Biology of Business : Creating prosperity for People & Planet

What a totally inspiring weekend I’ve just had in Auckland. A last minute decision to stay in town and go to see Elisabet Sahtouris speak, has turned into a full on learning experience which I’m really grateful for.

Image courtesy of Lexicon of Sustainability

Let’s take a step back – the last 50 or 60 years has been a pretty formative time here on Earth, with a couple of competing ideologies having diverged how various nations have approached creating prosperity for their citizens. I grew up in the ‘Western world’ which took a Capitalist approach to things. Undoubtedly there has been significant advancements in standard of living, and drastic shifts & innovation in many industries. Only now, however, is mass awareness emerging for how this value is being ‘created’ and at what cost.


From my understanding, it’s fair to say a lot of this prosperity has been borrowed from Earth & borrowed from our future. Capitalism has ramped up the Industrialised way of ‘manufacturing value’ over the last 50-60 years, which could be characterized as largely ‘extractive’ and linear in it’s approach to creating good & services; extract, process, trade, dispose. We’re now seeing around the world that this paradigm is not only unsustainable with a growing global population, but is in fact simply a race to the bottom.


This conference titled ‘The Biological Business Model’

Image courtesy of weretable:

began with the basic idea of regeneration of environmental, social & cultural capital, to create prosperity for People & Planet. It identified, of course, that people & planet are inseparable as we exist in a Living System, and therefore what’s good for the planet is also good for us.


We delved into Dr Sahtouris’ 16 principles for a business or organization which can create Regenerative value, which are inspired by her work in the deep study of nature, and the billions of years in which evolution has happened. Some people call the application of nature’s principles “Biomimicry”. I want to share these principles (which are available on Elisabet’s site) with you all as I find them really insightful:

  1. Self-creation (autopoiesis)
  2. Complexity (diversity of parts)
  3. Embeddedness in larger holons and dependence on them (holarchy)
  4. Self-reflexivity (autognosis/self-knowledge)
  5. Self-regulation/maintenance (autonomics)
  6. Response ability to internal and external stress or other change
  7. Input/output exchange of matter/energy/information with other holons
  8. Transformation of matter/energy/information
  9. Empowerment/employment of all component parts
  10. Communications among all parts
  11. Coordination of parts and functions
  12. Balance of Interests negotiated among parts, whole, and embedding holarchy
  13. Reciprocity of parts in mutual contribution and assistance
  14. Efficiency balanced by Resilience
  15. Conservation of what works well
  16. Creative change of what does not work well

The interesting part of this for me, is beginning to form a model for how we can build better businesses in c21st.

Image courtesy of gijsbertkoren :

How do we build businesses based on the fundamental needs of our global society rather than short term fads and wants? How do we ensure our businesses really create value (social, environmental, cultural & economic combined) rather than taking from the future generations? How do we build the future of business in the mold of mature ecosystems (cooperative & incredibly efficient) instead of pioneering ecosystems (competitive & wasteful)?


We’re going to be taking some great learnings away from this conference and seeing where we’re working well and where we can improve. We can already see there’s some good elements to our model, but we think we can do more, inspired by 3.8 billion years of evolution.

“No Business has ever faced a challenge that a Rainforest has not already created a solution for.”
~ Elisabet Sahtouris


If any of that is interesting to you, make sure you check out:

Elisabet Sahtouris’ website
Biomimicry Design Inspiration : AskNature
Biomimicry 3.8 : the portal to all things Biomimicry
Ashton Wylie Trust – hosts of the event

World-wide Partners

Bucky Box re-invests 2/3 of it's profit back into the local food movement, it's called the Global Partnership Program**Updated at 22/03/12**

The Bucky Box Global Partnership Fund is an evolution in its design.  Recently we committed to our constitution that the fund will be built from a minimum of 67% of our annual profits, which will be invested back into organizations taking action to create a sustainable food system – this is part of our social enterprise / social business model.


We see food distribution has become a profit centre, and we realise that ‘business as usual’ with software companies partially replacing supermarkets in this space, could in fact just heap more of the same problems on food producers (farmers) and consumers (us).


Instead, we envision a food distribution system which redistributes profits into the ‘food champions’ who don’t necessarily have a solid business model.  We’re talking NGO’s, advocates, researchers, and people focused on education, among others… people who are working for a better food system.


Our model is not a traditional ‘make it, then give a percentage away’.


No, we back ourselves to help make change where it’s most needed, so we’re going to invest our profits back through a more blended approach:

  • Partnerships through which we can co-create solutions together
  • Philanthropic-giving where we can bring something to the table
  • Ethical Impact Investment
  • Internal resources which facilitate connections, cross-pollination & projects which wouldn’t otherwise happen

courtesy of dpict:

We believe in something more than engaging in simple ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’.  We see our role as creating a positive impact business to its very core.  We know that positive social, environmental, and cultural outcomes can come hand in hand with economic rewards, and that regenerative solutions can flow through the veins of 21st Century Business. We believe in a more than profit future for business around the world.


Now… we understand you Local Foodies are some of the best advocates there is, but we’re also interested in helping out people & organizations who have supported you along the way.


Who gave you the spur to set up a box scheme? Where did you first learn of CSA’s?  Who brought the need for a local food system to your attention? Who gave you the education & resources to get started? Who’s helping design the future of the food system with people and planet as a starting point?


Let us know who those people are at @buckybox on twitter, with #BuckyChamp


“There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love: ‘skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

~ Steve Jobs