Creating Constructive Futures In Business And Beyond
Business strategist, Peter Senge, notes that our world today is shaped not by individuals alone but by networks of businesses and institutions, and that these organisations are currently grounded in an old logic which needs to radically shift for the times we now live in.
New horizons are created through new ways of thinking, perceiving and attending to ourselves, each other and wider life – it is up to the individuals within these organisations to co-create a new logic. This shift in logic is what Senge calls The Necessary Revolution which is the biggest challenge facing organisational management and leadership today. Without this radical shift in thinking, Senge says, we will be unable to transform successfully towards a sustainable future; in other words, we will utterly fail in our evolution.
The logic of yesterday is of top-down, hierarchic, command-and-control, risk-adverse, competition-oriented, short-termed maximisation, control-based thinking best suited to the Industrial Age. It is a mechanistic worldview based on reductionist logic that fragments reality into abstract definitions, silo’s and objects to be quantified, measured, controlled and then maximised, while largely over-looking the interrelated, fluid, connective, collaborative, participatory nature of Nature.
In drawing inspiration from Nature, we may step beyond our narrowed-down view of life and re-cognise the intrinsic patterns and reciprocal relations in our midst. These patterns can often seem confusing or complex for our reductionist mind, yet for our intuitive logic they are quite natural to cohere with – we are, after all, part of Nature. Such patterns and flows are, by their nature, regenerative and sustainable. In applying this inherent logic of life, we no longer need to superficially bolt-on sustainability initiatives to unsustainable modus operandi. In going with the flow of Nature, we re-design for resilience, ensuing sustainability – in all sense of the word – is ingrained in how we operate and innovate.
For Senge, creative orientation is what facilitates our shift beyond yesterday’s flawed logic. Creative orientation helps us address our many practical problems as opportunities for transformation, rather than risks to be mitigated or problems to be worked-around. Real life challenges are what afford us the opportunities to transform to more resilient ways of operating. Through humility, openness and playfulness, creative orientation brings a radically different mind-set beyond the hyper-competitive, quantised linearity of old. It is a ‘learning-through-doing’ approach to prototyping by collaborating amongst diverse stakeholders. Here, future outcomes are beyond pre-definition: it is the co-learning journey rather than the pre-defined destination that brings transformative value to the organisation and wider ecosystem of partners involved; real benefits beyond ‘doing less bad’. This approach to business walks-its-own-talk by embracing a living, regenerative, empowering, co-creative, ecological way of being and doing which is aligned with our authentic human nature and deeper Nature.
This fresh (yet ancient) logic enables us to see the richness and value of interrelated business ecosystems, of intra-organisational learning, of diverse stakeholder empowerment, of emergent leadership, of open co-innovation. Linear approaches to supplier and customer management are liberated by vibrant values-led ecosystems which nourish, and are nourished by, their own co-creativity. Company ‘IP’ transforms into ‘ecosystem intelligence’ beyond the old methods of privatised control. This may be mind-boggling for today’s minds’ still rooted in yesterday’s logic and it is a radical shift in management and leadership for all aspects of the business whether it be sales and marketing, human resources or supplier and customer management. All change please. And Senge is quick to point out that many organisations are already engaging in ways of behaviour in what he calls ‘life beyond the Bubble’ – life beyond the confining control-based bureaucracies of yesterday.
Intrapreneurs, internal network leaders and community builders across the business of all backgrounds (whether engineering, sales, logistics, etc.) will serve as the catalysts in empowering locally attuned teams of diverse stakeholders to make regenerative business a reality. Hence, the search for such catalysts within the organisation as well as across the partner ecosystem, through new hires and external consultants is an important one. Often external consultants and specialist partners can help shine a light on areas of opportunity that people steeped in the cultural mind-set may need help in seeing. Business schools, activists, social innovators, think-tanks, consultants, change-makers can all help spawn such transformative creative orientations. Such networks will benefit from social media and collaboration technologies in helping co-innovate a bright future for business – the way Nature intended.
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View a short video clip on business inspired by nature here