Business As Usual - Doomed to Fail - So What's Next?

The article Business As Usual - Doomed to Fail - so What's Next? Written by Kathryn Cooper, President & Chief Learning Officer of the Sustainability Learning Centre, was originally published in the Sustainability Learning Centre newsletter.


There is a reason that Business as Usual is "doomed to fail" in today's world.

In our wisdom, we have socially constructed global market systems that have evolved to be socially, dynamically and generatively complex. 

Complexity = Wicked Problems

Frank Spencer, Author, Turning Wicked Problems Into Wicked Opportunities - speaker at the Accelerate Conference, Toronto, June 5 & 6, 2014

In a system with dynamic complexity, merely addressing the symptoms of a problem will not work. Instead, a systemic approach must be used to get to the root cause of the problem. 

In a system with social complexity, a participative approach is needed because of the diverse perspectives and interests of people in the system. Otherwise it is hard to come to a shared understanding of the problems we face.

In a system with generative complexity, the future is unfamiliar and undetermined, we have never faced these kind of problems before. Therefore, it is impossible to predict what comes next. An emergent approach is necessary.

And at the intersection of these forces are "wicked" problems - challenges characterized by multiple interrelated forms of complexity that when combined, exacerbate oneanother, making the problem exponentially more difficult to solve. For instance, imagine trying to solve eroding eco-system services, exponentially growing population  and climate change all at once. It would suck to be the generation that has to crack that one - wouldn't it!

The rules have changed, the old business operation manual is only good for the dustbin. And yet, so few of us really understand this.

But I am an optimistic person. Humans have the ability to innovate, learn from oneanother's stories and adapt. But you have to play to win. The annual Accelerate Conference is a perfect place to play with these messy ideas. It is a place of shared experience and stories. It will change how you see the world. Set aside June 5 & 6 in Toronto and lend your story to the collective wisdom of a complex world and start solving our "wicked" problems - for my children and yours.

Learn what comes after "Business as Usual"

Join sustainability leaders and renowned speakers at the 2nd Accelerate: Collaborating for Sustainability Conference in Toronto, ON, June 5-6 .

Written by Kathryn Cooper
Source: Sustainability Learning Centre

Want to engage further in the conversation about sustainability-driven collaboration? The Natural Step Canada is excited to host the 2nd annual Accelerate: Collaborating for Sustainability Conference on June 5-6, 2014, in Toronto. Join us to deepen learning about collaboration from experts and practitioners, experience collaboration by creating connections with other change agents, and seed new collaborative initiatives. Learn more and register today!