I am a positive person. I have my doubts about the apocalyptic stories…about how we are in such a stage of crisis as never before. Do I believe that we are undergoing the 6th mass extinction…yes…probably…and do I believe it is largely man made…yes…I do. My ’empirical’ evidence is as follows…go to any large Mall anywhere in the world at lunch time and notice how much ‘non food’ food is being consumed by people who really need to skip lunch today (and every day for the next few months or so), then notice how much rubbish in the form of plastic plates, and other plus 1000-years-to-break-down materials that have been used in a life cycle of say 30 minutes (at the long end of the scale), and if you don’t think we humans are junking out or world, then I was certainly born on a different planet to you. Things need to change.
I believe that humanity is evolving. Like all evolutions, there are the trail blazers, then the trail blazing followers, then the rest of the world who are not really paying attention, and then the dissidents.
Evolution is lumpy. Many statistics state that we need a critical mass of about 10% to shift an entire population…so one person in 10 needs to be at the pointy end of evolutions arrow for the evolutionary impulse to stick.
We have some really wonderful impulses in play to support the healthy evolution of human kind, and the planet. (Because I for one do not want to live on Earth where the humans have survived but nature has been almost completely destroyed.) Impulses such as the Blue Economy, the Sustainability movement, the Conscious Business movement.
Where these wonderful impulses don’t work for me is that they are trying to over lay their impulse on the top of a completely unsustainable incumbent financial and business system.
Or to use a different metaphor, and with no disrespect to toad, (think cane toad..a very ugly creature with a back filled with poison sacks that kills everything that tries to eat it)…we have a toad of a system, and we are trying to dress this toad in silks and precious jewels in the hope of having the toad become the Prince, or Princess.
Our beautifully crafted and much cared for impulse, the silks and precious jewels, our sustainability programs, Blue economy models…all forged with love and passion and massive commitment, we try to fit over the very ugly but hugely resourceful and resilient cane toad with the clear and ardent intent to have the cane toad transform.
The cane toad is doing very nicely, thank you very much, without your particular version of silks and jewels. Actually, the toad will take your silks and jewels and use it to make a very comfortable nest…for the toad.
It will not work to over lay sustainable practices onto the existing system. They do not match. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Or as my colleague David Martin would say…they are not isomorphic. (And if you are serious about real change then David’s weekly blog, found here…is one you would be wise to read.)
Yet the tragedy is that we humans have been brought up in the current system..it is to us like the air we breath. We don’t see it, don’t really question it. So our reflex is to try the over lay approach. We cannot help ourselves. We don’t know what we don’t know. Until we know it.
I am reminded, yet again, of the Buckminster Fuller quote.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
My appeal, my wholehearted appeal, to all the wonderful good people out there working away at Sustainability and Blue Economies, and other such initiatives….take your brilliance, and your heart, and recognise that if you keep overlaying your work onto an incumbent system that is designed specifically to ensure you do not succeed, then you will only meet with frustration, and will in actuality be part of the very thing you are trying so hard to change.
So throw away (or at the very least, deeply question) your business plans, your investor documents, your corporate structures, your insurances and protection mechanisms…and all the other ‘business as usual” artifacts that ‘someone’ said you needed….and start at the very beginning.
Start with the core impulse of what you are trying to do. Have that be your guide. Trust yourself.
Build a new model of business and finance. A new way of engaging and co-ordinating..
Is it a steep learning curve….you bet it is…are there many out there doing this…no…but nature has been doing this for billions of years very well. Look to nature…look to the few pioneers who are a few steps ahead.
The future needs your love, care, commitment, passion…applied to all systems…not just the ones that are in plain sight. By addressing issues of sustainability without addressing the system of business and finance we are simply re-arranging the deck chairs.
If this speaks to you, send me a email….we have a growing community all over the world.