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The Phoenix Economy – Breakthrough Beyond Breakdown

August 13, 2012

Out of the ashes of Economic Armageddon rises a new way.

We are amidst an economic breakdown – that much is now obvious.  For instance:

  • European and UK debt is now at unsustainable levels and rising fast.
  • EU break-up is now becoming a real possibility, if that happens the UK government would take the unprecedented step of nationalising the banking system and would inject a massive £1 trillion through ‘quantitative easing’ into the economy to avoid catastrophe, and yet pushing the UK economy beyond serviceable debt levels.
  • The US economy, previously thought of as being on the up, is now back in the doldrums and seems unable to kick-start itself even with massive levels of quantitive easing and fiscal stimulus.  Any growth in the US economy is looking increasingly more fragile and unsustainable.
  • Tawain and South Korea, seen as Asian bell-wether economies, are starting to flat-line on growth
  • India and China, the mighty engines of global growth, are slowing with China now reversing policy on fiscal/monetary tightening to one of increased stimulus in order to prevent further economic slowdown which now seems all but inevitable.
  • China’s fiscal stimulus is having less and less of a material effect on the long term viability of the Chinese economy. Now less that 50% of the spending actually has a material effect on GDP.

The world economic system is cracking.  The current ‘take-make-waste’ short-term focused, rampant consumerist, debt-laden economic paradigm is dying as we speak.  2012 bears witness to the end of an old, corrupt world economic order. Unfortunately, as it dies it continues to suck in more debt to our economies, our societies and our planet.  Yet, 2012 also bears witness to the emergence of a new way. The time is ripe for a paradigm shift.

As the saying goes ‘adversity reveals genius, prosperity conceals it’.  The very conditions we need for a paradigm shift are now upon us.  It is time for a breakthrough.

While the prevailing mind-set is out-dated it still rules the show, all around us are examples of inspiration for new ways of operating.  Whether it be big business embarking on radical transformation (the likes of Nike, Unilever, Danone, etc.), small business delivering value through values (Patagonia, Ecover, Weleda, etc.), or social entrepreneurs bringing new innovations to life (Pavegen, Transition Towns, Bike CIC, etc.), or charities partnering with businesses to deliver social and environmental value (WWF, WaterAid, Forest Stewardship Council, etc.) the metamorphosis is happening in numerous ways.  Business people are questioning whether they wish to remain part of the problem or become part of the solution!

As Volans recently reported in its ‘Pheonix Economy’ report ‘out of the ashes of the existing order will become a new reality’

Business can (and must) enhance society and the environment.  It is a fallacy to think business behaviour has to be about benefiting some at the expense of the many and to the detriment of the wider fabric of life.  The breakthrough paradigm is about business behaviours and mind-sets that help rather than hurt, where life (human and non-human) is benefited as a result of good business behaviour.

The paradigm shift we witness is about transforming toxic business to vibrant life enhancing business.

To quote Richard Branson:

Those businesses that do well by doing good are the ones that will thrive in the coming decades. Those that continue with ‘business as usual’, focused solely on profit maximisation, will not be around for long (and don’t deserve to be).

Bring on the paradigm shift, bring on the breakthrough.  This is about each of us choosing to place new steps of change; each interaction, each transaction, each step offering chances to be the change you wish to see.  Whether it is cycling to work, buying fair trade, going to a charity shop or changing jobs to one more in-line with your true values, each of us can allow the phoenix within us to rise so we become part of the solution rather than continue to sleep-walk along as part of the ever-more-obvious problem.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2012 2:00 pm

    Giles. Thanks for your excellent book and thinking. The Ecological Sequestration Trust has been set up to facilitate practical demonstrations of the paradigm shifts you believe in at regional scale in China. India. Africa and Europe. See. It would be good to meet up to discuss mutual interest. @peterheadCBE

    • August 14, 2012 4:11 pm

      Thanks Peter, yes I know your work well. I shall be in touch so we can collaborate. Giles.

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