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Social innovation and paradigm shift

In times of crisis, such as a recession or a depression, people talk about social innovation a lot. Other words that are being heard are civilian participation, social responsibility, etc. In fact, what we see happening is that the old dominant institutional world is calling out for help. When we look at my blog about the Kondratieff sinus we see that at the peak of an economic hype the conservative dominance of risk avoiding governance is blocking all kinds of social innovation. When the people are happy, get what they want, have nothing to complain about, few stand up to become creative with a desire for change. The social cash cow of conservatism in a peak economy is not the best basis to introduce social innovation. If you would want to do that you would need the Otto Scharmer U-Theory to simulate chaos and get people to become artificially creative. It is not the same as a genuine crisis.

A depression seems to get the best out of people in terms of adding true and lasting value to their community, especially when it collapses. Now why is that? There are a few reasons to mention:

1. Creativity needs stimulus

When a communities enters a recession is wakes people up to look at their own reality in a different way. Previously wealth was a matter of fact, now it is not anymore. Old securities disappear and people need to find access to new ones. They are obliged to think, triggered by their intense emotions. Fear for shortages, the pain of loosing previous wellness, the need to find a way out of chaos, the worries about their operational wellness, it all opens up peoples mind to change. It triggers a whole series of reactions, from complaints, aggression, suicide, etc, but also a boost of creativity in many.

2. Change needs to be “different”

In a recession people tend to do the same things over and over again to try to regain their old securities. They do not want to acknowledge that the crisis is caused because the “old ways” simply have become obsolete. You can’t take them for granted anymore, not matter how well they worked in society, business or family life before.  When the markets shrinks one needs to adjust, not in the shrinking but bailing out by being different. When an economic peak gets people to copy each other to benefit from wealth without any new creations, a dip gets them confronted in competition. It shakes up their similarities and stimulates the search for renewed uniqueness. Pioneers appear who propose new things and a sense of social innovation invades the surroundings. This stimulates others to do the same.

3. Change needs freedom

When you wake up at 7 in the morning to start the day, bringing the kids to school, go to work, worry about the bills, the shopping, the taxes and a personal career, to get back home at 18.30 tired, feed the children, take them to bed, crash on the sofa and watch the telly……. Then you have little time or interest to even think of social innovation or whatever. Your world turns around your daily responsibilities and that is type of worldview you have.

When however one has enough freedom it is much easier to find inner strength to overcome the burden of a daily routine and become creative. Need combined with available time gets people to experiment with innovation. Some do this by discovering new abilities or pick up old forgotten talents (they start to act, dans, sing, play a musical instrument, paint). Others start doing voluntary works and start meeting totally different people than before. New ideas are born, some are actually tried our and can even flourish. In freedom people disconnect from old structures and mingle with new connections, developing new communities and change happens organically.

4. Innovation needs to be seen

During peaks of abundance there are also people who have a creative nature and develop social innovations. They are however hardly visible because no one seems to be on the look out for inspiration. When a recession wakes up people the sensitivity for innovation grows and all kinds of inspiring novelty get the chance to be highlighted or “discovered” for public enlargement. Someone who has the creative urge to create innovation may lack the managerial leadership to outgrow it to make it a new social standard. The interaction of an institutional world in crisis with a new dynamic world of creativity in purpose driven freedom can boost any novelty to huge proportions. Visibility of inspiring innovations is hence a double sided phenomena. On the one hand it is the creativity of social innovation boosted by a recession that wants to be seen, and on the other, the open attention of crumbling institutions that need innovation fast to renew their expectations for survival.

Paradigm shift

A paradigm shift is not the same as social innovation. Can social innovation produce a paradigm shift? Or does a paradigm shift cause social innovation?

A paradigm is defined to be “a specific way of looking at a reality, determining the way one makes decisions and acts in accordance”. This means automatically that there are different ways of looking at a reality, challenging the way people make their decisions. In our current social paradigm the consumer based capitalist economy has a dominant position, determining the way governments, business, public in general, institutions, etc interact. Social innovation at an individual level generally may change the texture and coloring of the paradigm but will not change this overall paradigm.

So when we address the issue of climate change, global warming, global pollution, new possible global diseases, etc and attribute this to the dominant paradigm then social innovation within the reigning paradigm may address these issues from a consequences point of view but will not solve them from a cause point of view. To do that a paradigm shift is needed.

Sustainocracy is a paradigm shift

Sustainocracy was idealistically conceived when I decided that I did not want to pass the old paradigm on to my children because of the negative consequences it causes. Of course I did appreciate the positive elements of this paradigm but realized that we had reached a point that the balance had tipped over to the accumulation of negative effects, creating permanent instability also at the positive end. So in a way my decision early in the 2000’s was a social innovation. Back then my surroundings had no desperate feeling of a crisis yet even though the signs were abundantly present already. The establishment was still confident that change could be done from within the reigning paradigm. In fact, the established power structures were also an inherent piece of that paradigm and gained their existence from it. It was not up to them to challenge their reason to be. The only one that could challenge the paradigm is the one who has eyes to see and awareness to distinguish between realities. And that is the human being itself, because we are the ones that create our instruments, even if we allow them to reign us for a while. We have come to point that we need to redefine the usages and positioning of those instruments. And that is what we do in Sustainocracy. We respect the instruments as human creations and reposition them around a new paradigm in which the human being is placed at the center of sustainable human progression, not the financial systems.

With this simple change in mindset and observing the world, the world itself learns to see itself differently and starts to reshuffle their power positions accordingly. Slowly the two paradigms become visible to everyone and so does the choice everyone has. Social innovation then gets an entirely new dimension that changes everything simply because of the way we look at things. We live in a unique time-era in which we see a new paradigm arise, co-exist with an old one for a while, interacting probably with certain conflicts and eventually take over. People in next generations will read about this era in their history books but will look at society from that new dominant paradigm without the challenging adventure of living through the transformation, or even playing part in defining it. This era is therefor unique in the history of humankind and referred to by me and some others as “the quantum leap in human evolution”.

Open up your mind and be part of it. It is exciting, challenging and rewarding to be a pioneer of a new world.

Otto Scharmer (U-Theory) versus Jean-Paul Close (Human Complexities)

This is the second in my series of comparing commonly used methods and models in current human organizations (business, government, society, etc). The first reflected about Kondratiev and Close.

Today I try to compare the “U-Theory” of Otto Scharmer with my model of Human Complexities and its phases of Fear for Change, Paradigm Shift and the positioning of Sustainocracy. (Watch a short  11 minute explanation on Sustainocracy via YouTube here)

The U-Theory

The U-Theory has become a popular tool for trainers and coaches as well as executives teams in organizations to develop new, innovative ideas in a co-creative way and bring them into practical reality.

The U-Theory of Otto Scharmer

The U-Theory of Otto Scharmer

We see a U shaped model with five key points for progress: Co-Initiation, Co-Sensing, Presencing, Co-Creation and Co-Evolving.

When I compare this with my own model of Human Complexities there are of course striking similarities but also some curious differences to think about.

The cycle involves: organization, regression, collapse and recovery

The Human Complexities cycle

The four arrows (regression, collapse, enlightenment and co-creation) in the model of Human Complexities represent the movement between four states of evolving communities (greed, chaos, awareness, wellness) using the complex psychology of people and ways of structuring organizations and communities. It is always cyclic in a clockwise manner. After ever cycle the community has gone through a learning process. When we place the cycles one after the other in history and over time we can see an evolutionary path resembling a spiral, producing a line from chaos into sustainable progress.

The representation of human complexities in a crosslike drawing has to do with our perception of progress and organization by drawing a line from left to right. Right to left meaning just the opposite, a regression. Up means an increase or growing awareness and down the decrease or disappearance thereof. In the middel we see the crissing of the lines “to be” (search for unique edity and universal ethics) and “to do” (our actions and organization). The cross shows the continuous conflict between these two issues that produce the self aware learning curve. In each of the four resulting quadrants the overall dominant human culture is different and so is the intrinsic motivation or fear for change.

Fear for Change

Inside the model of Human Complexities I use the concept of “Fear for Change”.  This is needed to show people near or within the stress of a crisis that this a normal path of letting go for renewal. Once aware of this they can face a crisis with more confidence. The current global paradigm shift from economic societal collaps to sustainable human progress  is my main concern. In my approach I tend to focus on the side of transformation from collapse via chaos towards renewed wellness in the model. My approach is holistic inviting the entire society to become co-creative.

Schwarmer does exactly opposite, working from with the institutionalized fragments of society.

The psychology of change in a paradigm shift is the true transformative challenge of humankind

The psychology of change in a paradigm shift is the true transformative challenge of humankind

Human Complexities (J.P. Close) & Fear for Change

Important differences between the U-Theory and Fear for Change

When we look at the U-Theory and the path of Fear for Change in the model of Humian Complexities we see that both use exactly the same processes to get people to activate their inner energy for creation and co-creation.  Despite the different names the steps and significance are the same. Still there is a huge difference…..

U-Theory versus Paradigm Shift

U-Theory versus Paradigm Shift

At first sight both methods look and feel the same

In reality the creators of the U-Theory did a very smart thing. They created a sense of simulated chaos within the comfort of a running business.  Getting people to step out of the running business of greed to undergo the intense process of reflection and finally reach a state of co-creation is in reality the application of the chaos theory and human psychology in exactly the same way, yet without the need of a formal crisis or fear for change.

Drawing the U-line from left to right (against the stream of human complexities) gives a sense of a deepening spiritual experience within the context of financial recovery, enhancement or growth (greed). The smart thing is that the U-Theory gives innovative meaning to economic systems that have the tendency of becoming bureaucratic an reluctant to change (seeing themselves as eternal cash cows, which they are not).

The paradigm shift and its related fear for change is known for thousands of years already. The first people to describe this intense fear and its process of freedom when one finds a new route by letting go, were intellectuals like Dante (13th century) and later the psychologists and anthropologist of the 19th and 20th century, s.a. Steiner, when the hierarchies started to grow in magnitude and with it the complexities of organizing people and emotions.

The natural process of a system to collapse into chaos, like the Roman Empire and so many other civilizations before and after, is well documented. The intense learning curve through fear, pain, letting go, etc. is also well known now and well positioned, with logic, along the modern cycle of Human Complexities. It is typically applicable in these days of pain, chaos en crises today that are affecting everyone. People start to look at two ways to address the problem:

  1. How to avoid collaps by applying timely renewal and innovation (U-Theory)
  2. What to do when inside the collaps to get back into co-creative wellness (Fear for Change)

These are the two routes of least and most resistance, as written before in a previous blog.

This blog also introduced the law of opposites and we can see many in the Human Complexities model (transition quadrants, poor and rich, complex and simple, warm and cold cultures, spiritual and possessive  etc). The smart thing that was done by Otto Scharmer and his people was to turn the model of the paradigm shift, including the fear for change, around (fear avoidance).

Just observe the logic:

The model of Human Complexities follows a cyclic route clockwise. The segment on the circle that refers to the paradigm shift starts at the left hand side almost upon the line between chaos and enlightenment, when people let go of old security and become aware of the need of renewal. It continues all the way up to the state of co-creation for wellness. The shape is more line a big “n”.

Positiong of both theories

Positioning of both theories

When we look at the U-shape of Scharmer it starts at the same (virtual) point but travels down and to the right to end up on the line of wellness through greed. The psychological effect of visualizing this direction is that fear is eliminated by connected the process to greed (desire for unlimited prosperity). The process of the U-shape is to avoid jumping into the unknown by simulating it within the comfort of an existing organization that looks for renewed innovative or inventive success without the immediate need of a paradigm shift. It is a method for smart executives to transform an organization within its normal operations without the traditional reorganizational stress. This is brilliant.

So the method and knowledge of the Fear for Change within the need for a Paradigm Shift positions themselves essentially in left hand quadrants, the areas of poverty, chaos, illumination and experimentation with survival. The method and knowledge of the U-Theory positions itself in the rich areas of wealth and greed where enterprises want renewal, revival, inventiveness without disputing their reputation nor their original positioning. It is a protected environment for efficient creativity to enhance a competitive position.

Positioning application of the methods

Positioning application of the methods

The model of Human Complexities helps us to clarify the particular use of both models and in which situation they should be used. In fact, it is not just applicable in business, it can be applied to the entire society too. Sustainocracy is an example of jumping the state of chaos by inviting executives to co-creative renewal in a multidisciplinary setting that eventually will feed again an obsolete economy with true innovation.


The application of both theories is of interest. Sustainocracy positions itself in the wellness quadrant from a societal point of view.  In most occasions the paradigm shift through chaos is needed  in society due to the different power positions that try to uphold themselves at the expense of the others in the same community. Within each of the institutional pillars the U-Theory can help leadership to progress in such competitive environment. However in a multidisciplinary setting such a Sustainocracym where everyone has a co-creative mission at societal level, the combination of both can lead to remarkable results for the entire society.

So while the executives may be confronted with the own fear for change, within their own leadership, and the intense process of undergoing the risks of re-positioning a company within the context of sustainable progress of society as a whole, the organization itself may well be served through the techniques of the U-Theory that do not include this fear or risk. Knowing about the emotional difference between the two models the executive teams and participating consultants can create programs that are as effective as they can be in turbulent times, producing progress even in crisis with both societal and institutional success.

It would be very interesting to develop situations at regional level to experiment with this.

Effective keeping of human beings

Now that Sustainocracy is positioned and put into practice as new paradigm of societal complexity, affecting everything, it becomes interesting to reflect openly on the different ways of reasoning from the different worldviews.  This may be a critical view because paradigms are based on totally different values. Someone who has lived both (money driven economics and value driven sustainocracy) can distinguish by experience and choice. Yet someone active without point of comparison inside the old paradigm will consider his or her views as the only truth.

Let us take this article for instance, that has been tweeted around the world today by many people, published by Forbes on Nov. 21st, 2012, written by a SAP specialist, Ray Rivera. It is titled: 5 Myths Of Human Resource Management (even though the link to the article refers to Human Capital Management) http://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2012/11/21/5-myths-of-human-capital-management/

The article is a valid reflection about general practices in traditional business hierarchies. Seen through my old eyes of chief executive officer in a multinational I would most certainly review our internal policies with my HRM after reading the article. I remember our internal global policy back then to provide 10 training days per year to all our personnel. It was a hell of a job to find those days and get people motivated to do something with it. From a performance point of view it was useless, cost a bucket full of money and created constant absence in departments that needed to be filled up with people doing overwork.

All other remarks in the article are also valid. Take those of the financial incentives as perceived motivators. I remember sales people that tried to  trick the system by submitting fake orders at the end of the year to collect their bonus. The fake orders were cancelled early the next year. In times of a crisis taking away any of the incentives becomes a burden. People leave a company simply because another one offers a nicer car. There is no commitment nor loyalty, just self interest. In fact, that is exactly what such hierarchies and policies attract: people with an individualistic, opportunistic, selfish attitude, equivalent to that of the company itself.

In a previous lifetime these issues were indeed of my concern. That was 20 years ago and they are still being published as novel and tweeted around as of general interest. Now, after crossing over to a new paradigm, the entire article becomes a reflection on what a Dutch author called “effective keeping of human beings” in a similar way as keeping chickens, pigs or cows. A particular sentence in the article struck me especially:

“How human capital becomes transformed into business value is still a black box”

When we look at the current world of business entities, performing around financial goals, we can easily recognize the “human farming” attitude. In the traditional paradigm this is normal and even worshipped by media, trading floors and governments. Human resources is a modern way of slavery where the business value of a human being is expressed by turnover per person or something equivalent. Such organization does not get the best out of people but the worst. Surrounded by short term financials, greed and more greed one becomes greedy and selfish automatically. 

In the new paradigm there are no financial goals but purpose driven objectives. It is not the workforce that is asked to take responsibility, the company does, providing some kind of true added value to society. People do not come to work, they contribute. They do not need training because they train themselves. They do not need an incentives because the work itself and the achievements are a driving force already. People do not work in a hierarchical structure, they have a functional responsibility in a result driven team. The goals of the company are measurable through external progress. New people in the group assume responsibilities but change when the balance of the group requires the repositioning of the members, even when dealing with functional leadership. Leaders step back into the pack when they are done or when the group takes another direction for the benefit of the company and the purpose in persuit. There is equality and trust, no judging departments just connecting values among professionals for effective teamwork.  People correct eachother.

Now that I know that such different types of organizations exist it is my choice to decide where I feel safest. Even if a sustainocratic organization is not yet functional in my neighborhood I can still behave accordingly and become the change that I want. I can also decide that I prefer such culture of hierarchical demand on me. Important is that one has a reflective choice when one knows.

Just like the other tweet today of someone claiming that it is nice to know that he didnot know certain things. One only knows that it would be nice not to know when one knows. This phylosophical reflection in reality states that when you do not know you cannot be held responsible for your actions seen from another paradigm. When you do know you may wish you didn’t, just to avoid responsibility. Now you know that different paradigms exist. What do you do? What responsibility to you take?

Ethics is human, not institutional

Much is being discussed about “ethics” in business, finance, government, education, etc. The biggest misconception of all is to attribute ethics to institutions. Ethics is human, not institutional. An institution cannot be blamed for unethical behavior, their leaders and employees can.

Definition of Ethics:

Many people confuse ethics with social morality, as in religion, belief or cultural behavior. One of the more useful definitions of ethics is provided by wikipedia in the names of members of the foundation of critical thinking: “a set of concepts and principles that guide us in determining what behavior helps or harms sentient creatures”.

If fact ethics refers to “the conscious way we interact with our environment, human and living nature, in a constructive or destructive way”. Ethics is complex as it demand from us the conscious reflection about our progressive behavior and its consequences. Progress has always a destructive and constructive element, when initiated by human beings as well as evolutionary progress within nature. It opens up a large array of philosophical thinking on the extend of responsibility of the human impact on its environment. How ethic is it to destroy a certain natural landscape for our infrastructures, housing, industrial processes or even agriculture? Where does human progressive dominance end to allow room for other species to evolve or is human dominance and its effects on other species part of their own evolutionary challenge? Hasn’t the competitive crises in the human species stimulated our self-awareness in such a way that we became more creative and competitive? Hasn’t the anthropocene affected life of other species in such a way that new genetic variations have appeared that adopted perfectly well to the human dominance and even to human pollution? Isn’t humankind on its own a challenge for nature to react with destructive force to create balance again in living progress? How ethical must the human species be with its environment and what ethics can we expect from our environment?

When we look at the effects of humankind on its environment then this can be considered very high, especially now, in the era that we live in today. On the other hand we see that these effects are lethal for the long term human sustainability. It is expected that climate changes and pollution will eventually reduce humankind to a much smaller population then we count today. Within 40 years humankind may well implode to a size of little more than 1 billion people (as opposed to more than 7 billion today).

Ethics has hence nothing to do with the way we influence nature itself. This will bounce back to us with equal force as what we did to nature. Nature has this unique ability to find balance in all kinds of extremes, even against humanity. So when we refer to ethics we need to reflect on the way we affect nature in the short and long term to produce effects on us. With this type of ethical consideration we place human evolution within the meaning of sustainable human progress. In this sense we do not dominate nature as we affect our surroundings but assume an adaptive attitude around the effects of nature on us. Nature seeks natural balance no matter what effects this has on humankind. We however seek balance with our consciousness (learning process) about our surroundings to provide us infinite evolutionary chances using the environment properly. We become adaptive partners with our environment for our own benefit. Ethics then refers to the level of reciprocal balance we create with our universe in which we assure our health and security at all times by respecting nature for what it is.

So when people debate on institutional ethics we need to get to terms what an institution really is? From an operational point of view an institution is a specialized group of people performing to reach some predetermined team objective. There are many types of institutions that all perform different types of tasks in a human community. From an ethical point of view we can now look at the institution and determine what impact it has on our sustainable human progress from an environmental point of view? The problem we face is the paradigm in which such evaluation takes place.

Institutions have been traditionally registered and founded to become a legal entity that behaves according human, not natural laws. An institution is a legal instrument that allows the grouping of people around certain objectives protecting the integrity of the people against failure of the institution, while allowing the people involved to share the benefits of it. The institution can hence do things that people would maybe not do themselves from a moral point of view. What motives would an institution have to do what it does and can ethical values be attributed, and by who? Yes, we can, but not to the institution, to the people giving direction to the institution. Why?

The institution is a piece of paper. When no-one does anything with that piece of paper it will not do any harm or good. It is just a number. An institution becomes instrumental in the hands of the human being. It is the human being that deals with the institution that needs to be confronted with the ethics of this usage. The fact that an institution is constituted according to certain human laws does not liberate the user of the instrument from applying moral awareness and consider the ethics of its positioning or functioning. In our current society based on capitalist economics the morality of human progress is expressed in financial means. Within this paradigm ecology and human progress are considered a cost. Ethics are valued against the price one needs to pay and the material benefit one gets in return. The overall holistic picture of a universe reacting back to us is not considered tangible enough to be attributed to the ethics of a single institution nor of its leadership. It is the human system that is unethical because it shows a scientifically proven damaging track record against nature itself and especially our own expectations for a healthy future. What is then unethical? The financial system? Money? Capitalist economics? Consumption? Industrialization? Manufacturing?

None of this is unethical because for every system an alternative system can be chosen. The fact that humankind has self-aware choices makes the usage of instruments that have an unethical impact on our environment unethical. It can be compared with a word. The word itself can never be attributed an emotion or value. It is the context in which the word is being used. The same goes with money. Money has no value, it is the value we attribute to it in a certain context. We can compare it with a hammer. The hammer is a tool that can be used in a constructive way to create a chair. It can also be used to kill. In both cases ethics can be applied, not to the hammer but to the hand that uses it and the purpose it is used for.

So instruments like words, coins, hammers or registered pieces of paper have absolutely no ethical meaning until they are used by human beings for one or another purpose. Right now the ethics of humankind is extremely off course. We are all to blame but those who claim leadership and intentionally keep up the system that is so destructive, should be brought to justice. The problem we have is that ethics has not found its way yet sufficiently in our systems of human laws and that is what is urgently needed. Sustainocracy can be help because it provides the tooling necessary to make a natural selection. It also helps institutions to transform while they still can. The excuse is still that they did not know better, had no choice and were not aware of a new paradigm. Soon no-one will be able to hold with such excuse because new standards are being set. These standards are based on true ethics. When people have a choice they immediately are at fault when their choice is contrary to a true ethical paradigm such sustainocracy. At this stage humankind can not afford to accept unethical leadership or behavior anymore whether we like it or not.

Why people avoid Spirituality

From Sept 21 -23 a group of academic and entrepreneurial visionary intellectuals from 14 countries met for the annual conference of EURO-SPES. The topic was “Spirituality & Sustainability” and the gathering took place in  Visegrad (Hungary), 40 km north of Budapest. Our organizing host was Prof. Laszlo Zsolnai.

A beautiful weekend in a beautiful place full of history

Spirituality is a word that in the world of hard materialism is being neglected or despised as being soft or religious. This is a huge misconception and a true mental and practical blockage for development of true sustainable progress. Spirituality has various definitions as participating scientists correctly pointed out but the general description of the word is “the inner quest for the true meaning of our existence”. For people who live the simplified life of materialism such quest is of course a scary confrontation with their own consciousness and certainly something to be avoided. The world of the “having” is exactly opposite of the world of the “being”. Both reject each other like poles of a magnet. The transit from a “having” kind of mentality to one in search for identity (being) is usually referred to as a “crisis”. The process is one of letting go (voluntarily or involuntarily)  of material securities and trying to find comfort in the new world of inner feelings and meaning.

In such open field of emotions people start reacting in many ways, some aggressive or depressed, others become artists or find unprecedented hidden forces of leadership. During the conference we were enlightened with views in each of these fields of expertise. Academic research is showing the importance of spirituality for humankind to recover from crises and develop sustainable evolutionary progress through the renewal of true meaning. It represents a combination of rationalization of inner search for meaning and putting the growing awareness into practice in experiments around new ways of organizing ourselves, individually and as a community. This is called the pre-paradigm, a phase before, after or within crises, in which alternatives develop to a reigning paradigm that is falling apart. Such pre-paradigms are always confrontational to the one that is being disputed. A pre-paradigm uses the logic of spiritual consciousness and is usually neglected and even denied by those who are unaware, or intentional to uphold the existing paradigm out of personal or institutional interests. The old paradigm has lawful support while the new paradigm has the power of timeless meaningfulness.

It was shown that such human evolutionary patterns of obsolete but reigning paradigm, crisis, pre-paradigm development through spirituality, and the opposition between old and new paradigm, are a natural evolutionary phenomena of a self-aware species. Even the dramatic consequences of a powerful yet obsolete paradigm, that could cause death and destruction, can be seen as a universal natural disaster hitting humankind, forcing ourselves to renew our spiritual awareness and develop a new evolutionary cycle. But this natural phenomena is of course not an excuse for those who are aware of it to let it happen just like that. The force of reasoning and new paradigm development is nowadays, thanks to many modern elements of peaceful reflection, education and opposition, capable of overcoming a forthcoming crisis without the natural need for or potential threat of a mass destruction.

The Danube bend Euro-SPES encounter 2012

Academic intellectuals, artists and entrepreneurs from 14 countries meet for the paradigm shift

Sustainability was explained from an existential and practical point of view, using also nature as a point of inspirational reference. Various presentations coincided about the forthcoming mayor crash, a melt down of the world order of economics after decades of exponential growth and speculation. For the first time academic financial specialists looked at the broader picture and showed the unsustainable truth of current economic materialism. Not many presentations could pinpoint yet a solution. Some were still tempted to use economic instruments that were contrasted by others, including me, as “decades too late” and at this stage unrealistic and equally obsolete.

Solutions needed to be found in the inner world of reflection, awareness and consciousness, not the external worlds of old material securities. My own practical presentation of sustainocracy was well received. As I was one of the very first to present my case I had three more days left to get some deepening reflection about it with those who connected with the complexity of my line of thinking and my practical proof of concept that already went beyond the phase of pre-paradigm. During the questioning rounds after each presentation the power of my own model of human complexities proved its worth for my own inner guidance for reflection and interaction with the others.

The psychology of change in a paradigm shift is the true transformative challenge of humankind

The complexity of the current global situation was also beautifully shown through expressions of art around the world, presented by academic scientists, and available to create awareness in a difficult world of opposition, apathy, ignorance, commercial over-communication, fear and manipulation. The surprising beauty or challenging intellectual creativity brought forward in all kinds of artistic disciplines was mind blowing. Speakers could pinpoint  where the problems were in the unbelievable massiveness of humankind in the world today, but also that solutions were not easily at hand. Humankind was expecting solutions from the external material world while all agreed that the real solutions needed to be found in the inner world of meaning through spirituality and structural renewal of our civilization’s organization around life and evolutionary essentials.

Many presentations therefor referred to the necessary inner quest for reason and meaning, not just as an individual but also as an organization and entire civilization. Many also referred to the powerful explosive potential that spirituality has when it hits the individual and the masses. “Water must flow freely” (biologist and journalist) Janos Vargha stated when he explained his decades of battle against the system of political and economic madness when the Danube was nearly doomed for exploitation with damaging effects beyond repair. He won!

In the red circle the “monster of the Danube”, artificial remains of human institutionalized madness

And so will spirituality as this too must flow freely. The dam that was going to affect natural life, including human’s, in and around the Danube, is now a metaphor for the blocking forces of artificial institutionalized economic and political interests that stand free flow of awareness and reason in the way. Public opposition builds up powerfully and eventually breaks through the dam with force. Right now we are all like Janos in the 80’s, claiming the free flow of meaningful reason and renewal in a peaceful but demanding way, before damage is irreparable. We have time at our side, those who try to uphold their unsustainable power position do not. This personal reflection should give us trust, no matter what happens:

“Spiritual meaning will eventually win as it always has, simply because it has eternity on its side while the temporary power of the self proclaimed mighty dies with those mortals that try to uphold it in their lifetime”.

The encounter was very powerful indeed and finalized with people who found each other in meaning, reasoning and purpose. Friendships were born, alliances too, and solutions were shared that went beyond the stage of experimental pre-paradigm. During that weekend in Visegrad along the Danube bend of Hungary the cultivators of a new human future shared seeds to sow across the world. The new paradigm of sustainable human progress exists and will grow there where true spirituality meets with purpose driven leadership and entrepreneurship.

Paradigm shift pioneering difficulty

Awareness of the need of a paradigm shift is the beginning of a complex personal process. The problem resides in the fact that the rest of the world is still wound up in the old pattern that one wants to take a distance of. The next step is to take responsibility. Instead of trying to convince other people of the need of the paradigm shift one gets to a point of taking personal responsibility. It is impossible to tell others what to do so one ends up doing it oneself. But starting the pre-phase of a new paradigm is a huge responsibility that is not yet backed by your own surrounding. In a practical sense: if you take a distance from a money driven paradigm to start one based on human wellness or human sustainable progress you find yourself totally disconnected from the ruling (human) life supporting system that surrounds you, without an alternative yet to support the pioneer. That is one of the reasons why one finds hardly any support for a paradigm shift. One stands alone. Letting go of old securities before new ones are installed is work of “fools”. One can easily crash in the attempt or be crushed by the old system that does not want paria like you disputing the system. You become an outcast, an outlaw, a paria, a loner, an idealist, at the worst “a weirdo” or at the best “an adventurer” ……

When you anyhow decide to take the responsibility of a paradigm shift you enter an empty world. This world needs everything to be created still. The paradigm you envisage is in your head but does not yet materialize in true reality. You have become a sort of Amundsen, Scott, Stanley or Livingstone, a Niel Armstrong, a person who set out to discover and create a new world out of nothing, just a dream….. You are an unsupported conquerer, a single handed constructor of a new world, a first seed of a new civilization landing to find fertile grounds. It may sound dramatic, romantic even but the emptiness, loneliness and hugeness of the environment and challenge is both scary and exciting. The drama of being such pioneer is in the paradox of where one comes from and decided to leave, and the idealism that made one start the venture. The old world that one leaves behind is totally opposite, a miror image, another dimension. Having the possibility to compare one finds the enormous contradictions that also reside within the pioneer himself and made him finally choose. Living and taking responsibility in the transformation is hence a magnificent adventure of tremendous inner and outer contrasts. It becomes a spiritual and realistic voyage of wisdom and idealism, a “can do” experience based on fundaments of inner trust in abilities, purpose and motivation. The driving force is so strong that fear becomes the first challenge that is overcome.

When I defined sustainocracy and started implementing it I realize that I am taking people and institutions on a round and maybe even one-way trip to an empty new world. This world is empty for their awareness as well as their practical reality. I ask them to help construct a new reality as if we had landed on a new planet, not copying our old rules from home but taking the opportunity to start a new civilization based on ideals, views and lessons learned. As these people work with me on this new planet they know that they can fly back continuously to the old world to go get materials and support, or to stay again after the work is done. This simple security gives them comfort to be with me for a while. The first loads of people and institutions come with disbelieve and discomfort, arriving at an empty space but with the inner reassurance that it is only temporary. For me however it is different. I am there to stay. Why they travelled with me has to do with their own choice or some imposition by the old hierarchy of the old world that seeks some old speculative values in the venture. They often carry their old habbits and manners, finding it difficult to let go and learn to behave in a different setting.

Conducting such new human world in its state of birth feels impressive. I become the creator in a way myself. A creator who is deprived of everything yet has everything. A paradox of the Wholiness where duality comes together in the All. It sounds romantic again but it is not. Spiritually it feels very rich but in practical sense it is bloody hard work with very little aparent reward or recognition. Who cares? I do, and that is enough.

While we work like aliens in the new paradigm people get acquainted with the new settings and the warmth of constructing something together. Some decide to stay permanently and slowly the community grows. Institutions that participate start new initiatives based on the new rules and situation, or decide to transform entirely into the new world. When that happens the creations becomes of everyone and not just of the creator. The pioneer can step back and enjoy the development of the new paradigm, concentrating just on the format and letting content flow freely and creatively. A new world is born and ships full of newcomers arrive to offer their help and their own pioneership to further enhance and grow out the new world within the paradigm.


On October 11th 2012 the very first small colony of the complex sustainocratic paradigm makes itself known to the old world. AiREAS is the first ever sustainocratic venture of the world and initiates its activities in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Its purpose is to create new human dynamics in the city that makes itself healthy and vital instead of heaving to depend on the consequence driven regulatory activities of governance when unhealthy dynamics cause discomfort and economic problems. The initiative is like building a community on Mars. It is a colony that is still fragile, consisting mostly of people that have a return ticket home and enjoy the adventure of the novelty of the challenge. Some believe that old Earth rules still apply and others are not even aware that they are in a new world. Yet it is a start. The next step is to develop the fragile situation into a more solid and permanent setting, a true precedence for the rest of the old world to relate to. The new paradigm has to prove itself by providing sufficient comfort and security to the early participants for them to wish to stay and not go back. AiREAS relates just to the environmental issue of a sustainable human society as defined by me. When it proves its worth to the participants it is only a small step to expand its mission to the other human values. Then we will see that the paradigm expands rapidly, attracting massive amounts of new people that overcome their personal fears of letting go of the old world to enter the opportunities of the new one with trust, ideals and ideas. They have all become creators and the new paradigm becomes a common good.

“City of Tomorrow” game

Putting Planet, People, Profit, Passion and Progress into Practice

Recently we played the entrepreneurial “City of Tomorrow” game for the first time. In the STIR foundation we support the idea of integral human development as expressed in the chapters 15 and 16 of my free book last year, not just the rational side of it as our system is educating our children today. As Sir Ken Robinson so beautifully stated in his much applauded TED talk “the current education systems kill creativity” and Mitra shows in his “hole in the wall“, children have a much higher self-learning ability than our schools appreciate or even stimulate. Yet despite the famous anthropological and anthroposophical views and knowledge on the development of the human consciousness through spiritual, emotional, physical and rational experiences, the system remains the system, locked up in bureaucracy and self supporting prejudice.

We see that current educational formats serve a paradigm in which politicians see the human being as a little robot in the machinery of money driven/dependent economies of growth. Such robots need to learn how to behave like robots within a system, brainwashed about the importance of money, a job, debt, fashion, consumerism, the state, their dependence on the system, etc. The learn to calculate and write a letter but nothing about the importance of social relationships, feelings, spirituality, sustainability or responsibilities.

The paradigm that we support is totally opposite which is why both are difficult to match. The way a complex human society is structured in either paradigm differs enormously which is why the current educational system will sooner see our propositions as a threat to them rather than an opportunity. It is even worse than that. The current education system has no identity of its own because it is chained in dependence to the money which allows it to exist. This comes from central government which dictates the normatives that the schools need to comply with. So the education system has hardly any opinion of its own, just a hierarchy controlling that what is done is done according to the guidelines that allow them to stay alive financially. They are themselves expensive robots in a system.

So we are not seen as a threat to the educational content (who cares?) but for their financial continuation. That is why the system remains closed to all influences from outside, even common sense.

The transformation

Transforming from one complexity to another

If we cannot change the system we can in  fact stand next to it.  We should never forget that even the most locked up human organization consists of people. And individually people do become aware of the need of a new society and other ways of education. Some, not all, are willing to use this personal awareness and influences to take action within the structures in which they are employed. They become the internal transformative hero’s that link already with change and seek internal opportunities that make a difference.

We positioned our initiatives on human awareness right at the place where the young adults would leave school to start their life in the real world. Our program is called “entrepreneur of your own life“, linking the increasing requirement of entrepreneurship in the old money driven economies with the self-leadership and sense of responsibility in the value driven society that we are trying to develop. We asked the high schools to allow us to give their students a view into real life with a bit of our counselling. It is also in the interest of the school to pay attention to this even though they find it difficult to let the real world enter their world. When we propose to provide a low cost bridge through our game they become enthusiastic.

We had done one of such days already before in a multicultural setting trying to show the tremendous opportunities of cultural diversity in a community if you choose to make the best of it together. It had been a great day . Now we were facing a highly technical setting with 500 students in two groups.

One of the coaches, Jules Ruis, suggested to make the day into an adventure and the students into hero’s. Overnight he developed a simple game but with great educational value. It was based on economics but could easily and secretly be changed into buddinomics by me.

The ingredients of the game are:

  • a large bunch of students 17+ years old
  • technological innovation companies that show their innovations
  • coaches that carry specific information
  • a bunch of camera’s
  • a value system in exchangeable cards

We played that day with about 200 students that started without knowing much more than that they would have to collect information at the stands of the enterprises and the coaches that walked around as wild cards. They had been teamed up with people from different years, whom they did not know personally, and the elderly student was made team leader.

They had to assemble the team, work together towards the end of the day, trying to figure out what they had to do to win? During the evolution of the day and every encounter with a coach the complexity of the game would rise, requiring the teams to perform and place the product exhibitions and information into new perspectives.

Watch the filmbook (in Dutch) of the day here

The end of the day was spectacular from an awareness point of view. It was amazing for us to see how self-leadership and adaptability got these youngsters on their way and how fast they managed to adjust their views with new input.  At the end of the day they were allowed to present their views in public and with cameras present. For the highest years present the presentations were key because they were invited to continue the game for another year. Their prices:

  • a job
  • a scholarship
  • a starting capital for a new business

The effects of the game had not just affected the students. The high school had become so motivated that it started to open up for reorganization and further partnership with the foundation and others. The game  will be played now at least twice a year and every year again with all the students. While we do so we are going to step up the challenge every time inviting the students to deal with real life complex problems within the simulation of the reality of the game.

The business enterprises also started to readjust their activities and organization inspired by the game. Most found each other during the game to partner up in purpose driven ventures. They also committed to further invest in the initiatives led by the foundation and based on local for local cooperatives between government, technical innovations, education and science, social innovation.

And even the local government representatives were so enthusiastic that they proposed to open up their structures for more student involvement and participation. At the end all participants will become partner and judge of the final game of all students: defining their own city of tomorrow, based on their own home town and for which they can take responsibility themselves with what they have learned at school and are triggered to learn by placing their knowledge into their daily reality, simulated in complexity by the game.

The entire process is sponsored by the partners to maintain our independence and avoid any client/supplier relationship or chain dependencies. This way the game can be purpose driven in which the virtual reality transforms into reality.

Expanding our ambitions:

On 12.12.12 we now wish to play the game for 4 consecutive days in Eindhoven (The Netherlands) with students from all over Europe. The game will then be called “Europe of Tomorrow” giving already away what the main topic of the event will be. The game will be combined with an international congress on sustainable progress. It will again be great fun to see how our young adults will react to the modern reality and eventually change the world through their own new levels of consciousness and adaptability.