Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A New Step - Revising an Objective

Can conventional business ideals lead to sustainability?  Can a system of sustainable business practices be framed in a way that's attractive in the mainstream?  Can our species make worthwhile progress toward sustainability without upending the core values and principles of "business as usual?"

One of the objectives I had in mind when Sage Garden Ecovillas opened was to compile a set of practices that made more sustainable property management a no-brainer.  But as I've worked toward that objective (among others), a slightly different objective has emerged - one I probably never would have conjured if I'd stayed in my hammock (to abuse Mollison's terminology).

The new objective I'm talking about is to critique the established science of business from a sustainability perspective (how's that for hubris?).  More specifically, to use Sage Garden as a backdrop to ask the question: how would our fundamental understanding of business have to change to produce a regenerative effect on the environment, on our society, and on our material well-being?  (Have you heard?  Regenerative is the new sustainable.  Stay tuned for the next buzzword upgrade.)

So, instead of recording a kind of recipe book of sustainable practices that could be tacked onto any property management business in a minimally invasive way to produce marginal sustainability improvements, I'm broadening my attention to a regenerative business theory that can be used as a prism through which to study conventional business theory in order to understand and apply the established body of knowledge in a regenerative way.  I'll still record what recipes I can (such as participatory management, cycle planning, "this or better" planning, a consensus tool we call "priority poker", efficiency improvement addenda, win-win incentives), but those will be footnotes, and some of them may not align well enough with conventional business ideals to have widespread appeal.  But that doesn't bother me, because in another sense, the scope and applicability of what I'm learning from this experience have grown vastly.

It's like this:

So, what about the questions I opened with?  Personally, I'd still like to answer "yes" to all of them.  There may come a time for radical no-brainer business practices that catalyze a universal leap forward in sustainability; maybe that will happen in my lifetime; in fact, maybe some of the works already done are perfect ingredients for such a catalyst.  Who knows?  I may still get to participate in putting those ingredients together.  Or maybe that will be done by smarter people.  Time will tell.


Are you an entrepreneur working toward sustainability?  If so, I'd like to hear all about what you're doing, and trade notes.  As George Bernard Shaw said, "If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples, then you and I will still each have one apple.  But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."