Authentic co-creation and innovation in the sharing economy

This is my updated diagram which represents the shift from Ego-nomics to Holonomics. It captures for me the essence of those aspects of ego we need to pay attention to, if we are to make the shift to authentic co-creation and innovation in the sharing economy.

Credit: Simon Robinson

Credit: Simon Robinson

A recent article of mine on Knotworks for Sustainable Brands seemed to catch quite a few people’s attention, which is where this word originates, and I have also added in the concept of shielding.

Putting up a shield is of course defensive, the main reaction of ego to others. We also put up shields to hide from others what our real intentions are, to keep our hidden agendas hidden.

We have to lower our shields to really be able to co-create and share, and that means only people with true power are able to do so, confident in themselves and having the humility to truly be able to see the contributions of others.

So yes, this is just a plea for people to really recognise the need for authenticity when talking about co-creation, sharing and conscious organisations and economics otherwise if people remain in ego things will always remain the same, just even more hidden with a new vocabulary.

Related Articles

Beware of Knotworks – Networks with Ego

On Creativity, Ego and Transformational Leadership

Guest Article: Maria Moraes Robinson – Sustainable Brands and Universal Human Values

Maria Moraes Robinson

Maria Moraes Robinson

In our book Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter we discuss five universal human values which are the basis of the Human Values in Education programme which was created in the 1960s by Indian educator Sathya Sai Baba. For Sathya Sai Baba, the great aim of education was the development of character. These five human values of peace, truth, love, right-action and non-violence are extremely powerful, because they focus on relationships.

Human Values in Education
A sustainable view of a business means that you take care of all the relationships you have, both insider and outside of the organisation. Authentic sustainability is how you treat your employees, nurture happiness, inspire people to do the best they can, and enabling the organisation to evolve, and so education should not just equip people with technical skills, but to develop wisdom, that people are able to make better choices, to have better lives and to be happy.

For a company to say it is sustainable, it first has to look after its own interior, just as a person cannot say they are sustainable if they do not know themselves. As people we have to take care of our health, our mind, our time and so it is with companies and sustainable brands. If a company is not absolutely careful with itself, it will not be with the outside, with clients, with the environment and all the relationships the company has.

What do these five universal human values mean in practice, for those people working inside organisations, and who are developing sustainable brands? They signify that:

  • You have to be in peace with yourself.
  • Your thoughts, speech and actions must all be in alignment, in order to be respected, and so you really have to be committed to the truth. In order that clients and customers have a good relationship with a brand and an organisation, the truth is essential, because if you can not deliver something, it is better to be truthful than dishonest.
  • You must have love for everyone and everything.
  • You have to act correctly in order to be reliable and transparent.
  • You have to be non-violent, and this means really listening to others, and having true dialogue, in order to be able to explore new ways of seeing.

These five human values create stronger relationships between customers and brands, develop wisdom, help people to make better choices, and to have better lives and to be happy.

Sustainable Brands

Next week Simon and I will be at Sustainable Brands, London where we will be discussing holonomic thinking and the important role human values play in helping organisations to develop truly authentic brands. Our opening plenary session will be broadcast live, and if you would like to watch please subscribe via this link:

Fully funded places and bursaries available at Schumacher College for their masters degrees

Schumacher College

Schumacher College

HolonomicsIt has been a very amazing few months for Maria and myself, with Holonomics now having launched globally. We have been delighted to hear from readers all over the world, such as in India, France, Singapore, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Finland, Australia, the US and Canada to name just a few countries.

And next week we will be at Sustainable Brands London sharing our experiences and insights with representatives from many of the world’s most important and well-known brands, discussing how we are putting Holonomics and holonomic thinking into practice.

As well as our own many years of corporate experience in change management, strategy, product marketing, business development, innovation and customer experience design, much of the inspiration in Holonomics comes from the masters degrees in Holistic Science and Economics for Transition. I am therefore very happy to share this news that there is both still bursary finding for the Ecological Design Thinking course, and also full funding for both Holistic Science and Economics for Transition. See below for information on how to apply.

Ecological Design ThinkingPostgraduate Programme in Ecological Design Thinking, January 2015
Schumacher College, MA, Pg Dip, Pg Cert, full or part-time
How can we transform human systems to make them fit for the 21st Century? Click on the flyer on the left to expand it to its full size.

Bursary places available for January 2015 start – apply now

This residential and ground-breaking programme brings together deep ecological thinking, socio-cultural dynamics and the tools of design in studio and practice to create a more resilient and thriving world.

Delivered by Schumacher College in partnership with Plymouth University

Click here for more information:

Chevening Global Scholarship Programme 2015, postgraduate funding
Apply before 15 November 2014

Fully funded places available on Schumacher College’s Holistic Science or Economics for Transition Postgraduate Programmes in September 2015. The offer is open to participants from 23 countries who can show their potential to be leaders of the future.

Please apply direct to Chevening here:

And also apply to the College here:

Related Articles

Grow Small, Think Beautiful: Ideas for a Sustainable World from Schumacher College

The Hermeneutic Dimension of Living Organisations

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Sometimes management consultants’ activities can appear to be quite abstract, especially those who utilise schemes such as models and frameworks of the organisation. When these forms of models are applied to an organisation, people are framed in terms of the model, and in interviews and surveys etc, people and their attitudes and opinions are discussed in terms of the model, i.e. they are forced into the framework. Often people will respond with comments such as ‘no, in fact here it is not like the way you are describing’ but the consultants want reality to be a certain way because they have brought a framework from outside.

In the 1960s, a number of students of physicist David Bohm’s, including Henri Bortoft, took his conceptualisation of wholeness out of quantum physics and into organisational design and change management, using the hologram as a template for thinking in a new way about wholeness.

Credit: Frank Defreitas Holography

Credit: Frank Defreitas Holography

Each person in an organisation is seen an expression of the organisation as a whole, so the whole organisation comes to expression to some degree through their role in the organisation. If the whole comes to expression in the parts, the way to understand the whole is through the way it is expressed in the parts, instead of trying to stand back to get an overview, and trying to make the parts fit together into a pre-conceived framework.

When you explore the whole organisation in this manner, it can sometimes seem as if you are entering into another dimension of the organisation compared with the usual way of thinking which can often seem quite abstract. What is needed from leadership is the capacity to see from within the whole of the organisation in which we work and live.

It is this dynamic way of seeing which we describe in our book Holonomics, and which is the same hermeneutical movement of thinking that Gadamer describes in Truth and Method. This dynamical way of seeing is also the same movement upstream that Goethe utilised in his organic understanding of the metamorphosis of plants and the coming-into-being of colour as described in his Theory of Colours.

But one thing Henri always warned about was not to confuse the contents with the container. Don’t confuse the fundamental movement in thinking with the way in which it is expressed in different uses in different philosophies in different eras. In many ways, an organisation is not like a living organic plant, since organisations are created by someone in a very short space of time, and people and resources and processes are brought together under conscious design, as opposed to organisms which have evolved over millions of years.

What we do though is require a new organ of perception for understanding how parts belong together, so that the whole organisation, its vision, strategy, brand and essence can come to full expression through the parts. We can say that organisations are living in the same way that Gadamer understood the meaning of a text to always be unfinished, therefore in some manner ‘living’.

Sustainable BrandsThis may all seem a little philosophical, a little abstract. On 4th November Maria and I will be sharing for the first time a real case study in which holonomic thinking was introduced into the heart of the sustainable strategy of a large organisation. This will really help you understand what Holonomics and holonomic thinking looks like in practice.

If you are unable to attend, our plenary session will be broadcast live. You can subscribe free via this link:

How to watch Maria and I live at Sustainable Brands London

Sustainable Brands is bringing more global business and brand leaders together than ever before. This year, you have the opportunity to join a remote audience of sustainability analysts, brand strategists, and design innovators for an exclusive live streamed event from London, UK, November 4-5. Hundreds conference attendees from 23 countries will share how better brands will shape the future by keeping tabs on the changing playing field.

Sustainable Brands Live Feed

Those that cannot attend in person can still watch plenary sessions live, or on demand, for free:

There are five central themes at SB London ’14:

Sustainable Brands

Maria and I will be giving the opening plenary session Holonomic Thinking: Upgrading Leadership Skills and Systems Thinking for the New Economy:

HolonomicsSimon and Maria’s book, Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter, describes a new way of thinking that teaches business leaders how to adapt in innovative ways. To fully know the world, nature, people and phenomena, the book argues, we need to use four ways of knowing – thinking, feeling, sensing and intuition. We also have to ensure that the five universal human values of peace, love, truth, right-action and non-violence are genuinely present in each part of our organizations, ecosystems, and most of all, ourselves. By expanding our view accordingly, Simon and Maria will claim, we can come to realize that brands are not a thing to be known or controlled. They are a magnificent, mysterious odyssey to be experienced. We therefore need to shift from measuring economic brand value to holonomic brand value. This talk will explain how to apply holonomic thinking to both business and brand strategy, while exploring the nature and essence of truly authentic brands.

The link above also provides you with the full line-up of inspirational speakers who will be sharing their knowledge and insights during these opening plenary sessions. And if you cannot watch live, the sessions will also be available later to watch on-demand.

Social Entrepreneurism, The Launch of Ashoka Changemakers in Brazil and the film Who Cares?

Maria and I were guests last night of Ashoka, the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs founded in 1980 by Bill Drayton, and which now has around 3,000 Ashoka Fellows worldwide. While Ashoka have of course been active in Brazil over many years, last night was the launch of the Brazilian Ashoka Support Network, a group of prominent business entrepreneurs around the world that support Ashoka and the Fellow Social Entrepreneurs to achieve their goals.

Quem se ImportaDuring this event the 2012 Brazilian feature length documentary Quem se Importa (Who Cares) was shown. This very emotional, evocative and positive film, directed by Mara Mourão and narrated by Rodrigo Santoro, is about people changing the world for the better through social entrepreneurism, and features the following inspirational people:

Muhammad Yunus -creator of microcredit –

Bill Drayton – counder of  Ashoka –

Jehane Noujaim – cinema for peace –

John Mighton – mathematics and self-esteem in teeenagers –;

Premal Shah – internet microcredit –

Joaquín Leguía – ground for children –

Isaac Durojaiye – toilets for Nigéria –

Joaquim Melo – community banking –

Eugenio Scannavino – health and happiness in the Amazon –

Oscar Rivas – restoring degraded areas –

Dener Giovanini – fighting against animal trafficking –

Vera Cordeiro – improving family life –

Mary Gordon – empathy in schools –

Wellington Nogueira – clowns in hospitals –

Karen Tse – ending torture –

Rodrigo Baggio – IT for everyone –

Al Etmanski – the end of isolation –

Bart Weetjens – rats which save lives –

Mara Mourão, Joaquim Melo, Vera Cordeiro and Eugênio Scannavino

Mara Mourão, Joaquim Melo, Vera Cordeiro and Eugênio Scannavino

After the film was shown, there was a question and answer session with Mara Mourão, and three of the Brazilian changemakers featured in the film: Joaquim Melo, Vera Cordeiro and Eugênio Scannavino. They were all clearly passionate speakers, sharing further insights about both the challenges and great rewards of their work.

Joaquim Melo for example spoke of his frustrations of the way in which the Central Bank of Brazil clamped down heavily on his efforts to set up small community banks to help with the re-urbanization of the neighbourhood Conjunto Palmeira in Fortaleza, a city in the north of Brazil. He said a great quote which was that the great Brazilian business schools and universities had not come up with this as an idea, the idea had emerged in the shanty town of Conjunto Palmeira.

In the Q and A session I asked Mara what she thought the most important aspect of the film was in terms of inspiring people here in Brazil. She answered that the first point was we have to put an end to illiteracy about social entrepreneurship inside schools in Brazil, and that she hoped her film could teach children and young adults about the notion of social entrepreneurism. There was an interesting part of the film which pointed out that if a child was struggling with say maths or language, the parents would be immediately concerned. But what if the child was not becoming a changemaker? The parents would not even notice. An interesting provocation certainly.

Daniela Carvalho, Zoraide Stark and Maria Moraes Robinson

Daniela Carvalho, Zoraide Stark and Maria Moraes Robinson

Maria and I were joined last night with our good friends Daniela Carvalho and Zoraide Stark who are the founders of Empower – Investing in Women. Empower are a partner of Ashoka here in Brasil, and they are doing some amazing work supporting female entrepreneurs from all walks of life, be they women who require mentoring and training to overcome the challenges of working in extremely male dominated business environments such as banking and IT, as well as also having social programmes to help female entrepreneurs from low-income families develop and grow sustainable businesses.

Qualquer pessoa pode ser um empreendedor social, não é nenhuma bênção divina, você não toma um comprimido para virar um empreendedor social. Você simplesmente se conscientiza do seu poder de transformação.

As one of the quotes from the film says, anyone can be a social entrepreneur. It is not a divine blessing, and you do not have to take a pill to become one. You simply have to be aware of your power of transformation.

Quem se Importa is an excellent film, highly inspirational and one I can certainly recommend for anyone with an interest in social entrepreneurism. I wish the Ashoka team in Brazil the very best of success. As I always say on my blog, Brazil does have many amazing people doing remarkable projects under extremely challenging circumstances, and each and every one deserves huge recognition and celebration of their great efforts and achievements.


Quem se Importa – the site of the film where you can order a copy of the DVD

Ashoka Brasil

Empower – Investing in Women


Noticing the Details – Thoughtful Touches of Smart City Design in Buenos Aires

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

It has been some time since I last wrote for The City Fix, and I am very happy to note that São Paulo finally seems to be constructing a significant number of cycles lanes which is excellent.

This week was the first time I have seen the air monitors report “pessimo” levels of air quality, and never has there been such a need for people to be switching to cycles en mass.

I also saw a video on Facebook which showed a female cyclist confronting a car which had been driving along one of the new cycle lanes. Clearly in Brazil there is still some way to go before drivers start to really respect cyclists, as they do in more mature countries (and Spain deserves a special mention as a country where I have ridden on country roads and been extremely impressed with the care of drivers there for cyclists).

This woman was brave, as obviously in Brazil where violence is high, the scene could have turned into something quite dangerous. In the UK, there are still encounters between angry cyclists and idiot drivers, but the greatest danger is that there will be more of a punch thrown than anything more sinister.

Also in the UK, there is an excellent Youtube channel called “Silly Cyclists” hosted by a cyclist called Gaz, which shows the top 10 videos of the most reckless and silly riding caught on head-cams each month. In the UK we still have some way to go before all cyclists manage to ride and share the roads with the same level of respect that we would hope other motorists have for us cyclists.

This week I have been in Buenos Aires, and while walking along the streets near my hotel I did notice a couple of very nice design details relating to bicycles here.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

The first is this junction in which you can see the cycle lane. This is a two way lane, for cyclists riding in both directions, and as you can see there is a raised protective strip to stop vehicles making incursions into the lane which is great.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

What I also noticed was this single bollard some distance to the front of where the cycles have to stop. I really liked this detail in the design of this junction, since this single bollard forces cars which are turning right or left to steer clear of the stationary cycles, giving them further protection. This is a small detail, but one that I think really works well and which other city designers would do well to study as I have not seen this elsewhere.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

And one other detail I discovered was delightful. While walking past a cycle shop called Canaglia Bicicletas, which at the time was closed, I noticed a woman filling her front tyre with air. The cycle shop had provided an air pump for anyone to use. This helps cyclists who may not have brought a pump with them, and it obviously attracts cyclists to the shop even if they do not need anything at that particular moment, so everyone one wins.

As cycling in São Paulo and elsewhere in Brazil continues to become more popular, I hope these little details inspire others to think what extra facilities they could offer people. These little details can make a huge difference, and so we always need to be inspiring each other, in order that we can live in cities where we can all have good fresh air to inspire, including our bikes.