Guest Article: Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi – The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision

I am delighted to share this news from Fritjof about his new book, The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision, co-authored with Professor Pier Luigo Luisi. I will be writing a full review of the book in a few week’s time, but for now I wanted to let you know that the book is out now, a book which I am sure will soon be one of the key references for all students of systems thinking the world over.

Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi

The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision

Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi

Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi

As the twenty-first century unfolds, a new scientific conception of life is emerging.

It is a unified view that integrates, for the first time, life’s biological, cognitive, social and ecological dimensions. At the forefront of contemporary science, the universe is not longer seen as a machine  composed of elementary building blocks. We have discovered that the material world, ultimately, is a network of inseparable patterns of relationships; that the planet as a whole is a living, self-regulating system.

The view of the human body as a machine and of the mind as a separate entity is being replaced by one that sees not only the brain, but also the immune system, the bodily tissues, and even each cell as a living, cognitive system. Evolution is no longer seen as a competitive struggle for existence, but rather as a cooperative dance in which creativity and the constant emergence of novelty are the driving forces. And with the new emphasis on complexity, networks, and patterns of organization, a new science of qualities is slowly emerging.

A-Systems-View-of-Life-615x290

This new science encompasses many concepts and ideas that are being developed by outstanding researchers and their teams around the world. In our multidisciplinary textbook, we integrate these ideas into a single coherent framework. We call it “the systems view of life” because it involves a new kind of thinking — thinking in terms of relationships, patterns, and context. In science, this way of thinking is known as “systems thinking,” or “systemic thinking.” It is inherently multidisciplinary, and thus helps to overcome the fragmentation that is characteristic of our academic disciplines.

In The Systems View of Life we present a broad sweep through the history of ideas and across scientific disciplines. Beginning with the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution, our historical account includes the evolution of Cartesian mechanism from the seventeenth to the twentieth century, the rise of systems thinking, the development of complexity theory, recent discoveries at the forefront of biology, the emergence of the systemic conception of life at the turn of this century, and its economic, ecological, political, and spiritual implications.

We believe that it will be critical for present and future generations of young researchers and graduate students to understand the new systemic conception of life and its implications for a broad range of professions — from economics, management, and politics, to medicine, psychology, and law. In addition, the book will be useful for undergraduate students in the life sciences and the humanities.

Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi The Systems View of LifeIn the last part of our book, titled “Sustaining the Web of Life,” we identify the major problems of our time — energy, environment, climate change, inequality, etc. — as systemic problems, which means that they are all interconnected and interdependent. We highlight the importance of the systemic understanding of life for finding corresponding systemic solutions that will help us meet one of the great challenges of our time: to build and nurture sustainable communities. We then review a wide variety of such systemic solutions that already exist; and we conclude that the systems view of life has given us the knowledge and the technologies to build a sustainable future. This is perhaps the primary reason why we believe that our book is so important for today’s students — the world leaders of tomorrow.

The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision is currently now available via Amazon in the UK (www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1107011361). It will lauch in the US on May 31st.

 

Guest Article: Karn G. Bulsuk – Genchi Genbutsu – How it helped Toyota win a multi-million dollar contract

I am very happy to be able to publish this case study from Karn G. Bulsuk. Karn is a consultant with extensive experience in both the public and private sectors, in organizations including the World Bank, Toyota and KPMG. He has significant international experience, and has been based in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Japan and Australia, with experience in managing multicultural cross-border teams throughout the region.

During his tenure at Toyota, he taught the Toyota Production System to Toyota staff in Thailand, as well as adapted it to suit service-based Toyota subsidiaries. He was also responsible for implementing HR process improvement projects. His present consulting specialization is on process improvement and IT risk mitigation, and has led engagement teams for some of the largest banking, telecommunication and industrial companies in the world.

This case study is an excellent example of why we in business need to learn how to see. The Chief Operating Officer in the case study for me shows a high level of extremely insightful mindfulness and a deep understanding of customer needs. It is wonderful anecdote and I am grateful to Karn for sharing this story, one of many from his blog where he shares a great deal of his experience.

Genchi Genbutsu – How it helped Toyota win a multi-million dollar contract

Karn G. Bulsuk

Karn G. Bulsuk

Karn G. Bulsuk

Genchi Genbutsu (現地現物) is another pillar of the Toyota Way. Translated roughly into “go see for yourself”, its a methodology which helps people to truly understand a situation, find the root causes and fix it appropriately.

Here we look at a case study in how genchi genbutsu helped Toyota Tsusho win a major government contract in Malaysia supplying noise absorbing walls for highways.

Several years ago I was attended a series of training sessions with senior executives from Toyota Tsusho, the trading wing of the Toyota Group. We were formally taught the Toyota Way, which was something that had not been previously formalized within the company, as well as conducted case studies and shared our experiences.

The story below highlighted the importance of genchi genbutsu, and is the perfect case study to show how it was essential in helping Toyota Tsusho to win a multi-million dollar contract in Malaysia:

Photo: Gordana Davila

Photo: Gordana Davila

We have a good relationship with the Malaysian government, and a few months ago we were told that they were looking for a new supplier of those noise absorbing walls you see used along side the highway. Besides protecting cars from flying off the side in an accident, they also help to reduce noise pollution being generated by the thousands of cars passing by every hour.

So naturally we got our team together, and threw together a proposal in record speed. The contract was lucrative, offering millions of ringgit.

We sent in the proposal and did the usual thing: waited. After a good deal of time later and several follow ups, a contact within the government had told us that our proposal had already been rejected in-committee. What we had proposed was simply too expensive.

The working team was rather surprised, as we offered the government the best, highest quality wall we had, and also provided them with a very competitive price. We conducted several five whys but none of them led to the root cause.

Our COO (Chief Operating Officer) was due to fly into Kuala Lumpur to see how we were doing, just a few days after we had found out that the proposal had been unofficially rejected. He too was interested in finding out the root cause in why we were no longer competitive in the bid, and whether anything could be done to help us win.

When he landed in KL that week, the driver asked him: “Shall I take you to the office?”

He replied: “No, its okay, let’s go in a bit later. Just take me around for a drive around the city.”

“Any place in particular boss?” asked the driver.

“Surprise me.”

A few hours later, he arrived at the office and asked to see the proposal, pouring over the writing in absolute detail.

“Here’s the problem”, he said, pointing to the model we offered to the government. “This is the best in the market and although we use this in Japan, Malaysia isn’t ready for it.”

He explained: “Have you noticed that the Malaysia highways all use a much older, but cheaper version of noise absorbing wall?”

Our team shook our heads.

“That’s the problem. They can’t afford this yet. It’s true that our offering is superior to what the Malaysians are using, but economic reality is the reality that we live with.”

“We have good quality and the people in the government know that. If you redo the proposal and offer them a cheaper version which matches what they’re using here, while emphasizing our service and quality, we stand a chance of winning.”

We revised and resubmitted the proposal, and a few weeks later we found out that we had been selected as the supplier of the walls.

*   *   *

What this case study illustrates is the importance of understanding a situation through first-hand experience. By seeing the situation for himself, the COO was able to determine the true issue and solve the correct root cause.

By looking with your own eyes you will understand the reality, and from reality, you will know how to approach an issue.

Acknowledgements

This article is copyright © Karn G. Bulsuk and was first published on his blog www.bulsuk.com.

Kark is on twitter, @karnbulsuk, and on Facebook www.facebook.com/Bulsuk

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A Buddhist CEO in Brazil. Is it really possible?

A Buddhist CEO in Brazil. Is it really possible?In just a few day’s time, our book Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter will be available from UK distributors. In my previous post I have just written about the fictional story Joia Rara, centred around the idea of Buddhism and the reincarnation of a Lama monk in Brazil in the 1940s (See Love, Peace, Enlightenment – The End of Joia Rara).

In Joia Rara, one of the characters Franz Hauser takes over control of Hauser group from his ailing father, and decides to turn it into a collective, where all workers benefit from the profits, much like the John Lewis partnership in the UK.

Maria and myself with Sérgio Chaia

Maria and myself with Sergio Chaia

In Holonomics, Maria and I interview Sergio Chaia, who at the time of writing was CEO of Nextel Brasil, and who is now Vice-President and Director General of security group Symantec for Brazil and Latin America. Sergio shares his insights from Buddhism, his spiritual path in life, and how these great teachings can be applied to leadership in business today.

For Sergio, the greatest attribute a leader can have is self-knowledge, and through developing self-knowledge, leaders can build great businesses through empowering their people.

Sergio has also written his own book about this leadership philosophy, Será que é possível? (Is it Possible?), which is published in Brazil in Portuguese, and Maria and I are delighted to be able to share his teachings to a wider global audience through Holonomics.

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Dialogue on Leadership: Presidents who Practice Mindfulness – Two Amazing Examples from Brazil

Love, Peace, Enlightenment – The End of Joia Rara

Pérola comforts Manfred

Pérola comforts Manfred

I have written three previous articles about the Brazilian soap opera Joia Rara and to be honest I was not expecting to be writing a final and fourth one. In my first article – In Praise of Joia Rara – I just wanted to say how mind-blowingly excellent and high quality this soap opera was, dealing as it did with the theme of Buddhism.

In my second article – Compassion, forgiveness and Joia Rara – I dealt specifically with the themes of compassion and forgiveness, and how these greatest of human qualities seem to be so lacking in our television programmes today which more often than not glamorise violence, sex and mindlessly cheesy ostentatious consumption as the path to happiness and fulfilment.

This article is also translated into Portuguese – Compaixão e Perdão em Jóia Rara. Maria was also moved to write her own article about the hero’s journey and human values in Joia Rara - A Jornada do Herói: Valores Humanos em Joia Rara.

And then in my final article – The Romantic Conception of Life in Joia Rara – I moved my focus away from the main characters to take a look at some of the additional story lines and romances and how these were interwoven into the richly fabric that is the world of Joia Rara. I wanted to talk about many other members of the cast, all who have delivered powerful and moving performances, meaning that the experience of Joia Rara is one of authentic wholeness, a wholeness that is rarely achieved in practice since the whole team – writers, production, acting – all have to have a deep and sensitive understanding of the essence of Joia Rara, in order to allow it to come into being as it so amazingly has.

Duca Rachid and Thelma Guedes

Duca Rachid and Thelma Guedes

Never in my life have I been so intensely involved in a programme, let alone a soap opera. I had been expecting an emotional ending, and having seen a few pictures on Facebook before the last episode last night, I was expecting the programme to end at the cabaret hall where many of the characters work and perform. Of course the cabaret did feature with all of the cast present (bar the “villains” of course) and the two writers Duca Rachid and Thelma Guedes also made a cameo appearance as members of the audience which was a sweet touch. But what an emotional final two days we have had. I will try and summarise the ending, in order that you understand just how insanely amazing this experience has been.

This last week saw the final disintegration of Manfred, a character who in any other soap opera would be a black and white villain, but who in Joia Rara plays a character who although we see committing atrocities, is treated with non-judgement by those he has wronged, principally Ernest, the man he grew up thinking was his father but who we learnt had sent him to work in a child-labour camp. Manfred, who is consumed by paranoia, hatred and revenge, kidnaps Pérola, the girl he believes is his daughter, but his plan to escape to France is thwarted, and he holds up in a desolate barn for weeks, not having a plan, and with Pérola growing dangerously ill with a fever.

Pérola and Manfred

Pérola and Manfred

Eventually their location is discovered, and both the police and Pérola’s family arrive to talk Manfred into seeing reason and allowing Pérola to be set free. But Manfred has other plans, and manages to escape with Pérola, who he leaves in another farm shed, only to have his car blocked by the pursuing police. With police guns aimed at him, he makes a sudden and rash move, with Ernest, who we know is not his father, dashing instinctively at Manfred to help him.  But both Ernest and Manfred get shot, and in this scene we see the fear of Manfred, as he realises these will be his last moments, in the arms of Earnest.

Ernest and Manfred

Ernest and Manfred

Both Carmo Dalla Vecchia and José de Abreu totally excel in their roles, and in these moments of intense tragedy, as I have already written about, characters find solace and a level of humanity rarely seen in soap opera characters, allowing them to forgive and find peace within themselves.

Gertrude visits Ernest

Gertrude visits Ernest

Manfred passes away, leaving Earnest in a serious condition in hospital, where he is visited by Gertrude (Ana Lucia Torre), who reveals to Ernest that it was she who killed his wife, and not him as he had erroneously thought all these years, filling him with a guilt which had consumed him, eaten away at him, and a crime for which his children could not forgive him. In these moments, we experience the story of Joia Rara not as a simple linear progression, but as a Buddhist circle of life, with actions, both good and bad, coming back to us, the writers deftly crafting memories of our deeds from a misguided youth into the story.

Sonan

Sonan

Pérola of course is still missing, hiding, exhausted and scared in the barn as a storm breaks. Sonan (Caio Blat), who although is no longer a monk but who remains her guide and teacher, meditates as his wife Matilde sleeps, and he realises he has to go and seek Pérola.

Sonan finds Pérola

Sonan finds Pérola

In an age when supernatural programmes only seem to feature supernatural violence, horror and evil, this is a gentle spirituality which evokes a sense of connection with all of life, something deeper than just a material, fragmented and ultimately meaningless universe. In a scene which gave both Maria and I goosebumps, as he walks through a forest, the clouds break, and a ray of sunshine points towards the direction to where he will find Pérola.

It is worth remembering at this point that Pérola is played by nine-year old Mel Maia, who not has only had to play an enlightened Rinpoche, but has had to enact every emotion under the sun, both fear and heartbreak as well as compassion and love, a level of performance that many actors twice or three times her age would struggle to achieve.

Ernest finds peace

Ernest finds peace

 

With Pérola now safe and recovered from the fever, she and Ernest’s children visit him in hospital, where it is clear he has no resistance to life, he has no battles to fight, and he has found peace within himself. His daughter Hilda, and two sons Vikor and Franz both forgive him and declare their love for him, and then depart, leaving Earnest alone with Sonan and Pérola. Sonan guides Pérola to place her hands on Ernest’s forehead, and as he slips into sleep they offer one final mantra for him.

Franz and Amélia

Franz and Amélia

At no point does Joia Rara descend into schmaltz, as so many American soap operas are want to do. We see time passing in the lives of the characters, and one by one the many couples who came together start to marry. We are also taken to the gathering of the family, where the lawyers reads the final will and testament of Ernest, but in this potent scene, the words of the will are read by de Abreu, and as you can see above, Bruno Gagliasso continues deliver a contemplative intensity, supported ably of course by his wife, played by Bianca Bin.

Pérola

Pérola

What then came next was just totally unexpected, and was definitely the best ending I have ever witnessed to any drama series in my life. We move forward in time to when Pérola is a young adult, and she returns to Tibet to the monastery to take up her role as a monk.

Tweets

A few days ago I sent a tweet to Thelma Guedes and José de Abreu in which I mentioned that it would be amazing to see Joia Rara set in modern day Brazil, to see what had happened to the descendants. In all honesty, I was talking about my hopes for a new series, and yet José wrote back to hint that maybe I would see something, who knows? As I was thinking about a new series, it never occurred to me that he may have been talking about the end of this series! Actually, Maria had also written an article some weeks ago observing that for her, Ernest’s life seemed to be following that of Buddha, and a few days ago Ernest himself made this very same observation.

Rinpoche Pérola

Rinpoche Pérola

After seeing the ceremony in Tibet, we were then taken to a room set in 2014, with Rinpoche Pérola (now played by the highly esteemed actress Gloria Menezes), being interviewed by a journalist, who asks her about her autobiography. Pérola relates the stories of many of the characters, what had happened, and where they had ended up. Pérola’s parents Franz and Amélia had never spent a day apart, and they died together at the same time, having lived an honest and fulfilling life together in peace and harmony.

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi

But then we saw Pérola take to the stage at a congress where she gave the most outstanding and uplifting speech about peace and love. As she does so, we see scenes of war and terrorism, but then we see Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King and The Dalai Lama.

Inside each and every one of us is love

Inside each and every one of us is love

Below is my own translation of Pérola’s final speech (without the help of Maria – who is away today but who will be writing her own final article about Joia Rara in the next few days). Duca Rachid and Thelma Guedes have been outstanding beyond words in this final scene, which really has to be watched, and so I can only say one final thing.

Congratulations to everyone who has taken part and contributed to Joia Rara. It has been phenomenal, and a production that each and every Brazilian can be proud of. There has been nothing like it every broadcast before, and in a Brazil which is so desperately lacking in leadership, what a sheer joy to have Joia Rara articulate such a powerful message of peace, love, forgiveness and enlightenment in these troubled times in which we live. Thank you to all of you.

Dear companions on this beautiful journey through life,

Today we are here to talk about peace. Many beings are suffering on this planet due to a lack of peace. Human beings are destroying the lives of others, attacking buildings around the world, all for money and power. But no one is in peace, they are suffering, causing pain.

We think that peace exists in the love of another. So who is this other who we should love? This person is ourselves. Love is the true rare jewel (joia rare) in life.

In this room, in this city, in this country, in this planet, in this galaxy, in this universe, everything is extremely delicate. The essence of these new times of great confusion and endless barriers which don’t stop, they don’t exist, they are an illusion.

We are all together. Many scientists, including Nobel prize winners, see life from the ground to the heaven as a beautiful poem. We need to live in peace.

Let us meditate on our negative thoughts which can hurt our neighbours. If we can smile it can reach to the other side of the world. Our love and respect for every creature will reach and benefit every creature in the universe.

It is only compassion and love for every being on this planet which will bring peace and happiness to all.

Peace is a decision of each and every one of us because each one of us has inside of us love.

The truth is that love is the rare jewel of life.

Joia Rara

Related Articles

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Compassion, forgiveness and Joia Rara

Compaixão e Perdão em Jóia Rara

A Jornada do Herói: Valores Humanos em Joia Rara

The Romantic Conception of Life in Joia Rara

From Economic Brand Value to Holonomic Brand Value

Sustainable Foods Summit

I have had a really interesting couple of days at the Sustainable Foods Summit in São Paulo. This was the first Latin American edition of this international summit, organised by Organic Monitor, and I gave the opening keynote speech on the second day which focussed on marketing best practices in the morning, and sustainable packaging in the afternoon.

The title I chose for my talk was “From Economic Brand Value to Holonomic Brand Value” and in it I asked the questions what is an authentic brand, how can we truly encounter a brand, and what role do human values play? I thought I would therefore share this talk with you in this article.

You may be wondering about the word holonomics. Although the word was first used in 1896 to describe a branch of mathematics, we coined a new definition for the word, which can be thought of as the combination of the words economics and wholeness.

My wife Maria and I are the co-authors of the book Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter, and this describes a new way of thinking which teaches business leaders and managers how to respond, adapt and communicate in new, innovative ways. This new way of thinking, which we call holonomic thinking, can of course be applied to branding, and so it is this theme I would like to explore.

Holonomic brand value relates not just to monetary value, but to ethics and human values. Here in Brazil, in the latest advert for Friboi meat, Roberto Carlos, a vegetarian for decades says to the waiter that he has returned to eating meat because the meat is Friboi. It was widely reported that Carlos is still a vegetarian, despite what he says in this advert.

The advert caused a scandal in Brazil, and many Brazilians expressed their anger on social networks. If brands are to promote sustainable behavious in consumers, they have to have integrity, their words must match their actions, and I feel that it is not helpful to have one of Brazil’s greatest role models say one thing, but do another.

Dee Hock Quote

I am a member of Biomimicry for Creative Innovation. All members of the group have as their mantra ‘Business inspired by nature.” This quote above really captures the essence of this mantra at a very deep level.

Dee Hock: Credit - Social Action DK

Dee Hock: Credit – Social Action DK

The quote comes from Dee Hock, the founder of VISA. The original organisational structure of VISA was inspired by the complex and dynamic structures found in nature. One of the key reasons why VISA was successful, and created in such a short timeframe was due to the shared values of all the participants. These values were openness, fairness, trust and confidence.

Hock understood the wholeness of nature, a wholeness that most people are not able to see, not able to understand. The reason is that for many of us, the quality of our thinking is limited.

Mercedes brain advert

Credit: Shalmor Avnon Amichay/Y&R Interactive

Although neuroscientists understood that the brain was not divided into a rational side and an emotional side in the early 1980s, people today still believe this to be true. This advert from Mercedes is just one thousands of examples.

The brain is divided, and the two hemispheres do operate in profoundly different ways, but not as we realise. The left hemisphere provides instrumental attention. This allows us to manipulate objects, and use things for our benefit. But this type of attention is narrowly focussed, and it means that we experience reality as fragmented, static and ultimately lifeless.

Wholeness Fractal

It is the right hemisphere that provides what one might call relational attention, enabling us to see the whole picture, to form social bonds, to inhabit and belong to the world we see, rather than simply being detached from it and using it.

However, I would like to suggest that since the era of industrialisation to our modern age of technology, we have become out of balance, and our thinking has become dominated by the left brain way of seeing, especially in western economies.

These insights on the divided brain come from psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Modern World. Iain has written a recent guest article for Transition Consciousness which is well worth a read if you are interested in this topic: Guest Article: Iain McGilchrist replies to Stephen Kosslyn and Wayne Miller on the divided brain.

Many people today say that in order to solve the complex problems we face, we need a higher level of consciousness. People can develop this higher level of consciousness by upgrading their mental operating system to one which we call the Holonomic Operating System.

The Holonomic Operating System

The Holonomic Operating System

In the modern business world, dominated by technology, thinking is valued above all other ways of knowing the world. This is the logical, rational and symbolic way of thinking which separates us from the world.

Note here that feeling is opposite thinking. Feeling is not emotion. It is through feeling that we achieve a sense of connection to other people and to nature.

Sensing is the way of knowing of artists, photographers, painters and chefs. Whereas sensory knowing is very concrete, intuition provides us with a much deeper sense of the meaning of phenomena. It is responsible for insights, scientific discoveries and new ways of seeing.

Discovering the four ways of knowing can be extremely powerful, especially for business executives who may be really stuck in thinking. Here is an exercise which Maria and I ran for business executives responsible for strategy in major Brazilian companies.

Working with clay

Credit: Simon Robinson

We blindfolded them and gave them lumps of clay. We asked a simple question – with your hands create something which represents your relationship with nature and the concept of sustainability.

It was quite remarkable the stories and insights which the executives came up with. Here is a model of a person, and the arm actually broke. The person who made this said that it was representative of the fact that our heads were now out of proportion with the rest of our bodies.

Creations in clay

Credit: Simon Robinson

In the photo we also see children, and for some people the sense of the clay took them back to their childhoods, the last time they remembered such sensory experiences. Another person created children to symbolise the fact that it was only when he had children that he became interested in sustainability.

This exercise was extremely emotional and powerful for those taking part. It can be used to discover new insights about our brands, and new ways to communicate about our brands.

There were many excellent businesses and organisations here at the summit. I only had time to discuss one example which was Villa Brasil, a new umbrella brand created by the social enterprise SBrasil, to whom I provide mentoring and advice on branding, marketing and strategy. SBrasil created a new mark, Fair Brasil, and currently sell Villa Brasil Coffee to local businesses in Belo Horizonte.

Credit: Simon Robinson

Credit: Simon Robinson

What is interesting about the approach SBrasil take is that they are developing authentic ecosystems, ecosystems where each partner in the value chain shares the same set of values. When a partner signs up to the programme, they do not just sign a contract, but also sign up to a code of ethics, which is a demonstration of their commitment to the project in every aspect.

Just like ecosystems in nature, this kind of ecosystem takes time to develop, since there is a lot of work with communities and organisations based around the exploration of the code of ethics, which is not imposed, but emerges from dialogue within the community and organisation.

To summarise, we do not just encounter brands not just through our rational minds, we connect through feeling, interact through sensing, and comprehend the authenticity of a brand in our intuition. This authenticity can only come through a deep belief in human values. Although this is by no means a definitive list, these are the ones that Maria and I attempt to live our lives by:

Human Values

Authentic brands are ones which truly connect with their customers, and which truly connect with nature. The meaning of a brand cannot be imposed on others and is not static. Brands have to be allowed to live.

I would therefore like to conclude with this new concept of a brand, inspired of course by the words of Dee Hock:

Dee Hock Quote

I was greatly honoured to be invited to speak at the summit, and I also chaired the first afternoon session which examined the impact, design and advances in sustainable packaging. There were many extremely interesting, wide-ranging and detailed talks, with representatives from Unilever, Walmart, Braskem, Grup Pão de Açucar, Native, WWF, OrganicsBrasil, Intituto Akatu, Ampfy, Creez and Organic Monitor, the London-based organisers of the event.

If you are interested in finding more about holonomic thinking, you can read the first few chapters of Holonomics via the preview here on Floris Books. It can be pre-ordered, and is due to be available via Amazon.co.uk and other UK distributors on 7th April. For those of you outside of the UK, the book will also available via The Book Depository on 7th, who offer free worldwide postage. The eBook launches in May, and will be available on Amazon.com in late May/early June.

The next European Sustainable Foods Summit will be in Amsterdam on 5th – 6th June of this year, and for more information please see www.sustainablefoodssummit.com/europe. Organic Monitor organise many other events, and the next Sustainable Cosmetics Summit will be in New York, 15th – 17th May.

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Holonomic Brand Values: What can we learn from a Brazilian gym?

Guest Article: Iain McGilchrist replies to Stephen Kosslyn and Wayne Miller on the divided brain

Dee Hock in his own words

Photos from the Fair Trade Breakfast, Belo Horizonte

Bamboo teachings for the positively deviant

Simon with Sara Parkin

Simon with Sara Parkin

Maria and I have just returned from a very wonderful weekend at the eco-learning centre Fazenda dos Bambus of Instituto Jatobás. We were guests of Betty Feffer, the president of the institute, along with a small number of other invited guests.

Positive Deviant

We were all there in order to be able to spend time with both Betty and Sara Parkin, who has been the guest of the institute here in Brazil, for the launch of the Portuguese edition of her book The Positive Deviant: Sustainability Leadership in a Perverse World, and also to help spread her message during many meetings, lectures and conference presentations. I have already written an article and review of her book which you can read here: The launch of the Brazilian edition of Sara Parkin’s ‘Positive Deviant’.

Maria with Sara Parkin

Maria with Sara Parkin

For many years Sara has been one of the UK’s leading activists and teachers of sustainability. She is Founder Director of Forum for the Future, the UK’s foremost sustainable development charity. She established the well regarded Leadership for Sustainable Development Masters at Forum and received an OBE in 2001 for services to education and sustainability.

Our guest house

Our guest house

The fazenda (farm) is situated close to the town of Pardinho, in the state of São Paulo, some two hours drive from the metropolis. As well as the house of Betty, there is a large class room, a dining room and kitchen, and a small number of beautiful guest houses, such as the one in the picture above where Maria and I stayed.

In the afternoon Maria and I were asked to offer a short exercise for everyone, and so we decided to give everyone a glass prism, and explore Goethe’s theory of colours. As there was no projector available, we actually used the entire barn as a canvas, as it had some thick wooden beams interlocking across the white walls of the interior, exploring how both warm and cool colours come into being at the boundary of dark and light. For those of you who are interested, you may wish to read my article Creative conversation: What can a £9 glass prism teach visionaries, design thinkers and game changers?

Bamboo

Bamboo

On Saturday morning, a few of us went for a walk with Francis, who is a member of the team at the fazenda, and an artist and musician, who guided us through what can only be described as an incredibly enchanting forest. Following lunch, Betty gave us a tour of the buildings, art installations, and the very amazing meditative area, a tranquil space next to the stream where large bamboos arc into the air forming a natural open-air cathedral.

Bamboo

The fazenda is a working fazenda which produces bamboo, hence the first photo of myself and Sara which was taken inside an area designed to allow young bamboo saplings to grow in a protected space. It is quite amazing how versatile bamboo can be, and it features extensively throughout the ecocentre. It was even mixed in with the cement on the floor of the dining building, creating a warm organic bronzed-yellow colour.

Bamboo guitar

Bamboo guitar

On Saturday evening we were treated to some guitar playing from Eliseu Pinheiro Lopes, who had hand-made his own guitar out of bamboo. I picked it up, and found that it was surprisingly heavy, or rather, heavier than I had expected. I also strummed a few chords, and the tone was extremely rich. Eliseu works at the fazenda, and on Sunday morning we were shown one of the buildings he has been creating, which has walls built from PET plastic bottles, the bottoms of which created floral patterns, as you can see below.

PET bottle wall

PET bottle wall

On Sunday morning Betty took us to visit Centro Max Feffer, which is situated in the centre of Pardinho, the town next to the fazenda. This is a centre for sustainability and education, and I was able to take this photo of the spectacular architecture at night.

Centro Max Feffer

Centro Max Feffer

The eco-building, which was designed by Leiko Hama Motomura, is visited regularly by architects the world over, receiving recognition for its sustainable construction, including a certificate in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – LEED, from the Green Building Council in the United States.

Centro Max Feffer

Centro Max Feffer

The innovative design, which includes the spectacular bamboo frame for the roof, has many features such as the use of recycled water, natural lighting and reduced energy consumption. Many of the materials used were reclaimed, including these ornate metal frames for one of the walls, which in fact were reclaimed waste from a factory which had stamped out the holes for use in their manufacturing of machine parts.

Centro Max Feffer

Centro Max Feffer

Both Maria and I really enjoyed this weekend. It was amazing to learn about the various projects Instituto Jatobás are involved in, and also to be able to spend some quality time engaging in deep discussion in such a richly energising and beautiful location. It is quite incredible what both Betty and her committed team at Instituto Jatobás have achieved, and I hope you have enjoyed this short tour of yet another example of ecological sustainability excellence in practice here in Brazil.