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.


Ecosynomics and Why You Care


I propose ecosynomics (pronounced “ee-co-si-nom-iks”) as the social science of the agreements that guide human interaction.  The roots of ecosynomics are eco (current usage is “relationship,” historically oikos was “household”) syn (together) nomos (rules): the rules of relationship together or, reworking the terms, the principles of collaboration.[1]   This builds on the billions of human-years of experience in the past century in learning about economics, defined by leading economists, as the social science of the allocation of scarce resources.[2]  To this experience, ecosynomics provides a framework and a research tool for understanding human agreements; agreements people have with their own selves, with others, with a group, with nature, and with spirit. Ecosynomics explains the relationship between the level of harmonic vibrancy experienced in these relationships and the level of scarcity or abundance experienced in a group.

As a framework, ecosynomics shows how a set of fundamental assumptions and the agreements that come from them can explain the extraordinary outcomes being experienced in thousands of groups globally, where these groups are operating with a completely new and emerging paradigm, based on abundance, not scarcity.  As a research tool, ecosynomics suggests, therefore, how to identify groups experimenting with new ecosynomics-based agreements, showing how to discover how their innovations are leading to much greater and sustainable efficiency, effectiveness, and innovation.

Why you care

Having looked at three levels – the three circles – of the five primary relationships and how people use these distinctions to describe the difference between the experience of scarcity and that of abundance, you might be asking, “Why do I care?”  This is a great question, as it forces me to pull everything together, concisely.

I will start with the definition of ecosynomics as the principles of collaboration.  Why would you want to collaborate?  Why not just compete?  After all, competition has led to many of the great developments in human evolution.  I take this question seriously.  When I look at “success,” as defined by the “competition” school, I find that the collaborators, as defined in these pages, are much more competitive.  These collaborators play the competitive game much better than do those who focus only on competition.  The collaborators work continuously with possibility, choosing to develop those capacities over time, out of their deeper potential, finding they can bring much greater capacities to the competitive game.  It is not that collaborators cannot compete – they can – rather that they see competition as a much broader game.  They compete with others in the moment of interaction. They also compete with themselves to continuously develop their capacities.  And, they compete with the infinite source to see how much creative potential they can embody.[3]  Thus, collaboration, as defined here, seems to lead to a higher level of competitiveness, especially in the terms of the “competition” school.

I have also found that the freer people are to develop their potential in these five primary relationships, the more abundance they experience.  Why do people want to be freer?  They just do.  Ask.  I suggest that you try asking others, and see what you find.  I too have asked, a lot.  I hear that people want to be freer in:

  • the experiences they have and the choices they make for themselves
  • the support they offer to others, in living into their talents, potential, and contribution
  • the contribution they can make to the group
  • the creativity that shines through them
  • the ability to make real a future they can imagine

In these freedoms, I hear the expression of the freedom to choose what relationships I want to be in and how I want to be in them.  This freedom means that “I choose.”  My relationships are not controlled by someone else.  This is why I think it is so critical to see that my interactions within the five primary relationships are guided by the agreements I accept in them, whether or not I am aware of these agreements.

What do the principles of collaboration (the definition for ecosynomics I gave above) have to do with being freer?  So far, I have found that people that seem to be freer are the same people that collaborate.  There seems to be a strong connection between greater freedom, greater collaboration, greater abundance, and greater harmonic vibrancy.

So, what are the principles of collaboration, as seen so far?  In this first conversation, I have already peeled back four specific principles of collaboration.

  1. People prefer abundance to scarcity, and higher levels of harmonic vibrancy to lower levels.
  2. People need all five primary relationships (self, other, group, nature, spirit).
  3. Higher levels of harmonic vibrancy require higher levels of all five primary relationships.
  4. People make different agreements and interact differently at different levels of harmonic vibrancy.

[1] The word “ecosynomics” acknowledges and builds on the word “economics,” derived from the Greek for rules of relationship, oikos nomos, which originally translated as “household management.”  Back 2,500 years ago, the rules of relationship for a home and a government of the people were seen as the same.  Historian of economic thought Roncaglia suggests that, “in Greek culture we find no contrast between the viewpoint of the family administrator and the viewpoint of the government of the polis.  Xenophon and Plato explicitly stated this fact,” according to economic historian Professor Roncaglia (Roncaglia, 2006, p. 25).  In 390 BC Xenophon, a student of Socrates, writes, “The management of private concerns differs only in point of number from that of public affairs.  In other respects they are much alike.” (Goold et al., 1997, p. 189).

[2] Nobel laureate in economics Paul Samuelson in his popular economics textbook (Samuelson & Nordhaus, 1995, p. 4) defines economics as “the study of how societies use scarce resources to produce valuable commodities and distribute them among different people.”  In Harvard economics professor N. Gregory Mankiw’s top-selling economics textbook, he defines economics as “the study of how society manages its scarce resources” (Mankiw, 2008, p. 4).  How long has economics been around?  While political economic thought dates back to at least Babylon in the 1700s BC, it was only recognized as a discipline independent of other social sciences in the early 1600s AD, and as a profession in the 1800s AD (Roncaglia, 2006, pp. 18, 23).

[3] Michael Porter, one of the fathers of modern strategy, coined the term “competitive advantage.”  Porter describes competition in similar terms, invoking the outcomes, the process, and the possibility (Magretta, 2011).