“If we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’ll keep getting what we’ve always got”.

 

This phrase has never been truer than at this moment, when most of us, in Europe and worldwide, are trying to get out of isolation and face the challenge of restarting our economies post-COVID. Restarting the old industrial machine at full speed in an attempt to recover all the business that has disappeared in recent months is a tempting idea, but one that risks giving us a (false) sense of security, deluding us into thinking that we will soon recover and that everything will be as it was before.

The opening sentence contains a wise warning: continuing to do what we were doing will only produce more of what was already there, setting the stage for an even bigger crisis: environmental, social and economic.

 

From recovery to regeneration

 

Indeed, ‘recovery’ may not be the most useful term to help us think our way forward. ‘Recovery’ implies a return to a previous state, which was, in many ways, unhealthy and unsustainable. ‘Recovery’, again, creates the illusion that this last year and a half have been a parenthesis, and that the world may return, when we finally emerge from it, exactly where we left off.

The times call for us to make a bolder choice: a choice that will mobilise us to act with meaning, to regain confidence in ourselves and others, to harness our energy and creativity to build thriving economies that not only protect ecosystems but also help them to flourish. A choice that stimulates our imagination to reinvent the way we do business, a choice that can contemplate the fact that human beings are a part of Nature and not apart from Nature: a choice, therefore, that allows our thriving economies to enrich the ecosystems around us, rather than impoverish them.

This bold choice has a name: it is called Regeneration: of ourselves, our teams and organisations; it means being able to build a new world taking into account Nature, to bring about the regeneration of the ecosystems in which we live.

 

Nature is the most complex system; Nature is the most thriving system.

 

Regeneration is the fundamental thrust that drives life processes on Earth. For billions of years now, it has helped life create the conditions for more life, enabling the richness and diversification of the ecosystems that we inhabit. When embracing this historic opportunity of reinventing the way we work together to create and share value, the way we trade, the way we collaborate and compete, in a way that enriches everyone and our ecosystems rather than degrade them, we need to turn to Nature for inspiration, learn from observing Her what systemic patterns enable ecosystems to behave, spontaneously, in such a life-conducive way – and transfer those insights to the organisations we inhabit.

 

A couple of years ago, in another article, we described the 5 principles that we identified as being at the heart of life processes on Earth and some ideas on how, concretely, to apply them for the regeneration of our personal and organisational ecosystems, thus contributing to the transition to a regenerative economy.

 

Since then, we have tested these five principles with the organisations we work for. Our work as consultants and facilitators, accompanying numerous organisations, has helped us to discover a sixth principle and enabled us to complete the model for individual, group and organisational regeneration.

 

These articles are a bit like our “Advent Calendar”. They will appear twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays on our blog, with the next one on 7 December.