Regenerative Business 1.0: Beyond Sustainability


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What if, instead of focusing on how to minimize our impact on the planet, we focused on maximizing our positive impact upon the planet?

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Regenerative Business 1.0: Beyond Sustainability

  1. 1. [Re] DesignRegenerative Business 1.0 Beyond Sustainabilityby: Matthew K Lynch
  2. 2. Don’t think of a Happy Cow.Ron and Bev Smith look after the world’s happiest cows; almost by accident.Thirty years ago, on the advice of his wife, Ron stopped using conventional fertilizers and pesticides on his 90 hectacre dairy farm because of the severe allergic reactionsto the chemicals he was experiencing. He read every book he could on organic farming methods, from Fukoka’s ‘Natural Way of Farming’ and ‘The One-Straw Revolution’ toP.A. Yeoman’s ‘Water for Every Farm: Yeomans Keyline Plan’.After much trial & error (and much pressure from the fertilizer & pesticide companies to knock it off), Ron & Bev succeeded in producing some of the freshest, finestorganically produced milk (with the lowest heavy metal counts and highest counts of beneficial microbes) in the region... but more importantly, Ron’s health & vitalitybegan to improve markedly. Other farmers in the region noticed the changes - in his personal health, the health of his herd, the productivity increases on the farm - andsoon some of them began to follow suit.A few years, and ten children later (that’s not a typo!), Ron & Bev went on to found the Pure Organics Dairy Co-operative, which is now one of the few bright spots inthe Australian agricultural sector - posting healthy growth rates and profits year after year, while conventional dairies (hampered by escalating fertilizer, feed, and veterinarybills) struggle financially, watching profits disappear aongside their pastures’ declining fertility.When we visited Ron & Bev’s organic dairy farm in 2009, contented cows lazily browsed a diverse pasture salad-bar brimming full of rye grass, chickory, oats, plantain,medicinal herbs, and clover flowers so vibrant that some of us were happily munching them right alongside the happily munching cows, as the rest of the herd calmlywatched us marvel at the buzzing biodiversity of their fertile pastures.In stark contrast, the cows living on the conventional dairy we visited the day before had scattered nervously before we were anywhere near them, retreating to pick fromthe sparse ground cover which barely covered the compacted and eroding soils of their overgrazed pastures.Top soil scientists from around the world also visit Ron today, to see what he is doing to grow topsoil at the rate of almost one inch per year - an amount previouslythought would take up to 1,000 years to create.Perhaps most impressive of all, at age 60-something Ron Smith looks like a man in his 40s, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that he believes the only way to eatbutter (organic, of course), is to spread it so thickly on your toast, that you can scrape teeth marks into it.Ron & Bev Smith’s organic dairy operations demonstrate many amazing things, but perhaps most important among these is that with a simple shift in focus - away from‘minimizing our harmful impact’ and towards maximizing our positive impact - businesses can be profitable, heal the planet, and take care of people.Business can move beyond striving to achieve ‘zero-impact’, and start to become regenerative forces in the communities they serve. What a concept.REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 2 #BeyondSustainability
  3. 3. Profitability = [Economic] Sustainability. “What the rich dont have is anybody who can tell them what to do.”Profit is not a dirty word. - Bill Mollison -Profits are the surplus income generated by a well-managed enterprise.Profits are like oxygen: without enough, we suffocate.Economic sustainability means that we must achieve enough profits to develop our enterprises so that they can flourish. If we can’t pay the rent, wecan’t contribute to the world.However (in case you haven’t noticed), the relentless pursuit of profits in the name of never-ending economic growth simply does not work. Theongoing Global Financial Crises has proved (and continue to prove) that our current business models and economic theory are defunct.We have before us a golden opportunity to learn from our mistakes, rethink the ways we do business, and replace defunct business models withsmarter enterprises.What if we could create enterprises that restore, revitalize, and regenerate communities and ecosystems, while creating a decent living for theentrepreneurs willing to challenge the status quo?What kind of world could we create?REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 3 #BeyondSustainability
  4. 4. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”Beyond Sustainability. - Albert Einstein -Remember when the word Sustainability was only uttered by long-haried, unshaven treehugger types, and sneered upon by mainstreamers?Well the word is now firmly entrenched in Websters (mainstream) Dictionary, and while this is a (mostly) good thing, I firmly believe that it istoo late in the game to aim only for becoming sustainable.I mean really, how inspiring is that word to you? I have a sustainable relationship with my kids. My husband and I have a sustainable relationship. I have a sustainable relationship with my community.What if we used words like nurturing, flourishing, or regenerative instead? Surely we can aspire to so much more, with a simple little shift in focus.Human beings are the only species on the planet capable of stepping into the custodial role of caring for Mother Earth. Its not just ouropposable thumbs; we are the only creatures with the cognition and ability to consciously decide that we will be good stewards of our home,and leave this planet better for having walked on it.It’s time to move beyond Sustainability.REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 4 #BeyondSustainability
  5. 5. “How do we love all the childrenRegenerative Design of all the species for all time?” ([Re]Design). - William McDonough -Regenerative Design is based on the Permaculture ethics of Earth Care, People Care, and Resource Share.Examples of [Re]Design are all around us in nature, if we have the eyes to see: - One tiny acorn can sprout a giant oak tree capable of producing enough seeds in one season to give rise to an entire forest of oak. - Autumn leaves which fall insulate the ground and decompose to feed soil microbiology, cycling energy so that a waste product from one element of the system becomes a valuable nutrient for other elements in the system: the diverse forest ecosystem supported by healthy topsoil. - Symbiotic planting relationships such as the ancient ‘Three Sisters Guild’: Corn provides a support structure for the Beans, which feed nitrogen to the soils (which the hungry corn thrives upon), while the Squash loves to crawl along the ground in the shade of the Corn, providing a living mulch which maintains soil moisture & temperature at optimal levels for all three plant species to thrive.[Re]Design develops human systems (such as agriculture, architecture, economic, industrial and social systems) which renew and revitalize their ownenergy and materials sources, so that they produce positive restorative impacts upon their environments.[Re]Design emulates healthy & productive ecological systems, to create human systems that increasingly flourish over time.REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 5 #RegenerativeDesign
  6. 6. “Whenever I wanted to address a social or economic problem I came out with a business solution. I started creating a series of companies to address social problems.” - Muhammad Yunus -Business is a Tool.Businesses are not evil.Businesses are run by people, and people are inherently good (well, the vast majority are anyways).Business is a vehicle we design and build to: - create more income. - create more options and choices for our families. - create personal liberty. - manifest our passions.Why not design (or [Re]Design) our businesses to help us to make our world a better place?REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 6 #RegenerativeBusiness1.0
  7. 7. The secret about Money.Money is like water.Without enough, it is difficult to live a healthy, productive life.Too much water, and it becomes a destructive force, wreaking havoc upon people, communities, and our planet.We can harness the forces of money towards constructive ends, but only if our ethics demand it. “Money is to the social fabric as water is to landscape. It is the agent of transport, the shaper and mover of trade. Like water, it is not the total amount of money entering a community which counts; it is the number of uses or duties to which money can be diverted, and the number of cycles of use, that brings financial independence to a community.” - Bill Mollison -REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 7 #ConsciousCapitalism
  8. 8. REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 8 #ConsciousCapitalism
  9. 9. “We take health care, a safe society, peace, creative education and a clean environment as our ideas of wealth, and we direct our money to these ends.” - Rosemary Morrow -Redefine Wealth.‘Wealth’ ≠ ‘Acquiring More Money’.‘Wealth’ can mean meeting your Physical, Emotional & Spiritual needs. Hierarchy of Wealth: 4. Sense of Fulfillment. 3. Personal Income. Social Security. 2. Quality of Work. Quantity of Work. Environmental Quality. 1. Emotional Health. Physical Health. Spiritual Growth. Personal Security. [each level builds to the next] [source: Manfred Max-Neef, Chilean economist]You can redefine ‘Wealth’ to create something more meaningful than Consumption & Accumulation.What if ‘Wealth’ was a measure of how much we can Create & Contribute to the world?REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 9 #RedefineWealth
  10. 10. “An Asset will feed you. A Liability will eat you.”Reclassify your Assets. - Robert Kiyosaki -Financial institutions dont tell you the whole story.When they tell you that your house is the biggest asset, they neglect to tell you that it is their biggest asset. You pay them every month,and they let you keep the house. As long as you keep paying on time.Would your priorities change if you reclassified your assets in this way: 1. Knowledge-based. Knowledge is the ultimate renewable resource; the more you know, the more you know what you dont know. Knowledge is power, but only if you apply it. 2. Skill-based. Our skills are what allow us to express our creative contributions to the world. Best of all, skills are an asset that can continue to grow over time, but only if we nurture them. 3. Regenerative. Regenerative assets grow slowly and steadily over time, and can give back far more energy than it took to establish them. Just as a well-tended family fortune can increasingly flourish over centuries, so too can a fruit orchard... ...if we are good stewards of these assets. 4. Degenerative. Degenerative assets steadily decay over time, demanding more and more energy to keep them going than it took to establish them. Just as a brand new car or house can require much more energy to run and maintain it than it took to build it, so too can a family fortune... ...if we are poor stewards of these assets.Reclassify your assets based on how they can improve your life, and the lives of those around you.REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 10 #RegenerativeAsset
  11. 11. [Your most powerful Regenerative Asset.]REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 11 #RegenerativeAsset
  12. 12. “All human beings have the inner capacity not only to care for themselves but also to contribute to increasing the well-being Principles of of the world as a whole.”Regenerative Business: - Muhammad Yunus -A [Re]Business expresses the following Principles of Regenerative Business: 1. Invests in Regenerative Assets. Most regenerative technologies are very simple: Greenhouse Restaurant in Sydney uses composting worms to turn kitchen scraps into fresh herbs and veggies for their menu, while The Wool Shed, and The Old Vicarage Dolfor restaurants use small flocks of chickens to turn their food scraps into a renewable supply of fresh, free, organic eggs. Businesses and organizations from Cuba to Canada have been using worms for at least the last 14 years to process organic waste safely into nutrient-rich compost. Veta La Palma Fishfarm focused on restoring degraded grazing lands to their original wetlands state, and now produce some of the world’s tastiest, most organic fish - without requiring growth hormones, antibiotics, or other artificial inputs - that is sought after by some of the world’s most innovative restaurants. Green Wave Energy develops renewable energy technologies which hedge wind and solar power, and can be deployed to deliver electricity to locations previously considered too remote, dangerous, or difficult. Imagine the possibilities for the developing world. Real estate developers can construct wetlands to filter stormwater runoff biologically and restore ecosystems. Mining companies could apply their earth-moving expertise and equipment towards constructing swales to regenerate the landscapes they currently leave devastated in their wake. What kind of Regenerative Assets can your business invest in?REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 12 #RegenerativeBusiness1.0
  13. 13. “Prosperity is a shared endeavour.” Principles of - Tim Jackson -Regenerative Business:A [Re]Business expresses the following Principles of Regenerative Business: 2. Contributes to communities. When a business cycles economic energy back into the communities it serves by hiring locally, procuring locally, and supporting community-based projects, everybody wins. Willie Smits restored a rainforest to create habitat for orangutans, and in the process creates economic opportunity in food production, agroforestry, and biofuels for his local communities. Paul Newman’s businesses have given away over $300 million to thousands of charities since the company was founded in 1982. When the people a business serves can flourish, so too can the business. 3. Collaborates before competing. When an unethical client approached Bamboo Living to enter a new market and undercut the existing market leader, the company contacted CO2 Bambu personally to discuss the situation. The result? An international, mutually-benefical strategic partnership has now been formed between these two Regenerative Companies, who have now expanded their ability to create positive impacts in the communities they serve with minimal expense (and far less stress!). The unethical client was discarded - life is too short to waste time working with sleezebags.REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 13 #RegenerativeBusiness1.0
  14. 14. Your Community CyclesProfits Money Energy Your BusinessREGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 14 #RegenerativeBusiness1.0
  15. 15. “Fight Club isn’t about winning.” Principles of - Tyler Durden -Regenerative Business:A [Re]Business expresses the following Principles of Regenerative Business: 4. Competes constructively. The greatest fighters of all time understood that their true opponent does not lurk in the opposite corner, but instead lies within. The fight is an event to prepare and train for, an opportunity to be the best they can be - a proving ground to test their abilities. Competition is a necessary part of the business game, and is a force which can be harnessed to propel people towards peak performance. It can also be a destructive force, as we have seen. You can choose what ‘competition’ will mean for you. 5. Crafts products that last, and delivers remarkable services. My Dad always taught me that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Yvon Chouinard founded Patagonia Clothing Company in 1953 to make his own high-quality, reusable climbing hardware. Since then, Patagonia has grown into a major supporter of environmental groups. The company commits 1% of their total sales, or 10% of their profit (whichever is more) to environmental groups, and has donated over $25 million to over 1,000 organizations. Sweet Beginnings not only creates high-quality, all-natural line of raw honey and honey-infused body care products, the company invests in the people that society most often leaves behind. Transitional job opportunities are created for area residents who struggle with barriers to employment, strengthening the community with each transaction. What kind of niches can your high-quality products and services fill to enhance your communities?REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 15 #RegenerativeBusiness1.0
  16. 16. “Although the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions are embarrassingly simple.” Principles of - Bill Mollison -Regenerative Business:A [Re]Business expresses the following Principles of Regenerative Business: 6. Focuses on nurturing People, Planet, and Profit. In that order. The planet doesn’t need saving. If humanity manages to extinguish itself, Mother Earth will continue to exist happily without us. After all, she’s managed just fine (and arguably better) for billions of years before we arrived on the scene. It is people who run our business, lead our countries, create our wars. Only people can solve our problems. Healing begins with ourselves: if we are not healthy, happy and positively expressing our wholeness as human beings, than it is difficult to positively contribute to our community and the world around us.  In the massively intricate web of life that is our life on earth, we are all intimately connected not only to each other, but to every other life form on the planet. Therefore when we are outward-focussed and concentrate on how we can create positive collaborations and contributions to the world around us, we are simultaneously nurturing our inner well-being; our soul.  When we turn our focus internally and focus on constant, never-ending learning and personal growth, we begin to take responsibility for our actions, and to take accountability for becoming the best versions of ourselves that we can be. This is the essence of Regenerative Design: when we focus on being the best self that we can be, we help to create the best world that can be around us. When we focus on creating the best world that can be around us, we help to create the best selves that we can be.  It is a simple, powerful, and fundamental pair of truths that create the Regenerative Cycle of a positive feedback loop.  It is a simple, powerful, and fundamental tool that you have now begun to develop, which can equip you to be the change you want to see in the world, and contribute to the wellness of ourselves, our communities, and our planet.REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 16 #RegenerativeBusiness1.0
  17. 17. “We can reconfigure our world if we can reconfigure our mindset.” - Muhammad Yunus -We get what we focus on.When a motorcyclist enters a corner at high speed, he must focus on where he wants to be, or else he will end up suddenly hugging atree at 100km /hour.Quantum physicists are only now starting to discover the power of the observer’s intention to influence the result of theirexperiments. If our thoughts are powerful enough to affect protons and electrons flying around a particle accelerator, than surelythey are powerful enough to create different results in our lives.What if, instead of focusing on how to minimize our impact on the planet, we focused on maximizing our positive impact uponthe planet?What kind of world could we create?REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 17 #BeyondSustainability
  18. 18. “There is no delight in owning anything unshared.” - Seneca the Younger -How to use this eBook.Regenerative Business is an idea whose time has come. It is an idea that is bigger than you and me. Here’s how to get the most value from this eBook: 1. Share this idea. Email this copy to your friends and co-workers. Post a copy to your blog. Retweet it on Twitter. 2. Discuss and explore how your current or future business will express the Principles of Regenerative Business. 3. Brainstorm other Principles that you feel are important to designing your Regenerative Businesses. 4. Subscribe to our free eMag at 5. Tell us about a Regenerative Business that you know of. Send us an email titled ‘[Re]Business: The Business’ Name . Copy and paste the Principles of Regenerative Business from the next page into your email, and describe how the business expresses each principle. The business may even get featured in an issue of 6. Collaborate with us. We are assembling a multi-disciplinary team of analysts to create this century’s Regenerative version of the book ‘Good to Great’. If you are as passionate about the power of business to heal the planet as we are, then we’d love to hear from you. Send an email titled ‘[Re]Business: Shameless Agitator - Your Name’ to us. 7. Support our work with a book donation; Knowledge-based assets are powerfully regenerative!REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 18 #RegenerativeBusiness1.0
  19. 19. Principles ofRegenerative Business.How does your enterprise: 1.....Invest in Regenerative Assets? 2.....Contribute to your communities? 3.....Collaborate before competing? 4.....Compete constructively? 5.....Craft lasting products & deliver remarkable services? 6.....Focus on nurturing People, Planet, Profit - in that order?REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 19 #RegenerativeBusiness1.0
  20. 20. About the author.Matthew Lynch is a reformed capitalist exploring [Re]Design Sciences at theforefront of human innovation.By age 29, he made a small fortune in real estate.By age 31, he managed to lose it all.Matt spent the next two years wandering the planet, in search of people, places, andprojects working to make our world a better place. Insert sexy (but not too sexy) photo here.His work in [Re]Agriculture, [Re]Business, and [Re]Economic Development hastaken him (so far) to Australia, New Zealand, Mongolia, Germany, and now Hawaii.These journeys inspired him to redesign his life around the principles of Creation,Collaboration, and Contribution (with a healthy dose of Celebration sprinkled in!).In January 2011, Matt founded The Asia-Pacific Center for Regenerative Design.He blogs at Secret Beach, somewhere on Kauai - April 2009.REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 20 @daGreenBackpack
  21. 21. “In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too), those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” - Charles Darwin -Acknowledgments.The launch of this eBook would not have been possible without the collective genius, inspiration, and collaboration of the following mavens: 1. Lucie Voelcker, Shining Light at LuciesLighthouse. 2. Gary Hironaka, Fearless Innovator at Legacy Villa and Nikkei Koi. 3. Laurens Laudowicz, Chief Greendrinker at Juicies. 4. Kevin Vaccarello, Systems Thinker at SustainHawaii. 5. Dean Steele-Bennet, Chief Connector at 6. Rick and Naomi Coleman, Stalwart Instructors at Southern Cross Permaculture Institute. 7. Tilyeubyek Ye, Director of Food Security at ADRA Mongolia. 8. Alyce Santoro, Artistic Explorer at The Center for Improbable and [Im]permacultural Research. 9. Erik van Lennep, Shameless Agitator at TEPUI Ecological Design 10. Seth Godin, Chief Disruptor at The Domino Project. 11. Ev Bogue, Pioneer at the Intersection of Humanity and Technology.REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 21 #RegenerativeBusiness1.0
  22. 22. “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” - Sir Isaac Newton -Resources.Here’s a list of online resources for further exploration of [Re]Design: 1. ‘Permaculture for Millionaires’, Bill Mollison And here’s a list of books for further reading: 2. ‘The Global Gardener’, Bill Mollison 3. ‘Social Business’, Muhammad Yunus 1. ‘Introduction to Permaculture’, by Bill Mollison 4. ‘The (un)Happy Planet Index 2.0 TEDtalk’, Nic Marks 2. ‘Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture’, by R. Morrow 5. ‘Poke the Box workbook’, Seth Godin 3. ‘Social Business’, by Muhumed Yunus 6. ‘Prosperity Without Growth TEDtalk’, Tim Jackson 4. ‘Prosperity Without Growth’, by Tim Jackson 7. ‘Cradle-to-Cradle TEDtalk’, William McDonough 5. ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’, by Robert Kiyosaki 6. ‘Your Money or Your Life’, by Vicky Robin 7. ‘Worldchanging’, by Alex Steffen 8. ‘Poke the Box’, by Seth Godin 9. ‘Cradle-to-Cradle’, by William McDonoughREGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 22 #RegenerativeBusiness1.0
  23. 23. Legal stuff.This eBook is for sharing; we want you to make lots of money with your ideas about how to create Regenerative Businesses.Do whatever good you want to do with the content.Don’t do dodgy things. Do create better businesses.Do contribute to creating a better world.And, tell us about it.Thank you.REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 23 #RegenerativeBusiness1.0
  24. 24. “An animal is equipped for sustaining its life; its senses provide it with an automatic code of action, an automatic knowledge of what is good for it or evil... Man has no automatic code of survival. His particular distinction from all other living species is the necessity to act in the face of alternatives by means of volitional choice.” - John Galt -REGENERATIVE BUSINESS 1.0 | 24 #RegenerativeBusiness1.0