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It’s like playing football

Sustainocracy is like playing football. You need four things: a ball, a goal, results through some sense of competition and room to play. This metaphore is surprisingly accurate to get different disciplines of people to work together in a result driven way. Sustainocracy is about results in human based progress, defined by sustainable progress placing the interests of human beings at the kernel of the activities. It requires team work of different disciplines. This can only be achieved if the practicality of the four football needs are respected.

Putting together a successful sustainocratic team requires therefor a bit more than an abstract humankind saving mission. The humanistic overall goal may be clear but what makes a team come together to play and eventually score?

The ball is the clear priority that the team needs to work with, a reason. Throw a ball in a court, a garden or field and people will come to kick it around. In the sustainocratic team of AiREAS the ball is represented by the environmental quality of a city. What is needed to make the city environmentally healthy for human interaction and residence? This defines the game and goal but the ball needs to be something touchable, something that can be passed between the players. In the case of AIREAS this became the highly specialised measurement system of fine dust making the “invisible visible” for all. Certain types of people appeared to play.

The specialised network of high tech hard and sofware is indeed already a mission that excites certain institutional people. But having a ball to play with what will make them win the environmental battle? After all, environmental quality is not just achieved by implementing technology and introducing new regulations. This usually gets people to kick the ball around without ever scoring. Bureaucracy we call that.

It also needs public awareness and behavioral changes. The competition is created by asking the institutional and civilian world to come up with solutions and work together. We have now two teams that interact by playing the same ball, with the same objective but with different talents and tactics. The institutional players with power, products, systems and regulations, the civilian world with awareness, behavior and adaptive creativity. Which will achieve the most goals? And will they compete or play together? Both worlds fear eachother but get excited when challenged to play the environmental game together. In the end everyone wins of course as the game will be never ending while success and bad play will show through the measurement system with me as independent judge.


Another example is performed by a colleague trainer and friend. He invites parents with their children to workshops and gets them to work together on some design made of wood. They follow the same learning routine as in AiREAS to gain teamspirit by playing the metaphorical game. The hamer represents the ball (instrument) and the object they have to make represents the goal (a table, bird house, chair…..). This is fun to do but gets exciting when father and child try to excell eachother in dispute how to do the work best. Or when they work with other parent/child combinations at the same time. There is no need or desire to create a formal competition because the human spirit does this itself, simply by comparison. “How did you do it?” “Show me yours”, “No dad, if you do it this way you achieve this”…..”Wow, yours is great”.

Admiration, comparison, positive feedback, recognition, celebrating accomplishments are positive triggers of human interaction and teamwork. Using the football metaphore in team building is useful to determine what is needed to get to great accomplishments. And if those goals are value driven for humankind then you play the City of Tomorrow game, the Sustainocratic way, improving the world with every play.

The last issue needed to succeed is “space”. When playing football you indeed need a field or play ground to kick the ball safely with out hurting or damaging anything. In the metaphore space also refers to the freedom to bring people together to play. In AiREAS it is made possible to play but other sustainocratic ventures have failed because of some old financial interest blocking it. In case of the parent/child relationship real life often does not automatically create space for parent and child to interact as a team and become constructive. Parents re often too occupied with work and other worries.

In all cases it is necessary to create or demand the space necessary to allow the team to assemble and play when a ball is there. Once room is created others may join in making the game more fun still.

Remember these four football issues (reason, objective, results and space) when in need of a team to tackle any issue. You may even become a champ by doing so. Then the game becomes even more fun as it will attract an audience. When people get applauded by the surroundings not even the sky becomes the limit.

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