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 — Consciously Choosing Abundance-driven Agreements

by Christoph Hinske, ISC Contributing Fellow, and Eyal Drimmer, Certified Vibrancy Guide

You can download a PDF of this blogpost here.

 

Abundance and Scarcity-Driven Agreements

The problem with most agreements is that we don’t see them.  They just are.  Most often we are not aware that what is happening around us is based on an agreement that one could potentially change.  It seems that life is “just that way.” In our day-to-day interactions, either at work or at home, we are engaging in a set of agreements and relationships, whether we realize it or not.  Sometimes the agreements work, resulting in vibrant experiences and great outcomes, and sometimes they do not, leaving us feeling depleted, fatigued and disappointed about the lousy outcomes.

In addition to shifting agreements in everyday experiences, many of us work to shift agreements in large-scale social change issues, such as renewable energy, food systems, poverty, climate change, and social justice.  Decades of attempts to address these big and small challenges with approaches rooted in scarcity have proven insufficient to the task.

Research at the Institute for Strategic Clarity (ISC) has identified many groups that are finding success in addressing these issues, starting from a very different perspective, one of abundance in human potential.  Ecosynomics, the social science of abundance, offers robust frameworks that take what we have learned in scarcity-based agreements framed by economics and puts it within the much broader, much healthier context of abundance-based agreements.

But how can agreements be made consciously so that people can choose self-determined higher vibrancy in their agreements?  We present a case study from Europe where we are in the process of guiding a group to abundance-based agreements. In doing so, we follow the Vibrancy Living Lab approach, which combines a guiding process with scientific research and social-impact creation to enable a positive contribution to the group and the community where it is embedded.

Starting from a Collapsed State

The example concerns a Community Supported Business (CSB) in a village in Germany; nine people comprising two families and many associates. While the main focus of their work resides on their CSB, they are also engaged in local education and regional politics.

Despite a great vision, the group found itself over the last years in a critical state: the financial situation was getting precarious, the group underwent some hard and energy-depleting times and some were on the edge of burning out. Furthermore, they had already started to lose belief in the meaning behind their venture and to unconsciously accept their scarce reality as given and unchangeable. With those agreements, practices and mindsets they were not able to ensure their private and professional successes.

Based on initial conversations about ecosynomic research, in early 2014, the founders of the community invited us to support them in overcoming their scarcity-driven practices by working out their own abundance-based agreements. 

Raising Awareness for Agreements and Interdependencies

Our first step was to empower them and bring back the feeling of self-determination. We chose two different approaches for this. The first was to stop “just doing” and to start observing. The second was the kind of relationship we entered. In this we decided to step into an unusual role. In addition to being external coaches and consultants, we also agreed to become full members of the group. This gave us more possibility to deeply resonate with them by still being able to mirror them in their dynamics.

The goal of both approaches was to raise the awareness of whether they would rather act out of scarcity or abundance-based agreements and to assess the benefit-cost of devoting resources into the development of abundance-based agreements. The first step into this direction was done through a collaborative Agreement Mapping. This exercise allowed them to understand their unconsciously accepted agreement system and (unintentional) practices leading to perceived scarcity. They were able to do so by tapping into the wisdom of four seemingly very distant fields that humans have used for millennia to understand their interactions, experiences, and produced results:

  1. Resource or economic lens: “How much do we have, of what, to achieve our goals?”
  2. Allocation or political lens: ”Who or what is in power, and who or what decides and enforces?”
  3. Value or cultural lens: “What criteria do they use, and what is important to them?”
  4. Organizing or social interaction lens: “What rules do they apply and how do they organize?”

These currently very distant fields have been integrated by ecosynomic research, allowing a group to understand if it is “stuck in scarcity” or “boosted by abundance.” Why did we do this, and why is this relevant? ISC research conducted in 95 countries proves abundance to be a desired state for any social system. While this seems obvious, direct measurement of this abundance is not. Without measurement, the group could neither take strategic decisions nor convince possible capital providers and shareholders of the importance of “all this fluffy abundance stuff.”

Mapping out the quality of their agreement structure allowed them to create a first understanding of how their embedded and interwoven assumptions shaped their interactions and how those interactions created the basis for the quality of their experiences and results. Understanding that, they started to see that their unpleasant experiences and poor results were a direct effect of the agreements they made on a daily basis in the four fields by (unconsciously) answering the related questions in completely opposite directions. They also started to see that by changing their embedded and interwoven assumptions and agreements they would directly change the experiences they have and the results they produce.

SIDEBAR
Measuring the benefits of and capacity for abundance gets its inspiration from the quality movement. Initially nobody knew how to assess the benefits of quality programs; this made investment decisions difficult. The innovation was to assess the cost of “no quality.” The insight was that the benefit of quality had to be at least as big as the cost of no quality. Likewise, the benefits of abundance are at least as big as the costs of scarcity, which is straightforward to measure.

 

After having this higher-level awareness of themselves and their context, we employed embodiment and systemic practices to open up concrete pathways for change.

Consciously Choosing Abundance-Based Agreements

Let’s have a closer look at the groups’ interrelated agreements and practices, as we saw them the day we started to be engaged with them.

guestpost_aemapcase_111416b

After raising awareness of the current situation, the group collectively agreed to allocate resources into the development of abundance-based agreements and to explore practices that would allow them to intentionally start from abundance and collaboration rather than being unintentionally stuck in scarcity and antagonism.

Outcomes and Summary

Through raising awareness, we managed to close the gap between their wishful thinking and currently shared reality–that is, the difference between the espoused agreements and practices in contrast to the ones in use.  Some concrete outcomes are:

  1. They entered a mindset of “we do have more than enough of anything, we just have to find ways of how to manifest the potential we see into results benefiting our business and community.” They are now successfully innovating on their business model by exploring new markets, management, and leadership behaviors.
  2. They have a high-level AND in-depth understanding of their structures and how each individual drives them. Building on that, they realized the interdependencies between the different parts of their “system” and the importance of alignment within it. Both aspects are essential preconditions to relate in an effective, efficient, and abundant way.
  3. They have the awareness that with their scarcity-driven agreements they would by definition neither be able to have the kind of “healthy experiences” nor produce the kind of outcomes they envision.
  4. They are much more conscious and mindful in their daily patterns, leading to more thoughtful interactions. “We now know that we are not yet able to have everything we would like to have, but we also know now what the ground is we are standing on.”
  5. “I learned to respect my own needs and to share them with everybody in our community.”

Engaging with them, you can now a) see and feel the higher-level awareness of “why do I experience what I experience and how I can change it” and b) see and feel the positive energy and motivation to grow into the possibilities they see, which is completely different than the original drive to simply escape scarcity. They are able to do so since they experienced what it is like to work with abundance-driven agreements. Yes, they are now able to work out of this understanding and feeling, rather than just pushing away from something they do not like.

Furthermore, they not only regained trust in their own abilities and goals, but also started to reframe their shared purpose, as well as each individual’s unique contribution to the group.

We think the key learning of this case study is to take time to understand the agreements that (un)consciously drive the behavior of your business. Understanding your agreements builds the basis for lasting success and vibrant interactions, thus, having great experiences and producing above-average outcomes. Awareness, collaboration, and alignment seem to take a lot of time and energy, but there is a massive return for every minute of this investment. During our process the Japanese proverb “If hurried, go around” evolved as our guiding principle, because the fastest way is often not the straightest.

Guest post — Kopfstand — Standing Vibrancy on Its Head

Guest post by Christoph HinskeContributing Fellow at The Institute for Strategic Clarity, Kathrin Bimesdörfer, Director at IFOK

Do you know the situation when you feel completely stuck, whether with your team, you organization or any group you are a part of? You experience the lack of possibilities and innovation, and it just feels lousy. During our 7 years of working with and for organizations, large and small, in business, government, civil society, and inter-sectoral networks, we figured out that being stuck is not the end of something, but a perfect starting point for the beginning of something profoundly new. Embracing “stuckness” enables us to “think out of the box,” to start to create paradigmatic innovations and to explore different, better solutions. We find the core of this shift in the initiating assumption, do you start from scarcity or abundance? This article is about a simple method that supports groups in making the shift from being stuck in scarcity-driven structures proposed by Economics to abundance-based structures proposed by Ecosynomics.

Ecosynomics (pronounced “ee-co-si-nom-iks”) is the social science of abundance or, said another way, the principles of collaboration. [The term comes from the rules (nomos) of relationship (eco) together (syn).] As a framework, Ecosynomics is a model of health that describes what people are learning about how to move from perceived realities of scarcity, characterized by ingratitude, anxiety, apathy, mistrust, and anti-social competitiveness as well as a high level of organizational redundancies to perceived realities of abundance, characterized by gratitude, joy, enthusiasm, creative capacities, effectiveness, efficiency, trust, and social solidarity. Our research shows this to be a universal and basic experience every human being knows. Consequently, we believe that literally everyone knows when he or she is experiencing a scarce or abundant situation, whether alone or in a group. Groups that live in the abundance scenario are much more effective, efficient and innovative, achieving much better outcomes and experiences, sustainably. In our practice, we find it difficult for people to see what we are pointing at when talking about Ecosynomics and abundance-based agreements. It is hard to show people the reality they are living. Few people want to acknowledge that they unconsciously support agreements based on the principles of scarcity, leading to “stuckness.”

The difficulty seems to be in the direction of the imaginative exercise. It seems difficult to see a better reality from one’s own current reality. It seems to be easier to imagine one’s currently reality from the better (abundant) reality. We figured out that working with concepts that are “out of our current thinking” requires us to build a bridge for people. However, that bridge does not start on the shores of our old or common thinking.

Since this scenario sounds “strange” and “not real” to many of our stuck clients, we needed to find a simple and straightforward method to create an understanding of what abundance is and what it is not. Thus, we started to use the Kopfstand (German for headstand) creating an experience of “the world beyond the walls of the box.” By doing so, we challenge mental models and uncover visible and invisible agreements that drive human interactions in the system.

Borrowed from processes we use in product innovation and design thinking, the Kopfstand enables the participants to leave their current thinking and look at it from the other side.

3Circles031913_Corrected

SIDE BAR – The underlying framework

Image 1: The five dimensions and three levels of perceived reality, as proposed by Ecosynomics. The outer circle represents the experience of abundance and the inner circle the experience of scarcity (leading to stuckness). It is used as the framework to apply the Kopfstand.

 

SIDE BAR – The method

Kopfstand method

 

  1. Sharing of scarcity to abundance continuum: We start by sketching the chart of the five relationships and three levels of perceived reality on the wall (see side bar). Derived from Ecosynomics research, it provides a comprehensive explanation of the experience of scarcity and abundance. Why five relationships and why three levels? The literature and years of experience show that any social system consists of at least those five relationships. Try it out for yourself, by asking a person to, “Describe a situation where you felt richness in possibilities for yourself and/ or the group you are in.” We find that people start to describe the situation by unconsciously referring to those five relationships – the relationship to self, other, group, nature, and spirit. Their experience describes one of the circles in the image, ranging from scarce to medium to abundant.
  2. Envisioning a high-performance organization: We then gave participants green sticky notes and pens. We instructed them, “Imagine you are the responsible decision maker in an organization that is extremely efficient, effective and innovative. An organization where the individual is able to express her highest potential and the group moves towards a shared vision by living high levels of mutual trust (see also the images in the outer circle). Describe this kind of organization in your own words, using the sticky notes. Come to the image and stick your note to the respective dimension in the outer circle.”
  3. Destroying the high-performance organization: “Now your assignment is to lead your organization away from abundance (since it is considered as not business-relevant and sort of “soft”). Please do this step in a team of two. Use your red sticky notes and note down what you can do to destroy the abundance-based reality. Before putting the sticky notes on the graph, discuss your strategies and actions with your teammate.” Within 5 to 10 minutes, people note down ideas and post them on the image. Our experience is that people get really creative and eager to fill the wall.
  4. Relating destructive activities with day-to-day experiences: Once completed, we ask people to read out and explain their ideas. Destructive and inefficient behaviour as well as dysfunctional organizational structures are described. Most of the actions and strategies are characterized by ingratitude, angst, apathy, mistrust, and anti-social competitiveness. At this moment we often experience a radical shift happening. As the list continues, people start to see that they are actually describing their own organizations.

On the individual level, people react with either silence or contemplation. Others burst out laughing, since they know this kind of behaviour just too well. Some protest by saying, “Who would ever want this? Why would I choose to work this way?” Many participants note, “We just described our organizational context. It hurts, and I just got clear that it is the scarcity-based mindset that leads us to the agreements creating this kind of inefficient and ineffective organization.” There are always a few that say, “Finally I understand why my organization is so effective, innovative and efficient.” If you have such a statement we recommend using their stories as benchmarks throughout the rest of the workshop. At a group level, people start to realize that they are not alone with their experience of scarcity-based agreements and decision-making.

The Kopfstand method helps to create a container of understanding and allows for group reflection from a completely different standpoint because you start from an experience that everyone in the room has. The method gives an intuitive frame that helps to see the concept of relationships based on assumptions of abundance. The findings of Ecosynomics are much easier to understand this way, because participants describe the circles and relationships unconsciously in their own stories.

When you start to gather the voices of the whole group and someone else says something that you also had in mind, this creates a whole picture of an organization. However, it is important to avoid finger-pointing and assigning statements directly to a specific organization. People should be empowered to state their ideas and thoughts themselves instead of you presenting them with their unhealthy proposals. Participants thus have the chance to have their own experience of abundance and scarcity in that very moment and deduct their own conclusions about the concept. The method has been applied in this way in dozens of different settings throughout Germany, Ghana, Mexico, The Netherlands, Romania, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the USA. It has been applied in different sectors and with very different target audiences with amazingly similar effects.

In case you want to take the next step, we propose to continue with a Doppel-Kopfstand or reverse scenario to identify measures of how to improve the situation once the underlying assumptions have been changed. A personal experience with an abundance-based reality can help people to start questioning and changing existing agreements about how they relate to oneself, others, groups, innovations, and creativity. Be careful… our experience shows that people start to find they no longer agree to work in unhealthy and scarcity-driven environments.

 

Radio Interview — Creating Vibrant Organizations to Drive Performance Through Ecosynomics

Past-cast Series — Seeing relevance in earlier publications

ISC President Jim Ritchie-Dunham, ISC Contributing Fellow Christoph Hinske, and World GBC senior advisor James Drinkwater were interviewed on the radio today about how to drive performance through vibrant agreements by Maureen Metcalf. You can access the 1-hour interview from Maureen’s Internet-radio talk show “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” at (http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/86848/creating-vibrant-organizations-to-drive-performance-ecosynomics#.VcPBswmazIM.facebook).

Guest post — Ecosynomics of EU Building Renovation

Guest post by Christoph Hinske, Vibrancy European Lead StewardInstitute for Strategic Clarity Contributing Fellow

Build_Upon_SlideI was invited by the World Green Building Council to share a high-level summary of our research at the kick-off conference of the BUILD UPON project in London [read PDF – ISC_WorldGBC 3 Slides // watch VIDEO]. BUILD UPON is an innovative two-year Horizon 2020 project that aims at helping European countries design and implement strong, long-term national strategies for the renovation of their existing buildings [see Project Summary].  I was also asked to speak to the key challenges I see for such a large-scale stakeholder process [see 1-min VIDEO.]

I am happy that James Ritchie-Dunham, ISC President, has been invited to the BUILD UPON advisory board, contributing ecosynomic thinking to the project.

Guest post — Ecosynomics in Ghana — an update

Guest post by Christoph HinskeGlobal Vibrancy Steward

In June 2014, Christoph Hinske, an ISC Senior Fellow based in Germany, was invited to meet with Prof. Dr. Lars Castellucci, a member of the German Parliament, Abdul-Rashid Hassan Pelpuo, the Honorable Minister for Private Sector Development from Ghana, Joe Tackie CEO of the Private Sector Development Strategy at the office of the president and representatives of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Foundation.   The meeting was a success, and Christoph was invited to Ghana.

This October Christoph visited Ghana for a week, contributing a paper and a presentation at the last meeting of the Ghanaian Panel for Economic Development. After inviting the panel to participate in our collaborative and global action research project on sustainable societal outcomes through collaboratively developed abundance-based agreements, members started to see a shared possibility and their unique contributions to it. For example, one panelist asked, “What innovations from the abundance-based practices in the Ghanaian informal sector might improve the impacts and healthy social interactions in the other projects (USA, Mexico, Germany, South Africa)?“

Members of the panel, ranging from ministries, companies, worker unions, academia, donor agencies and youth organizations started to see actionable pathways of how ecosynomic principles foster balanced and inclusive economic development in Ghana.

Now a small and impact-driven group of academics led by the Department of Economics at the University of Ghana, will use the facilities of the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation to design a Ghanaian project. Spanning all industries, this project identifies, connects, shares, and scales insights gained from Ghana’s positive economic deviants, “natural experiments” in abundance-based ecosynomic agreements, and unites them in a national multi-stakeholder economic development process.

Exploring the Ecosynomics of Private-Sector Development in Ghana

Christoph Hinske, an ISC Senior Fellow based in Germany, just met with Prof. Dr. Lars Castellucci, a member of the German Parliament, Abdul-Rashid Hassan Pelpuo, the Honorable Minister for Private Sector Development from Ghana, and representatives of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Foundation. This exciting exchange highlighted ways that Ecosynomic principles could foster private-sector development in Ghana.

As a direct result of this meeting, we are now invited to explore possibilities of how to find, empower and multiply positive economic outliers in Ghana.  As follow up, the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation invited us to share our research, case studies and approaches at the Ghanaian Panel on Economic Development in September.

Guest post — Finding Ways to Invite Others into the Vibrancy Work

Guest blog by Christoph Hinske, ISC Senior Fellow

Just today, while accompanying my daughter in her first day in kindergarten, I had an experience of how to invite others into our work. I met another parent, and we had a 10-minute conversation. He asked me what I do for work. I reflected right away on a conversation I had the day before in one of our “global vibrancy network circles” on how to best frame our “work” for specific target groups.

The father I was talking to works as a state-certified assessor and instructor for future teachers in German schools. Thus, I told him that I am working as a freelancing assessor of organizations, currently focusing on finding abundant educational forms. His eyes lightened up.

When explaining what I do, I did not use the term abundant, but used my hands, and asked him if he knows schools that, when he enters the building, he feels either “yuck“ or “yeah.” I reinforced these words by rising my left or right hand and doing a body gesture (scarce/ abundant). He was very convinced that he had had both experiences, giving me several examples of each. I went on, mentioning that we are working globally to identify the “yeah-schools.” I also shared that we have started to find them in many didactical traditions, cultures, and countries. I actually did not say much more nor did I use any specific wording or knowledge. He was thrilled.

As he was leaving the kindergarten a little later, he passed by and asked me to contact him if we want to search for schools in Germany, as he would be happy to be part of this project. I told him I would love to do so, and that we are currently setting up the structures to invite people like him to participate. He smiled.

I gained four key insights from this brief experience today:

  1. We are on the edge of redefining what “good education” looks like, independent from educational approaches.
  2. The importance of the reflective space that I have with the global vibrancy network.
  3. The importance of searching for the possibility to “give target-group-specific elevator speeches“ and share our work. People are thrilled to contribute to our work.
  4. The power of our work since we are addressing a pain that nobody else is having a “pain killer’ for… we might have one.

Note from Jim:  Please share stories with me about experiences you have had with sharing the work of Vibrancy and how you engaged others in it.

Guest post — My Favorite Ways of Taking the Red Pill… Or My Prototypes To Become an Ecosynomist

Guest blog by Christoph Hinske, ISC Senior Fellow

In my work over the past years with the Ecosynomics framework, I have taken very distinct pathways to integrate and experience the material and make it part of my worldview. I did so because I firmly believe that a framework is only as good as it effects my reality and inspires my own thinking and acting. Accordingly, I tried to apply and reflect on the impact of the framework on a frequent basis. After a while I started to understand that the framework itself is a powerful aid to see the world in a completely different way than what I had been taught to see.

This learning and integration process has not always been easy. I had to unlearn some major things, like starting with assumptions of scarcity rather than assumptions of abundance. You can bet that trying to understand the infinity of the universe gave me a similar headache (the universe still does so).  In this blog post I want to share some of the practices and interventions I have used to unlearn and learn. My intention is to inspire and challenge to take on a similar process for yourself.

While the whole Ecosynomics framework felt intuitively right, in the beginning it was mostly abstract theory to me. But, since I firmly believed that the Ecosynomics research and work was not just “another nice theoretical framework to make my money as a consultant,” I tried to dive as deep as I could imagine and noticed that I took the red pill as Neo in The Matrix http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zE7PKRjrid4. I noticed that my imagination (of what is possible) was just a small fraction of what is actually visible if applying the right lenses.

The following practices helped me to dive, integrate, and yes… also start make a living out of the research.

1.   Getting Interviewed

See if you have contacts in small publishing agencies, magazines or specialized journals. Ask them if they are interested in interviewing you about our research and how it relates to their focus. Thus, you have minimum amount of work, and they have an exciting and cutting-edge story. This is how I got an amazing interview at Tattva Viveka (see English translation). Additionally, I started a great relationship with wonderful people bringing out an impactful magazine I did not know before. 

2.   Specialized Conferences

See if you know people that organize conferences addressing a rather closed or specific community related to the research findings and your deeper interests. Thus, a wonderful friend of mine proposed me as a speaker to the organizers of the Berlin Change Days 2013.  The conference targets consultants and people generally interested in the dynamics of change. It is a very casual and “unofficial” conference hosting a passionate and committed community of people from around the globe.

3.   Small, Innovative Universities

Approach contacts you have in smaller universities that are interested and in the need for cutting-edge research and hands-on cases. Small universities are often very interesting places for “magic to happen.” I did so with the University of Sustainable Development in Eberswalde. I started my relationship by offering to give a presentation of our research and to do a “simple” Harmonic Vibrancy assessment of the course group I would work with. They were very open and interested.

The students took the survey in advance and received hands-on insights of cutting-edge research of a Harvard and EGADE-associated research institute.  They experienced a process that would normally cost between 15.000 and 18.000 Euros (my European rates for business clients). The relationship even developed further and one of the professors was very excited to reflect on how the work with the framework both increases the student’s ability to perform and increases their chances in a very competitive job market. You can see the interview in one of the later chapters of the Ecosynomics online course.

If you would like to offer such an interactive diagnostic and course, I can provide you with anything you need: invitation mails to students, ppt presentations, group dynamics and you could even compare the results of your course with my courses or also with the courses of other ISC fellows.

A few days after the interview, the Prof. offered me another job and invited me to co-create a specialization branch within the study program that will focus on Ecosynomics.

4.   Gift-based Intro Courses

Ask friends and clients if they are interested in having a 1-2 day introductory course on the research and findings in exchange for a donation to the Institute for Strategic Clarity. I focused the course on reflecting and finding ways for them to apply the framework and findings in their concrete contexts. Out of these courses many recommendations emerged. One led me to do a 3-day strategy workshop and another to do a well-paid interactive speech at a university.

5.   Smaller Consultancies

Look  for contacts in smaller consultancies working on innovation, performance, creativity and group dynamics. Many of them are struggling with integrating the benefit of their work into business-relevant matrixes. With the “costs of scarcity” framework you can offer a powerful and yet simple painkiller for their pain.

You might want to offer them 1) to given them train-the-trainer sessions and deeper-dive intensives, 2) to accompany them in the process, and finally 3) to connect them to the bigger community of the ISC. I have had many good experiences using this three-step process of engagement and the first contacts are already moving into step 3.  For me this is the most exiting part since they start being independent of my input. In the last 6 months, I successfully did so with 5 organizations.

6.   Mediating Contacts

Invite your contacts into conversations around your work with the frameworks (meetings, calls, Skype etc.). While I still have not generated much revenue out of these possibilities, they helped me to tell a concise story (which is worth gold). And, some of them have recommended me into their networks and arranged meetings with their clients. I started to understand that my first circle contacts are mediators to get in contact with future clients. One of the results is that I was able to realize a project for the major German player in the field of international cooperation. Another result is that several of my friends have started working with the Ecosynomics frameworks and engaging me in their projects.

7.   Smaller Industry Associations

Contact smaller industry associations. Most of them are struggling to continuously create new offers for their network members. Offer a gift-based speech or introductory course. I did so and now have started into my 2nd year of working with one in Germany.

8.   Online Diagnostics

Offer first and simple diagnostics (only the online version) to your contacts. The Institute for Strategic Clarity is happy to provide you with the basic materials you need (letter of invitation etc.).  Other colleagues at the Institute and I are happy to guide you through your first analysis of the data. It is around 2 days of content-related onsite work for you. The rest depends on the quality of the relationship you develop with your contact. I experienced it with good contacts to be 3 days over a time horizon of three weeks. You could either present the results online or get invited to do it in person.  This is how I started to earn around 20.000 Euros in just a few months, get great contacts, position myself and learn of how to frame it in front of different audiences.

These are eight of the ways I have taken on the practice of applying and reflecting on my own use of the Ecosynomics framework over the past few years.

Guest post — Similar Fundamental Assumptions Found in 17 European Groups Living the Ecosynomic Paradigm (#4 in a 4-part series)

Guest blog by Christoph Hinske, ISC Senior Fellow

In earlier posts, I shared observations from 17 European groups living the Ecosynomic paradigm about how they were similar in outcomes and experiences, and in processes and structures.  In this last post, I will share some of the similarities I have found in their fundamental assumptions, trying to highlight similarities that distinguish them from their peers.

One of the patterns I saw underlines one of the major research findings of Ecosynomics. It is closely connected to the story I shared in my first blog; groups with high levels of harmonic vibrancy (HV) often collapse when working with lower HV groups. One expression I hear, over and over again, “After listening to your research findings, I finally understand why our project costs always explode when working with certain groups. With other groups it just works fine. I now see the obvious. We are working on the basis of different agreements.” This insight is also underlined in their practices of recruiting. “I now also see why our very strict recruiting process is vital for our future success. We would rather invite an interested person into an ongoing dialog and lasting relationship than just looking at her current abilities, skills and past achievements.”

To understand this expression I had to first understand one of the unique practices, structures and processes: in these high HV groups it is not possible to apply for a job. They do not “sell positions,” as they describe it, rather “the right people with the right competences grow into a specific organizational need.” Their recruiting and matching process is more one of growing together over a period of time by creating relations. This period can last from several months to a year. When I asked one of the group’s leadership why they do not solely focus on job interviews and or assessment center techniques, they nearly laughed at me and said, “How will you ever really grasp a person in her full potential, her drive to do things, and her actual capabilities to work, if you create a competitive, resource limited and transactional setting?” I asked “So what do you do?” They replied, “We start to build relationship with as many people as we can… the best of them stay. It is as easy as that.”

Other patterns I see include:

In all of the high vibrancy and some of the high to medium vibrancy groups, I found a collective willingness to work on agreements. One of the most striking examples is the case of a 25-year old NGO based in Germany. Their survey results reflect a group suffering the costs of sub-group competition as well as medium effectiveness in using and developing existing capacities to enact higher level outcomes in their projects.  The data in this case is based on the responses of more than 90% of the group members. All of them validated and agreed with the diagnostic results in a two-day strategy workshop.

Despite my experience in other medium vibrancy groups, the members of this group described many experiences of high levels of Harmonic Vibrancy in temporal and spatial pockets, leading me to an understanding of what this might look like. This created a very fertile ground for a fast-paced process. Our common analysis brought us to the understanding that the group suffered a collapse in vibrancy due to collapsing the agreements that enabled them to realize a balanced interplay of the five different allocation-mechanism relationships.  They noticed that, some years ago, they started to focus on the OTHER as the dominant mechanism for allocating the resources they need to generate the outcomes they want. Thus, they unintentionally collapsed the primary relationships to SELF, GROUP, NATURE and SPIRIT. To make the next steps and to move to higher levels of vibrancy, we started to walk through the first steps of the O-Process.

    1. We started by making visible the current state of their shared reality, in their underlying agreements and costs of scarcity.  All of the group members agreed that they would want to let go of the scarcity-enacting agreements, in order to be able to enact new, more abundance-based agreements.
    2. By applying collaborative inquiry techniques, the group created an alignment about the deeper shared purpose of their NGO. They made explicit that they could not reach this purpose with the old agreements. “We agree that we have to change our agreements, and we collectively decide to change the agreements that will lead to the reality that we experience.”
    3. The very self-reflective leader of the group started the next step by sharing her deeper values, needs and possible contributions. It was amazing to observe that, despite the presence of very strong personalities, no aggressive egos mutilated this invitation. By making this first move, she opened the space for individual reflection and inner stillness to happen. Every single member of the group started to share his and her deeper values and possible contributions to the deeper purpose of the organization. Since all of them aligned in step one and two on the deeper purpose of the group, it was a straight forward move to bring their intentions and possible contributions into alignment as well.
    4. Due to the alignment on the deeper purpose of the group and of the individual values, needs, and possible contributions, they all started to create a first understanding of the possibilities they have to make that move. This happened during the second day of the workshop and was a very intense process. People started to let go of the old. Afterwards they said, “It felt like a healing or cleaning process… amazing.”

Their journey is not yet over: it just begun. And, what makes all the difference, they now share a space of possibilities they all see and relate to together. They have to find ways to transfer the existing commitment into shared actions. This workshop happened nearly one year ago. Just three days ago, I received a message stating, “Thanks again for the process we started. We made big moves and the doors you started to expose to us are still wide open. We are on a good path.” I was very touched by this e-mail since it reflects why I am doing this work: “Support groups to move into abundance-based agreements.”

Finally, another very simple but obviously powerful assumption can be framed as, “As long as we can laugh about our self and our ego, we are fine.” In all of these vibrant groups, I found a very strong sense of self-humor.  In German we would call it “Selbsthumor.” To me it is amazing to see that this kind of basic principle serves as a cleaning mechanism for the group. It helps them stay focused on the issue and the common purpose and not get lost in energy-depleting structures that emerge when single egos are way too dominant. Self-humor nearly always helped to equalize the energies in the room and to bring all into one movement, a movement towards the shared purpose.