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  • Alan Sieler & Leigh Baker

Regenerative Business and Coaching - Acting on a business opportunity

By Alan Sieler and Leigh Baker

An Irreversible Trend

There is an unmistakable and irreversible trend that is underway, with profound implications for the future success of any business. The trend is that national economies and the global economy are moving towards a low carbon and resource scarce future. Did you know, for example, that in its momentum towards becoming the world’s economic powerhouse China has become the world’s largest national emitter of carbon, as well as leading the world in the development of renewable technology?

There is a growing consensus that rather than the transition to a low carbon and resource scarce future being a threat to organisations, it provides an excellent opportunity to develop new and more effective and profitable ways of doing business. The future will be owned by businesses that find profitable ways to simultaneously reduce their carbon footprint and utilise renewable resources. This is the nature of Regenerative Business.

Doing regenerative business means operating from a mindset that has the twin objectives of (i) generating new business thinking, innovations, practices, products and services that (ii) simultaneously contribute to regenerating the severely degraded natural environment, from which business has traditionally taken and not renewed.

There are now scores of examples from around the world of the business benefits of engaging in Regenerative Business, and once you start looking for them you will start to see them everywhere. Follow greenbiz on Twitter for a while and count the number of creative, positive and exciting developments happening around the world. It will amaze, inspire and hearten you.

Whether it’s Ford renewing their Rouge manufacturing plant from an industrial desert , NEC making bioplastic from cashew shells, VicUrban redeveloping an old railway goods shed into a highly sustainable building, Cogent Energy delivering combined heat/power/cooling as an energy service, or a suburban accountant implementing document imaging – locally and around the world smart businesses are doing better, more profitable business BY being greener.

The Unmistakable Business Benefits

In summary, the increasing number of examples of regenerative business being practiced in Australia and around the world demonstrate the business benefits of waste elimination, reduced costs, increased profits and enhanced business reputation through:

  • better relationships with customers and suppliers;

  • better organisational processes and practices;

  • increased staff engagement and innovation;

  • new business opportunities – new products, processes, services and customers; and

  • greater resilience in the organisation to prosper in the face of increasing change and challenge.

The Business Challenge: A Mindset Shift

What has all this got to do with your organisation? Plenty, because the emergence of a regenerative economy isn’t just a future possible that might happen somewhere else – it is already happening. As an example, the European Union is likely to start requiring importers to pay for their freight carbon usage in 2012/2013, regardless of what Australian politicians and business leaders choose believe about climate change.

When we stand back and briefly look at all this from a historical context we can see that the challenge of dealing with the threat of global emissions and environmental degradation is a major historical turning point in our approach to doing business and maintaining the lifestyle benefits enjoyed by people in the Westernised world. The key lesson from history that cannot be ignored is that successfully adapting to any historical change requires a shift in mindset. The old lenses we looked through for doing business are no longer sufficient and are likely to be a threat to maintaining and building successful business.

It is highly likely that the trend to a low carbon (and reduced resource) economy will affect your competitiveness – locally, nationally and internationally. And if you’re trapped in out-of-date stories about cost, compliance and government responsibilities, you’ll miss out on some great opportunities to get in early and get a piece of the most profitable action.

On the positive side, two surprisingly good news items can be reported about successfully dealing with the challenge of a low carbon and low resource business landscape:

  • Much of the “legwork” for developing a shift in business mindset towards what could be called Capitalism 2.0 has been done. Innovators and early adopters have been proving the principles of the new mindsets for over a decade (see examples cited earlier), with regenerative business strategies and practices are working profitably in the business world now delivering valuable products and services in ways that are good for the environment and good for the community.

  • The emerging regenerative economy isn’t about complex science and technology – it’s about re-inventing business strategy and supply chain models. Once it is understood that the mindset shift is far more about action and opportunity than compliance and carbon trading individuals at all levels in organisations can play this new game.

Unfortunately, however, recognising the existence of business opportunities will not be readily apparent to the many business leaders who remain in the traditional business mindset of the past two hundred years. This presents a business opportunity for organisational coaches, especially ontological practitioners.

A Business Oportunity for Coaches

We believe that Regenerative Business Coaching is an emerging area of business for ontological coaches and other forms of coaching. A significant challenge for organisation personnel who are committed to shifting the organisation’s mindset, be they senior leaders, middle managers or supervisors, is influencing others. Successful influencing requires excellent communication, and here is where coaching becomes relevant.

Ontological Coaching gets to the heart of how people function, learn and change. Ontological coaches facilitate advocates of regenerative business to become highly skilled communicators – able to communicate respectfully and clearly to assist people develop constructive new ways of thinking and behaving. However, Ontological Coaching on its own is not likely to provide sufficient support for advocates of regenerative business.

Being a regenerative business coach requires developing a new business sensibility, one that includes and goes beyond a traditional understanding of business. By developing a detailed working familiarity with the principles of regenerative business that are increasingly being applied to business locally and globally, the coach is in a position to speak the appropriate business language with clients as the basis for enhancing their communication and influencing skills.

The net result can be the development of personnel who will lead the shift to a regenerative economy, enabling businesses engage with their communities and the environment in new and innovative ways.

The core principles of regenerative business are:

  • Everything is a service

  • There are NO wastes

  • Design for total safety

  • Design for re-manufacture

  • Copy natural processes

  • Use MUCH less

  • Think small, local and smart

You can find more details about the above principles in Leigh Baker’s book The Deep Green Profit Handbook at

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