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Integral Ecology and Sustainable Business

With thanks to Laszlo Zsolnai and Ove Jakobsen I was invited to participate in the publication of this valuable book published through Emerald Publishing. My contribution is about the Participation Society, an analysis of the evolution of our societal structures and the emergence of taking responsibility together as citizens and policy makers when dealing with our core human and natural values.

The entire publication: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/book/10.1108/S1572-8323201726

My chapter on the Participation Society:  http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/S1572-832320170000026013


STIR Lustrum 1 – re-positioning society

First of 3 lustrum blogs….

Re-positioning society

On June 25th 2009 the STIR Foundation, or “City of Tomorrow” (as it was rapidly called by people) was announced and initiated. Now we celebrate already 5 years of activities that re-position the way we build society. In three blogs I will explain what happened, what we have accomplished and what I expect next.

How it started
The foundation was set up by me to do whatever I could to pass onto my children a society that protects real human values and sustainable human progress rather than money and destructive systems of power.

Things had happened in my personal life that had made me powerfully aware of the intense need to transform our civilization or accept our self destruction. But awareness is not enough to change the working of a complex society. On the day of the kick off I had managed to surround myself with a very first group of intellectuals and professionals that were either interested in finding ways to address sustainable progress or solve the financial crisis, especially their own. 55 persons came to the kick off congress.

Together we started experimenting with our idealism by creating groups that addressed issues that we wanted to pay attention to. There were groups to address energy, mobility, coaching, new way of working, city design, housing, value system, food productivity, education, health care, leadership, etc.

My book (in Dutch) “Secretes of true wellness” had introduced my own first basic views of our human evolutionary complexity. This I used to guide the group’s processes together with the 5 keys of entrepreneurial success that I had published in 2005. Both models and insights have been perfected ever since.

In 2009 we position ourselves in the area of chaos in the midst of the effects of the 2008 credit crisis. Willingness was high to address key issues but the culture and mentality within the groups was still very much money driven. People were in a survival mode and saw in STIR a possibility to access new entrepreneurial markets. Whenever a market had been defined the cooperation disappeared and self interest started to prevail again in foresight of profits or subsidies. This did not work.

STIR organized monthly congresses on a variety of topics that helped us further in expanding our views while trying to find support and commitment from others. The regular work group encounters helped us understand better the complexity of the challenges, especially that of our own individual money dependencies and behavior, but we did not get changes initiated.

After 8 months all work groups had been dissolved, over 20.000 volunteer hours had been spend but the spirit of change had disappeared due to lack of results and overdose of struggles. I decided to take responsibility myself to materialize my views and realized that I could not proceed through the traditional entrepreneurial way. My own criticism to the groups was that they had all been money driven, not focused on change or value creation. I had to adjust my views that entrepreneurship was the sole engine for change. It may still be but not the type that placed money first. That kind of entrepreneurship was manipulated by money dependencies and hence would never change society. I wanted transformative change to lead and this cannot be done by considering it first “a market” or “a product”. Re-positioning society is more complex than that.

The idealistic views showed the need to involve also people from government. Experimenting with this multidisciplinary approach I could make valuable steps forward towards defining what we now call “Sustainocracy” and the “transformation economy“. Having clarified this in my own mind it became important to make it work in practical reality.

In February 2010 I was invited to speak at a world encounter via internet in Amsterdam. My speech was about the difficulties to get government into sustainability projects of change initiated by citizens. University of Madrid was presenting a project on air quality measurements with 3D presentations of the results. Cisco presented a trial done around the effects of working at home on the emission of CO2. Both projects were ending. For me however it was a mental breakthrough. Summing up my own activities with those of Madrid and Cisco got me to a holistic vision and approach. It was not the fragmented approach that makes the difference but addressing “the whole” would do it.

Air quality as a point of reference for regional health development became my goal to which I could attach all kinds of transformative issues too. I presented the idea to a group of people and finally also to the political director of our province. He remarked that if we wanted to address such complex issues we would have to work through the quadruple helix (government, business, citizens and science). It became clear that none of those four pillars could take the initiative “in the old world” because of their fragmented interrelation based on money and systems of control. A true co-creation would have to be initiated by an independent person, and that had to be me. I had be the connecting pioneer. The working format became clear.

Purpose driven venture

I placed myself on the green dot and invited the rest to participate

In 2011 AiREAS was registered as a multidisciplinary cooperative, initiated by me and a well chosen partner (Marco van Lochem) who added an extensive network in high tech business. The quadruple helix model was enhanced in AIREAS to become the first Sustainocratic venture in the world. Rapidly scientific and business partners joined in the free of charge commitment through membership. My formula of co-creation became effective:

Talent x Input x Purpose = Value x Reciprocity

Our mission became to co-create a healthy city using air quality and human health as guiding measurement. We got the commitment and support from local Eindhoven government with a very first co-creative assignment: “making the invisible (air quality) visible”. The practical re-positioning of society had started. The precedent was initiated.

The values created so far (2014) by AiREAS are:

  • We have positioned and proven the co-creative working of Sustainocratic ventures
  • We co-created and implemented the intelligent real time measurement network technology with scientific guidance.
  • We learned how co-creation works in a multidisciplinary context with a higher humanitarian purpose
  • We defined the basic fundamentals of the “transformation economy” by creating unique complex values first and subsequently expand those values world wide.

AiREAS has also shown how difficult and contrasting the two worlds are (leadership in value driven co-creation, and management through fragmented self interests that interact through transactions) and how complex it is for them to interact. The recent blog about the small window of co-creation between these two worlds (motivated by chaos) was a direct result.

AiREAS has various path ahead. Future will tell what we can achieve:

  • Create Local AiREAS across the world to co-create “healthy cities” using Local AiREAS Eindhoven as example and precedence,
  • Expand the AiREAS values (products and services) through its partners in the traditional economy of transactions
  • Get the reciprocal circular economy going
  • Develop more unique values (knowledge, products, policies, justice, etc) in all the Local AiREAS using the demographic, cultural and historical differences
  • Use the experiences in AiREAS to address also other key humanitarian issues within the STIR definition of sustainable human progress
Value drive ventures

Taking responsibility together for sustainable progress such as AiREAS

The repositioning had finished. We now know how we can peacefully address the complex global issues. Establishing local sustainocratic ventures there were the issues need attention we can deal with all complex problems, not just air quality. With the precedent readily available we can offer Sustainocracy to the world, education people and institutions to take local responsibility together and benefit from the transformation in multiple ways.


Most of the world is active on the financial side avoiding transformation until it is too late.


When I saw this short video I could not resist to create a mental analogy with the fragile societies we build and how we deal with them in the different phases…….enjoy and comment if you like……..


Our ability to design complex structures, our fear for collapse, the beauty of fragile sustainable harmony, the art of creation, the collapse and our self confidence and reassurance that we can do it again, over and over……

and above all – the excitement contained in each of the phases (initiation, growth, harmony and collapse) for those who create and those who participate…….

Responsibility, what is that?

In STIR we speak of “taking responsibility” for sustainable human progress, but what does that word mean? How do we differentiate between what we take responsibility for individually and what we expect from our surrounding society? And how does responsibility relate to the current crises?

Responsibility is a learning process of Awareness
Within the framework of the evolutionary development of human complexities we see that responsibility belongs to the learning process of our “To Be”. That means that it has different levels of awareness which get people to see reality in different ways as they step up their level of consciousness.

I identify 4 important levels:

1. No consciousness: a stone has no awareness and does not take any responsibility at all.

2. Awareness: Every living species has a basic degree of awareness. A tree looses its leaves in autumn to be able to survive the winter. A dog is loyal to someone who feeds it and provides protection. At this level of awareness the responsibility concentrates on survival without a second thought.

3. Self awareness: Certain species, like the human being, have the ability to be aware of themselves. This means that we can observe our own selves and reflect about our actions, making decisions as a consequence. We intent then to influence our environment for our own benefit and we reflect about the consequences or results of our own behavior and choices. We tend to take responsibility for our self interest, learning from them as we go along. We try to create security for ourselves (and our loved ones) for the short and long term. Our world evolves dynamically and interactively between our “doing things” en evolutionary “being someone”.

We also realize that we create better options when working together in communities that eventually formed societies. We see then also a level of collective awareness appear that may different from the individual. The “collective consciousness” may be seen as a business entity, a regional community like a village or city, a family, etc.

4. The higher awareness: When we reach this point of awareness we let go of the self interest and become aware of existential and universal queries that affect our daily decisions and responsibilities. We now “are” before we “do”. We see ourselves in an evolutionary process and value our interactiona within the complexity of our natural surroundings. Our reality converts itself into a personal mission of contributing something eternal to the infinite universal development of the conscience. This is a relatively unknown are of science and hence a totally new field of investigation.

More higher awareness in the world
At individual level we observe a growing amount of individuals that pass from lever 3 to level 4 awareness. This however does not mean that they can take responsibility accordingly at the same time. At individual level they can but they still need to interact with a society that is structured at a collectiev level of conciousness. The social environment of our societies does not generally surpass yet level 2, the simplest form of awareness. This is often kept this way by the self-interests of dominant people in power positions, maling people slaves to certain securities in exchange for their (democratic) loyality.

After world war II there was a temporary boost of collective awareness. This disappeared again in the 70s when fragmented self interests of greed and economic growth started to develop again individually and collectively. Still, thanks to the short boost, peace in Europe was in historic averages lengthened by decades.

Now, due to the crises, the level of collective self-awareness in certain regions is rising again, thanks often to people with a level 4 consciousness. But most people in the world live in urban concentration points of cities where self sufficiency is nearly impossible. They have a dominant dependency on the level 2 structure of the reigning society, that is insensitive to the health, safety and vulnerability of the human being. If people with a higher awareness wish to take responsibility they either have to move out of the city or enter into a confrontation with the dominant system of control and financial greed and power.

Such confrontation does not have to be aggressive at all. It can perfectly well be executed in a peaceful way through common sense and (sustainocratic) co-creation. There are always people who would block such processes out of self protection of their position of power. But there are also plenty of people in positions of power and authority that do wish to make a difference. The latter are true leaders of change.

STIR, using Sustainocracy, takes responsibility for co-creating society from a higher awareness point of view, inviting everyone to join and contribute. Professionals at a higher level of awareness may now take responsibility to transform society by transforming their institutions at the same time.

A crisis only exists for those that resist change by not taking responsibility for it from their own level of awareness and using the authroity that every individual has.

If you wish to know how it works for yourself you can attend the international seminar in Eindhoven in September 2013.

Europeans are not Euros – visualized

With reference to my previous blog I decided to visualize the situation of Europe by using my model of the human complexities (first published in 2008) expressed by two lines (to be + to do) crossing. These lines symbolize at their intersection the eternal conflict between our actions (to Do) and our moral ethics (to Be). This happens at individual but also at cultural and institutional levels, creating societies in cyclic situations of greed, chaos, awareness development or around wellness. In each country individual people and institutions can be in the different phases themselves yet what I show here is the dominant situation of the majority, not the minority.

Low level of morality reigns through money driven Europe

Low level of ethical morality reigns throughout money driven Europe

The “saving” of countries in the chaos zone is nothing more than an attempt to pull them back into the area of institutionalized greed at the bottom right hand side. This is necessary to avoid the collapse of others in that area. It is just a matter of time for all to go down in a violent confrontation with ourselves by ending up in chaos all together. Still it is not necessary! There is another route, not by pulling back into greed but taking responsibility for wellness and sustainable human progress.

This desired European situation represents a jump along the line of ethics, responsibility and awareness. This line (To Be) consists of various levels of awareness. At the conflict crossing at the center we situate the area of self-awareness, a point where the pain of consequences are converted into knowledge and conscious understanding. We have gone through this point very often already, as individuals when we grow older and wiser through personal experiences, and as communities throughout time and the same. Chaos is often represented in society by depressions and even wars. Chaos represents a violent letting go period, painfully creating room again for renewal through awareness. Awareness often comes when the blindfold of greed and control is taken away. There is a sincere possibility that this is going to happen again, in Europe and anywhere else in the world. Enough signs are showing and can affect us at any time.

The big difference today with our past is that we can now pinpoint where we need to place society within the human complexities and act accordingly. In the past societies only knew that they collapsed or were surprised  by the collapse of something else causing their own. Knowing the 4 areas in the model as a logical sequence we can also position ourselves where stability and sustainable progress occurs. This is a simple ethical choice of educated awareness. The only excuse that people can have in our current Europe is that they have not yet seen this blog. When they do, then they have no excuse anymore to make the choice and take responsibility, as an individual and as a professional. Each of us can take personal responsibility now, get educated to deal with it or we can be asked by their surroundings to do it. At first it takes guts to decide. If you do not you can be blamed in the future. What is worse? Guts now or having to give painful explanations afterwards?

A stable Europe is am educated choice of ethics and responsibility

A stable Europe is an educated choice of ethics and responsibility

The choice of ethics of all people involved is to let go of the Euro as the sole dominant goal and adopt European wellness as something to take responsibility for, not by creating it but by allowing it to be created by everyone together. This can only be achieved by working in purpose driven processes in which money is a means, just like anything else needed for this process. It is a choice but once the choice is made the complex process starts to make it happen, based on the new ruling of such wellness based self sufficient European society. This is where the need for a new European constitution comes in. Our current constitutions are based on managing greed and avoiding chaos. We need to work on new constitutions that develop and protect ethical awareness and co-create wellness, avoiding greed. 

This cannot be done in the fragmented jobs and self interests of politicians, civil servants, business people, bankers, individual consumers, scientists, educators, etc. In our current society they interact through money based systems and dependencies. None of these institutionalized individuals can take the initiative, if they are aware at all at professional level.  Professional blindness tends to rule making people incompetent to ethics and responsibilities beyond their professional position. The only one that can take responsibility is the human being itself, liberated from all previous dogmas, professional limitations and dependencies. This person, any person, on the verge of absolute material poverty in the old world, but totally free from burdens, can invite all the powerful fragmented authorities to come over to the new world together and become instrumental to it.

That is what I did when I created Sustainocracy. I invited all people whom I had made aware through my personal interaction and explanation. They were invited to take that personal choice to position themselves in the new wellness based society and come join me in purpose driven human co-creation processes. In these sustainocratic processes all fragmented responsibilities of the old world are represented together, in equality, without dependence of each other but through the authority they represent (entrepreneurial creativity, regional government, knowledge based science and education, and behavioral cultural populations). They come from a fragmented structure of self interest into a holistic environment of common purpose.

Only people who can actually take responsibility are invited, the rest follows through leadership

Only people who can actually take responsibility are invited to Sustainocracy, the rest follows through leadership

The city of Eindhoven and province of Noord Brabant is the first place where Sustainocracy is applied in the world of complex societies. The combination of the right people with the right ethical attitude and awareness, on the right levels of authority, were found to make it happen in AiREAS (health & environmental quality), VE2RS (self sufficiency) and other initiatives. It is first step and still far from getting the entire nation or Europe to adopt the process. But with the precedent in Eindhoven en Noord Brabant I expect that more and more will follow.

Of course, the same counts for America and China and any other area in the world.

Now that you have read this, you can choose too and take responsibility accordingly.

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?

What makes education “sustainocratic”?

Education today is a fragmented part of our lives. Compulsory at an early stage and voluntary later on, mostly concentrated on ratonal transfer of information. In my view this is no education. It is an exercise of memorizing stuff. True learning occurs when information is gathered triggered by emperic experimentation and purposely reflected upon with use of existing resources and learning guidance. A person is a complex being that gathers awareness through a lifelong learning process, not just using rational thought and memorized information but also dealing with sensory information, culture, emotional feedback, spirituality and physical abilities and disabilities.

One needs to learn to deal with failure and success, individualism, teamwork and the general adventure of growing up in a self aware situation. Human beings have the tendency of wanting to dominate their environment out of self interest but the dynamics of this surroundings, human and natural, also dominates our lives back. It is an art of living life to deal with this successfully.

Life patterns follow five lines of personal evolution, referred to as “quotients”. These are: IQ (intelligence), EQ (emotional), SQ (spiritual), PQ (physical) and AQ (awareness). All 5 together form the evolution of the individual consciousness as the individual experiments with life. Most educational support is given in the early phases of a lifetime, up to the initiation of early adulthood, just to give a person basic abilities and some direction, often influenced by a dominant culture or worldview. A young person has generally little to no awareness of the complexity of life. It is a newcomer that experiences the adventure of a lifetime as it comes. After the physical growing up phase the real learning process starts, mostly without guidance anymore other than the support and advice of friends, family or collegaes and the pleasure and pain of one’s own choices in life.

From a cultural perspective one is surrounded by a local situation that is determined by many factors. One can address these as a matter of fact but also challenge it through one’s own growing awareness. Today we find many people breaking through a glass ceiling referred to as the higher consciousness. This is a high level of awareness that allows people to look at one’s own situation from a timeless universal point of view within the complexity of humankind and its evolution. Knowing this as a point of reference at a later age, after living an adult life for some time, the aspect of education changes. Higher awareness is a significant within the future perspective of human evolution also at society level.

In sustainocracy education is seen as a lifelong process and integrated in the value driven processes of human sustainabe progress. Top level education should therefor become available to anyone, at all times, guiding individuals and groups in sustainocratic challenges.

In an economized world financial awareness and growth is dominant, also in education and the educational system. Its value is determined by its level of uniqueness and practical desire in “the market”, available to the highest bidder or subsidised by “the system”.

In sustainocratic processes education is measured against the sustainable achievements of the group. Excellence should translate in abundant returns of cooperative work which in turn fuels the education for renewal and forward driven processes. The success of the alumni in purpose driven cooperative work is also the success of the academy, termining also the reciprocity for continuation. In a money driven world this compensation is translated in money too. In a sustainocratic world other direct local values can be used also, such as housing, food sharing, energy, safety, etc.