The Necessary Revolution By Peter Senge We Read for You, August 2011 Presented by: Arnold Smit, Centre for Business in Society Date: 19/08/2011
Learning organizations: “…where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together.”
Senior lecturer at MIT
Founding chair of the Society for Organisational Learning
Journal of Business Strategy (1999): “strategist of the century”
Wall Street Journal: One of the world’s most influential business thinkers”
Setup of the book “In the necessary revolution, we will talk about the challenges we face in three interconnected areas – energy and transportation, food and water, material waste and toxicity (what we make and discard) – and the consequent imbalances that result when too many resources are concentrated in too few hands.”
Three stories First story: Never doubt what one person and a small group of co-conspirators can do Sweden:
All major manufacturers offer ethanol-based cars.
… countless local networks developed quietly, thanks to the efforts of small groups of committed and courageous individuals who set out to find others with similar aspirations.
Second story: Aligning an industry “If global carbon emissions were currency, most of the “money” could be found in our office buildings, malls, hotels, factories, apartment buildings, and homes.” USGBC: The US Green Building Council LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design A small group of likeminded people who were interested in genuinely addressing the total impact of buildings on the environment, human health and well-being, and communities.
Third story: Unconventional allies - Coke and WWF partner for sustainable water “We should not cause more water to be removed from a watershed than we replenish.” (Neville Isdell, CEO, 2007) In the next two decades it is estimated that water use by humans will increase by about 40 percent, and that 17 percent more water will be needed to grow food for a growing Population.
Why? - The case for change The industrial age paradigm Consumption product & services Harvesting and extracting natural resources Goods in production Goods in use Waste from extracting and manufacturing Waste from use Waste from discard Accumulating waste
The CO2 Bathtub 5bn tons added To the atmosphere Fossil fuel burning 8bn tons go in 800bn tons 3bn tons absorbed by the land and the ocean
Mental models of the industrial age Energy is infinite and cheap There will always be enough room to dispose of all our waste Humans can’t possibly alter the global environment Humans are the primary species on earth. Basic resources such as water and topsoil are unlimited Productivity and standardisation are keys to economic progress Economic growth and rising GDP are the best way to “lift all boats” and reduce social inequities
A new mental model Surf the flux; live within our energy income. Zero to landfill; make everything recyclable, remanufacturable, compostable We are borrowing the future from our children; we have to pay it back We are only one of nature’s wonders Value the earth’s services; they come free of charge to those who treasure them. Embrace variety; build community In the global village there is only one boat, and a hole sinks us all.
Take-make-waste solutions Short-term fixes Easier, faster Unintended side effects Societal needs Damage to social and environmental systems Fundamental solutions Harder, take time delay Regenerative solutions – all life flourishes (p 38)
How? – Getting started 1. Change mental models Economy Environment Environ-ment Society Society Economy (p 102)
2. See the business rationale Proactive Reactive (p 115)
3. Create value for the future and the present Tomorrow Drivers: Population Poverty Inequity Drivers: Disruption Clean tech Footprint Strategy: Clean technology Payoff: Innovation and repositioning Strategy: Base of the Pyramid Payoff: Growth and trajectory External Sustainable value Internal Drivers: Pollution Consumption Waste Drivers: Civil Society Transparency Connectivity Strategy: Pollution prevention Payoff: Cost and risk reduction Strategy: Product stewardship Payoff: Reputation and legitimacy Today (p 122)
Clean air Drinkable water Fertile soil Pollination Stable climate Seeing systems Solar energy Natural nutrients Growth Ecological systems Regeneration Technical nutrients Harvesting and extracting natural resources Goods in production Goods in use Non-regenerative resources Waste from extracting and manufacturing Waste from use Waste from discard Accumulating waste (p 214)
Collaborating across boundaries Get the system in the room See reality through others’ eyes Build shared commitment Collaborating is ultimately about relationships, and relationships do not thrive based on a rational calculus of costs and benefits, but rather because of genuine caring an mutual vulnerability. Building the capacity to collaborate is hard work and demands the best of people, particularly when it involves people from different organisations (or even different departments within a larger organisation) with different goals and with little history of working together. (p 233)
open mind (structure) Co-initiating Co-evolving open heart (process) Co-sensing Co-creating SENSING REALISING open will (thought) Co-presencing Theory U (Otto Scharmer) PRESENCING
Creating desired futures Learn from living systems Unleashing everyday magic You don’t have to have all the answers It’s not what the vision is, it’s what the vision does
Redesigning for the future Alignment of environment, design and strategy No division or department can be exempt from integrating sustainability into the key results they produce (p 342) Environment changes, design and strategy does not follow Environment and strategy change, design does not follow
Value of the book Connecting sustainability with systems thinking to build the case for change Emphasising the importance of collaboration and co-creation Inspiring hope through highlighting positive stories of change
“We are a young species who, uncertain of our niche, has very recently – in a virtual second of life’s day on earth – expanded to fill the world. In a sense we are like teenagers, full of enthusiasm and energy, and more than a bit confused. and, like every teenager must, we are about to discover that we are not the center of the universe – not even the center of life on this planet. We are but one of millions, and our merit depends not on our ego, but on our contribution.” (p 380)
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