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

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) 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.

The Science of What You Know — Featureless Noise or Featureful Signal

You experience lower to higher vibrancy in your relationships — lower to higher harmony — energy killing to energy enhancing.  And you know this, somehow.  You also prefer the higher vibrancy, more harmonic, energy enhancing experience.  Our survey data from 93 countries show that you are not alone.  We all prefer this.  If we know this, then why do we accept lower vibrancy experiences?  This might be due in part to our unconscious acceptance of agreements we do not see.  Another factor might be simply that we do not know that what we are perceiving is information.  We might just think it is noise.

From information theory, scientists draw a useful distinction for us in this question, between signal and noise.  Signal is meaningful information and noise is not.  What we experience as “noise,” we consider to be featureless, lacking in distinctive characteristics.  What we experience as “signal,” we consider to be featureful, full of the characteristics we seek.

In conversations with hundreds of groups of people over the past ten years, I find that most of us tend to dismiss our experience of energy-depleting relationships, saying, “That’s just the way it is, isn’t it?”  I have heard this thousands of times, from groups all over the world.  What if this information, this experience you have, is a signal about something?  Lots of recent research suggests this information signals your acceptance of an agreement, whether you are conscious of it or not.

To see that what we tend to think of as noise with no features is actually a signal full of features, it is useful to know what features we are looking for, to be aware that our experience is telling us something.

Here is an exercise you can try.  What if that experience you have of lower to higher vibrancy in your relationships is a piece of information that you are sending yourself signaling whether you want to be in that agreement or not?  If you experience lower vibrancy, that might be how you signal to yourself that you do not want to accept the agreement.  If you experience higher vibrancy, you could be signaling to yourself that you accept the agreement.  What do you find that you are signaling to yourself?  Featureless noise — who cares — or featureful signal — you care.  It only takes a few minutes to try this exercise.  I invite you to share what you observe in this exercise in the Comments section here.

Why Agreements Are Hard to See or Why Agreements Are Like Sauerkraut and Bread

We have experiences.  Some we enjoy.  Some we don’t.  These experiences are interactions we have.  We interact with friends when playing a game, with colleagues when sitting in a meeting, with family when eating breakfast.  We have experiences of interactions.  There are rules or guidelines that influence how we interact during these experiences.  The rules of the game, the agenda and protocols for the meeting, the rules for eating at the table.

Someone set these rules.  Most of the time, we accept them.  Sometimes we do not.  When I ask people why they have experiences they do not enjoy, they tell me that they just have to, “That’s the way life is.”  Then they tell me that they have experiences they enjoy, because they can.  If we have experiences that energize us and those that don’t, why do we accept those that don’t?  Why do we accept agreements that we don’t enjoy, that deplete our energy?  I suggest four possible reasons why this happens: (1) because of the questions we ask; (2) that is what can be seen in low-vibrancy experiences; (3) it is developmental; (4) it is socially embedded.

The questions we ask

We tend to ask about what we want and how to get what we want.  I want to have fun and be financially secure — that is the what.  I get that by the experiences I have and the job I take — that is the how.  When we ask why we want to have fun and be financially secure, it quickly gets metaphysical — for my own better wellbeing — that is the why.  To be happy.  When I think about the structure in which I will do the how, I look at the constraints or the boundary conditions — what do I need to do to get the credentials that are required for the job I want.  If I want to change the experience of what I want — if it is not going the way I want — then I can change the how I go about getting it.  I can choose different experiences or a different job.  These choices often seem to be constrained by the boundary conditions — these are the friends I have nearby or it is hard to find another job.  This form of the why, what, how questions tends to box me in between the metaphysical why’s and the boundary conditions for my how’s.  Not much agreement there.

Another way to frame this would be to see that what I do is interact.  Why I interact is to have experiences and achieve outcomes — the journey and the destination.  How I interact is through agreements, the rules that guide our interactions.  If I want to change the consequences of my interactions, the experience and the outcomes, I can change the how, the agreements.

Maybe part of the difficulty in seeing the agreements we tend to unconsciously accept is because we ask (1) what we want, (2) how we get it, and (3) why we want that.  Maybe it would be easier to see the agreements if we ask (1) why I interact and (2) how I interact.  Interacting is what I do.

What we see in low-vibrancy experiences

Survey responses from 2,400+ people from around the world suggest that when we experience energy-depleting relationships, we tend to experience very little of our own self, being unseen and unappreciated by others who tend to focus on the outcomes, using the rules of how things are supposed to be done.  There is no creativity, no space for you to see or ask something new.  It is not surprising then that we tend not to see the agreements in those experiences. There is not enough energy available to see or ask for it.  This is the reality most people describe when asked in a recent global survey about their workplace.

This contrasts completely with the energy-enhancing experience, where I learn a lot about my self, developing with you and your support, with my own unique contributions being invited by the group, in a creative process of seeing possibilities and pathways for bringing them to life, experiencing creativity all around us.  In this space, it is much easier to see the agreements we have in our relationships with self, other, group, nature, and spirit.

Maybe part of the difficulty in seeing the agreements we tend to unconsciously accept is because we allow ourselves to experience low vibrancy relationships, most of the time.  Maybe it would be easier to see the agreements if we spent more time in higher vibrancy experiences.

It is developmental

As human beings, we are built to have experiences.  When we are still inside of our mother, we begin to become aware of our experiences through our senses.  We are born with the experiential orientation alive and well.  We are phenomenologically oriented beings — in the experience and in our awareness — from the start.

Over the first couple of decades of a human life, society works hard to educate us, to socialize us, so that we can become competent members of society, so that we can understand the rules of the game and how to play by them.  It takes quite awhile to become epistemologically oriented beings — understanding and knowing things.

Most of us are content with experiencing life, and knowing something about it.  Some of us are not, and we delve into the study of how the universe works.  What are the building blocks of reality?  How does it work?  How to design new realities.  Some people become philosophers of a field of inquiry, studying its deeper roots.  It usually takes a long time to become ontologically oriented beings, trying to understand what reality is.

Maybe part of the difficulty in seeing the agreements we tend to unconsciously accept is because, from birth we are oriented towards experience, and over the first two decades of life we also orient towards knowing, towards understanding how to be successful within the rules, not yet asking about the rules themselves.  Maybe it is hard to see agreements, because it is not part of experiencing and knowing.  Maybe it would be easier to see the agreements if we learned to explore how the universe works, asking why things seem to be one way, when they could be another.

It is socially embedded

The agreements about how we interact are influenced by what we have, who decides, who enforces, and what we value.  Lots of deeply embedded agreements, founded in millennia of evolution in our local understanding of bigger economic, political, cultural, and social questions. Agreements in any one of these realms are deeply interwoven with the others.  Why we play nice is deeply influenced by our cultural values, by the elders who tell us how to play, by the systems of enforcement if we don’t play right, and by the access some have to resources that others don’t.

Maybe part of the difficulty in seeing the agreements we tend to unconsciously accept is because the agreements have multiple, very complex facets that are really hard to see.  And, maybe it would be easier to see these agreements if we realized that economic, political, cultural, and social questions are not completely different things, rather they are four ways of understanding the same thing, the experience we have.  How much is there? Economics.  Who decides and enforces how we allocate what there is?  Politics.  What criteria are used to decide?  Culture.  How do we interact?  Social.

Maybe these are four different reasons why agreements are hard to see.  Maybe agreements are like sauerkraut or bread.  They seem hard to make, so most people buy them already made.  They are in fact very easy to make.  Cut up cabbage, add salt, mash it, add whey, cover it, wait 2 weeks.  Sauerkraut.  Very tasty, and easy to experiment with different flavors.  Bread is just as easy.

What do you see?  Please share your reflections with us in the Comments section here.

How Can We Manifest God-like Technologies within 600-year Old Institutions, Making Primitive Daily Choices?

While Homo lumens is constituted to manifest potential, most live within value-creating institutions, unconsciously accepting scarcity-based agreements (2014 Ecosynomics).  Why?  Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson suggests, “We have created a Star Wars civilization, with Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions, and god-like technology” (2012 The Social Conquest of Earth, 7).

Fig 1 062915a


What do you think?

Seeing Your Agreements in 37 Words — Choosing Them in < 3 Tweets

You interact to have experiences and to get results.  That is why you do what you do.  The agreements you consciously choose or unconsciously accept define how you interact.  Those agreements are based on embedded, interwoven assumptions.

Knowing this is happening, you can choose (1) how you interact (the agreements), (2) the experiences you have, and (3) the results you produce.  It is your choice.


Agreements->Interact 051115a

4 Scenarios of HUGE Success

Huge success is the game.  What rules of the game are you following?  And what resources are you playing with?  The perennial questions.

I observe four very different approaches to these questions, and few people realize that they are playing under one of these four very different scenarios.  The four scenarios vary by whether you are using the same or different resources and processes as the bulk of humanity and by whether you assume the same or different realities as the bulk of humanity, as shown in the figure below.

4 scenarios of processes and realities 040615a


“Best practice” followers (Q1). Is this you?  You might be a “best practice” follower if you use the same resources and the same processes that most everyone else does.  You look to see what others in your industry and in your local area are doing, and you take on their best practices.  You are always doing the best you can to keep up with the pack.  You probably provide good services and have good relationships with your suppliers and customers.  And, you are often worn out; fatigued from the constant demands on your time.

The common story describes the groups in this scenario as market followers, the somewhat-risk-averse majority of folks who take up new resources and processes once they have been proven by the innovators and early adopters.  The common recommendation is that these groups regularly benchmark themselves against best practices in the industry.

The Ecosynomic story describes groups in this scenario as living predominantly in the reality of outcomes, focused on improving the performance of the proven capacities they already have.  This is the things or noun level of reality.  Some groups in this scenario are also dipping their toes into the strange waters of the reality of development, learning, and capacity building.  Our research at the Institute for Strategic Clarity finds that this scenario describes the experience most people have in most organizations and communities.

What can you do if you are living the scenario of the “best practice” followers?  Ask yourself, “Is this the best experience and are these the best outcomes that I know are available to our group?  Are we capable of better?”  If you know, somehow, that your group is capable of more, you might explore the Harmonic Vibrancy Move process, which guides you to finding the processes and agreements that you prefer.

“Great” performers (Q2). You might be a “great” performer if you tend to be on the leading edge of innovating and adopting new resources and processes.  You are often described by others as being among the best at what you do, keeping ahead of the pack.  You are proud that you provide great services to your customers and have great relationships with your suppliers.  You often experience exhilaration at your many successes, while combating continuous burn out from always running on all cylinders.

The common story describes groups in this scenario as innovators and early adopters, pushing the edge and redefining how they play within the current game.  Many of these groups are described in the “great companies” categories of business journals and books.  They are finding much more effective and efficient ways to do their work.

The Ecosynomic story of this scenario describes groups that use different tactics in the same game.  They are looking for the leading edge, usually within the same sandbox, always asking, “How do we do this better?”

What can you do if this scenario describes your reality?  Would you like to push much further, achieving much better outcomes (the destination) and much better experiences along the way (the journey)?  You might explore the results and experiences people are having when they change the foundational rules of the game, playing with different realities than everyone else.

The “amazing” needy (Q3). You might be one of the “amazing” needy if you are a magnet for amazing people.  Everyone marvels about what you are able to do, who you are, and the principles that guide your life and work.  You have great relationships with almost everyone, from your customers and your fellow employees to your suppliers and others working in the same industry and region.  And, you always struggle to stay afloat.  You never have enough money.  Many people try to help you stay afloat by recommending processes or resources (“I know a great fundraiser.”) that you don’t feel are quite right for your culture, but you are not sure why.

The common story describes the groups in this scenario as inefficient at best, and just plain odd.  While these groups work hard to do some great work, they just don’t follow good practices, as evidenced by their consistent struggle to stay afloat.

The Ecosynomic story of this scenario suggests that groups in this scenario are operating, often unconsciously, from a completely different reality than the bulk of people.  They have embraced, for some reason, the realities of potential, development, and outcomes, all at the same time, giving great importance to healthy relationships in all five primary relationships (self, other, group, nature, spirit).  They have also accepted “common” practices for how people decide what resources they have, who decides how to allocate those resources and how to enforce that decision, the criteria used to allocate the resources, and how people interact.  These common practices usually limit the abundance-based culture you want to live into, capturing you in a scarcity-based process and experience.  In this scenario, we find many frustrated social entrepreneurs who don’t know there are others who have figured some of this out — how to live this culture from abundance-based practices.

What can you do if you are living this scenario?  By making explicit the deeper assumptions about reality embedded in your processes, you can see if they are aligned with the deeper assumptions in your culture.  If they are not, then you can use the Harmonic Vibrancy Move process to identify agreements, processes, and structures that others have discovered that do align with your abundance-based culture.

The “weird” mavericks (Q4). You might be one of the “weird” mavericks if you are extremely clear and persistently dogmatic about your vision for a better way of engaging in the world, with a heavy focus on developing and sustaining very strong relationships and outcomes.  You are often described, equally by those who know you and those who don’t, as a maverick, who won’t play by the rules of the game; a weird ruler breaker, who when successful has changed the entire game everyone else plays.  While you have great relationships, within your culture, you feel all alone in the world, without peers that recognize the seeming obviousness of what you are doing.

The common story is that people in this scenario are outliers, thus they don’t fit in the norm, and are discarded from normal analysis.  They are far from accepted practice.  Their practices look weird, and while they have proven to be lucky over and over again, they are not to be imitated.

The Ecosynomic story suggests that this scenario is not odd, weird, or lucky, rather that these people are discovering the new normal, the reality we all want to live and don’t see how.  Our research now shows that the reason these groups are hard to understand is because they are playing a different game, a game where you can sustain high levels of success in your outcomes and experiences.  We have documented over 20,000 groups living this way, right out in the open, and we have met 77 of them in the past five years.  It is not weird, it is different.  Different realities driving different resources and processes that lead to different outcomes and experiences, the outcomes and experiences we all want.

What can you do if this scenario is your reality?  In the 77 groups like this that we have met, most are quite unconscious of what it is that makes them so successful.  By looking at their own agreements through the four lenses of the Agreements Evidence Map, they have been able to consciously choose their agreements, and how they want to improve on them.

Radio interview with Orland Bishop on “Highlighting Peace”

Our colleague Orland Bishop was interviewed on March 16, 2015 on the radio station UBNRadio of the Universal Broadcasting Network, by Dr. Marissa Pei.  The topic was “Highlighting Peace with Season for Non-Violence award winner Orland Bishop.”

Find it at (  Share your reflections on Orland’s interview here.

The abstract for the show says, “Is violence part of human nature? Why do we continue to be at war in the name of bringing about Peace? Why don’t our prison systems rehabilitate? What belief systems keep us perpetrating the cycle of lack and limitation? Orland Bishop, founder of ShadeTree Multicultural Foundation uses principles of oneness and globalization to mentor youth to stay out of the juvenile system. When each individual knows that there’s one person out there who cares, and that there is an alternative to getting our needs met without taking from another, when we stop seeing the world in terms of what’s mine versus what’s ours…then we will be able to live in full freedom on the planet.”

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 what 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.

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.

A Tale of Two Scarcities

We suggest ecosynomics as a name for the emerging science of abundance.  By highlighting agreements based in abundance, it might seem to some that ecosynomics is in opposition to agreements based in scarcity.  This is not accurate.

Ecosynomics suggests that there is a bigger game that one can find through the perspective of abundance, and that scarcity plays a special role within that bigger game.  This means that when abundance is the starting point, one can find a special use for scarcity.  This does not work the other way around — one does not start from scarcity and find a special case for abundance.

Maybe a brief tale of two scarcities might help.  One scarcity is Nowhere.  The other is Now Here.  [Hat tips to Charles Dickens and Leslie Ritchie-Dunham for the inspiration and naming of this tale.]

The people of Nowhere assume scarcity is the ultimate truth.  In Nowhere, they say, “Just look around you, and you can see that there is not enough for everyone.”  They allocate resources based on systems designed from the sacred assumption of scarcity, which they call economics.

The people of Now Here assume abundance is the ultimate truth.  In Now Here, they say, “When you look around, you see the infinite potential all around you, and how you can relate to it over time.”  While they see infinite potential in what a resource could be, and a pathway for developing that potential over time, they also celebrate the sacred moment of the outcome, when the resource can be perceived as a scarce thing.  For them, it is this specific moment of the outcomes that makes the resources seem to be scarce.  Of all the possibilities that the energy could have been, in this moment it is that specific noun, that resource.  This is why the specific outcome is so sacred.

While in one world there is nowhere for potential, in the other it is now here.  The first assumes scarcity for everything all of the time.  The second perceives scarcity in the sacred moment of the specific outcome.  An assumption versus a perception — it makes all of the difference.