Regenerating Organizations

Shifting the Axis of Business to Output & Efficiency-Centric vs Regenerative & Ecosystem-Centric

Helio Borges
22 min readJul 17, 2023
Axial Shift in Business. Adapted from an image made by Kelvy Bird. Presencing Institute

“…the ecological, economic, and social crises that are progressively worsening are, in fact, the symptoms of an underlying deeper crisis — a crisis of perception, a crisis of consciousness.” — Fritjof Capra — A Systems View of Life.

Business Transformations: They Only Go So Far

You cannot lead a system´s transformation unless you sense and actualize the future as it emerges — Otto Scharmer. Ecosystem Leadership Program.

Since 2021, I have focused on integrating Theory U with Agile approaches to add consciousness to business transformations. I published my findings and explained the Why, the Buts, and the How of business agility in the articles Conscious Business Agility (CBA). I also delved into how complexity affects organizations and discovered that every transformation faces complicated and complex challenges. (Borges, 2022)

Business Processes are complicated; they have a technological nature, and given that they are linear, they can be solved by any project management approach. I also found that Agile approaches were very effective when changing complicated challenges, like the organization’s business processes. That is the case with digital transformations.

Leadership and Culture, on the contrary, have a human nature; they are non-linear, complex challenges. Leadership depends on the leader’s inner condition, and culture results from the quality of the conversations and agreements that the people who work in the organization sustain.

Yet, to effectively transform an organization, you need to engage its leadership and culture. Still, Agile approaches, in most cases, turn them into stumbling blocks that resist the transformation and, in many cases, make it fail for the reasons stated above. To change complex challenges, you need a non-linear framework and methodology.

As an Awareness-Based Systems Change practitioner, I identified a golden opportunity for using Theory U to turn those stumbling blocks into levers for transformation, making the system see and sense itself. Since 2021, together with different groups of change-makers from different parts of the world, I have been co-prototyping that space of possibilities, first with Slow Agile, later with Safe Leadership Mastery, and Teoría U y Agilidad. However, at a given moment in time, I felt that our progress was marginal.

I sensed that I should continue developing the model further, but I did not know how. So, I let it rest in a transitional, liminal phase. When you work in innovation processes with Theory U, at a certain point, you reach the Crystallizing stage, where nothing appears to happen independently of your effort.

A liminal space is not a complete stop; you keep the connection alive and let come the future that wants to emerge through you, not forcing it. Therefore, I continued exploring the subject in the Presencing Institute’s u.lab2x project accelerator program with two teams: Teoría U y Agilidad MVP, with María Cecilia Wilcke from Argentina, and Claudia Vasquez, from Colombia; additionally, I was also a member of the Safe Leadership Mastery extended team, led by Ana Laura Juvino and Malte Kumlehm. Our meetings and workshops kept the lamp kindled into the darkness of the threshold I was going through because I knew a break could come from anywhere. And it did, on its time.

Ecosystem Awareness: “The Ability to See the World from a New Perspective”

One characteristic of the XXI Century has been the massive disruptions impacting human life everywhere; significantly, Covid-19 has accelerated that trend. In today’s complex world, everything is interconnected, and no one is immune to sudden, unexpected changes caused by apparently unrelated external factors. Furthermore, everything points towards an increment in the number and the size of disruptions.

Therefore, the time has come when we need to expand our attention and begin to observe and understand what is going on beyond our bubbles of interest to develop the capacity to operate in uncertainty, not as an exception but as the normal state of affairs. Ecosystem awareness does just that.

Otto Scharmer, the creator of Theory U, argues that ecosystem awareness is essential for addressing the challenges of the 21st century, such as climate change, economic inequality, and political polarization.

“Ecosystem awareness is the ability to see the world from a new perspective, one that is based on interconnectedness and interdependence. This new perspective allows us to see the impact of our actions on the larger system and make choices that benefit all.” — Otto Scharmer, Theory U: Leading from the emerging future.

I realized later that I was trying to bring Ecosystem Awareness to where only incremental change occurs — modes of organizing and leadership mindset. In the iceberg model of Fig. 1., Ecosystem Awareness happens at the Source level, while changes in modes of organizing and mindset happen at the levels of Structures and Thought. I was trying to force my way down to Source by doing transformations, not realizing they only go down so far. Consequently, I needed to shift my whole approach to what I intended to do, and destiny provided me with the means to do that. Otto Scharmer, Laura Pastorini, and Becky Buell invited me to the Ecosystem Leadership Program.

Ecosystem Leadership Program: Prototyping Dialogue in a Multipolar World

Ecosystem Leadership Program, Uruguay, March 2023.

The experience of deep diving to the bottom of the U for five days is indescribable. It's a transformative journey of self-discovery and growth, not just for oneself but also for the surrounding ecosystem that one aims to change.

At last, you are there, living a dream that appeared to be impossible, meeting in person the people you hold dear, with whom you have been working and meeting every week for three years of virtuality, sowing the seeds of Theory U across an entire continent. You are feeling the love of the people you admire and love, Laura, Becky, Otto, my sisters of the Teoría U en Español team, my brothers and sisters of the Latin American u.lab community, and my new brothers and sisters. You finally have the opportunity to watch them germinate when you give them a hug, a kiss, and another hug as if you were depositing them in an emotional savings account to endure what is coming, or when someone calls you on the aisle, “Helio! thank you for what you do;” or when a young change agent tells you “Helio, never retire, keep doing what you do,” with a strong southern accent. All I experience here are seeds of the future germinating everywhere. I can´t believe the seeds we had sown during all this time are bearing such an abundant harvest. I can feel their warmth and their love now.

Imagine walking down a corridor, and when you reach a corner, you almost stumble upon Otto Scharmer. After greeting him, you ask, “Otto, do you have a moment? He looks you in the eye, adopts a more comfortable position, saying “Sure,” and you two begin conversing with the insights you receive as his gift. Little by little, other change agents going elsewhere continued to stop there and expand the conversation, asking other questions, and he answered them, not only from his extensive knowledge and experience but from the depths of his heart. You don’t find that wisdom and love anywhere else. Time and space are suspended, and the Kronos of the program twists a little, and Kairos takes command, inserting us into an experience that we will carry for the rest of our lives.

Otto did not come here only to explain the Awareness-Based Systems Change framework; he came here to meet and know each of us and dive with his soul into our individual and collective experiences and reality with curiosity and compassion. He answers all the questions and converses with everyone, individually and in groups, asking, enjoying, and laughing.

Everyone here has had a personal experience with him. Today, more than 180 people from Latin America consider Otto a pioneer leader and a close friend.

Your brain flashes memories that make you smile and feel like you are there again. The synchronicities have been happening all the time since you boarded the plane… The meaningful conversations held with people you did not know and now are your friends for life… The rejuvenating feeling ran through your veins as you participated in the Mayan collective healing ceremony held by the abuelas under the twilight of a late afternoon illuminated by the moonshine… The waiter kindly tells you to leave the dining room, and you, surprised, stare at the empty place, and your platter still full of delicious food you did not eat because you were taken to another world by the conversation you had with people you have just met, and now you can´t forget… The empathy walk you had not once but many times in the beautiful gardens… The meetings of the “Lluvia en tiempos de sequía” team around the pool under the “Cruz del Sur” constellation…

The mesmerizing feeling of watching Otto facilitating themes you know by heart, but he is so inspired that he keeps adding insights to them, and he is there, in flesh and bones, not on a video screen… The conversations you held with him… The round-the-clock activities: deep listening, scribing, making 2-D and 3-D mapping, harvesting, journaling, letting go, letting come… Stepping into the Field of the Future guided by Otto´s voice, while you are barefoot on the grass, feeling the sun shining on your face… The pain you still feel when the Colombian Pacific reveals their communities’ suffering in the Social Presencing Theater and are there with you…

With each conversation, workshop, reflection, and experience, your brain establishes new neural pathways, your heart connects in a different way with others, and you have moments of “enlightenment” that show you the path to follow on this journey that you have chosen. What a feeling! Looking back, I now find a more transcendent meaning to my work because I just had a deep Ecosystem Awareness experience.

Awareness-Based Systems Change

We develop Ecosystem Awareness by practicing Awareness-Based Systems Change (ABSC).

Figure 1. The Iceberg Model of Awareness-Based Systems Change. Image, Presencing Institute

According to Otto Scharmer, ABSC can be described in four sentences:

1. “You cannot understand a system unless you change it.” (Kurt Lewin)

2. “You cannot change a system unless you transform consciousness.

3. You cannot transform consciousness unless you make a system sense and see itself.

4. You cannot lead a system´s transformation unless you sense and actualize the future as it emerges. (Ecosystem Leadership Program)

“What you learn in profound systems change is that changing structures is important. That is necessary; however, it is not sufficient. Changing the paradigm of thought is also important. That is also necessary but not sufficient. Source is the one you need to access. In a really profound change, we need to address all four levels. A way of summarizing this approach is Awareness-Based Systems Change.”

Otto uses the metaphor of the smartphone to explain Awareness-Based Systems Change.

“With our smartphones, we can engage in two types of activities. First, we can download a new app. In economic terms, that’s like horizontal development: adding a new skill that you can utilize. Second, we can upgrade the operating system. That’s like vertical development: upgrading our awareness, consciousness, and qualities of connection.”

Upgrading the Operating System to 4.0: Regenerative and Ecosystem-Centric

“We are trying to solve 4.0 challenges with 1.0 and 2.0 response patterns.” — Transforming Our Economies From Ego to Eco. Otto Scharmer.

In Transforming Our Economies from Ego to Eco, he extends this metaphor with the following matrix, where he divides the Evolution of systems into four different operating systems: OS 1.0: Input- and Authority-Centric; OS 2.0: Output- and Efficiency-Centric; OS 3.0: Outcome- and User-Centric; and OS 4.0: Regenerative- and Ecosystem-Centric. The matrix plots the evolution of critical societal systems against those four operating systems.

Table 1. Four Stages of Systems Evolution, Four Operating Systems. Presencing Institute

“In many systems today, the mainstream players operate according to OS 2.0; many are trying to move to some version of 3.0, and most of those innovators that operate in the 3.0 space are struggling now to move to the next frontier (4.0). As various senior officials in several UN agencies have put it recently in private conversations: “We are trying to solve 4.0 challenges with 1.0 and 2.0 response patterns.”

Shifting the Axis of Business. “Form Follows Consciousness”

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” ― William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

The Science of the Eureka Moment!

The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener — Bill O’Brien.

Using the cell phone metaphor, I was trying to upgrade the operating system of organizations, updating the App for organizational transformations. Therefore, I got stuck in one dimension. Nevertheless, I kept the connections alive during the liminality time because I knew from experience that Aha! Moments, insights, and paths forward are what liminal spaces are for.

I was curious about why while working on innovative projects, at a certain point, I reached a stage where I could not advance independently of my efforts. I knew I was close to reaching a breakthrough but could not get my hands on it. Nevertheless, letting go of the need to get results and letting the project rest would eventually bring unexpected solutions at unrelated moments, always.

Accordingly, I looked for possible causes of that phenomenon in the realm of cognition, and I came across research by Dr. Nancy C. Andreasen, who thinks that “The capacity to be creative, to produce new concepts, ideas, inventions, objects or art, is perhaps the most important attribute of the human brain.” Her research shows how the brain works when the person is not thinking about a specific subject — the brain’s default state. She called that state “REST” (random episodic silent thought). She found that during REST, “areas in the frontal, parietal, and temporal lobes that are known to gather information from the senses and elsewhere in the brain and link it all together — in potentially novel ways.”

In other words, our brains are patiently waiting for us to stop struggling to find answers to start laying out the new neural pathways that carry the information we’ve collected through our work. That is the essence of Kairos time that caused Archimedes to come out of his bathtub naked, shouting eureka! eureka! Through the streets of Syracuse.

That is the science sustaining our experiences during the stages of Presencing and Crystallizing in the U process. Liminality is the RESTing time the brain needs to let the future emerge through us. It does it by making all the neural connections about the knowledge and experiences gathered by us in the Co-Initiating and Co-Sensing stages.

The collective awareness experience of the Ecosystem Leadership Program had such an impact on me that I could not make sense of it immediately; even though I wanted to tell the story of my experience, it had been so complex that I could not fathom doing it. Above all, it made me look at Conscious Business Agility with a new level of awareness. It made me look at organizational transformations with the perspective of well-being for all and not only for a small group of stakeholders. I had ascended to Nirvana* and came back changed, but I still needed something to make the final connection. In occasions like this one, is when synchronicities come in handy. *(Nirvana is the venue’s name in Colonia, Uruguay, where the event took place).

My brain was still making connections when I talked with Laura Pastorini, my friend and partner at the Teoría U en Español team, about a separate event related to politics. She mentioned that her country, Uruguay, celebrated 50 years of democracy. I congratulated her and said I was frustrated because, being a center-left liberal, I felt sorry that my country, Venezuela, had been ruled for eight years by a bloody dictator. She reminded me that Otto had said that the right and left were on the horizontal axis of politics, so I should focus instead on the vertical axis of Open — Close. Of course, I knew about the vertical axis in politics, economics, and education, which Otto explained in the 2018 Turning the Tide article.

Turning the Tide: Figure 8: Axial Shift in Politics — Figure 9: Axial Shift in Economics — Figure 10: Axial Shift in Education and Learning — images by Kelvy Bird. Presencing Institute.

It’s Regeneration, Stupid! How I Realized I Was Part of the Problem

Working on oneself is the only thing we can control — Christiana Figueres.

It’s Regeneration, stupid! I thought of myself wandering around and finding it at last. I don’t know where the idea came from. It just emerged after two years of research, the Ecosystem Leadership Program, the conversation with Laura, and the “REST” process, completed the neural connections that produced the insight I needed to complete the puzzle I was trying to solve. This vertical axis added another dimension to the analysis.

I now understand what Fritjof Capra said in his quote at the beginning of this article. Additionally, I further internalize the quotes by Brian Arthur and Christina Figueres. By changing my perception of the problem, the change of coordinates happened to me first. I had before my eyes all the time the change of axis suggested by Otto Scharmer. However, it only came to my awareness when I stopped trying to transform organizations to make them faster, more competitive, bigger, more agile, and so on. How far could I go on that work? How can any degree of consciousness be integrated into that?

Awareness, because of its nature, is a variable impossible to measure with KPIs or ROIs. Therefore, it can’t be added to a fundamentally competitive horizontal axis. You simply have awareness, or you don’t; as Otto Scharmer proposes, our consciousness is Open and trying to understand reality or Closed and in denial. An open consciousness can understand that Regeneration is synonymous with the search for Life. In biology, regeneration is the process by which the structure and function of damaged organs or parts of the body are restored. It is about restoring Life, or the part of it that has been lost in the process of endless competition. This shift in perception led me to the conclusion that up until now, I had been part of the problem, not of its solution.

The Collective Blind Spot

“The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem” ― Captain Jack Sparrow

Complex facts* are simple when we, individually, become aware of them, but they become complicated* when we try to integrate that awareness into our lives. We are all aware that last July was the hottest month on record. We can say the same about tragic floods and landslides, perfect storms wiping out entire populations, wildfires impossible to put out, and rivers, lakes, and reservoirs drying up at unprecedented rates. However, we continue with our lives as if nothing is happening, despite the fact that Life on the planet becomes more difficult to live every day. How long can we continue with this attitude? *(See the difference between complex and complicated in the first paragraphs of the article).

We are part of the collective blind spot that prevents us from seeing trends and acting accordingly and keeps us behaving as if we were actors in a dystopian movie, living our day-to-day existence inside a house on fire. In reality, we behave as if those events were happening to another person in another place. It is evident that climate change is wreaking havoc everywhere and is affecting all the inhabitants of planet Earth without exception. However, for everyone, especially businesses, that’s somebody else’s problem.

Form Follows Conscience

By changing my perception of the problem, the vertical axis looked perfect for an Axial Shift in Business. The vertical axis adds a new dimension to the transformation journey of any leader or organization: the vertical dimension of quality of consciousness and relationships. Because this dimension allows leaders and systems to see and perceive themselves and update the future as it emerges. Interestingly, I had gone full circle to the origin of my research: integrating awareness into business change. But with the satisfaction of having bridged the know-how gap. It is one thing to have the methods and tools to complete the journey, and another is to return to base camp having completed it because you already know the territory.

“From the viewpoint of awareness-based systems change, we can say the quality of results in a system is a function of the quality of relationships. In turn, relationships are shaped by the quality of the interior conditions from which we operate (awareness). In short: form follows consciousness.” Otto Scharmer, Transforming our Economies from Ego to Eco.

Why Is It Critical That Organizations Regenerate Themselves

It is an indisputable fact that global warming must be solved at the sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, we must also recognize that this is one of the most complex problems facing humanity. “Emissions come from many sectors: we need many solutions to decarbonize the economy,” sustains Our World in Data, authors of a study on greenhouse gas emissions by sector. This study indicates that the energy sector (electricity, heating, transportation, etc.) is the largest emitter, 73.2%, followed by the agricultural and forestry sector and the type of land use, 18.4%; direct industrial processes, 5.2%; and waste, 3.2%.

Furthermore, according to the World Bank, global climate change and its control are wicked problems. Wicked problems have certain defining characteristics:

they are unstructured, in the sense that it is difficult to find consensus about their causes and solutions; they have a multitude of stakeholders with different perspectives on the problem; They are resistant to solutions.

It becomes evident, then, that the main step towards possible solutions is the one proposed by Fritjof Capra: to be aware; in other words, changing our perception of the problem to be aware of our role in its causes and in its possible solutions. I call this process self-regeneration.

Regeneration is a process, a journey that starts by turning the lens of observation to ourselves instead of considering what we face as someone else’s problem. Confronted with this reality, each one of us must face our responsibility. To walk this path, you need a compass, a guide. That’s why you need a vertical axis to signal the way.

Changing the Axis of Business

This axis broadens the field of observation of the path to follow from the linear and one-dimensional vision of the horizontal dimension of structures, processes, and mindsets to the vertical one of awareness, consciousness, and connection qualities, allowing them to upgrade their operating systems from a 2.0: Externality blind Output & Efficiency-centric to a 4.0: Externality aware Regenerative & Ecosystem-centric according to Table 1.

Consequently, this multidimensional matrix suggests an…

…Axial shift in Business from traditional, top-down, command-control vs. Teal, Agile, and Self-organized to Output & Efficiency-centric vs. Regenerative & Ecosystem-centric.

Fig. 2. Axial Shift in Business. Adapted from an image made by Kelvy Bird in the article Turning the Tide by Otto Scharmer.

Today’s “Doors of Perception” in Organizations

According to the authors of the 2021 HBR article titled The Secret Behind Successful Corporate Transformations, 78% of transformations end up failing. Only 28, equivalent to 22%, successfully transformed, considering all the factors.

Nevertheless, they did not consider all the factors because they are unaware of the externalities they cause in their operations and do not incorporate them into their performance indicators. They are externality blind.

Those 28 organizations are ahead of the pack in the horizontal axis of Fig. 2. Nevertheless, viewed from the perspective of the vertical axis, they managed to upgrade their operating systems from 2.0: Output & Efficiency-centric to 3.0: Outcome & User-centric; half a way towards Regenerative & Ecosystem-centric.

Organizations like Microsoft or PayPal are ahead of the pack when viewed from the narrow lens of Ego-system Awareness. On the contrary, our perception changes when they are viewed under the broader and deeper perspective of Eco-system Awareness on the vertical axis. Under this lens, they still have a distance to go.

Why do organizations keep employing an ever-growing set of different methods and tools to achieve the holy grail of a “successful transformation” that will only get them half a way viewed from a deeper perspective? My educated guess is a lack of literacy on Ecosystem Awareness.

Externalities: All Factors Must Be Taken Into Consideration

One of the characteristics of any regenerative change process is that all the factors are taken into consideration. In Transforming our Economies from Ego to Eco, Otto Scharmer identifies two blind spots that get in the way of any economic system transformation — consciousness and externalities. We analyzed the first one above. Let us have a look at the second.

  • Nature. On the input side, nature is used and abused without indiscriminately considering the ecological damage caused by extracting its raw materials and components. The only cost for organizations is the commodity’s price. On the output side, today’s extractive production systems forget about the possible environmental damage caused by their products after the sale, causing widespread pollution and disrupting natural ecosystems.
  • Labor. Humans are living beings, not resources. Nevertheless, they are another expendable resource for organizations. In the case of their inputs, they are blind to their suppliers’ possible use of enslaved and child labor. Cost-wise, the only cost accounted for by them is the cost of people’s income. What about the extra effort that women and minority members must realize to stand out and go up the ranks? Who gets fired first in an economic downturn? What about the burn-out epidemic? And so on.
  • Capital. The disconnect between the financial and real economies fuels speculation, incentivizes financial bubbles, and generates global instability.

Regenerating Organizations From Ego to Eco: Cleansing the “Doors of Perception”

“The ecological, environmental, social, and economic crises we are facing are not separate but interconnected expressions of one single crisis: a crisis of perception. A crisis of consciousness.” Fritjof Capra. A Systems View of Life.

In the 21st century, we face multiple converging crises that signal the beginning of a new era, the Anthropocene. Far from well-being for all, this era is characterized by reaching early on a series of tipping points in key environmental markers that signal a rapid deterioration of the capacity of the planet to sustain life.

According to a scientific study published in Nature on May 2023, seven of eight globally quantified safe and just Earth Systems Boundaries (ESBs) and at least two regional safe and just ESBs in over half of global land area are already exceeded. As I write this article, the world has experienced the hottest day in history.

Regarding the well-being of all, it would be wise for all interested parties to prioritize the education of Awareness-Based Systems Change methods and tools, especially if the root cause of everyone’s concerns, the sustainability of human life, is a crisis in perception.

I created an Ego-to-Eco Systems view of organizations, drawing inspiration from Otto Scharmer, Peter Senge, Fritjof Capra, co-author of “A Systems View of Life,” Daniel Christian Wahl, author of “Designing Regenerative Cultures,” and other teachers. As an Awareness-Based Systems Change practitioner exploring societal change, complexity, and business transformations, I meant this guide to facilitate reflection and welcome feedback.

“Managers are not confronted with problems independent of each other, but with dynamic situations that consist of complex systems of changing problems that interact with each other. I call such situations messes. . . Managers do not solve problems; they manage messes.” Russell Ackoff.

Table 2. Axial Shift in Business.

Mission / Intention.

Output & Efficiency-centric organizations have a pathogenic mission/intention — the well-being of a few at the cost of the sacrifice of all. In contrast, Regenerative & Ecosystem-centric organizations’ mission/intention is the well-being of all.

Leadership.

Output & Efficiency-centric organizations focus on solving problems at the level of symptoms and structures. Outcome & User-centric go down to the level of mindset. Regenerative & Ecosystem-centric organizations lead from the Source, perceiving, feeling, intuiting, and letting the future emerge by making the system see and sense itself.

Culture.

Most organizations today have a culture whose primary value is competition. Outcome & user-centric, have a culture of collaboration. Regenerative organizations have a culture of co-creation.

Resilience.

Most organizations develop first-order resilience — persistence. Outcome & user-centric, develop second-order resilience — persistence + adaptability. Regenerative organizations develop third-order resilience — persistence + adaptability + well-being for all.

Complexity.

Organizations are complex systems; complex systems cannot be predicted, planned, or controlled but can be understood. They are whole, heterogeneous, evolving, emergent, and interdependent; they interact and produce feedback. Most Management practices try to separate the elements of the business system to command and control them. Therefore, far from solving systemic problems, they produce new, complicated problems. Regenerative organizations let the system see and sense itself, allowing their best future possibilities to emerge, which is the wisest way to go in times of uncertainty. See the differences between complex and complicated in the references below.

Transformation.

Nature’s systems transition naturally and organically. A tree and an animal in the wilderness are born, live, die, become compost and food for other beings, and so on — Nature’s systems transition from one state to another, generally of a higher order. Planet Earth has had many transitions since it formed and has evolved naturally until the Anthropocene. And here we are, trying very hard to finish her off. Output & efficiency-centric organizations do not transition; management imposes transformation upon them.

Externalities.

Most Output & Efficiency-centric organizations are inefficient systems; they consume a disproportionate amount of energy for the benefit that they produce. The problem is that the excess energy needs to be accounted for. On the input side, they do not consider the externalities in their cost structure. On the output side, they have a free ride regarding the possible disruption caused to the planet’s ecosystems when their products are used and discarded. Outcome and User-centric have made some advances regarding DEI and footprint. Regenerating & Ecosystem-centric organizations build into their business model the minimization of externalities, including their carbon footprint.

Entropy.

Nature is syntropic, and organizations are entropic. Entropy is the loss of energy and increased disorder in a system. In natural systems, the disorder of a species contributes to the order of others, sustaining the balance at the system´s level. When the balance is broken, the whole system becomes entropic until a new equilibrium is reached at a higher level of disorder. One example of it is the establishment of wolves in Yellowstone Park. Therefore, there is equilibrium in Nature as a system of systems. Most organizations are entropic systems; their tendency is to disorder. Consequently, they need to develop negative entropy methods and tools. Negative entropy is the management effort to reduce disorder in a business system. Therefore, as inefficient systems, organizations must continually develop new negative entropy methods and tools. Organizations go up the vertical axis and become less entropic and more syntropic.

Uncertainty.

Planning, command, and control under uncertainty in Output & Efficiency-centric organizations are a mirage. They used to work on predictable scenarios. Under a chronic disruptive environment (the present time), they produce more problems than they solve. Outcome & user-centric organizations are more adaptive, while Regenerative organizations are created to be adaptative.

Sustainability.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a call for action by all countries — poor, rich, and middle-income — to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and address various social needs, including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection. More important than ever, the goals provide a critical framework for COVID-19 recovery.” — U.N.

This year, Earth Overshoot Day is on August 2. This means that globally we consume, before that date, the capacity of the planet to sustain life in one year; the rest of the year, we are depleting Earth’s capacity to regenerate. Despite the so-called successful transformations, companies focused on results and users are unsustainable for the planet and for the common good. Regenerative and ecosystem organizations are sustainable by definition.

Conclusion

Becoming a Regenerative & Ecosystem-centric organization is a journey to a destination — profitability and sustainability. It is a complex challenge that demands considerable time, unwavering dedication, and enthusiastic support from the C-Suite to involve all members of the organization and relevant stakeholders in the journey. Once the organization’s leaders, culture, business processes, and the ecosystem of relevant stakeholders acquire the capacity to function with an Externality-aware Regenerative & Ecosystem-centric mindset, they will sense and actualize profitable and sustainable opportunities instead of looking at sustainability as an obstacle to profitability.

The business sector holds an essential key to either continuing with the deterioration or reversing the trend and beginning working to sustain the quality of life on the planet, which will eventually revert to their well-being. Either way, they will harvest what they sow.

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Helio Borges

Executive & Team Coach & Mentor. Cultural Transformation Change Agent & Consultant. Twitter: @hborgesg. Instagram: @heboga. FB: helio.borges.35. Uriji: @hborges