Thanks to Sarah Brooks and The Natural Step


Thanks to Sarah Brooks for her inspiring presentation on the Natural Step framework at Change@ING DIRECT on November 2nd. She spoke about how it can be used for any business or organization to set a long term vision for their company, understand their impacts on the planet, and make systemic, step by step changes to reach that vision. 

The audience was lively, the questions incisive, and the sushi and wine delicious! Thanks ING DIRECT! I invited Sarah to speak at our event after taking the Natural Step Leaders Level 1 training last year, and being quite blown away by the potential of this simple framework to change business as we know it. Needless to say, trying to distill the essence of this action packed 3 day course into a 15mn presentation was quite a feat. I asked Sarah to focus on 2 slides in that course that helped me to drastically re-frame my view of business and how we interact with the planet.

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Want a crash course?


Basically it goes like this… The slide starts off with just leaf and cow… Essentially 2 kindsof cels exist on our planet: Plant cels, and animal cels. There is a perfect cycle that exists between these 2 types of cels: plants provide nutrients for the animal cels to survive in the form of food, and, in return, animals provide nutrients for plants to survive in the form of, well, poop (and rotten stuff).

In addition, because we are in an open system with respect to energy or sunlight, and that plant cels are the only cels that create structure from chaos on the planet (rather than the other way around) from this sunlight by the process of photosynthesis, it becomes clear that ”photosynthesis pays the bill” for the creation of all of the cels that are needed to sustain life on this planet.
Other than very slow geological cycles like sedimentation, we are in a closed system with respect to matter: nothing disappears but is simply re absorbed (if possible)

From this simple picture of how our planet works, and how it can continue to operate in perpetuity, it is now possible to see how business interferes with this cycle, and from this infer what businesses need to “NOT do” in order to maintain a sustainable living conditions on this planet:

  1. Do not systematically pump foreign compounds into the air, soil or water in concentrations that nature cannot deal with
  2. Do not systematically extract stuff from this earth’s crust faster than nature can replace it
  3. Do not systematically degrade or physically inhibit nature’s ability to do it’s thing (ie run natural life cycles)
  4. Do not systematically create organizations that prevent people from meeting their physical and emotional needs.

Simple! Maybe it’s just me, but this opens up a whole new world of how businesses can re-analyze their relationship with the planet and the practices and decisions that they make in their operations.
If you are intrigued, there is Natural Step For Leaders Course on in Vancouver next week! promotional code BOC-TNS-2010 will provide Board of Change members with a 10% discount on the Level 1 course in Vancouver.

Fear not if you can’t make it! they are held once a year in Vancouver and also offered in other cities internationally, and other courses are available online…

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