The climate crisis is not tomorrow’s problem. It is today’s.
In addition to the severe ecological damage, rapid technological changes and seismic social shifts are creating a Triple Threat that every organization must survive – and every organization must play their full part in solving.
“We have entered an age of environmental crises and of widening social divides. Incremental improvements to address these challenges are no longer enough; our economic system requires a fundamental upgrade to sustainability.” Al Gore
We know that there are no simple answers or strategic silver bullets to this unprecedented challenge. Yet we also believe that within this threat is an opportunity to create exponential value for stakeholders by solving problems that really matter to the world in truly innovative ways. With a switch in mindset, leaders have an unprecedented triple opportunity to leverage new digital technologies to solve the needs of disrupted customers aimed at radically reducing the damage of our social and economic systems.
A planet positive approach
Understandably, popular movements like XR want to “smash” the system. But capitalism cannot be destroyed and we would not want to even if it could: it is the greatest source of major innovation and mass empowerment ever generated. In addition, if we attempt to kill capitalism, those in power in the existing system will react with self-preservation and attempt to block the radical change needed.
Instead, we have to operate with maximum compassion for the existing system and lead people to willingly transform their lives and business models to become regenerative. We must awaken people to the massive inconveniences of radical climate change, inequality, anxiety and turbulence without thrusting them into fear where they will always attempt to control and protect even more. This is simple biology.
Leveraging leaders everywhere
To make this great transformation to a planet-positive, regenerative business model, senior leaders and emerging talent must come together to realize a vision for their future that is a win for the business and its investors; a win for customers and employees; and a win for our world. The alternative is becoming increasingly untenable whether we look through the lens of business performance, talent retention, or human extinction.
‘Our house is on fire’, Greta Thunberg
We must leverage the brain networks we were born with to transform ourselves and our organisations. We must rediscover these capacities in order to engage in the intense process of ‘Radical Adaptation’. We can no longer say this is a technical challenge, it’s about leadership and decision-making. By changing ourselves we can then change the businesses and systems we touch and are part of.
We also cant expect that a business leadership curriculum of the past will do the trick in developing their skills. Everyone, whatever their level in an organisations needs to learn to lead with purpose, creativity, collaboration, and inspire through storytelling. A kind of leadership that will drive systemic change, not incremental.
Shifting sustainability from compliance to creativity
Sustainability, as a business function, can no longer be stuck in a ghetto solving technical problems, seeking efficiencies and reducing the footprint: it must be about finding how to generate long-term value for all stakeholders by solving meaningful problems (from within the UN SDGs) that generate value for customers, employees and all living creatures as well as shareholders.
Leaders in business can transform how they think about sustainability: from a force of compliance at the edge of the business to the prime source of creativity and innovation at the center of the business: building business models that are not just damage-limiting but net positive: we call these “regenerative business models”.
Regenerative business models consciously negotiate – with every business decision – the inherent tension between purpose and agility (creative solution of problems that matter through social impact, collective thriving, equality, environmental investment) and profit and stability (predictable return on investment for shareholders through the extraction of margins within transactions through efficient productivity)
At the core of every regenerative business model is a clear and compelling business purpose that acts as a bridge between the business’ triumphs (capabilities and strengths) with the world’s tragedies. Purpose connects our hearts and minds as business leaders with those of the people in the systems we want to improve. Hence we call this “Connected Capitalism”: driven by a live connection between us all as members of species struggling for a livable future.
And what is very clear is that the next generations of an organization’s leaders must play an instrumental in envisioning this future business model- they are more impacted by global risks and they must deliver the vision in concrete terms anyway.
Delivering Systemic Transformation
The systemic transformation to planet-ready regenerative business and operating models cannot be driven from the top alone or motivated by fear, anger and frustration. Such emotions shift people – from employees to voters – into the wrong brain networks for creativity, adaptability and transformation. Systemic change happens best when its driven by a strong central team working with strong peers at the edges underpinned my mutual trust, co-creative flow, shared responsibility and common purpose
There are no single regenerative and systemic answers for all organizations that a consultancy can peddle. Instead we must create people-powered process and empowering tools to support both senior leaders and emerging leaders find together the right solution for their organization, history and sector that will ensure their organizations survive and thrive in the digital, disrupted and damaged world.