The Radical Redesigning of Business for Resilience

23 04 2013

The Nature of Business

Can business be a force for good, restoring society and the environment, providing solutions that genuinely help rather than hurt?

Ought business to be striving for more than just limiting its harm?

I think we intuitively know it can, yet it requires courage to break rank from the mainstream approach to business.

overcome change

The prevailing business paradigm of maximization, monoculture, self-interest and short-termism is weakening its own resilience, in turn sowing the seeds of its own demise. Our prevalent business concepts, values, perceptions and practices are being disrupted and systemically challenged. This ‘perfect storm’ of crises provides the perfect situation for individuals and organisations to retrench (clinging fearfully to outdated mindsets) or transform (embracing new ways of operating). For those able to adapt in these volatile times, they face nothing less than a shift to a new business paradigm; a way forward that seeks to enhance life on Earth rather than…

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Positive Persuasion through Peer Pressure

23 04 2013

Human nature trumps logic.

Manage By Walking Around

towel reuseWhat would get people to reuse their towels in hotel rooms?

The answer might surprise you, as it’s not saving the environment or saving money. People are more likely to reuse their hotel towels if they are told that everyone else is doing it.

This variant of the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ effect seems hard to believe but has been confirmed in a variety of scientific studies.  For example, researchers asked nearly 1000 Californians to predict which of four messages would be most successful at persuading them to conserve energy:

  1. conserving energy helps the environment
  2. conserving energy protects future societies
  3. conserving energy saves you money;
  4. many of your neighbors are already conserving energy.

Not surprisingly, respondents rated the fourth option as least likely to influence their behavior. However, in practice, the researchers found this was actually the most effective in changing behavior; nearly twice as strong…

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Extreme confirmation bias in action

11 03 2013

Open Parachute

How’s this for an egregious example of confirmation bias. This morning the local blog Whale oil presents this graphic to “prove” his assertions that current climate science is a “hoax’ and those who accept the science are either fools or worse (see Chart of the Day – Proof of global warming).

guide_2505022cThe chart is taken from well-known climate denying journalist Christopher Booker’s Telegraph article Look at the graph to see the evidence of global warming. Trouble is, one has to do a lot of ignoring of facts to produce such charts. In fact he has taken only two data points (and drawn a vague sort of line between them). Isn’t Booker’s little chart somewhat misleading when you see what he ignores in the total data set:

I discuss this sort of cherry picking in my recent post Climate change is not simple:

“There’s a lot of noise…

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Happy Planet Index

4 03 2013

Yes Yes Yes!!! That is all.

Keep the game, change the rules

Last week I wrote about the 5 ways to wellbeing as described by the NEF.

While I felt it was a good start on creating well being, I wanted to find out more. This is how I stumbled across a TED talk by a researcher of the NEF. In this talk, Nic Marks talks about quantifying an organisations outcome. Not in terms of GDP or revenue, but in terms of happiness. Right now, the Happy planet Index focusses on nations, but when you define your company as a micro-society, it applies to you as well. Embedded below is the TED-talk, followed by the link to the study. Enjoy!

You can download the full report here or via

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The Radical Redesign of Business – are you ready?

15 02 2013

The Nature of Business

One could argue our industrial world has reached the edge of its adaptive range.

We are faced with a world that in a very short period of time has gone from seemingly linear (simple) to complex and non-linear (chaotic). Now is the time when we need a way of evaluating how we deal with volatility and unpredictability.

In the words of Prof. Mervyn King, Chairman of the GRI & IIRC:olympic waste

‘I have little doubt that commentators in 2020 will look back on the decade of 2000 – 2010 and describe it as the decade of stupidity, because generally companies with knowledge of the crises faced by the planet carried on business as usual. They continued to take, make, waste, as if the planet had infinite natural assets and an infinite capacity to absorb waste….The decade of 2010 – 2020, I believe, will be known as the decade of change.’

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The future of business – a new paradigm inspired by and in harmony with nature

13 02 2013

The Nature of Business

The economic, social and environmental volatility now facing business means organizations having to operate in a dynamically transforming landscape.

The nature of change itself is transforming. Organizations are now increasingly exposed to dynamic change: change upon change upon change – while dealing with one change, another affects us, then another, and so on. This dynamic change upsets the traditional mechanistic business paradigm we have been working to over the last few decades.


Paradoxically, inspiration for the current pressing challenges is all around us in nature. Nature has been dealing with dynamic change for over 3.8bn years, and the more we explore nature’s ways the more we find inspiration for operating in a dynamically changing business environment.

Our understanding of nature has evolved over the last few decades, from viewing it as a battleground of competition to one of dynamic non-equilibrium, where an order within chaos prevails due to unwritten natural…

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Shifting from a ‘take-make-waste’ paradigm

24 01 2013

Industrial ecology makes so much sense!

The Nature of Business

Business has historically operated a ‘take-make-waste’ philosophy, but a radical transformation is now needed.


Whatever form business takes as it negotiates out of the current conundrum, it must operate within the limits of a finite world. While relatively cheap labour in the developing world may fuel growth and feed increasing rates of consumption, pressure on natural resources means manufacturing (and the economies that flow from it) need to radically transform be fit for purpose today and in the future.

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