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Entrepreneurship of the 21st century

Authors:
  • STIR Foundation, Eindhoven, Netherlands

Abstract

Entrepreneurship is transforming. The way business and institutions function in the 21st century is becoming more and more values driven than just about money. Read more about the coming about of the entrepreneurship of the 21st century, the 4 x WIN principle and the Pyramid Paradigm.
Entrepreneurship of the 21st century
Introducing an entrepreneurial mindshift that will divert humankind from its path to self
extinction. With instruments like the 4 x WIN and the Pyramid paradigm for a sustainable
human existence and transformative entrepreneurial progress.
Author Jean-Paul Close spent the first half of his life as a global executive in multinationals. The
second half of his life he decided to work on the definition and implementation of a society
focused on the essentials for sustainable human evolution. Within this personal trajectory he
decided to first define the entrepreneurial spirit of the 21st century. In this article the
argumentation is developed around the Pyramid Paradigm and 4 x WIN entrepreneurial
principles, both embedded in Sustainocracy as a core human essentials based society vision.
The French word “entreprendre” literally means to “undertake”. In other words “to do something”
or “to act”. In the jargon of our money driven reality the word “entrepreneur” tends to stand
synonymous with “a business person that makes money”. Let us try to take the semantics to a
deeper level of understanding, not just for business but for all institutions and people alike. A
level of entrepreneurial wisdom in which “to do something” implies to do integrally good, to care,
to create value... for humankind, society and our planet. This transforms the entrepreneurial
activity into an adjusted mindset proper to the times and challenges we experience now as the
human species.
The entrepreneurship of the 21st century
Having arrived at a point in my life “to do something”, pushed by my desire to make a useful
difference, the aspect of “entrepreneur of the 21st century” became something to further
develop. At the same time I needed to generate an income to finance our basic family needs as
a single father with two small children. Both my daughters were definitely living with me now but
there was still a lot of unrest and aggression around us. This meant that I needed to structure
my days in such a way that I would be present at the school when they came out. A 9 to 5 job
was out of the question for me.
My personal decision, as a highly educated professional and executive to focus on my condition
as a father, had been received by my surroundings as weird and stupid. Who would give up the
status and good income of global executive activities, just for a child? For me it had been a
logical decision, one that complied with my own strong inner beliefs around human values.
Society and its money dependent paradigm however was not ready to listen to me, no matter
what I said about human values and the potential risks for humanity if we neglected them. At the
neighborhood level, among fellow human beings, I could make a difference but at a higher
societal level, where institutions pretend to rule, I had no chance. Not back in 2005.
Government still believed that the financial economy would grow through the clouds and
everything could be solved with money,
Local fellow citizens were blocked in their comfort zone, financial dependence and
autopilot. For them this society was “normal” as they had grown into it as a frog in hot
water. They would complain, fingerpoint at government or anyone else, put no other
“entrepreneurship” was to be expected than their worries about their income and
consumption attitude.
Globalized business had its own silo based on its 1 x WIN operational reality
Feeling myself isolated in my intentions I decided to address the world of business. After all this
is the entrepreneurial environment, even though it still was very, old school, industry minded and
money focused. Maybe I could find some business people to resonate with me. My first step
was to write a book with my own ideas about the entrepreneurship of the 21st century, a type of
values driven creativity that I had practiced already for some time myself. The publishing of a
book became a challenge. After stepping out of the mainstream world of financial dominance I
of course had nothing. No money, no network, just myself and my ideas for the world. Having
nothing makes life easy. The only option one has is to define one’s own identity and intentions
and start to negotiate with one´s surroundings. Looking back, this is exactly what evolution looks
like in nature too.
Business old school
The original business development, inherited from our industrial era and hierarchies of
ownerships and control, is related to three main factors: a product, customers and cost
optimization. If one deals properly with these variables then the activity turns out to be
financially profitable. This we call the 1 x Profit or 1 x Win triangle, the single (financial) win
bottom line business culture.
The 1 x WIN model for money driven entrepreneurship
This business model is necessarily growth oriented in order to get scale improvement for cost
optimization with which one can maximize profit. This way of working tends to - use humankind
(as personnel and consumers) and our natural environment (taking resources from nature for
free, using the environment also as a dump of waste) - for its own financial benefit.
To increase the scale of the company one needs to get more customers in order to sell more
products. There are various ways to do this. Through organic growth or by acquisition of similar
companies. For cost optimization there are many modern instruments in the field of low wage
productivity, product minimization, automation, mass production, lean management, value
added logistics, supply chain management, etc . In a competitive environment innovation,
services, customer loyalty, marketing, take overs, etc became contributors to success. Also the
protection of one's interests of ownership became important, expressed through registration of
intellectual property, signing liability contracts, etc. Ethics was largely eliminated out of financial
shortsightedness or profit addiction. Lobbies, shaping cartels, political bribing, cover up
blackmails and even murder would become part of the world game played.
This triangle of functioning in a competitive environment makes desires for growth inherent to
the business. Just imagine this example:
Under pressure of competition a company tries to offer products for a cheaper price by
reducing the size or manufacturing it in a cheaper environment. If the original product
was priced at, say 100, with a profitability of 10, then every sale would deliver 10 to the
bottom line of the company. Now let us assume that the sales price is reduced to, say
50, thanks to the massive investment in efficiency and cost reduction of the company. If
the profitability per product remains the same 10% as before, then this delivers a mere 5
to the bottom line of the company. In order to get to the original profit level of 10, the
sales would have to be doubled! This represents yet another extra cost that needs to be
covered by more sales. Under pressure of shareholders the company would be pushed
to improve its growth and profitability, meanwhile structurally eliminating value. A tunnel
vision and negative spiral appears that is difficult to see and escape from.
Many organizations fell into this trap, investing both in cost reduction (often at the expense of
the genuine product authenticity and quality) and dramatic increase of sales through the
acquisition of their competitors, locally or at a global scale. They would see an increase in
market share, a huge increase in costs and no improvement in their relative profitability. Once
inside this trap as a negative spiral it is very difficult to get out. Many even went into the second
trap. They needed cash for growth and went public by emitting shares. The short term cash
would be invested in the efficiency and growth programs, at the expense of ownership and
leadership autonomy. Many management teams were gradually headed by financial specialists,
not creative geniuses or values driven entrepreneurs anymore.
I started to call these enterprises “1 x WIN and 3 x Loss”. The loss being at the level of human
health and securities, society and the environment. The loss was not covered by the
business. It was happily and immorally left to society and nature to solve.
Originally “the government” was created as a shared service to develop infrastructures that
supported business development. Nowadays we see governments developing power around
the humanitarian and ecological problems of the world that they themselves helped cause. The
growing problems are presented as new business cases within this same duality of business
and governance. They present the same growth scenarios as the rest of the system, within the
negative spiral of structured inflation of problems.
Meanwhile we have seen the deterioration of landscapes, heavily polluted rivers, drying up of
water availability, air pollution, misuse of limited resources, increased sickness, climate issues,
all for the benefit of wicked financial growth that serves no one, just a few. Corrupt and highly
dependent national governments accepted bribes to keep their eyes closed, or support these
enterprises, out of self interest or under pressure, at the expense of the livability of the region for
which they neglect their responsibilities. Even systems of law were misused to protect these
(mal)practices out of political and financial interests. Much of the systematic approach to reality
is politically justified for the need of money to solve the growing problems in the field of
illnesses, impact of climate change. All kinds of instruments are used to cover up the impotence
of getting to the root cause, the system itself. Instruments like “market working”, manipulation of
information, misuse of power, military forces, diversion, etc.
New era, new ethical framework
The type of ethics or morality that we introduce in Sustainocracy were never a guiding factor in
this world of finance or politics. This is not necessarily because of malicious thinking. It is
primarily because of the tunnel visions, lack of awareness, the structuring of the financial
ecosystem, the pressure on people, etc.
In most cases the ethics of a company were more related to the mindset of the industrial era
itself. After all, financial profitability counted, not much else. The possible negative impact on
society, or the planet, was hardly accounted for in such a business format that still lasts today.
This negative impact was and is absorbed by society and the planet, not the company.
Government was historically born to facilitate these business developments through the
deployment of common infrastructures and certain services, like education, healthcare, housing
of the employees, etc. Government was not supposed to surround these businesses with
judgment unless this would somehow benefit both (business and government). After all,
governments tend to depend on business successes for their own financial needs. All collateral
damage produced by such business development in terms of pollution or social issues would be
taken as a possible remedial cost. The costs of bureaucracy are covered through contributions
that later developed into taxes, permits and regulation. Government became a service paid for
by all but focused on facilitating financial business growth, mainly to sustain itself and its
growing costs. The tolerance of such a government for social or environmental issues was very
much related to the financial income that it could legally (taxes) or illegally (bribes) achieve.
The current Anthropocene, the level of worldwide pollution, the enormous tension in the
(mis)use of natural resources, poverty, refugees and much more, is directly related to this
mutual dependence. None of these partners can be addressed to single handedly change the
negative impact. Certainly not while remaining in this mindset of financial interdependence and
forced economies of growth. Both worlds are too intertwined.
History shows that only a huge crisis can break the hegemony of such societal structure of
overall dependence and dominance. My own analysis has shown that there are two
consequences of this long term development of interdependence and the negative spiral that
has been sustained for too long. Both consequences are equally challenging to address and
solve.
1. At the level of financial steering the tendency of developing levels of narcissistic control
over people and resources is reaching huge and dangerous levels of manipulation and
pressure.
2. At the level of financial dependence the humanitarian drama is gaining unprecedented
proportions, not only in terms of poverty, illnesses, climate and hunger refugees, but also
traumatized mentalities, aggression, lack of future perspectives, aparthy (naive realism),
blind comfort zones, suicides, etc.
Our human world is screaming for a turning point. Sutainocracy defined the area where those
willing to let go can meet and build together on our essential values using the benefits of our
past.
Who is going to challenge this destructive pattern? Too many jobs depend on it and interests
are opaquely interrelated, often in a globalized setting of multinational corporations and lobbies.
We can morally and ethically declare them illegal but where do we go to formulate and deposit
these claims?
Is there an alternative, also for them? Yes, there is.
Introducing a new entrepreneurial mindset
For various years I tried to help CEOs to get out of their growth trap and all the possible traps
and pitfalls they could find along their desire for expansion. Often their original success was
based on authenticity but over time they could not keep up the pace and fell into the dynamics
of survival. With the help of a new mindset we could try to turn the course of the company.
In 2005 I published my first book in Dutch named “Handbook for the (future) Market Leader”1.
The business development process had been dissected into five keys for success. These five
keys became the core of my start up 5K consultancy activity. The idea was to help business
owners of the SME (small and medium enterprises), from startups to businesses with over 500
fte, to gradually (re)position themselves in a values driven environment. The consultancy gave
me ownership of my precious time that I needed to handle well in view of my single fatherhood.
My self employment also gave me perspectives of potential independent self sufficiency.
The justification of my challenging approach to the entrepreneurial world was my own track
record in this field. After graduating with an International Business Studies degree at Nijenrode,
I have been a serial entrepreneur. In between I had top executive positions in large
multinationals and even received the “best nationwide business idea of the year” award in
Spain. It has provided me with many experiences within large corporate executive positions and
my own start up business development. The latter had often been motivated by desires to do
good within the world of entrepreneurship. I had been very successful and also failed horribly in
this highly demanding competitive and manipulative world. A world in which one either becomes
an excellent manipulator to survive, or one chooses to take entrepreneurship to another level. I
choose to take it to another level.
My focus was on entrepreneurship dedicated to creating authenticity in producing values for and
with people without abuse or manipulation. These enterprises would trust their own capacity and
uniqueness. This was the purpose of my 5K model, to help them build on their authenticity, not
their growth. I started to offer my help by introducing tools such as these 5 keys to success into
the 21st century. Those keys could each be made measurable and interconnected as a whole
on one single sheet of paper. It more or less looked like this:
1Handboek voor de (toekomstige) marktleider - Nederlands Paperback 9789080931015 Druk: 2 178
pagina's
First question: What do you want to achieve with your company in concrete and
measurable value creation? Selling products is no value creation. What the product
does, once sold and used, can be.
Second question: Who benefits? The human being? Society? The Planet? The
customer? In what way?
Key 1: Market definition
Who do you relate to? Who is the real customer? Who would pay you? Who
benefits?
In which geographical area? This is key for communication purposes, logistics
and focussing the company
Key 2: Positioning
Me 1 (Me first): leadership of values driven change?
Me 2 (Me also): follower, doing the same as others, competing with better or
cheaper?
Key 3: Market perception. What does the K1 say about your proposition?
Key 4: Communication strategy, taking into account K1 and K3
Key 5: Management tools
Available countable means (cash, cars, buildings, personnel, existing customers)
Available uncountable means (creativity, goodwill, teamspirit, relationships,
honesty, image)
The questions and keys together form an ecosystem to deal with. I made them measurable to
see where the strengths and weaknesses were of the company. I even created an index that
showed a level of 5K excellence. Through questionnaires I could get business owners, their
departments or business units, to do a self analysis. This would become our basis of a dialogue,
one to one with the CEO, or as a group with all the people involved.
I use the old English high school reward system to create the score table: A (excellent), B
(points of improvement), C (mediocre), D (questionable), F (fail).
A 5K company analysis visualization
Issues like “growth” and “financial profit” were not among the primary criteria or goals. They
were a matter of fact of a healthy company thinking of its worth and continuity. Profitability was
an effect of healthy and authentic entrepreneurship, growth something to be very careful with. In
my own experience rapid growth has been the death of a successful company.
Genuine value creation would make the company flourish and interact proactively with its
surroundings, with empathy, compassion and purpose. Harmonizing patience and
determination work very well together.
Another repeating issue was the perception within business development that money was
always needed to achieve something. As if money were the fuel of the company. It is not. Much
time was spent to show that money is indeed a way to pay costs but the real fuel of the
company is the values driven mission, the engagement of its contributors and the recognition
received from its environment. The environment is often referred to as “the market” but in my
view the market is too limited as a definition. A market is a place where existing products
change hands. In my view the interaction with the environment is more than just trade, it is a
co-creation. The entrepreneurial relationship must improve quality of life in both ways. That is
why the third key, the customer perception, is such an important one.
Values driven interaction with the environment creates the Me 1st (me first) attitude to do things
that others have never even thought of. It also brings in a leadership mentality into the company,
a mentality of proactive change, empathy, compassion, understanding, authenticity and
togetherness in a holistic positioning. The leadership of a Magician (Close 2022, leadership
archetypes). The Transformation Economy (Close 2022) could now be understood.
So money is a means, also an old method of being recognized and valued, not a goal on its
own. The genuine strength of the company is its creativity and interactive, values driven
connection with its surroundings. To illustrate such a way of looking at an organization within the
context of a broader social, ecological and values driven reality, I took industrial people to see a
300 year old tree. 300 years! Counting back the tree emerged from its seed around the time of
the start of our industrial era, somewhere early 1700’s. The tree survived during its period of
growth, it lived through wars, human activities, storms, winters, etc. What companies around us
do we know that have that track record? That achieves 300 years of health and wellness without
signs of deterioration yet? What is the secret of this tree? What can we learn?
With workshops in the zoo, I took entrepreneurs to learn from animal wisdom, to see the wide
range of diversification of butterflies sharing a habitat in a peaceful way, to see how tropical
plants support each other through adjustability and sharing. Four billions of years of wisdom are
there for us to use, to get inspired, to simply copy. In America someone even coined a term for
that: Biomimicry, a way to take inspiration from nature and integrate it into our solutions.
Applying this also to the entrepreneurial ecosystem of shared values, instead of only looking at
product designs, became a new area of awareness and experimentation.
Like this I could show that the Anthropocene is in our own hands. It is due to our deadly focus
on just one variable (money) and misuse of our intelligence on immoral internal efficiency rather
than wise adjustability, value awareness and symbiotic relationships. The most difficult part in
my consultancy work was the aspect of “transformative change”, especially in the operational
mindset. To take away the pressure on financial growth and gain trust in focussing on the value
based relationships of the company. I was hired to provide inspiration based on the books that I
had published and some people had read, mostly at CEO level. They eventually hired me
because they recognized their own wishlist in my documented sharing. The problem that I
encountered was that a CEO would want everyone in the company to change, except him or
herself. This often got me in the tough position to adopt a CEO role that was not mine. The DNA
of a company is directly related to its founders. If I challenge pieces of it for the better in the 21st
century’s issues, then it is necessary for the CEO to take this on, instead of delegating the
aspect of change and leadership to me or some internal department.
In 2008 I published an article “the triple unity” in Dutch, more or less at the same time when the
PPP (People, Planet, Profit) ideology started to wave across the world. The article was a
warning that things were heading for disaster if we did not change our collective entrepreneurial
attitude. The 5K Index was useful to guide and coach individual companies to strengthen their
activities through analyses and sensing, rather than sharing opinions. It was also useful to look
at the overall economic level of stability of the region. After over 300 5K Index analyses of
companies in a diversity of sectors (I even published booklets on the supermarket and banking
sectors), age and size, I had come to the conclusion that the Netherlands was scoring a
mediocre “C minus” overall.
This meant that the country was not creating value at all, despite its economy of growth focus,
and that in most areas value was being destroyed, increasing the cost of society to tremendous
levels. I could show the domino effect in society when business enters into a crisis due to its
lack of focus on value creation. In the Netherlands the amount of Me 2 (me too) followers,
without leadership ambitions, was extremely high. The value destruction creeps on us as a
virus, making the population, the economy and its society sick. It automatically leads to
instability, bureaucracy, high social and societal costs, unemployment, poverty, etc. And a
generalized political tunnel vision that is hard to break through as problems are great political
areas to claim more power and money, even if the problems are caused by the politics itself.
So when the entrepreneurial sector enters into a crisis for whatever reason (usually lack of
connection to its surroundings, milked to death by its stakeholders and tax authorities), one year
later the government enters into a crisis due to lack of tax income and the increase in costs. The
government then goes for a capital injection to try to maintain the status quo, increasing its debt
in the hope to recover the financial balance in better times. The government is forced to reduce
costs, creating a further new crisis in the government dependent institutions (healthcare,
education, social securities, etc) in the third year. This then hits the people in poverty or in need
that depend on such institutions. Social unrest, inequality and problems will have risen to an
extent of a formally recognized recession. Government tends to invest in more bureaucracy to
maintain control over society instead of leaving space for transformative change.
Slowly new entrepreneurship stands up, demanding space for its development. But such
renewed entrepreneurial development takes time to show its effects in society. It also needs a
healthy financial market to flourish, one that it creates itself since governance is still in its blind
control phase.
With this cumulative chain of events we easily get to the 7,7 year cycle of economic ups and
downs as shown in Kondratiev cycles (see drawing below). He suggested that the impulses of
growth and globalization were provided by technological innovation. These impulses repeated
themselves every 54 years more or less (7 x 7,7 years).. These manifest themselves ever since
we started to work on these lines of simplified and blind societal interaction. The proverbial 7
good years, 7 bad years are thus easily explained. If this were a human body it would be happy
and active for 7 years, while sick, depressed and unproductive the next 7 years. In nature we
can detect such cyclic patterns too but in a much more harmonious way of symbiotic interaction
and the interaction of multiple dimensions in seasonal time and space. Within the human body
the cycles are with the biological clock of awakeness and rest, consumption, burning energy
and digestion.
It became clear to me that there was a missing link, a necessary corrective attitude, in our
human societal structures. One that measures our reality against our core and essential values.
When these core values are in jeopardy, corrective actions are needed. The actions require free
space for development, not bureaucracy or judgment against the wrong criteria. They need
genuine awareness driven value creation as a joint responsibility, not just an innovative impuls
of awakened business people. It also required the entrepreneurial spirit of self aware
government officials, the general public, education, etc. looking for authentic value, not their own
financial dependence.
My “triple unity” article had been published through a local university but the local culture was
not ready for such a new step. A significant crisis was needed for the dialogue to take an open
direction of integral change of attitude. The 2008 banking crisis produced the necessary
openings and gradual change in mindset. This time it was not technology that was going to help
us forward. It was “an evolutionary change in mindset”.
In the image we see a turning point in 2008. A second turning point can be found 12 years later,
in 2020, with the appearance of the covid measures and impact on societies. Here the two
systems collide. The system of new areas of technology, this time for human control through QR
codes, vaccines and lockdowns that only favored the large enterprises. And the one of human
wake up calls around ethics, biological health based resilience and taking a stand against the
dominant unnatural and manipulative forces.
The broader perspective of entrepreneurship
“To do good things”, within the context of values creation, for the benefit of humankind and our
planet, became a new definition of entrepreneurship. This is a definition of entrepreneurship
relative to the times we live today. A way of seeing the “to do” from a moral, existential
perspective represented by a new “to be”. The change of attitude could best be described as
follows:
Entrepreneurship up to and including the 20th century: Use humankind and the planet
for self centered financial benefits (1 x WIN)
Entrepreneurship as from the 21st century: Serve humankind and the planet for the
benefit of our sustainable health and continuity as a species (4 x WIN)
Note: Critical readers will suggest that such entrepreneurship already existed before the 21st
century. And they are right. Many original companies, especially those governed by families,
had such a servant or integrated attitude. This is true. But invariably they fell into the trap of
growth, takeovers or destructive speculative processes. They became victims to the narcissist
development of financial and political pressure and short sighted consumer attitudes. Now we
are learning the painful way about the risks of such entrepreneurial traps and start developing
measures against them, including a growing consumer attitude towards regional quality of life
and regenerative productivity.
Such servant entrepreneurship is not only a relevant modern attitude within a new business
mentality. It also affects the citizens themselves (a servant and caring attitude, rather than
purely self centered consumerism and financial dependence), local government (facilitating and
participating rather than the expensive, unsustainable remediating or controling), science
(opening up to new areas of research and implementation of knowledge) and education (self
leadership, awareness, empathy, innovation, co-creation driven)
Building on the triangle presented before as the ancient 1 x WIN approach, the new
entrepreneurial spirit of ethics got reflected in the 4 x WIN Pyramid Paradigm. The sides of the
Pyramid showed the ethical values to be attended, the core of the Pyramid reflects the area
where all parties of a region would meaningfully meet in the co-creation, each from their own
perspective and interests.
The Pyramid Paradigm visualizes 4 x WIN. The entity places itself in the center (red dot)
Having come to such a conclusion and visualization I needed to open up the ideological
Pyramid for participation. As a coach I could only inspire people of its existence, to do
something with it. I had been battling my way through different insights with CEOs of different
sized companies. The large global entities were left outside my scope as I had experienced their
lack of interest and full fletched focus on financial management in their boardrooms. They had
even sent me lawyers stating that they could not be made liable for health problems of people in
the world because of pollution. They were claiming only company responsibility for the quality of
their products and their financial profitability for the shareholders. For me it was yet another sign
of the blunt and blind irresponsibility of the political financial world we lived in, protected by a
wicked interpretation of justice.
From companies that participate within the scope of the Pyramid I expect not just the
participation in value creation, which is already a good step by the way. I also asked them for
their own self reflection on how to improve their own internal processes from a core values point
of view. Globally oriented companies would have to split their activities into more locally
positioned and smaller entities, committing to the same values as what we wanted them to
participate in.
For the financially oriented structures this often proved to be a bridge too far. I argued that if
they are measurably part of the problem, such as pollution, or shortages of global resources due
to misuse in their product design processes, they would be (co)responsible for the damage that
we are trying to repair through the values driven partnership. Also, if they have technology or
services that can enhance societal value development, it would be immoral to not offer it in a
consortium. They could be made responsible for their cold apathy, even through court.
The different ways of looking at such an entrepreneurial reality and participatory responsibility
shows the complexity in our way forward. Most smaller companies and some larger ones
accepted my argumentation and started to look also at their internal chain processes. The
tendency would be to bend the globalization culture that looks at 90% standardization of
products and services, with maybe 10% of localization.
The turn around would be towards 90% local for local circular, regenerative productivity,
incorporating co-creation with local stakeholders and not more than 10% global content,
mainly sharing intelligence, hardly any materials.
The transformation process could never be done alone by any company, nor all elements at
once. Only together, with the other players of the local society transforming at the same time,
this could be achieved. Step by step, facilitated and supported through the Pyramid Paradigm,
achievements would be realized for integral resilience building and participatory excellence.
When the large structures engage then their progress could be highlighted by the community
and communicated to the world through speeches, publications and presentations. If they did
not, then their lack of participation could become a point of attention through the media,
demanding some kind of explanation. Their position would be taken over by smaller local
players that were more morally aware, adaptive and eager to engage. Sometimes such smaller
local players would become the values driven interface for the larger players within the local
communities. In any case, a wake up call is waiting for the large players in the political and
financial arena. The natural law of opposites is active. The more power out of self interest they
exert on society, the more society will fight back to keep its natural freedom and evolutionary
perspectives by claiming back its own responsibility.
Sustainocracy
The positioning within the Pyramid Paradigm demanded an exercise to define a set of values
that could be applicable to all stakeholders of society. My own views about “sustainability” had
been developed around the aspect of the human being as an endangered species, caused by
itself. What would be the essential values to ensure our existence in the dynamics of our natural
living environment?
As a consequence Sustainocracy was defined as an integral societal vision and mission around
such core essential values for our sustainable human existence. Essentials that could be
defined as a shared responsibility for all, including institutional structures such as business,
science and government. Responsibilities that stand above political and financial interests.
These should be simplified to an extent that everyone could understand and resonate with
them.
Five of such values were defined as shared and essential responsibilities, not as speculative
commodities or areas of commercial or regulatory self interest. These values were natural
elements that we already find in our behavior in families, which can be considered the basic and
original structure for society. Values that I had personally experienced as key in my role as
single father.
Health
Safety
Co-creation
Awareness
Our basic daily needs (food, water, air, warmth)
These values became the foundation of Sustainocracy.
4 x WIN
The 4 x WIN mentality assures that all stakeholders take their own responsibility for their
position in the network. Instead of leaving the negative consequences to society, people or the
planet, the focus is on providing positive progress measured through the core natural human
values. This type of entrepreneurship is not just reserved for business. It is for all institutional
specializations within the context of Sustainocracy, including government. We would all meet in
the center of the Pyramid and that is where I was situated to help them all to connect with each
other in a proactive and positively constructive way. With the Pyramid the shared responsibility
is carried on the basis of equality, respecting each other for the engagement and authentic
contribution to the common good.
Even 1 x WIN organizations are finding a great environment in Sustainocratic projects to
develop their own 4 x WIN positioning and new age authenticity. Gradually we see companies
develop into 2 x WIN, 3 x WIN and ultimately even 4 x WIN. SME is the area where 4 x WIN
grows most and provides a strong regional foundation for sustainable resilience. They focus on
quality in all the four lines of attention and the 5Ks as well. Restaurants, small specialized
shops, local small value added industries, neighborhood care structures, etc are key for any
region. Yet they tend to receive least attention from (national) governments that are focused on
the big players. This is changing as gradually the profiles of people in charge change, also in
governments, especially in medium sized municipalities.
A new interactive world emerges
With the introduction of the values driven Pyramid Paradigm a new interactive world emerges
that is capable of using the benefits of our old paradigm structures for the benefit of our human
cohesion, societal wellbeing and planetary balance. This world started to measure itself against
core values to be created, not just money. The 5K Index could be transformed into a Pyramid
Index in which only institutions within the 4 x WIN domain (or demonstrably evolving towards it)
would fit. Others could be inspired to transform or eventually risk being banned. No value
destruction or pollution is tolerated anymore after a transition time. The warning is enough for
many entrepreneurs to become 21st century participants and take steps to engage their
companies, despite their difficulties at first to understand or enjoy the values-driven co-creation
process.
This is also referred to as the aforementioned Transformation Economy, a new innovative
layer above the old economy of growth. A layer that adds applied wisdom to the highly
technological SMART version of progress.
So in summary the entrepreneurship 21st century is:
Local 4 local
Serving humankind and our planetary balance
Not just a business, also a government, citizen’s, scientific and educational commitment
Not money dependent but core values driven and shared
Valued positively (B+) in the Pyramid Index
A multidisciplinary co-creation environment for measurable real value creation and
sustainable wellness
Genuine values drive participation of citizens
A new leading economic driver, the Transformation Economy
A clean up of old “wrong” institutions
Practice what one preaches
My coaching was effective to a point. My focus has been on business development and
transitions in the field of small and medium sized businesses. Back in 2005 I could not engage
the government or citizens (yet). This changed in 2009 when the financial crisis opened the
doors for 21st century entrepreneurship in government and education too. But who should take
initiative? When, for instance, we decide that we want a “healthy city” with healthy, engaged
citizens, a healthy environment and a positioning in the 4 x WIN Pyramid for integral value
creation, a lot needs to happen. But where would this story come from? I decided there was
only one to do this. The human being itself. And as a consequence, me, as an independent
representative of this understanding and need.
This is what I tried to do in my own home town, Eindhoven in the Netherlands. As a human
being I would take the initiative and invite the other pillars of society (citizens, government,
science, education and business innovation) to the table in the center of our local Pyramid and
share the responsibility together. I did not want any government to take the lead in this because
they still acted as a cost of society with both a financial focus and a regulatory hierarchical
presence. The government layers equally need to adjust themselves to the situation of shared
responsibility while lowering their control presence and cost over society. Government is to be
seen and behave as a partner, just like everyone else, based on equality. We together judge our
multidisciplinary progress against core natural human values, not old school political or financial
interests or dominance.
This of course leads to tension between two mindsets in society which is not easily overcome.
Various multidisciplinary ventures got off the ground. Especially AiREAS, a cooperative
partnership organization for health and a healthy environment, got support from all the regional
stakeholders. In 2015 the process was acknowledged as the first practical “level four awareness
driven co-creation society” possibly in the world. We even received an European award from a
large global multinational, valuing the way we established our values driven multidisciplinary
cooperation platform. In 2021 the whole ideology received a lifetime accomplishment award
from the Canadian Visioneers initiative.
Integrated entrepreneurship
Having moved from an abusive self centered type of entrepreneurship into a servant way of
looking at one’s positioning in a broader ecosystem than just the financial, there is a next step
still to be made. This is the step into “integrated entrepreneurship”. What does this mean?
The servant variation of entrepreneurship is still very much self centered, even though a level of
empathy reaches out to the customer interests. Essentially, in an environment of trade, the
business hands over its products or services with a particular promise but it leaves responsibility
for the promise itself to the customer. Once the price has been paid the relationship is
terminated. Only a kind questionnaire about customer satisfaction may still be issued to receive
feedback.
The highest level of entrepreneurship is what I call the “integrated entrepreneurship”. It is based
on authenticity in a networked environment with multiple reciprocities for everyone in the
network. The interdependence, based on values creation and sharing, within the context of a
commonly shared purpose, is an integrated manner of addressing relationships. They are in
many ways mutually beneficial.
This requires an attitude that we tried to introduce and practice in the multidimensional
entrepreneurial activities of servant or facilitating communities. It requires all stakeholders to
assume the 4 x WIN attitude together while developing values and results driven overlaps as a
community. This is what I have been trying to create with initiatives such as
AiREAS, regional air quality and health
FRE2SH, regional regenerative food resilience and self sufficiency
COS3i, social inclusion and integration in care with each other for each other and our
environment
School of Talents, participatory learning in Sustainocracy
World Happiness Bird, spreading positiveness worldwide through shared responsibility
and co-creation
It gives rise to new forms of economic understanding and development, the role of money, the
participation of all and the way we deal with government as a shared service.
The new society exists! It receives support from all sectors in society and is implemented as
proof of concept in a variety of ways. When it exists and proves itself it has a tendency to grow,
gradually transforming all elements of society into a new era of sustainable productivity and
presence on this living planet. The turning point is activated and people at all levels and
functions of society find each other in the area of commitment for our shared essential values.
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