Organisations usually have their own established processes and mental models when it comes to innovation. A systemic transformative approach might be something different and unknown, so the first stage of systemic transformation is to re-evaluate the mindsets required for the process ahead.
Thinking systemically and transformative about innovation brings both challenges and opportunities. It means taking responsibility for the system as a whole and to embrace interconnectedness. It also means making your organisation an active ecosystem participant.
A systemic approach requires that all stakeholders share a common mindset:
– The basics of systems thinking: When you are a part of a system, your actions influence the whole.
– No systemic innovation in a vacuum: You cannot operate in silos, but have to collaborate as part of the ecosystem.
– Systemic innovation needs a purpose: Set a direction that is relevant to the organisation and respects planetary and humanitarian boundaries.
– The process will be thought provoking: Stakeholders must be open to questioning many aspects of their own mental models.
It’s important to note that systemic innovation is not a cure for everything. In this playbook we are addressing transformation processes, i.e. going from one way of doing things to a new way of doing things. One example is transforming from a linear to a circular business model.
Not all organisations are ready for working like this. Systemic innovation, when the right mindset is not in place, could end up causing more problems than solutions.
The key is to apply new ways of thinking. Working with transformative systemic innovation does not mean that you should stop working in a traditional linear way all together: Both traditional and new ways and mindsets are necessary.
We need to understand and “dance” with the system as well as getting things done with timelines, milestones and projects. Putting all efforts and resources into the transformation alone, would result in navigating into chaos.
The traditional linear organisation is designed primarily for stability. It is a static, siloed, structural hierarchy. Goals and decisions flow down the hierarchy, with the most powerful governance bodies at the top. It operates through linear planning and control.
In contrast, a systemic organisation is designed for both stability and dynamics at the same time. It is a network of teams within a people-centered culture. The systemic organisation is guided by a strong purpose. A systemic organisation can easily co-create with other stakeholders within an ecosystem, as it has the ability to efficiently configure and adapt.
For the transformation to be successful, we argue for systemic organisation as a guiding principle.
Systemic transformation plays an important part in responding to climate change and social inequality. Adding a regenerative dimension makes the process more complicated, but we believe it is necessary to succeed.
Regenerative sustainability could be described as the “next wave of sustainability”. It is a more holistic way of thinking about sustainability than the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Regenerative sustainability means to integrate “inner” (mindsets, world views, paradigms and behaviour) and “outer” dimensions of the sustainability necessary for transformation. Instead of seeing gaps between “problems” and “solutions”, regenerative sustainability sees systems as transitory states that handle complexity and seek a state of wellbeing.
To envision a regenerative future, we must be open to values and principles that are truly regenerative. These values and principles will allow us to solve challenges with a systemic perspective.