systems Culture.  And the entire DNA is interwoven with two Dynamics – Life Dynamics and Leadership Dynamics:

 

The Life Dynamics of:

 

Divergence: life thrives through opening up and diversifying; creativity occurs at the edge of boundaries.
Convergence:
life maintains balance and order by having a sense of purpose, alignment, boundary and structure.           
Emergence:
life unfolds through the healthy tension between Divergence and Convergence; this tension impels life’s Emergence.

And the Leadership Dynamics of:

 

Self Awareness: leadership thrives through individuals’ gaining perspective on their thoughts, habits, behaviors and blind-spots; we are able to reach beyond self-imposed limitations and open up more readily to life through self-mastery.
Systemic Awareness: leadership thrives through an understanding of networks, flows and relationships within systems; we are able to sense how best to influence the organizational system toward life-affirming futures.
Regenerative Leadership Consciousness: leadership thrives through cultivating both Self Awareness and Systemic Awareness; we are able to serve life attuned to nature’s wisdom.

As the Greco-Roman philosopher Seneca once remarked:

 

“True wisdom consists in not departing from nature, but in molding our conduct according to her laws and model.” Seneca, philosopher

 

 

In looking at how we best cultivate cultures of Diversity and Inclusion within our complex human organizations, we can apply the logic of living-systems: the Life Dynamics of Divergence and Convergence. We stimulate divergence in our organizations by opening-up ourselves, our team dynamics and our stakeholder relations so we work across boundaries of difference. We can purposefully ensure a rich blend of diversity – in terms of ethnicity, upbringing, gender, age, general outlook and business perspectives – through our embracement of social technologies like swarms, stakeholder dialogue sessions, and future-search workshops. Through convergence, we create a sense of inclusivity and belonging. The core values and behaviors we cultivate in our culture provide the cultural soil that brings together the rich diverse perspectives and orientations celebrated through divergence.  It is this honoring of both the convergence through common values, and divergence through diverse perspectives that ensures the vibrancy of our organizational living-system.

 

The healthy tension of Divergence (opening up through diverse perspectives and backgrounds) with Convergence (bringing together through core values and a resonant sense of purpose) is what impels emergent life-affirming cultures.   It might be useful to think of the River of Life as having two banks – one side of the river tends towards Divergence, opening-up, creativity, diverse perspectives – which when over-done can bring chaos. The other side of the river tends towards Convergence, bringing-together, alignment, common values and purposeful intent – which when over-done can bring rigidity.  Between the aspects of Chaos and Order flows the emergent river of life. Ditto for our organisations.  Diversity and Inclusion can help this healthy tension of divergence (diversity) and convergence (inclusion), to spawn emergent aliveness in our living-organisations.

 

 

Another tension worth holding in our living-organisations is that of reductive attention (what the neuroscientist Iain McGilchrist refers to as a product of left-brain hemispheric attention) balanced with relational attention (right-brain hemispheric attention).   We need both, hence why we have two hemispheres in our brains. Yet, in today’s society and organisational/management logic we tend to become overly-inured in a reductive mechanistic attention (for McGilchrist this is an overly dominant left-brain hemispheric attention that crowds out and undermines the relational awareness of the right-brain hemisphere).

When we become too reductive, we see only the bites and bytes, the metrics, the detail, and overlook the deeper relational dynamics present within our social systems.  Likewise, if we have too much relational awareness, without a healthy dose of reductive awareness, then we might struggle to gain the focus and definition needed to make change happen.  It is a healthy dynamic of both focusing-in on the parts (reductive) and being aware of the inter-relations between the parts (relational) that is called upon to cultivate life-affirming culture.

Becoming conscious of the reductive-relational tendencies in our team dynamics, decision-making and organisational culture – as well as within our own selves as leaders and participants in the social system – is useful.

As Regenerative Leaders we learn to hold-space for a healthy tension of reductive-relational and a healthy tension of divergence-convergence to arise in ways we relate, make decisions, facilitate meetings, and explore strategies.

On 9th October, in an area of outstanding natural beauty of the ancient High Weald in West Sussex, Katherine Long and Giles Hutchins of The Future Fit Leadership Academy will explore how we can apply nature’s wisdom to Diversity and Inclusion so that we bring in a deeper level of consciousness (an ‘ecosystemic perspective’) to this important topic.  See more info here:  http://ffla.co/diversity-and-inclusiona-living-systems-approach/

 

For more info on the book Regenerative Leadership co-authored by Giles Hutchins and Laura Storm, visit www.regenerativeleadership.co

 

‘The clarity, inspiration, synergy and wisdom of this book is breath-taking… This is the must read book of 2019. I couldn’t put it down.’  – Dr Lynne Sedgmore CBE, former Chief Executive  of 157 Group, Centre for Excellence in Leadership

 

 

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