The ‘take-make-waste’ mode of organizing is not sustainable, it’s time for a new work culture that prioritizes human resourcefulness and resilience.
For anyone who needed a reminder for the urgency to tackle climate change, the most recent IPCC report should have served as a cruel wake-up call. In fact, despite lip service from a variety of political and business leaders, we are still lacking truly ambitious initiatives to radically reduce global carbon emissions and to effectively conserve biodiversity. With a few notable exceptions, the majority of business leaders has yet to declare climate emergency and take bold climate action. Sustainable entrepreneurs, on the other hand, often serve as a positive reference point for leaders of a truly inclusive and regenerative economy. The admiration for these entrepreneurs goes so far that the media often evokes the picture of a “heropreneur” when referring to these inspirational leaders on the quest to bring about positive changes in our economy and society.
While you don’t have to be a die-hard Marvel fan to hope for a superhero to solve all our problems, the truth is that no actor alone has the power to envision, let alone implement and scale, all the solutions required for bringing about the necessary changes in our world. While this might sound discouraging at first, it also empowers each individual to play a role in changing the system that gives rise to the most severe problems of our time. Why is this good news? Because it allows us to take ownership for the change we want to see in our economy and society. Instead of waiting for a superhero to redeem us, we are called upon as business leaders, policy makers, and customers to become creators of a different future. The global challenges we face are so complex, manifold, and intertwined that they require collective efforts and systemic solutions. Seen in this light, sustainable entrepreneurs are not lonely heroes, but rather embedded ecosystem actors who offer important blueprints for moving our economy towards a more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient future.
So, no, unfortunately entrepreneurs alone won’t change the world, but here is how their activities lay the foundation for a more regenerative economy.
Pioneering a new work culture
There is an increasing realization that the “take-make-waste” mode of organizing is not sustainable – not for the planet, not for our societies, and not for ourselves. While capitalism has provided us with unprecedent technological progress and economic growth, its relentless pursuit of profits has also resulted in social inequalities and environmental destruction of historic proportions. Taking a look at the workplace inside these organizations, we are faced with a supposed dichotomy: on the bottom, we find unfulfilled workers who often have to engage in tedious and monotonous activities to barely earn enough to make a living; on the top, we find seemingly fortunate managers who often have to sacrifice family and free time to succeed in their job. While their working realities within organizations could not be more different, in both situations, studies find that feelings of emptiness, resignation, and frustration are increasing among workers and managers alike. In a system that apparently produces more losers than winners, the time seems ripe for a new work culture, one that prioritizes human resourcefulness and resilience.