7 Years Later — Questions Guiding This Exploration

Seven years ago, I outlined a few questions guiding the early ecosynomic exploration of human agreements.

Through the agreements that guide human interaction, we manifest our dreams of prosperity for ourselves, our families, and our communities. The choices we make in these agreements consider the prosperity of both the part (ourselves) and the whole of which we are a part (our families and communities). Ecosynomics describes how these choices influence our individual and collective prosperity, as we live them.

This exploration was born out of three questions. What makes healthy collectives? Why three sectors/gestures? What axioms underlie these two questions?

In the past seven years, my colleagues and I across the globe have made quite a bit of progress on these questions, as I have documented in this blog over the years.  We are now setting out to map the social topography of human agreements across the globe through the Global Initiative to Map Ecosynomic Deviance and Impact Resilience.

From your own observations and from what you see through the perspective of ecosynomics, what questions guide your exploration?  What questions do you want to contribute to this work?


The Global Initiative — The Social Topography of Human Agreements

To map the next frontier, the social topography of human agreements, the Institute for Strategic Clarity and the global Vibrancy network have initiated the Global Initiative to Map Ecosynomic Deviance and Impact Resilience.

The Global Initiative

Leaders across all sectors have to address complex and large-scale social issues, as well as daily dysfunctional interactions. They find themselves severely constrained by the existing model of value capture and expression. Some leaders have a dramatically different and more successful perception of the value experienced and exchanged in human interactions. We are describing and framing how thousands of these innovative leaders, across the globe, are achieving much greater impact resilience and sustainable interactions. The Global Initiative will map, over the next five years, the social topography of the human agreements underlying the success of 5,000 positive ecosynomic deviants in 11 countries.

Where we are mapping

The selected field sites maximize social-cultural-political diversity across the globe, where we have the support of local alliance members with ongoing projects.

where we are mapping


What we are mapping

  • What local-level agreement structures enable: greater engagement and choice; massive shifts in local-level agreements with multiple stakeholders; and greater impact resilience?
  • What generalizable and culture-specific factors differentiate positive and negative Ecosynomic deviance?
  • How do we scale the breadth and depth of the transformation of human agreements, within and across social systems?

Toolkit we are using

The mappers bring the following discipline-perspectives: architecture, behavioral economics, business strategy, cultural anthropology, decision sciences, ecosynomics, environment, history, human geography, political science, psychology, public health, sociology, statistics, system dynamics.

Who is mapping

  • Fieldwork fellows (30%) — project leads in 11 countries from the Vibrancy network
  • Researchers (40%) — faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students
  • Executive practitioners (20%) — from the 3 sectors and networks
  • Funders (10%) — foundations and organisations that fund projects within a specific country

Thematic areas already included

  • San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (Governor of Guanajuato)
  • Ghana, Germany, Romania, South Africa (Meshfield), USA (Vibrancy, Kalliopeia), Ghana
  • Food Solutions New England (Kendall)
  • Build Upon Europe (WGBC)
  • Cancer Free Economy USA (Garfield)
  • Health USA (SIE foundations)
  • Complementary currencies South Africa (National Treasury, Meshfield)
  • Early childhood development USA (SIE foundations)

The invitation to you

Do you know positive ecosynomic deviants?  Would you like to share the excitement of what those deviants have learned about how to live more fully and achieve much greater impact resilience?  You can use the free online “relational vibrancy” survey (available in many languages) to assess the level of vibrancy of the group.  I invite you to share your cases with us, through the comments section here or by contacting me.

Share the Abundance — Donate a Copy of Ecosynomics to Your Local Library

If our work with the emerging science of abundance, Ecosynomics, has helped you in any way, please share the abundance with others through your local library.

ecosynomicsbookcover100114finalj-rotate.pngOur vision is to shift the vibrancy that everyone everywhere experiences on a daily basis.  To enable that shift, we want to catalyze the movement from scarcity-based agreements to abundance-based agreements.

You can contribute to that shift by making the book Ecosynomics: The Science of Abundance available to readers in your own community through your local library.  You can get a printed copy from Amazon.com (click here), or an ebook or audiobook version at the Vibrancy store (click here).  You can find your local library by clicking here.


Win a Free eBook of Ecosynomics — Share a Story


Win a FREE copy of the Ecosynomics eBook!

Send me a short story on 1 of 3 topics described below, and I will send you a free eBook of Ecosynomics: The Science of Abundance.  Normally it is a US$14.99 value at Amazon.com.

What you do.  Send me a short story (approximately 500-1000 words) about one of the following:

  • Abundance-based agreements that you have directly experienced (what were they and how did they impact you?)
  • How consciously choosing agreements (vs unconsciously accepting agreements) has affected you?
  • How Ecosynomics has impacted you

Send the story to me by email at info (at) ecosynomics.com or through my Contact page.  Let me know whether you would prefer your copy of the eBook as a PDF, ePub, or Kindle version.  I will then send you the discount code for getting your free copy of the Ecosynomics eBook at the Vibrancy store.

How this contributes to our research.  By sharing your confidential experiences, you are contributing to our research at the Institute for Strategic Clarity on the experience people have in groups, and how this experience is influenced by the underlying agreements in the group.  We will never share your specific stories with anyone.  It is confidential. You can learn more about our initial findings here.

Guest post — Ecosynomic Forum on Large System Change and Sustainability

Guest post by Prof. Dr. Martin Welp, Chair of Socioeconomics and Communication, University for Sustainable Development Eberswalde, Head of the International Master Study Programme Global Change Management, and Christoph Hinske is Vibrancy European Lead Steward and Contributing Fellow at the Institute for Strategic Clarity.

The 1st Eberswalde Ecosynomics Forum on April 2, 2015 focused on large system change. Exploring collective efforts for a transformation towards sustainability was the overarching theme of the one-day event. It provided a collaborative space to think together about necessary conditions for change and the systemic embedders of such changes. Furthermore the event was a hub to develop ideas for shared action, research and consultancy.

Participants were researchers, practitioners, business owners, activists and students, with great diversity in terms of educational background and work experience. Their reflections on the topic and the keynote speeches by Steve Waddell (NetworkingAction) and Petra Kuenkel (Collective Leadership Institute) are available on video 


The event was hosted by the Eberswalde Universcreenshot-15sity for Sustainable Development (University of Applied Sciences) and the International Master Study Programme “Global Change Management”. The study programme focuses on how to speed up learning processes regarding global change in different kinds of organisations and the society at large. The event was a great source of inspiration both for the education of change agents in Eberswalde and for research on a sustainability transition.

The idea for the event in Eberswalde grew out of a five-year cooperation between the university and the Institute for Strategic Clarity. The ecosynomic perspective on the kind of agreements that shape our organisations, our working together and even our economies has been part of teaching in the Global change Management study programme since then. Starting in the fall 2015, a new curriculum integrates ecosynomics more directly.

Martin: In my personal view, as the head of the study programme, the Forum showed how people who share the same passion for change and a sustainability transition can quickly team up and have fruitful dialogue, which is intended to be continued in the 2nd Ecosynomics Forum. With the help of video documentation, we can build on the outcomes and findings of the 1st Forum. I am looking forward to seeing the forum grow into a series of inspirational events on ecosynomics, change management and sustainability.

Christoph: Being a European lead steward for implementing ecosynomic research insights, my main inspiration to approach Prof. Dr. Martin Welp with the idea to co-host the 2015 Ecosynomic Forum is rooted in the excitement about the innovative study program Global Change Management. To me, a study program that focuses on training systemically thinking and holistically acting Agents of Change is a perfect place to start the series of global events, highlighting groups and approaches that successfully transcend the agreements of scarcity/economics.

As Martin already mentioned, the group of around 40 people was very diverse. We had people from all sectors in the roomscreenshot-12. To me it was interesting that, despite the very different perspectives, everyone agreed that abundance-driven collaboration is key to a healthy and successful transition towards more regenerative societies and economies that are rooted in the understanding of planet earth as a living being.

Direct outcomes of the event are major action research possibilities, new consulting contracts, and thesis topics for the participating students.

As with the 1st Forum, the next forum will be hosted by nominated organisations around the globe and supported by the hosts of the 1st Forum. The topics and content areas, connected to the interests of the next host, may differ widely.

While nominations for the 2016 Ecosynomics Forum open soon, we welcome unofficial requests referencing this blog post.

My Qs — Generalized Dishonesty or Specified Dishonesty?

Are specific people generally dishonest or are people in general specifically dishonest?

As I see it, generally dishonest people intend to cheat, to behave in untrustworthy ways.  They are held to be generally unethical in their values and self-interested, often in very materialistic ways.  Specifically dishonest people, on the other hand, behave in untrustworthy ways in very specific circumstances.  An Ecosynomic lens might suggest that when they are embedded or indoctrinated into a culture steeped in both (1) focus on their own self wellbeing, at (2) purely the outcomes level of reality, they collapse into only paying attention to their own materialistic wellbeing.  This distinction suggests that we might do with generally dishonest people is quite different than with specifically dishonest people.  General dishonesty has deep, complex roots within the human being.  Specific dishonesty might be more a matter of the specific culture.  Might be.  If so, what to do in the two cases is quite different.

Research presented in the December 4, 2014 issue of Nature (click here) finds that, “employees of a large, international bank behave, on average, honestly in a control condition. However, when their professional identity as bank employees is rendered salient, a significant proportion of them become dishonest.”

I would love to hear what you think.  Are people more generally dishonest or specifically dishonest?  What are the implications for what to do about their dishonesty?  Please share what you think here.

My Qs — Agreements Based in Deficits

What happens when you lop off or collapse human beingness?  How does that influence the experience that person has?  The experience others have with that person?

Much of what we know about how people work comes from studying deficits, from studying the behavior of people who are missing something.  What happens when people, either by birth or through an accident, are missing specific parts of their brain?  How do they behave different than “normal” people, people who still have that part of the brain?  Researchers discovered that those people with the deficit could not feel certain things, or smell, or count.  Dr. Oliver Sacks has written some very approachable books on research in this area.  In essence, this huge body of research shows that people lacking something that most people have behave different than most people.

This deficit-based approach leads me to ask, what would happen to a human being that was closed off from their relationship to others?  To their own self?  To the group?  To nature? To spirit?  To the vibrant essence of being human?  Then I add on to this thought the experience of the agreements embedded in human interactions.  In many human interactions, we accept that it is okay to be closed off from these primary relationships.  In essence, we agree to having our human beingness lopped off, collapsed.  We agree to operate from a human beingness deficit.  Why?  Why would we ever want people we engage with daily to operate from a beingness deficit?  To operate from a state of being much less than they normally are?

Lots of recent research shows that this is quite normal in the workplace.  While some disagree with the high degree suggested in these findings, none disagree that it exists.  I suggest that this is a choice, a choice that most of us are unaware of, but a choice nonetheless.  Ecosynomics shows how to see the choice and choose a different agreement.

I would love to hear what you think.  Why do we lop off human beingness in our interactions?  What can do to engage the full human beingness sitting right in front of us?  Please share what you think here.

Show the World that Abundance Works

I invite you into a story, a story that you believe, that you want to see come true, and that you can help come true, starting now.

Here’s the story.  You prefer energy-enhancing experiences of abundance and high vibrancy, yet you accept the pervasiveness in your life of energy-depleting experiences of scarcity and low vibrancy.  A modern framing of age-old questions from economic, political, cultural, and social philosophy and practice shows why you accept this and how to shift your agreements, experience, and outcomes.  Our survey data from 91 countries, our work with 76 groups, and 10 years of research to put it all together have resulted in an emerging science of abundance we call Ecosynomics.  We find that groups that start from an assumption of abundance, versus the pervasive scarcity, sustainably achieve superior socio-economic impacts in their communities and in tangible outcomes.  We believe that, for everyone everywhere, vibrancy should be a choice.  Join us in finding out how and showing the world.

You can join us, right now, by:

An Integral View of Ecosynomic Agreements

Luz Maria Puente responded to my post “What questions do you have?“, suggesting “I think a good question would be to talk about the differences between integral model (Ken Wilber) and Ecosynomics, what do you think?”

An integral view of Ecosynomic agreements
Many of the followers of this blog might be familiar with the “integral” perspective of the American philosopher Ken Wilber. For those readers, there might be some confusion between the five primary relationships in the Ecosynomics framework and the four perspectives in Wilber’s Integral framework. This brief overview attempts to clarify differences in the two approaches and how the “integral” approach provides an additional tool with which to understand the experience of the five primary relationships.

To start with, I consider myself a student of Wilber’s brilliant work, and use it to deepen my understanding of what we are learning in Ecosynomics. In essence, Wilber has developed a perspective on the human experience, which shows that what may seem like divergent, conflicting perspectives of an experience are actually convergent, complementing perspectives. He does this through an “integral” framework that interweaves different perspectives and developmental levels in one framework, which has now provided deep insights in many fields of study.[1]

Relationships and perspectives
You experience vibrancy in your relationship to your own self, to others, to the group, to nature, and to spirit. To understand more deeply the experience we have of these relationships, we need a very brief, slightly technical detour. We approach our experience of the five primary relationships we have to our self, the other, the group, nature, and spirit, from two very different angles.

These two angles, known as relationship and perspective, seem very similar, yet they are not. For simplicity, we will distinguish between what we feel in the experience of our heart, body, and awareness and how we think about that experience. We experience with relationship and we think with perspectives. While this is an oversimplification of the rich ways we make sense of our world, it is useful to distinguish relationships from perspectives. Relationships allow us to see that we experience, directly, our self, the other, the group, nature, and spirit. We are born with this capacity of direct experience; everyone has it, and everyone can tell us what he or she is experiencing in each of these relationships.

There are also multiple perspectives one can take on how to understand our experiences in each of these relationships. For example, we can start with the experience of the relationship you have to your own self. Let us look at the four overall perspectives on that relationship. First, we can look at your own inner, subjective experience—what you inwardly see that nobody else can see. This is the realm of your beliefs about your own potential and your ability to step into your own gifts. Next, we can also look at your behaviors: what is outwardly, objectively observable about you and your relationship to your self. This is the realm of seeing how you actually treat your self. These first two perspectives are those you have of your self, as an individual.

These perspectives are also interwoven with the group’s perspectives. There is a cultural perspective, which is the inner, subjective perspective of how the group supports your relationship to your self. In this realm, the culture might be supportive of your continuous exploration of your own potential. Or perhaps, the culture might suggest that paying attention to your own self is a waste of time, and you should focus on others. And finally, there is an outwardly oriented, objective perspective of the structures and processes in the group that support or influence your relationship to your own self. In some groups, there exists a culture of developing your own potential that is supported by observable structures and processes, such as mentoring programs and training. However, in other groups, the structures and processes give incentives only to “get to work” and stop wasting time on frivolous navel-gazing. These are four perspectives, or four ways of making sense of your experience of the relationship you have to your self. We will now take an integral look at the agreements in all of the five primary relationships. We will start from an all-quadrants perspective, and then take a developmental, all-levels lens.

An “all-quadrants” view
There are multiple ways we tend to relate to our experiences of harmonic vibrancy, in general, and through the five relationships described above. Integral theory shows us that what may seem to be completely different experiences of each of the five relationships are indeed four different perspectives of the same experience. Here we use the word “perspective” to mean a way of seeing something. Ken Wilber suggests that we can look at human experience from: (1) either the individual’s or group’s perspective; and (2) either the inner, subjective or outer, objective perspective. By putting these two dimensions on two axes, he created the four quadrant model of perspectives.

Integral 012615 Fig 1

Each of these four perspectives (ways of seeing or understanding an experience) has a long and well-developed field of inquiry supporting its practice; and thus we can learn from these perspectives, by showing what each brings individually and collectively to more richly describe the experience of each of the five relationships, as shown in the table below.

In the first row, the inner-individual perspective sees the five relationships as different manifestations of the self: self-in-self, self-in-other, self-in-group, self-in-nature, and self-in-spirit. The outer-individual perspective, in the second row, is how an individual inwardly experiences the outer “it” of the five relationships: from one’s own body/head-mind for the self; to the heart-mind for the other; the gut and group-will for the group; life-force-awareness, the sense of balance and movement for nature; and finally to the subtle to causal energies for spirit. The inner-group perspective, often referred to as culture, expresses the support for: liberty for the self; equality and pluralism for the other; solidarity for the group; eco-balance for nature; and transcendence for spirit. The outer-group perspective, where the social systems and processes in place are a reflection of the group’s inner awareness, expresses itself as: free markets of creativity for the self; justice and rule of law for the other; cooperatives and central control for the group; ecosystems for nature; and religion-as-narrative for spirit.[2]

Table 1 012615 Table 1

This integral perspective of the five relationships shows us that there are different perspectives or ways of studying each relationship. Each of these perspectives comes from a very different discipline and brings very different insights. What is interesting for us, right now, is to start to see how they show us different perspectives on the same experience. For example, when different expert perspectives describe the relationship to one self, they highlight different aspects. Psychologists and spiritual teachers might focus on the self-in-self, while doctors and physical therapists might focus more on one’s own body, the mind as head, and specific behaviors. Sociologists might describe the same relationship from the culture of freedom that supports it, while economists might focus on the social structures and processes of free markets. These are all simply different ways of seeing, describing, and supporting the same phenomenon.

An “all-levels” view
The five relationships find very different expressions at different stages of ego-consciousness (see Table 2).[3] It remains an open question whether or not there is a direct correlation between a person’s predominant stage of ego consciousness and the level of harmonic vibrancy they experience in a group. Observation suggests there are many people with access to later stages who reside stably in scarcity-based worldviews, and that there are many people who act from earlier stages who reside in stable forms of abundance. What seems to be clear is that actively and stably accessing later stages allows for the choice and subtlety of what can be observed. Nonetheless, this remains an open question for research. I thank Susanne Cook-Greuter for a multi-year, continuing dialog that has helped me explore this question of whether access to later stages of ego consciousness ensures the ability to express higher levels of harmonic vibrancy for oneself and in one’s group, or whether it merely nurtures the possibility.


Level of Agreement Unitive BasedIronist(6th P) ConstructBasedAlchemist(5th P) ContextBasedStrategist(4th P) EconomicBasedAchiever(3rd P) RulesBasedDiplomat(2nd P)
Relationship to Self •Icontribute by seeing the beauty of all opposing and interdependent poles and accepting things as they are• I create original maps of time/space• I embrace paradox • Icontribute by making fluidheretofore inflexible boundaries/ definitions• I create integrated maps for action • Icontribute from my creative self, my highest gifts to all sentience as deeply as I can see them now• I create integrated maps for action• I contribute by seeing the beauty of poles and accepting things as they are • I do my best by working efficiently and effectively• I learn from practice/study• Icontribute from what I know and can do• I plan and receive feedback • I give from what I have• I will be given what I need to do my work• I work hard
Relationship to the Other • I see how you are me, I am you, and how we create each other, despite the uniqueness of our individual selves. We flow together in relationship• I am aware instantaneously of the ground for community that arises between us • I see the paradoxes and projections in our relationship and I learn about who I am by seeing you in me and me in you• I am aware of how together, we construct community • I accept and support your authentic expression in the world and expect you to grow and develop• I am aware of how I, you, and we benefit when we are healthy as a community• You and I grow through each other • You also need to work effectively and efficiently according to the plan, bringing the skills and capacities you have developed• I support you in your growth, and to contributing what you know and can do • You need to give of your best, according to what you have been given• You need to meet your obligations• I support you in working hard
Relationship to the Group • I see the perfection of the whole as it is, even in those parts that some might call imperfect,• The success of the whole and consciousness will occur in its own way as each being finds their own way home in the company of others • I see the limitations of the whole as a rigid entity and work towards a whole of one interconnected, though complex community on this earth• The success of the whole depends on the integration of disparate parts of the human family. • I believe the group is healthiest when you and Icontribute from our best expression• Our sustainable relationships generate sustainable value for our community • Our group success depends on everyone contributing their part effectively and efficiently• Our successis a function of how well weperform• We can create the world • We each do our part• If we each take on a part,thentherecan be enough for all of us• I trustthatthe whole will take care of all of us• We will work hard together 
Relationship to Nature Nature is the expression of consciousness and comes in many forms; the natural beauty of a forest, cities, the ocean, tsunamis, and every part of the Kosmos Nature is an expression of the paradoxical, complex and unpredictable; we can use it as a model for the whole, a great teacher Humans are an integral part of nature, treating it with love and respect, protecting and restoring it for future generations Nature is our servant, and as a resource, serves humanity’s needs to improve our future Nature is here to use up for our purposes and use is defined by my group
Relationship to Spirit I witness internal and external all- time/space and become the simple fluidity of life and the Kosmos as a free functioning human being I witness the fluidity and complexity of self and Kosmos in the moment, as it relates to immanence I witness my internal voices which lead me to my authentic deeper self • I reflect on my internal self, and become aware of my patterns• I choose the codes I live by I follow the moral code of action of my identified community


[1] The development and application of Ken Wilber’s framework can be found in his many books (I recommend that you start with Wilber, 2000) and the Integral Institute that he founded (http://www.integralinstitute.org).

[2] Through the four quadrant framework of perspectives, Wilber shows how the nature-nurture debate simply points at the nature (neurological, outer-individual) and the nurture (cultural, inner-collective) perspectives of the same experience (Wilber, 1998).

[3] These descriptions have emerged in work with Alain Gauthier, Terri O’Fallon, and Beena Sharma, to all of whom I am very grateful.

Dive Deeper into Ecosynomics — In-person Workshops in 2015

Deepen your work with Ecosynomics, the emerging science of abundance, in 2015, through in-person workshops.

Experience.  You will (1) meet others working around the globe with the abundance-based principles of Ecosynomics, (2) develop your capacity to work with abundance-based tools on a daily basis, and (3) engage in dialog with founders of the field of Ecosynomics.

Available workshops and dates.  To see the available workshops and to sign up now, click here.

Certification.  These workshops lead toward certification as an Ecosynomist, from Level 1 to Level 4.  Click here to learn more about the 4 levels of certification.

Free gifts.  When you sign up for an in-person workshop, you also receive, right now:

  1. a subscription to the overview e-course in Ecosynomics (a $94.99 value), full of readings, how-to videos, and audio interviews
  2. a signed, printed copy of the book Ecosynomics: The Science of Abundance (a $25 value)

Questions.  If you have any questions about the workshops or certifications, or you would like to host a workshop where you live, contact questions@vibrancyisachoice.com.