An entrepreneur’s head – the ultimate sustainability leverage point?

In her classic paper “Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System”, Donella Meadows pointed out that one of the most powerful places to change a system is in how it thinks about itself  (“the paradigm out of which the system arises”).

Environment = Opportunity

We have an exciting new paradigm – the result of 30+ years of creative  R&D – that makes sustainability “The biggest opportunity since the invention of money” (Alan AtKisson).– The tools for delivering this new design thinking are showing up under a range of new names – The Blue Economy, The Circular Economy, Industrial Ecology and the Regenerative Economy.

Where best to install “Opportunity Thinking”?

EntrepreneurWhere better than the head of an entrepreneur?  The results achieved so far by the early regenerative  entrepreneurs – on both local and global scales – are inspiring and inspiringly profitable.

So what changed their heads?  It turns out that (like all humans) it was challenges from those they respected and cared for :

Shift your thinking on where to influence

Despite these results, a lot of sustainability thinking is stuck in 20th century paradigms of how change happens.  Again and again you will read demands for action aimed at:

  • “the Government” (usually state and national, sometimes global)
  • end consumers of products or services

Neither of these groups are powerful in changing the design of the products and services we consume.  (Not just our opinion, but also backed up by Paul Hawken in his work on Project Drawdown rel=”nofollow”.)

Your new mission: shifting an entrepreneur’s head

A much more powerful place to influence is the engineers, architects and designers – and the people who influence them are their bosses.  Create the shift in an entrepreneur’s head to “the biggest opportunity since the invention of money” and you’ll make a serious difference.

Ray Anderson’s global corporation Interface has stayed profitable and viable, and has moved beyond designing carpet tiles made from their competitors’ used product to reclaiming nylon fishing net from the Pacific Islands.

Once you hook a smart designer or an entrepreneurial CEO into the elegance, efficiency and opportunity of regenerative thinking through the Circular Economy, Industrial Ecology or Blue Economy, you’re on a regenerative business winner.

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About Leigh

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Leigh is the principal of the business innovation practice Balance3 and her clients have included corporations such as Amcor, National Foods, Dair, SPC Ardmona, Kobelco, Corporate Express and New Balance as well as a range of smaller businesses and individual clients.