Finding the opportunity side of sustainability and reversing global warming – by building regenerative businesses – is about understanding and upgrading systems.
It’s all about improving systems, whether you’re dealing with a computer application, a supply chain, a marketing pitch or the human systems we call “industry” and “the economy”. I’ve been improving systems throughout my working life.
In 1985 I finished my studies in computer systems management. Then I joined the IT team of a pharmaceutical manufacturing company as an analyst/programmer.
It was the start of my “behind the scenes” exploration into the systems that deliver the products and services we use every day.
I worked on business computer applications that did everything from making headache tablets to running a Share Registry.
To do my job, I had to do more than write good code. I had to understand human systems and their needs, from the factory floor to the industry regulators.
Over those years, I was also an owner-builder. It took 6 years - but my husband and I successfully built the home of our dreams on our bush block.
It brought me “up close and personal” with the systems, the materials and the resources that went in to planning and construction of just one house.
Ever since, I’ve looked at suburbs and cities with a deep understanding of the resources and energy they consume.
With our home complete it was time for a change.
I went work for a consultancy delivering manufacturing applications into the food, beverages and packaging industries. We helped clients who made everything from icecream to office paper.
Along the way I did industry qualifications in manufacturing and inventory management, completing my CPIM in 1997.
Seeing the breadth of business activity and the challenges of innovating human systems, I got more and more interested in human behaviour
and leadership. I started to add to my original undergraduate studies (in Psychology and Sociology) with NLP.
An opportunity arose to take my consulting freelance – and I took it.
Being freelance also freed up time to finish my NLP training. Also to travel the Australian outback, enjoying its awesomeness.
I’m part of why Y2K wasn’t a major catastrophe. It was a real issue – but the worst problems started happening in 1995. So the world didn’t crash in January 2000 because millions of IT professionals around the world fixed the problems cause by previous human short-sightedness.
With Y2K sorted, I wanted to keep up with this emerging thing called “the Internet” and its business applications, I started learning about eBusiness and Communication.
At the start class one day, there was an announcement. The University was piloting some units on Sustainability in Business and they were looking for volunteers.
I loved my bush gardening, the birds, the flowers. I enjoyed travelling the Australian outback and camping under the stars. But what did sustainability have to do with business?
I took the brochure and looked at the subject outlines – and something spoke to me. I took on their two pilot units – and ended up helping write them.
Leveraging my Psychology background, business experience and NLP Master Practitioner qualifications, I joined a coaching franchise. I worked with mid to senior Australian business managers on their resilience and leadership skills.
It was yet another fascinating insider perspective on how business works – and how much human behaviour influences and constrains innovation.
But the sustainability bug I caught in 2002 had bitten deeply.
The exciting, innovative approaches of Natural Capitalism, Cradle to Cradle Design, Systems Thinking and Biomimicry connected deeplywith everything I’d seen in factories and warehouses around Australia.
As I worked with human behaviour in business systems, I knew that there were some pieces missing in how sustainability was being presented to the world.
The first Balance3 website took over from my first newsletters and became a blog.
Executive coaching was a fascinating experience – but F2F sessional work spread across Melbourne’s urban sprawl sucked up way too much time.
I went back to supply chain consulting while I continued exploring and writing about sustainability, opportunity and human systems.
In January, the Australian ICF announced that the theme of their annual conference would be sustainability.
I had been increasingly aware that there were no SMALL, straightforward books on the fun side of sustainability – the innovation potential and
the high-impact opportunities.
When my ICF session proposal was accepted, I decided to write the book I couldn’t find – and the Deep Green Profit Handbook was born.
I added to my understanding of human systems with a Diploma of Ontological Coaching and added a behavioural approach to innovation to my toolset.
Increasingly concerned about the skills for changing human systems, I updated Balance3 to reflect how much knowledge is available to support regenerative business change-makers.
Innovation and persuasion were fascinating – but I also felt that what sustainability really needed was skilled marketing – not earnest appeals for altruistic action.
Further explorations into influencing led me into copywriting and online marketing.
Work that I could do from anywhere there was in Internet connection enabled me to minimise my commuting.
Networking and alliance-building, speaking and blogging.
MOSS and the Blue Economy – more valuable and inspiring insights, especially into Systemic Design and Systems Thinking.
Further alliance-building, podcasting and speaking with AIRAH, IsGood. Climactic and Drawdown Australia.
2017 is important for sustainability entrepreneurs, with the publication of the first ever research quantifying how to REVERSE GLOBAL WARMING warming with existing solutions – solutions that surprised even the researchers.
Most importantly for entreprenurs, Project Drawdown’s research quantified SAVINGS of $74 trillion in doing so.
We live in truly exciting times – with a wealth of opportunity plus growing motivation to make a better world.
I updated Balance3 to reflect the excitement and opportunity that business entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs can access.
We can drive robots around on Mars and recycle launch rockets. EV use is exploding like smart phones last decade.
AI is driving brain surgery robots, connecting renewable energy into the centralised grid and reducing the need for new freeways.
The under-recognised challenge of Regenerative Business is innovating the human systems we call “business” and “the economy”. So that exploration is one project for 2020.
Don’t know where to start?
Wondering where to look for your opportunity?
Book a FREE kickstart call to move you forward now.
Leigh Baker Founder, Balance3