Tag Archives: The Finance Lab

How long does it take to go sustainable (part 3)

This is now becoming a recurrent theme.  What does it take to encourage someone to ‘Go sustainable’?  The last time I posted about this I said that it was about a year.   I think that might actually be bit optimistic (i.e more like 2 years), but then that’s because I now have a better idea of what I think needs to happen in that year (or two) based on a conversation with people from the Finance Lab at WWF and the System Innovation work I’m helping Forum with.

What you get if you put 'system change' into Google Images (pt1)

What needs to happen is for a person to undergo a ‘personal transformation’.  And the reason for this is because the ‘system’ needs to be transformed.  (By ‘system’ I mean the current economic and social system which is geared for unsustainable growth.  A new ‘system’ would be a brand new thing that enabled 7 billion of us to live sustainably on the planet.)

This direct link between personal and system transformation makes intuitive sense to me.  The current system is bound by inertia and ‘the way things have always been done’.  It therefore takes a great effort to change this.  As a result, it’s fairly naive to expect people to go against the grain of the prevailing ‘system’ and be motivated to change  unless they themselves have changed.  They will have had to have changed so much that they are not only able to see the limits of the current system and their place within it, but also able to see what changes are required and able to affect those changes.  This requires a dramatic shift in values, identity and motivation.  Noting short of a ‘personal transformation’.

What you get if you put 'system change into Google Images (pt2)

Now, maybe you just need 5% of the population to do this?  Or maybe 10%? or 20%?  What’s the minimum number of people who need to undergo a personal transformation in order to actually change the system?  And who are those people?  To talk the language of ‘Occupy’, does it need to include the ‘1%’?  If so, how the heck do you do that because they’re the ones with the most vested interest in keeping the current system just as it is.  Or is that another one of those pesky ‘assumptions’?!

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