Regenerative Capacity: What It Is, Why It Is Critical, And Why You Care

Equity must be a central feature of regeneration.  And, equity work can be done in such a way that is degenerative. Diversity, inclusion, equitable involvement, and valuation are crucial to regenerative capacity, and regenerative approaches are key to equity, at the individual, inter-personal, organizational and larger systemic levels.

Regenerative capacity is the capacity to generate again.  To generate the resources needed for one’s system, from within one’s system.  High regenerative capacity means that the system generates all of the resources it needs for its own sustenance, from within the system.  Low regenerative capacity means that the system depends on external sources for its sustenance.

Regenerative capacity invokes capacity (the nouns we have), with which we can generate (the verbs we have), again and again, (from the potential we have) as we grow and learn.  While the capacity to work depends on our nouns, generative capacity depends on our verbs and nouns, and regenerative capacity depends on our potential, verbs, and nouns.  Regenerative capacity is qualitatively different than generative capacity or capacity alone, in that it requires continuous alignment of our potential, verbs, and nouns, as we evolve over time.  This continuous alignment of potential, verbs, and nouns requires full engagement of all of those people who are responsible for the potential, verbs, and nouns.  This full engagement requires equitable participation in the continuous alignment.

Why is equitable participation critical for the continuous alignment of potential, verbs, and nouns in regenerative capacity?  Let’s first clarify what equitable participation means, and then what happens when equitable participation is weak, medium, or strong.  Equitable participation requires inclusion, diversity, and equitable involvement.

Inclusion is having relational access structures to resources, being part of the set of relationships with structures of access to the definition of desired impacts in the community, to determining who is to be impacted by specific efforts, to the factors that are used to decide these impacts and what is learned along the way.  This is to be included, from the Latin for being made a part of.

Diversity considers the requisite voices, those who have the required unique contributions needed to serve the group’s deeper shared purpose.  Diversity considers the processes for how these unique voices make their contributions to the group, honoring what they each bring.  Diversity in the contributions needed, in determining what is of value to the community and how the value is to be generated and received.  This is diversity, from the Latin for turning different ways.

Equity is treating everyone equally, in how they are invited for and engaged with their unique contributions.  This is equity, from the Latin for being equal, treated fairly.

Through ISC’s global research in 125 countries and over two decades of experience in social change systems, we find that the degree of equitable participation determines the degree of regenerative capacity, and that these are both fundamentally determined by the strength of the system’s agreements field.

The system’s agreements field is a whole, a whole that one experiences as a unity, a whole that includes the system’s deeper shared purpose, how it engages people in that purpose, in their unique contributions, in the creative energy their connection and service releases into the system, in the agreements of structures and processes that work with the potential, development, and outcomes in that engaged creative energy, in the ways that the system’s structure transforms that creative energy into the energy of products and services that other stakeholders value and desire, in the resilience of the systems in its capacity to generate access to the resources it needs for this purpose.  These are the dimensions of an agreements field, in how it engages and transforms energy into an energy that it transfers to others.  These dimensions and their levels within a specific system reflect the choices the people in the system make, either unconsciously accepting someone else’s agreements or consciously choosing their own agreements.

The strength of the system’s agreements field directly determines the degree of equitable participation it is capable of, and the level of regenerative capacity it can manifest.  A weak agreements field is degenerative, destroying or extracting value.  A strong agreements field is regenerative, creating and regenerating value.  This is why the strength of the agreements field is so critical to equitable participation and regenerative capacity, it shows where the choice points are.

The following table highlights the difference in low, moderate, and high agreements field strength for the harmonic generated from the synergy of the unique contributions, the basis of the economic power, the leadership’s focus, what is valued in the culture, the forms of equity, and what people understand by regeneration.

  Low AF Strength Moderate AF Strength High AF Strength
Harmonic remains unexpressed in counterspace (E3=0.0) expresses E3<1.0 in experience expresses E3=1.0 in experience
Economic-power basis resource power network power tangibilization power
Leadership focus (political lens) “the book” – one voice, of the founder processes of voice inclusion, to the best we can, for now (2-3 primary relationships) what I/you/we want and commit to for us
Cultural lens Value extraction Value creation Value regeneration
Social lens Coordination in value-exchange gesture Cooperation Collaboration
Equity form “hard,” difficult, at best, lacking AF to engage and transform works sometimes, in pockets “normal” part of who we are
“Regeneration” = embedded resource-extraction structures EFA explicit processes of resource co-generation transparent resource-regeneration structures EFABCD

When a system is able to generate a sustainable net positive flow of resources in the system, meaning that more is flowing in than is flowing out, the system is more resilient in its regenerative impact.  This net positive flow requires equitable participation.  The key inflow, whether it is revenues or other required resources, is determined by the value perceived from those who receive the value generated by the system, which requires a clear and continuous relationship with them to understand what they value.  This is the degree of impact of the system.  The key outflow, in some form of costs, is determined by the responsible ownership of the people who make up the system.  As the system grows and ages, unattended costs tend to rise, unless people are creative and responsible in the ways they work with the outflows, continuously learning how to improve the value generated from resources more efficiently.  Responsible ownership of all stakeholders within the system requires authentic participation, access, transparency, and communication.  Finally, the ability to maintain a net positive surplus of inflows less outflows requires resilience, the ability to shift with changes in the context over time.  This resilience requires that the existing elders and powerholders work closely with the emerging and rising leaders, all four generations, building on what has been learned, is happening today, is emerging soon, and will live on in the distant future.  These three ingredients of net positive flow—the inflows, the outflows, the ability to continue to generate a surplus—highlight the critical nature of equitable participation.

The weak agreements field is a system of embedded resource-extraction structures.  As examples, in the USA, we have the 2008 too-big-to-fail banking bail out.  In Europe, we have the residual artifacts of global colonialism.  In Africa, we have traditional aid examples from the IMF and the World Bank.

The moderate strength agreements field is a system of explicit processes of resource co-generation.  In the USA, we have town meeting in New England.  In Europe, we have the BUILDUPON initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the building stock by 50% in the next 25 years, across all member states of the European Union.  In Africa, we have the Bokaap initiative to generate its own electricity, food, and water, creating independence from the national grid.

The strong agreements field is a system of regeneration as transparent resource-generation structures.  In the USA, we see RE-AMP and EAN VT, where states have taken on sovereignty of their own energy future, moving towards 90% self-generation by 2050.  In Europe, Renovate Europe has integrated the legal structures to support “nearly net zero” building standards for the whole EU, drastically reducing energy consumption.  In Africa, the SHIRE Alliance in Ethiopia developed local innovation ecosystems for the self-generation of electricity, run and maintained by the local community.

Regenerative capacity is the capacity of a system, of a group of people, to generate its own life-sustaining energy, a key proxy of its resilience.  Equity is a critical part of that equation.  A system’s regenerative capacity is reflective of the strength of its agreements field, which means that it is a matter of choice.  A choice of inclusion, diversity, and equity.  Your choice.

A hat tip to my colleague Curtis Ogden for inspiring this reflective exploration of regenerative capacity.

Huge Hygge — Recommended Reading

Russell, Helen. The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country. London: Icon Books, 2015.

Hygge.  Danish for something cozy, charming, or special.  It is also the art of creating intimacy.   Author Helen Russell explores how hygge might be one of the secrets of Denmark’s perennial position in the top ranks of the happiest countries.  To understand her experience, over a year-long journey of living in Denmark, she shares many funny anecdotes of her daily life, and she uses her journalistic skills to meet and interview Danish experts in the many aspects of daily life that she explores.

She uncovers widespread attention to the environment one creates in one’s home, to being comfortable on one’s own, to being honest with and supportive of others, to respecting and supporting the many contributions people can make to society, to the creative process and getting feedback about what one is learning, and to celebrating the creativity that is everywhere, if one looks.  In ecosynomics terms, these are co-hosting the five primary relationships.  The global Agreements Health Check survey (from 124 countries) shows that as people get better at co-hosting the five primary relationships, they experience greater vibrancy, more hygge.  I highly recommend this fun, well written discovery of the secrets of living vibrantly every day, even where it is very cold.

Energy Innovation Ecosystems in Rural Mexico

Acuña, Francisco, Guillermo Cedeño, Ramon Sanchez, Leith Sharp, John Spengler, and James Ritchie-Dunham. “Energy Innovation Ecosystems in Rural Mexico.” ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America XVIII, no. 1 (2018): 108-09.

This recently published article describes a very vibrant initiative, bringing innovative energy ecosystems to rural Mexico.  To understand the wild success of the initiative, the Institute for Strategic Clarity was invited to use the Agreements Evidence Mapping tool to understand what happened.  In essence (see figure below), by connecting (1) the low perceived value and social impact rural universities with (2) the moderate perceived value and social impact of the rural communities, (3) the academic knowledge and global network of Harvard, with (4) financial capital, they were able to generate a high perceived value and social impact energy innovation ecosystem.

Initially the rural universities are resource poor, providing theoretical, technical education with low practical social impact because of underemployment of graduates, locally. Initially the indigenous communities are rich in social capital, and poor in the financial and intellectual capital to exploit their wealth in natural capital.  The Harvard Applied Leadership in Renewable Energies Program engaged rural universities and local indigenous communities throughout Mexico, where 286 university professors and researchers proposed innovation ecosystems for 93 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that were developed and funded (e.g., wind in Oaxaca and biodiesel in Sinaloa).

A documentary and casebook detail the whole project, and the subsequent social and economic potential impact of these projects, including 953.3 MW of wind energy, 512 MW of installed capacity of photovoltaic energy, 1.36 MW of biomass electricity, 40 million liters of ethanol/year, 7.2 million liters of biodiesel/year and 9 million liters of bio-jet fuel/year. This program proved that shifting away from centralized-only thinking with low ROIC, for high-impact, economically-resilient, national renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Mexico, think massively local innovation ecosystems with a much higher, more resilient, and more equitable ROIC.  This model of social innovation is particularly relevant in the multitude of countries facing rapid rural-to-urban migration in part because of investment inequities.  The project leaders are meeting now with Mexico’s ministers of economy and social development to replicate this.

Acknowledgements.  This project includes dozens of rural, indigenous communities in Mexico, over 100 rural Mexican universities with 286 of their faculty, the Mexican Secretariat of Energy, global investors led by InTrust Global Investments LLC, and the Center for Health and the Global Environment in the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University.

 

When 10×10=1,000,000 — 4 Examples of Coupling Social and Technical Innovation

People continuously develop amazing technical innovations: urban agriculture; CRISPR; drones, blockchain; electric cars; work on Mars; language translation.  On all fronts, technology is bringing more abundant solutions.  On a scale of 1 to 10, these technical innovations are 10s.

People also continuously come up with social innovations: crowdsourcing; online platforms; sociocracy; hubs;; sacred hospitality; innovation labs; global action networks.  People are experimenting everywhere with ways to interact more abundantly.  On a scale of 1 to 10, these social innovations are 10s.

While these technical innovations and these social innovations are 10s, bringing 10X impacts to the problems they address, they are small compared to the 1,000,000X solutions people are finding when they combine the two: technical and social innovations.  Something very interesting is happening in this space where people are coupling technical and social innovation.  As part of the Global Initiative to Map Ecosynomic Deviance and Impact Resilience, we are very exited about these coupled innovations, finding more of them, and learning with them about what they are doing.  Here are four cases we have found.

  1. Innovation Ecosystems in Mexican Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency.  Technical innovations in energy and finance.  Social innovations in connecting innovation ecosystems.
    • Equitable engagement of the natural and social capital of rural indigenous communities in Mexico with global financial, social, and environmental metrics, and intellectual capital leads to: (1) large-scale carbon emission reduction through renewable energy and energy efficiency; (2) equitable access to energy efficiency and renewable energy; and (3) locally generated economic wealth.
    • See the documentary of this initiative that engaged 286 university professors and researchers from rural universities and local indigenous communities throughout Mexico, leading to 93 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
  2. Fostering Local Wellbeing in South Africa.  Technical innovations in complementary currencies and youth video documentaries.  Social innovations in building local capacity to develop an evolving collective narrative through youth ambassadors and videography, coupled with locally controlled complementary currencies to fund local wellbeing.
    • A two-year long, University of Cape Town African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) research project that took place in two South African municipalities – the Greater Kokstad Municipality in KwaZuluNatal, and the Bergrivier Municipality in the Western Cape, from August 2014 – September 2016. The project engaged out-of-work, out-of-school local youth – the FLOW Ambassadors – to build both individual and community capacity to thrive and innovate in the face of the growing challenges of climate change, resource depletion and inequality.
    • See many of the videos describing this journey in two townships.
  3. Global Anti-Corruption Coalition.  Technical innovations in measuring corruption and in national anti-corruption, pro-transparency policies.  Social innovations in interweaving global policy and attention with local action, across 120 countries, giving a voice to the people seeing corruption and to those affected by corruption.
    • Fighting corruption around the world since 1993.  “We’ve fought to put in place binding global conventions against corruption. We’ve held governments and companies to account, exposing the corrupt and dodgy deals (saving more than US$2 billion in the Czech Republic alone). We’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people to take a stand” (https://www.transparency.org/impact).
    • See an Impact Report describing many examples of how people are changing the global discourse and outcomes around corruption, one place at a time.
  4. Portable Solar-Powered Stoves.  Technical innovations in light-weight, solar-powered cookers.  Social innovations in giving free-energy, portable cooking to the global poor, in dozens of countries.
    • Saving lives from indoor toxic smoke from stoves with solar-powered, portable stoves that cost nothing in fuel to run.
    • See videos about the innovations.

Four examples of massively impactful interventions, coupling technical and social innovations to have a much larger impact, orders of magnitude larger.  These technical-AND-social innovators are discovering that either innovation alone–only technical or only social–is not enough.  Coming up with a great technical innovation that stays within the previous social form tends to have only local and limited success in transformative impact resilience.   Likewise, a social innovation in how people interact with the same technology also tends towards the 10X impacts: far less than the impact resilience available when there is an innovation in the what, who, how, why, when, and where–in the technical and the social dimensions.  Innovations where 10X x 10X can equal 1,000,000X.

Guest Post — Co-hosting a National Conference on Healthy Community

Guest post by Annabel Membrillo JimenezGlobal Steward Vibrancy Ins

A group of colleagues and I recently co-hosted a national gathering of Anthroposophical initiatives in Mexico, working directly with the choosing of human agreements, for the individual and the community, deeply informed from the ecosynomic view of social three-folding. This is part of a larger Global Initiative supported by the Institute for Strategic Clarity and its co-investors in universities, communities, and organizations in 12 countries. The gathering was a continuum of the 2016 gathering exploring social three-folding. In the attached 7-page briefing of the gathering (click here), I explore:

  • the story behind the manifestation
  • the inspiration for the design
  • why it was ecosynomics
  • how it was anthroposophical
  • the flow of the experience
  • the organizing team nurturing the experience

 

Guest Post — Prototyping an Abundance-based, Virtual, Learning Environment

Guest post by Annabel Membrillo JimenezGlobal Steward Vibrancy Ins

Inspired to design a prototype of an abundance-based, virtual, learning environment, a question came to me.  How could I expand the opportunities to nourish and grow the potential of the Vibrancy community through building capacity and understanding?  The exploration went from an inventory of knowledge to a pre-design of what would be inside multiple levels of understanding.  But, that did not seem like it was enough.  More questions emerged about how to design similar environments for other abundance-based.

The exploration went from a possibility to a probability when the UMA (Universidad del Medio Ambiente in Valle de Bravo, Mexico) opened the door to hold this program within the university’s virtual platform. So, in that moment the support of a university that had both a very well designed virtual platform and a beautiful campus that could support this prototype came into the picture.

So, what happened? The next question arose: How to build a virtual learning environment that could nourish the space for building deep understanding of what it means to co-host transformations?  And, to be more ambitious, how could that be scaled in a relatively easy way in a second iteration? We did not really know if this would interest people, although an attractive feature for the potential participants was that at the end they would receive a diploma from the UMA and the certification from the Vibrancy community.

The design is a journey of six months with a deep focus on experience and application to real cases. Half of the 110 hours required the participants to make applications, reflections, exercises and integration of learnings in documents. Six months seems to be a fair amount of time to build up maturity of knowledge, and give the opportunity to implement and apply tools and exercises in real case studies with real communities. Seeing this as a possibility for scaling globally, I decided to launch it in a mostly virtual format.

And then more and more questions arose; questions around how to build understanding about the what, how and when of the application of the tools and methodologies. But that was a dispassionate purpose for me, and I felt that there was not real aligned with the intention of the first question I was asking. So, I kept on asking myself what was the specific purpose for this prototype. And then, it came to me: the purpose was “to be at the service of each participant to become more of who they really are.” That purpose holds the first intention, for me, unleashing the potential of the Vibrancy community in its ability to unleash the potential of humanity, unleashing each person’s potential for holding the abundance framework every time they choose. In that moment, I knew everything was ready and in place for this to happen because I saw something I could dearly commit to.

So far I can see two very different sets of learnings: one about the design phase to manifest the program; and the second about the first two months of the journey.

For the design phase, I want to share two things I learned:

  1. Sit in the question to clarify the different levels of the purpose. I went from the purpose of how to expand the capacity of the Vibrancy community to the purpose of being at the service of each participant’s potential. Each purpose is perfectly fine for the level they were thought of, one was at the level of a global question and the other was at the level of the specific design of the prototype. Both are important and both are relevant for the conversations that are already happening and the ones that will be happening for the exploration of the next expression of this prototype.
  2. Be conscious of the endless journey through the O Process. Going from the purpose to possibilities and probabilities felt different when I was moving more and more into the concrete expression for a specific prototype. I knew that the more detailed levels of the purpose are invoking a bigger gesture for the bigger question and that made me hold the purpose with a different awareness.

In the first two months of the journey, here is what I have learned so far:

  1. Be very clear about the invitation. This was an invitation to explore this journey together.  All participants in the journey know that it is the first one in this format and completely in Spanish.  They also know that the invitation requires several hours of self-study, application and reflection besides the virtual and face to face session.
  2. Be conscious of what you are invoking and invite each participant to do the same. Do not be afraid to share the deeper purpose!
  3. Use the sense of harmony, intensively. The design of each session calls for a very active listening from me, with all my senses, and being able to design each session with what is emerging. Do not misunderstand me. I have a lot of clarity about the purpose and about what they need to learn, but I have discovered and learned how to flow with the rhythm of the group to introduce concepts, exercises and challenges at the pace they can take on, depending on what they are sharing in their individual assignments.
  4. Hold us all as Homo lumens. I can see each one of them as Homo lumens with enormous potential. I am amazed with the group and who they are.  And, I see myself as someone who can hold the space for them to explore their own potential.
  5. Live it as a constant prototype. The space is co-designed, co-built, and co-hosted together. This has happened in two levels: 1) with others that want to be in the conversation of how to explore environments for building understanding; and 2) using the sense of harmony I shared before.
  6. Design the assignments as a key for the virtual space. I have spent a lot of time imagining the kind of experience I would like them to have between sessions and what kind of assignment would be just enough to stretch them a little bit each time. I am the vehicle designing the underlying structure, the participants are taking up the heavy lifting, through their will, into the doing. One of the participants shared that they needed to do an exercise of honesty with themselves to really get into the assignments, and that is not easy sometimes.

So far, the journey has been delightful. We have been together for 14 hours in virtual sessions, and I am impressed with the pace of the group. Some of them are getting to very deep reflections that we never saw before in such a short time. Some of them are already venturing into actively working with specific tools and methods in different groups.  We are all already looking forward to being together in person at the end of the six months. There is already a feeling of being close to each other. At the end, they will write up case studies and they will synthetize what they have learned in their applications, and I am curious to see how this will happen.

You can enter into a little piece of the concrete prototype design through the PDF presentation, where you can find the timeline and the sharing of some of the reflections the participants are having together. I will be sharing more reflections about the journey along the way, so stay tuned.

Agreements of Transformation — Research with 22 Leaders Across 18 Countries

This blog highlights insights from research into the agreements of transformation.  This research with 22 people across 18 countries on 3 continents was supported by the Institute for Strategic Clarity and the UBA, the German Environmental Protection Agency.

CONTEXT

Individuals and groups in different cultures face situations of change in fundamental agreements on a daily basis, addressing complex and large-scale social issues, as well as daily dysfunctional interactions.  We wanted to understand and describe why people respond to these issues by taking on societal-scale transformations, and how they do it.

THE RESEARCH

A team of interviewers at the Institute for Strategic Clarity invited 22 professionals from around the globe who met a diverse set of criteria to be interviewed for and engage in this research project.

•We asked them to “Reflect on a situation, of which you have been part, where you experienced a change at a fundamental level and basic assumptions in a group (e.g. institution, organization, network) or your area of impact (field, industry, sector, region etc.)?“

•Transformation is defined as: “Involving structural changes and shifts in systemic as well as underlying assumptions in order to change how the components in a system relate to one another, thus achieving fundamental change in relationships, systems boundaries, governing variables, actions and strategies as well as outcomes and consequences.“

METHOD

The team, led by Christoph Hinske, engaged 22 practitioners in a 60-minute, semi-structured, dialog-based, expert interview.  The interviews were then analyzed with narrative-based agreements evidence map to find agreements in a simple but robust way in the practices, structures and processes described during the interviews.

PRELIMINARY RESULTS

The interviewees indicated that they achieved transformation by starting with an assumption of abundance of resources, creating experiences of higher vibrancy, and organizing in a way that they achieved greater harmony in their interactions with others.

  • “Conversation partners shared that money and other resources were often perceived to be limited, but never as scarce.“
  • “Decisions and enforcements (un)consciously strengthen the primary relationships.“
  • “People are in such processes because they want to exponentially increase what they value most.“
  • “Societal scale transformation is a journey into the unknown, framed by a ‘psychologically safe’ support structure, in which members enable each other to find ways to walk into the future they see together.”

You can find out more about the research and its findings in the following sources: 

Guest Post — Inviting the Co-hosting of a Harmonic

with Conor Ritchie-Dunham, singer songwriter, composer, and lead guitar and vocals in The Contradictions

Many of you who follow this blog lead groups of people taking on deeper levels of collaboration, working through the challenges of experiencing a deeper harmonic while embracing ever-more challenging issues. We know that this harmonic reflects the behavior of a group, and who we are being as leaders. While we talk a lot about this harmonic in our community, I realized that I have direct access to a couple of people who know a lot about generating a harmonic, in music. Having the fortune to experience great amounts of music in my home, created most often by my daughter and son, I was talking with my son Conor this past week about the art and science of generating a harmonic in one’s own music, and what it takes to generate the enlivening experience of a harmonic in music with any audience. Conor shares his experience in inviting the co-hosting of a harmonic in the rest of this blogpost.

In preparation for a performance, it is the artist’s responsibility to generate a space for the harmonic. We cannot create a harmonic, just as we cannot make someone love us. But we can create the conditions in which that harmonic has ample opportunity to arise. In hosting a dinner party, for example, we cannot simply tell our guests to have a good time. We must learn from our past positive dinner-party experiences, replicate those conditions, pay close attention to how the experience goes, and learn from there. In seeking a good experience for our guests, we hope to generate an environment where they have ample opportunity to feel comfortable, satisfied, entertained and included in a sense of companionship.

As musicians we seek many of the same factors in preparing for a performance. We wish for our audience to be comfortable: In a comfortable venue that is suitable for the type of performance at hand, and which promotes the experience we wish the performance to give. (A large stadium for awe and wonder, or an intimate poetry café for trance-like introspection.)

We wish for our audience to be satisfied: Having a performance of appropriate length so that it is long enough that they feel the event was worth their money, yet short enough so as not to bore. Ordering the songs so that there is enough dynamic and emotional variance throughout the performance to keep it interesting. Proper attention paid to the sound equipment and acoustics of the space so that sound quality complements the performance.

We wish for our audience to be entertained: That the music itself is of quality, the performances are impressive, authentic, passionate and tell a story, and that any other factors of the performance such as light show, scenery or choreography do their part to aide the emotional effect of the performances.

We also wish for our audience to feel included in a sense of companionship. Concerts of certain styles are often self selecting in the type of person they attract, but it is the co-host and artist’s job to make them feel welcome. Personal, authentic interaction with the audience, which shows leadership and command, yet gratitude and humbleness is a must.

With experience, the performer, like the co-host, can learn to consistently generate and maintain an environment where a powerful harmonic can thrive, and where it can continue to live in the hearts of those who experienced it long after the final dish is served and the final note is played.

In order to co-host a harmonic, I have learned that I must first authentically feel that harmonic within myself. As a performer, I find it helpful to solidify a pre-show routine that will reliably foster that harmonic in me. After a full-body stretch and a vocal warm-up, I go to a dark corner, close my eyes, and meditate, focusing on releasing nervous energy and connecting to my emotional core. I know the performance begins the moment I step on stage. So these preparations allow me to set the atmosphere of the performance before I even begin the first song. When performing with others, I will extend this pre-show routine to include them. After I have fostered the harmonic in myself, I will bring it to them, perhaps by holding hands and saying a blessing, cheer, or singing a song. When we are connected and ready, we can step on stage and bring that harmonic to the audience.

 

Scaling Impact — What We Are Learning from BUILD UPON Cambridge, Madrid, and Brussels

In this 4th of a series of 4 blogposts, we share what we are learning, as co-investors with BUILD UPON and the European Climate Foundation, about: (1) co-hosting collaboration; (2) realizing the deeper shared purpose; (3) measuring impact resilience; and (4) scaling impact.

SCALING IMPACT

In BUILD UPON, we are working regionally, as Europe, across 28 member states, and within each member state.  We have spent the last two years working with thousands of stakeholder groups who influence the building renovation, renewable energy, and energy efficiency industries, across geographic, economic, political, cultural, and social diversities.  To scale the impact of all of this local, national, and regional work, we saw that six steps were necessary.  

“What it means to renovate the entire building stock. It means comfort.  It means better housing, more energy security. It means engagement.  We need to get industry stakeholders, policy makers, finance, all together, and that needs to be sustained over time.”

Celine Carre, Saint-Gobain

First, we need to identify the one, unifying deeper shared purpose that would bring us together to collaborate across all of these diversities.  We achieved a next step towards this with our Common Vision, developed with 100+ stakeholder representatives in Madrid, described in the earlier blogpost “Realizing the Deeper Shared Purpose.”

BUILD UPON social network analysis, EU member states

Second, we need to gather the people together, around this deeper shared purpose.  People who are committed to shifting the economic, environmental, health, and social impacts of energy and buildings in Europe.  We have a critical mass of those people engaged in BUILD UPON, ready to move forward together.

Third, thousands of positive deviants are figuring out many of the parts of this, within their own specific cultures.  We need to identify them, study them, and showcase them, so that others at the local, national, and regional levels can learn from and with them about their technical and social innovations.

Fourth, we need to gather with each other and learn from each other, taking advantage of the many platforms for learning with and from each other that already exist, are gaining broad support, and are evolving and maturing.

Fifth, we are now clear that through collaboration, we can achieve far more together than we can alone or through simple cooperation—more, in the same places, at the same time, regionally, nationally, and locally.

Sixth, we have already begun to experience the very tangible impacts and greater resilience of co-hosting this collaboration together.

So, now we are focusing simultaneously on regional, national, and local-level efforts, highlighting what we are learning about (1) our best efforts everywhere, (2) local positive deviants, (3) how to share insights across professional, industrial, geographic, and linguistic cultures, and (4) coming across with a simple and effective measurement system that allows us to focus on the impacts we want to generate and to track the collective effort at the same time we capture feedback to improve local and national initiatives.  We have to, because we agree that it is important to achieve our social impacts, and to achieve them we see clearly that we must collaborate.

We thank our colleagues at the European Climate Foundation (ECF), the BUILD UPON team, the co-hosts (link to previous blog in series on “co-hosting collaboration), the Madrid participants, the Institute for Strategic Clarity, and Vibrancy—all co-investors in this process together.

Measuring Impact Resilience — What We Are Learning from BUILD UPON Cambridge, Madrid, and Brussels

In this 3rd of a series of 4 blogposts, we share what we are learning, as co-investors with BUILD UPON and the European Climate Foundation, about: (1) co-hosting collaboration; (2) realizing the deeper shared purpose; (3) measuring impact resilience; and (4) scaling impact.

MEASURING IMPACT RESILIENCE

The potential we see.  With a shared deeper purpose that brings many diverse stakeholders together, across many countries and industries, the BUILD UPON effort is now ready to ground this abstract purpose, making it a daily reality for all of these stakeholders, showing how they can work together, from their own worlds, in achieving something bigger, locally, nationally, and regionally.  Measurement can support that grounding process, by clarifying:

  1. what we mean by our shared purpose, in very specific terms
  2. how we plan to achieve our purpose, with the unique contribution of each of our efforts
  3. how we can identify and highlight what we are each learning in the development of technical and social innovations

In many organizations, we measure because we are expected to measure, and we manage to the measures.  The reason to measure and manage to the measures is given, by someone else.  While the apparent simplicity of some measures might make them seem straightforward, they rarely are.  For example, profits are revenues minus costs.  For more profits, increase the revenues and decrease the costs.  Simple, until the methods for increasing revenues increase costs faster, or the ways to decrease costs also decrease revenues, such as lower product or service quality.  Or, to decrease the environmental impact of buildings, increase the number of renovated buildings, by increasing demand.  You can do this by making people do it through regulations or by making it cheaper to do through subsidies.  Simple, until the regulations make the technologies much more expensive or the subsidies outpace the supply.

From an impact resilience perspective, we are looking for a more systemic understanding that integrates the multiple stakeholder perspectives on the impacts we are trying to achieve.  With this integrated perspective, we can measure a systemic set of indicators that let us know how resilient we are in achieving our systemic set of impacts.  

To compensate for a lack of clarity of what we are trying to achieve amongst many stakeholder perspectives, we tend to believe that lots of measurement — lots of variable and lots of data — shows that we are very serious.  We measure dozens to hundreds of key performance indicators (KPIs).  To measure lots of variables, we tend to focus on easier to measure variables that are often means to an unspecified, higher-order purpose of the whole effort.  We also leave measures of creativity and collaboration out of the equation, since they seem hard to measure, yet they are critical to the generative processes of creative collaboration.

In the development of a scorecard for impact resilience, we look for a small set of measures that cover the higher-order impacts we want, the strategic areas we want to impact, and the processes that leverage our impact.  While this small set of 10-15 measures can be supported by more detailed reports, specifying how they were achieved in more detail, we want to focus on the most strategic variables and our narrative—our theory of impact resilience—of how they all fit together.  We want to use proxies that directly let us know how we are doing on the strategic variables.  In the impact resilience scorecard, we attempt to do this.

“Committing to measuring process, strategic, social impacts on local, national, international levels would allow the stakeholders joining multilevel collaborative platforms to see the whole and the meaning of their (and others) contribution, but also to improve the way those platforms can work together and, so, achieve greater impact. Sharing simple, meaningful proxies, would allow necessary flexibility, and to get a clear sense of the final purposes all over a complex group of groups. Moreover, and crucially, learnings from best practices could grow geometrically with the network’s dimensions, increasing the ability to be effective, and resilient over time.”

— Sebastiano Cristoforetti, International and Certification Manager, GBC Italia

What we might do.  To assess social, strategic, and process impacts across Europe, at the local, national, and regional levels simultaneously, we can develop a coherent set of a few measures that we can track to identify the common impacts and the specific innovations happening at each level.  As we saw in an earlier blog in this series [link to blogpost “Realizing the Deeper Shared Purpose,”] we developed a draft “Common Vision” with a wide-ranging group of stakeholders across the energy efficiency, renewable energies, and building renovation communities.  The following systems map captures the key elements of that Common Vision, showing how they all fit together (see the blogpost “Realizing the Deeper Shared Purpose” for a description of the systems map).

As these collaborative-process efforts drive the strategic areas and subsequently the social impacts, the growing demand and supply for renovation drives a scaling factor that accelerates social and technical innovation.  Having the clarity of the purpose we share and the dynamics of our system, we can focus the measurement scorecard on the critical variables that express the impacts we want to achieve together.

To measure these social, strategic, and process impacts, we can simplify the work of BUILD UPON into 12 high-level metrics, which can then be supported with detailed metrics, showing systemically how they influence each of the high-level impacts.

The metrics in an Impact Resilience Scorecard, exemplified in the figure above, highlight the social, strategic, and process impacts of a system that leads to greater resilience of the renovation system, at the local, member state, and European levels.  Proxies for each impact measure are provided, which could also include current levels and agreed-upon target levels.

After being exposed to this systemic and high-impact approach to measuring individual and collective success, the participants were asked to reflect on, “What would I need to know and share to fully step up and invest in the future we started to see together?”  The participants shared the need for more knowledge on positively deviating behavior of other members, to be able to increase their own success. Furthermore, they highlighted the importance of continuing the conversation on a strategic level to support their ability to increase their impact and strengthen their resilience. See movie footage here of what they shared.

What could happen.  Much greater collaboration is possible, and it means that the many stakeholders involved in energy efficiency, renewable energies, and building renovation have to see the value in it.  It has to become more than a nice exercise; it has to be interwoven into their ability to succeed individually and together. Collaborative impact is a simple choice, not a complicated option.  A choice we can make every day.  Like the groups we are finding around the world, members of BUILD UPON too can choose their experience and the outcomes they  achieve.

We thank our colleagues at the European Climate Foundation (ECF), the BUILD UPON team, the World Green Building Council, the co-hosts, the Madrid and Brussels participants, the Institute for Strategic Clarity, and Vibrancy—all co-investors in this process together.