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The four entrepreneurial questions we ask ourselves when we set up a 21st century initiative

The 21st century is unique in our history of entrepreneurship. Our entrepreneurial mission has transformed. Within the core human values driven democracy, referred to as Sustainocracy, we create innovative value continuously, together with a large diversity of partners. These innovations did not exist before because they address issues that have reached our awareness and need for change to produce sustainable human and societal progress. Once available they become of economic and political interest due to the trade-ability and transformative characterstics of each innovation in multiple formats and with many trade supporters. We have called this way of working the 4 x Value discipline since we ask ourselves four basic, values driven questions:

First: What does our entrepreneurship contribute to the wellness of the human being?
This is a difficult and transformative question. In our current care driven economies we try to make people dependent on services, social securities and technologies out of political or economic interests. Entrepreneurship is hence an economic instrument, not humanitarian even if we try to convince ourselves it is. As a consequence people become less alert, lazy, subordinate, disengaged and non-productive. We tend to take away their self reflection, creativity and wit to favor our own financial wellness. This is not the 21st century entrepreneurship.

Our entrepreneurship is not a money driven occupation, it is core human values driven, creative and meaningful.  Collective self-sufficiency is a core human value in Sustainocracy in which people do meaningful things in and for the community that fullfill basic and general needs. So our entrepreneurship should help people be able to take responsibility for their own quality of life rather than taking it away from them. We then see their health, their engagement and productivity increase which is good for them, society and the economy. Our entrepreneurship is hence focused on helping people create their own wellness.

Second: How do we contribute to society?
Also this is a difficult one to answer. Who are we trying to please? In our current society the public dominance is mastered by political and economic interests. Our Sustainocratic foundation however is focused on our human values. This represents a different kind of accountability for both the citizens, governance and entrepreneurship. When the 5 core human values are respected than the society itself will be resilient to all kinds of issues. We therefor need to enhance society from a core values point of view, not political or economic. Then we see that politics and economics show interest and start relating to the sustainocratic values to sustain themselves and their initiatives. Which is good. So by being creative in the field of core human values we also gradually transform the political and economic discourse. We contribute to social cohesion, public engagement and political and economic management of wellness. In fact we created a leadership movement of change within a managed culture of political economic conservatism.

Third: How does our natural environment benefit?
Our current lifestyle and political economic steering produce pollution, destruction of our natural habitat and the restroing capabilities of our environment. In fact we are a parasite of our host, planet Earth. Our entrepreneurship is hence focused on turning this around to become a symbiotic partner of the environment of which we are part and of which we depend. How do we deal with innovation to take away, avoid and eliminate our polluting activities? How do we use natural resources in a cyclic way? What can we learn from our living environment that presents solutions which took over 4 billion years to evolve and often show must better results than whatever our human wit can come up with. Whatever we do in our entrepreneurial spirit it should not damage but heal and interact with our natural reality.

Fourth: How do we generate enough money as means for our continuity?
Within our entrepreneurial processes we distinguish two clear patterns. The first one is the creative part of thinking of meaningful innovations that make a difference within our Sustainocratic mission. Since we create something that cannot be bought, simply because it does not exist yet, we can only invest in our venture. As we use our 4xValue method to guide us we enter the path of other entrepreneurial members of society who have no business interests but do have societal or environmental challenges (government) or intellectual interest (universities) to deal with. Business partners are interested in participating to see if they can lay hands of the innovations to include them in their commercial activities as soon as they become visible and tangible. In this phase these partners invest money and their own talented contribution to effectively design our innovations. Money is a means here.

As soon as the innovations come to existence they have a number of properties that can be fragmented again among the participating partners: new products, services, policy modifications, new knowledge and experiences, educational values, etc. All these can be incorporated in economic patterns of social cost savings as well as business development. Each enlargement of the use of the innovations contributes to both the economic growth as well as the overall global change for resilience. Money is again a means to provide continuity through new investment patterns or the creation of an innovation fund (royalties or donations) for continuity of both the 4xValue processes as the continuous delivery of meanful entrepreneurship. Our innovative drive is therefore the main attractive force for the diversity of partners to participate with investment of resources and financial means.

4xValue as mirroring tool
We have now noticed that employees, stakeholders and investors start using the 4xValue criteria to see if the company they work for (or with) is producing integral value. If not than people ask themselves if they want to work there or invest in it? Salary or divident is often not enough anymore and people want to get reassurance of their own meaningful contribution to society and the multiple positive reciprocity of their engagement.

Logo of a new society

Sustainocracy is a peaceful and democratic, core human values driven movement. It describes and develops the evolution of our human species through the definition of five natural core values (health, safety, awareness, basic need (food, water, air, energy), regional cocreative resilience). Sustainocratic progression is made through the constant motivation to use our wit, creativity and community cohesion to develop and enhance those core values in our regions through multidisciplinary innovative interaction and cocreation.

The logo or symbol for Sustainocracy is this:


The logo symbolizes the heart of the sustainocratic processes in a complex interaction between human and institutionalized interests. At the same time it visualizes through the use of colors and connecting bands the interaction between the natural resources of water, air, living green and energy.

The processes of Sustainocratic, core values driven progression through multidisciplinary regional interaction, can be seen in this flowchart. In the center you may also recognize the shape of the symbol above.


Flowchart of sustainocratic values driven interaction

The center of both the logo and flowchart form a permanent quest for quality of life within an ever changing natural and human environment. By making the five core values of Sustainocracy leading the innovative drive is constant, fed by context related data, the input of means with the development of tools. Civilian engagement defines new market mechanism which helps connect entrepreneurship and governance to the challenges.

Recently the symbol was connected to our European CITIMAP project in which we work together on the co-creation of 6 health driven cities from an air and environmental quality point of view. The other half of the message was produced by the University of Aachen (Germany).


Smart City Expo Barcelona 2015

I was invited to speak in Barcelona and enjoyed the visit back to the city where I grew up as teenager. The Smart City Expo was very well organized on a modern site that I remember geographically in a time of economic decline due to the disappearance of factories to low wage countries and the closure of local screwdriver operations in the early 90’s. Now I came to a modern city development of high rises and exposition buildings. Here you can watch a short video impression:

My own pitch had been placed in the session Society – Technology: driven tools and services for social well-being and aging populations

From minute 50 I talk 10 minutes about the core values and Sustainocracy


At the end of the session journalists remarked that I had been the only one they had met during the entire Expo that had addressed the core human values rather than technology. I sincerely expect that next year there will be many more, as peer 4 societal development (Sustainocracy) will be recognized as evolutionary step to transform city’s vulnerability to innovative strength.

STIR at Smart City expo Barcelona

This year I was invited to the Smart City Expo in Barcelona as one of the 440 speakers. Various media channels had contacted me to meet and talk about this strange word and concept “Sustainocracy”. After finishing off our first phase in Eindhoven of level 4 regional development and our first price in the Vinci Innovation Awards for Europe it became of interest to globalize views. After all the growing instability in the world was crying out for new views and Sustainocracy does provide answers to most issues. The problem is not just to understand that we have a choice, it is the powerful old reality that caused all the problems that is doing its best to remain in control at all cost. This reality is one that has captured us all. When I arrived at Barcelona I wondered what I would find and how my speech would be received? “You are the only speaker in the entire expo who addressed the core values of human life” people exclaimed after hearing me speak. Media representatives reacted positively as my message was enlarged through camera interviews and personal chats. But then they react positively to anyone sharing a talk. Key is to see what happens between now and the next few month. The seed of awareness will land only in fertile grounds of the mind and come to blossom when sustainocratic initiatives find space and support to develop. This is unpredictable and time will provide us with the surprises. I had nothing to sell, a lot to say and more still to invite to. In that sense an Expo is a strange place. But Barcelona was “different”.

Congress site in Barcelona

Congress site in Barcelona

I grew up in Barcelona and saw the city develop from a dirty harbor into a unique lively pearl on the Mediterranean coast. I was a 17 year old youngster when Franco died in 1975 and post graduate student international business studies at Nyenrode, worried about my family in Spain, when the military coup of Tejero tried to restore the dictatorship in 1981. I was tourist guide during the world soccer championships in 1982, general manager Philips Spain during the Olympic Games and Seville Expo in 1992. Barcelona hence is in my genes.

When I got to the airport of Barcelona it was a home coming. The signaling at the airport needs serious attention. It is confusing to find one’s way around. When I finally found the bus to the Expo it took us to the old region that I used to know as “Zona Franca” which had gotten into decline after industries like Philips Lighting decided to close their manyfacturing there. The development since had been enormous. Huge modern hotels and large expo buildings now decorate the scene. I was used to the expo at Plaza España but this was a surprisingly new environment.

After a lifetime as executive in the world of industrialization and trade I have developed a natural aversion against the circus of expo’s. Stands full of bored sales people waiting for someone to show interest in their stuff. Their boredom so obvious that no one dares to even show interest. If their offer does not arise their own enthusiasm how would they transmit it to potential customers? Then there are the groups of young “professionals” that gather among colleagues, having fun together with their first real experience abroad. Their conversations must be so interesting that customers interrupting are seen as a clear burden. They are however mixed with expert “expo contact gatherers” hunting for business cards for the follow up at a later stage. It was like this 30 years ago, and it is still like this today.

Yet the Barcelona Expo had a different flair too. The 400 odd stands were mingling technology with regional representations of cities displaying themselves as Smart. Interesting to see expressions of new city development based on quality of life with living green in urban places, new mobility and energy usages, architecture and lots of technological goodies using the Internet of Things for all kinds of applications. Somehow offer and demand seemed to unite in a single space even though all were present with a sales pitch, not one of common challenge and purpose.

Maybe the most interesting part was the enormous offer of speakers grouped in thematic blocks throughout the three days. I was placed into a group with a mixture of speeches. As always I found the presentations just one way informative. The public patiently listened and I had no clue what they wanted to get out of it nor what the expectations were of the speakers. I feared that I would become just one of many. My 10 minutes of glory came and went. I had the opportunity do get a little interaction going by asking those present to try to pronounce “sustainocracy”. They actually did a serious effort which comforts me. At least they will remember when seeing it one day in one of the videos taken that day.

When I asked how many find the core value of “health” important the majority rose their hand, the same when referring to the “health” of their children. My open question asking “how smart Smart Cities really are that remain unhealthy due to pollution?” was answered by smiles from the audience. More disturbing was when I asked how many professionally were dedicated to help create health (not healthcare that repairs damage done) or a healthy environment? Only a few raised their hands. What does this mean? That all others one way or the other do not contribute consciously and may even be part of the problem? As seen in my own hometown we reward financially those active in producing unhealthy situations and pollution while those who try to contribute fall outside of the financial system.

Air pollution lays as a blanket over Barcelona despite all actions to reduce it

Air pollution lays as a blanket over Barcelona despite all actions to reduce it

We hence need to review our total system, from political and economic steering to rewards and responsibilities. The solution provided by Sustainocracy deals with this complexity on top of the Smart City (level 3) positioning of “intelligent infrastructures”. Rather than using technology in the context of optimization and control we change the context into stimulation health and innovative co-creation in which everyone takes its share of responsibility.

This way of city development is costly and makes the city vulnerable.

This way of city development is costly and makes the city vulnerable.

Sustainocracy is a peer 4 way of addressing regional sustainable progress

Sustainocracy is a peer 4 way of addressing regional sustainable progress where executive and citizens work together through innovative projects

Inside the open space produced by the facilitating executive in both city governance as technological innovation we position formal citizen’s cooperatives that address the core values of life as defined in Sustainocracy. Smart infrastructures remain needed but transform against the resonance with health, safety and regional self fullfilment. We experimented with this with AiREAS and FRE2SH in the city of Eindhoven with enormous boosts of energy and cohesion delivering multiple values at the same time.

The new society is proactively human value driven. AiREAS is a precedent of Sustainocracy.

The new society is proactively human value driven. AiREAS is a precedent of Sustainocracy.

“You are the only one in this event that addressed core human values” shows the long way we still need to go. The fact that I was invited to speak was a sign that change is happening. As I walked my old city the many changes were visible. Traffic had been banned from the ancient city core making room for human encounters and pleasant food experiences in a historical ambiance. Compared with other major cities in Europe the price and quality ratio in Barcelona services excelled. Food was delicious and the environment clean and well kept. The public transportation was well organized, with modern easy access and excellent fares that discourage car usage at all times. A 9.95€ ticket for 10, 90 minute rides (including transfers) could be used on all public transport in the vast metropolitan region!

Without any chauvinism I can firmly state that Barcelona this year became my personal Smart City of the year among the category of cities between 1 and 5 million citizens. It may not be strange that my first steps to prove the concept of Sustainocracy was to be done in a small city like Eindhoven (220.000 people yet “smartest city of the world in 2011) and the stepping up into the large world was to be in Barcelona. It is a beginning, yet again, and who knows where it will all bring us. I will enjoy the energy as it grows and will support where-ever it reaches out for more.

Arriving back home I had the satisfying feeling that humankind is doing its evolutionary work. My own little spark of enlightenment is reproducing itself and doing its work as I noticed when I got back home. Various meetings had been held locally without my presence while I was in Barcelona and all had carried the sustainocratic energy. What more can I desire? Gratitude is what I feel.

Using the environment to stimulate for health in Barcelona. The public bench with a foot cycle proves well used.

Using the environment to stimulate for health in Barcelona. The public bench with a foot cycle proves well used.