Maria and I cordially invite you to take a look inside our new book Holonomics

Maria and I cordially invite you to take a look inside our new book Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter. In this preview you will be able to read the table of contents, the foreword from Satish Kumar, our preface, and chapter one.

Holonomics cover

To see the review, please click here. You will also be able browse through the endnotes, biliography and index by viewing the book on Amazon.

In terms of when the book will be available, we have received some news back from Floris Books that Holonomics could well reach distributors in the UK by 7th April, so those of you who have already kindly placed pre-orders, for example with Amazon or Waterstones in the UK, could well be receiving your books quite soon.

It takes a few weeks for the books to go through customs etc for distributors such as Amazon in the US, hence the slightly later availability. However those of you who are not in the UK may wish to order via either direct from Floris using this page, or via The Book Depository which is a UK distributor who offer free shipping worldwide:

As always, Maria and I would like to thank all our friends who have supported Holonomics throughout the writing and publishing period, and we are now looking forward to really engaging with you all in a discussion of holonomic thinking, and how it can be introduced in your businesses and organisations.

Is reading at 1,000 words per minute really possible?


My Facebook timeline was abuzz this week with many friends and contacts posting news about a revolutionary new technology which promises to speed up reading. According to Spritz, this is why their technology works:

Reading is inherently time consuming because your eyes have to move from word to word and line to line. Traditional reading also consumes huge amounts of physical space on a page or screen, which limits reading effectiveness on small displays. Scrolling, pinching, and resizing a reading area doesn’t fix the problem and only frustrates people. Now, with compact text streaming from Spritz, content can be streamed one word at a time, without forcing your eyes to spend time moving around the page. Spritz makes streaming your content easy and more comfortable, especially on small displays. Our “Redicle” technology enhances readability even more by using horizontal lines and hash marks to direct your eyes to the red letter in each word, so you can focus on the content that interests you. Best of all, Spritz’s patent-pending technology can integrate into photos, maps, videos, and websites to promote more effective communication.


While this innovation is of course interesting, my Hummm-ometer immediately started Hmm-ing, registering a 3 on its scale of 1 to 5. I really wanted to see research that addressed how fast people can develop a deep appreciation of the meaning of a ‘text’ rather than just speeding through. Reading is not just about taking in individual words, and the meaning of a sentence is not the sum of the parts, i.e. individual words. The meaning of a sentence comes to presence through the words, but is more than the words. So while this may work for simple stories, for texts which you have to work hard on studying, it may not work.

Gadamer Truth and MethodHans-George Gadamer probably wrote the the best analysis of this in Truth and Method, where he addresses the issue of hermeneutics and the notion of ‘historical consciousness’ which I would extend to cross-cultural consciousness too. It is interesting for me since I have written a x part series on Truth and Method, and it never ceases to amaze me that this series is one of the most popular set of articles on my blog.

Exploring Gadamer’s Truth and Method: The Truth and Experience of Art

Exploring Gadamer’s Truth and Method: The Ontology of the Work of Art and Its Hermeneutic Significance

Exploring Gadamer’s Truth and Method: The History of Hermeneutics

Exploring Gadamer’s Truth and Method: Elements of a Theory of Hermeneutic Experience

Exploring Gadamer’s Truth and Method – Language as the Medium of the Hermeneutic Experience

Exploring Gadamer’s Truth and Method – Final Reflections

But back to Spritz. It seems that I was not alone in wondering about the quality of comprehension of a philosophical text, as opposed to say a short email or text message. According to Keith Rayner, University of California San Diego Professor of Psychology:

The main finding was this. If you have people reading in this RSVP method, they can read sentences one at a time. If you give them longer passages, comprehension goes to pieces.


I have a degree in cognitive psychology, and really, I think the most amazing thing I learn’t was how little we truly know about the brain, main, experience and consciousness. Gadamer is taking a phenomenological approach to the experience of language, and while most psychologists would reject a work such as his as being ‘unscientific’, for me we can still gain deep insights into the nature of the problem. It is the way in which Gadamer is framing the questions which is so important, questions which Spritz fail to address, maybe because they do not ben know that the issue of ‘historical consciousness’.

So yeah, if you need to speed up your emails and text messages, maybe Spritz is the answer. But if you are searching for the meaning of a text, a text you may be taking years to study, rather than just rush through, maybe we will need to slow down, in order that the layers open up, fan out, and interweave their magic, leaving us staggered in their profound beauty. I am not too sure I’ll get that at 600 words per minute.

A few thoughts on Mocidade Alegre, winners of the São Paulo 2014 carnival parade

This week I am sure that wherever you are in the world, you will know that it was carnival in Brazil. Maria and I stayed in São Paulo, which after the exodus of millions to the beach or retreats in the country, becomes a wonderful city to explore, empty of the incessant traffic, but full of relaxed Paulistas, some taking time to enjoy the insane number of cultural and culinary delights, and many others of course joining in the festival of dance and music.

The carnival of São Paulo often remains out of the international spotlight, slightly overshadowed by the monumental celebrations of Rio de Janeiro and in the north of Brazil. It’s funny as many Brazilians complain about stereotypes that foreigners have of Brazil, the two main ones being samba and football, and in this world cup year there was the double whammy of football featuring  in many of the schools.

Of course a good part of the international media also focus on another great stereotype, the enchantingly-clad women, and papers like The Daily Mail as per usual went to town with a great deal of photos of this type. But something else seemed to be incredibly special this year, something I didn’t see reported so much, and that was the wonderful focus on issues of both sustainability and also spirituality, themes which many samba schools dealt with.

In this article I thought I would offer a few comments on Mocidade Alegre, the São Paulo school of samba who won this year’s competition by just a matter of 0.3 points. Both Maria and I thought that is was sensational, and I thought I would say why. Pictures do not really do carnival full justice, and so I found this video of Mocidade Alegre which you should definitely watch. Be sure to select High Definition if it does not come on automatically.

The theme the school had chosen this year was world religions, and the batteria (the drummers) were all dressed up as Krishna. As well as the huge floats which are always sensational, there are also groups of dancers who are grouped together in the same costumes. So we had dancers dressed as curanderos (women who are folk healers), indigenous peoples, Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, as well as witches, sorcerers and even a float which felt with the issue of those who use religion to take money from those who are vulnerable.

I thought that the performance of the whole school was sensational, uplifting and a delight to watch. As a stiff-upper-lip-Brit, it is so wonderful to see in each member not just emotion, but such deep feelings of connection with the pure spirit of the school. The spirit really comes to presence in each participant, who really do seem to be hyper-present, living in the pure moment of a happiness rarely seen in peoples outside of Brazil.

There is a huge collective intelligence in a school of samba, intellectually in terms of the research which goes into exploring the proposed theme in depth, in order to present the theme in a profound manner. But there is also a deep artistic collective intelligence, rarely achieved in organisations, whereby the most fantastically complex operation comes together as a whole, with the Director of Harmony, who along with a large team of co-ordinators, is responsible for a wholeness in the dance and music, which given the thousands of members who take part in each parade, is unparalleled.

As I said, both Maria and I loved the many different schools of samba this year, in Rio as well as São Paulo. I thought you may enjoy hearing about Mocidade, as maybe they did not receive the attention worldwide that surely they deserved. Well done Mocidade! Parabéns :)

Satish Kumar discusses Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

In January Maria and I had an opportunity to spend a few days at Schumacher College. We were both delighted when Satish told us that he too would be there at the same time as us.

Satish very generously wrote the foreword to our new book Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter. In our book, we discuss Satish’s contributions to deep ecology, his concept of a true economics, and his creation of Process and Pilgrimage he designed with Philip Franses. In this short video above, Satish discusses our book and the message we are conveying in it

Related links

Holonomics on Floris Books

Holonomics on Facebook

Holonomics on Amazon

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Satish Kumar discusses his new book Soil, Soul, Society: A New Trinity For Our Time

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Guest Article: Lourenço Bustani – How Mandalah are Shifting the Consciousness of Politics in Brazil

Credit: Mandalah

Credit: Mandalah

I am delighted to be able to share this news from Lourenço and my friends from Mandalah, a global consultancy founded on the philosophy of conscious innovation. Mandalah started life in São Paulo in Brazil, but  now have an influential global presence. 

The Launch of Mandalah PP

Lourenço Bustani

Lourenço Bustani

Lourenço Bustani

After over 7 years of working with the private sector as our primary focus for achieving positive transformation, the time has arrived to extend conscious innovation into new areas and contribute to new forms of development in the country. It is with great pride – a national pride – that Lourenço and Tom were in Brasilia yesterday to announce, at a lecture in the Auditorium of the Legislative Assembly, the launch of Mandalah PP (Public Policies).

Mandalah PP is a new area at Mandalah focused on delivering content for political programs. The initiative is nonpartisan and intends to help elected governments, in both campaigning and realizing government plans that are more aligned with the real needs of the population. In other words, we want to create dialogues that until now have not existed between the public sector, civil society and the private sector, so that together we can be the change we want to see in the world.

Lourenço Bustani

Lourenço Bustani

Mandalah PP is a partnership with Beto Lago, founder of Mercado Mundo Mix and an individual with vast experience in the creative economy and public policy. For example, Beto recently designed the new law on street food in São Paulo. In order to protect the transparency of our work, the idea is that a website is created and constantly updated with information on all activities completed by Mandalah PP.

This is our humble attempt to actively participate in this unique moment in Brazil’s history, supporting and empowering our public policies. Many thanks to everyone who has believed in and supported this project. Let’s move forward, with a thirst for knowledge. After all, we need to abandon once and for all the promise of being the country of the future and become the country of the present!

To contact Mandalah PP:


A rare opportunity to spend a week in the UK with Fritjof Capra this May

Those of you who come to my blog frequently will see that I often write about the work of my fellow students who have undertaken the Holistic Science masters degree at Schumacher College. This masters degree is not just about the intellectual learning, it is also about the transformational learning journey, and the intuitive insights from this journey can at times be intense with few others able to make sense of where the thinking of students ends up. For this reason many of the alumni stay in touch, exchanging experiences and supporting each other in their continuing journeys.

Gaby Franco

Gaby Franco

It was therefore great to see my fellow student Gaby Franco at an amazing conference last month in Mexico, hosted by Universidad Iberoamericana, examining the interrelationship between science and spirituality, with keynote speakers Fritjof Capra and Satish Kumar.

Fritjof Capra, Satish Kumar and Gustavo Esteva

Fritjof Capra, Satish Kumar and Gustavo Esteva

I would have absolutely loved to have gone to this conference, and it must have been amazing for those who were there. As I have already reviewed Satish’s new book Soil Soul Society, and recorded an interview with him about his book, I thought that I would use this opportunity to let you know, if you were not already aware, that Fritjof also has a new book coming out in April which for me is the most anticipated book of the year.

The Systems View of LifeThe Systems View of Life, coauthored with Pier Luigi Luisi, presents a coherent systemic framework that integrates the biological, cognitive, social, and ecological dimensions of life. They believe that it will be critical for present and future generations of young students and researchers to understand this new systemic conception of life and its implications for a broad range of professions — from the life sciences to economics, management, politics, medicine, psychology, and law.

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

I really cannot wait to receive this book, and will be writing a review in due course. In the meantime, Fritjof will be coming to the UK in May, and will be teaching for a week at Schumacher College. For course details see: The Systems View of Life – A Unifying Vision. For those of you who are able to attend, it too promises to be one of the most outstanding short courses on systems thinking of 2014.


To find out more about this course, please visit the website of Schumacher College:

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Maria discusses soil, soul, society and Brazil with Satish Kumar

Satish KumarShortlisted this year for The Observer Ethical Awards ‘Campaigner of the Year’, internationally respected peace and environmental activist Satish Kumar has been gently setting the agenda for change for over 50 years.

Since settling in the UK in 1973 Satish has been the guiding spirit behind a number of ecological, spiritual and educational ventures. He has founded the Small School – a pioneering secondary school dedicated to bringing ecological and spiritual values into its curriculum – and Schumacher College, which educates its students in eco-consciousness and the means for effective change.

2013 sees Satish celebrate 40 years as editor of Resurgence (now Resurgence & Ecologist) – the magazine which has long been the most articulate champion of ecological awareness and of a reverent way of life characterised by a philosophy of non-violence and humane spiritual values.

Satish has just released his latest book Soil, Soul, Society: A New Trinity of Our Time in which he explains the idea that we need to create a new consciousness that reveres nature, and how as a global society we need to embrace diversity and become pilgrims on this earth not tourists. Drawing on the teachings of Buddha, Ghandi and Tagore, Satish offers a spiritual vision of sustainability:

The inner landscape of spirituality and the outer landscape of sustainability are intricately linked. We need to cultivate compassion, seek truth, appreciate beauty and work for self-realisation. The contemporary environmental movement, in the main, follows the path of empirical science, rational thinking, data collection and external action. This is good as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. We need to include care of the soul as part of the care of the planet.

I hope to be able to provide a full review of Soil Soul Society in the new few weeks, but in the meantime I thought you may enjoy this short interview with Satish and Maria. In 2011, Satish came to Brazil, where he was the keynote speaker at the Strategy Execution Summit, an annual summit organised by Maria, and she took this opportunity to speak to Satish about his thoughts on Brazil, asking him what his main message was for Brazil, what a spiritual business would be like, and also, what it means to Satish to be happy.

Soil Soul Society

Satish Kumar

Available September 2013

ISBN 978-1-78240-044-8

Price £16.99

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Announcing our new book – Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter

Holonomics coverBoth Maria and I are very happy to be able to announce our new book Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter. It is being published by Floris Books from Edinburgh, and will be launched in April of next year.

Holonomics came about after many requests for recommended texts from our students and clients who were looking to explore more deeply the themes of complexity, sustainability, strategy, innovation, leadership and change management. Our aim was to capture in a single volume the philosophy and teachings from Schumacher College, and particularly the unique masters degree Holistic Science – a radical rethinking of our ecological, social and economic systems. In structuring the book into three parts – The Dynamics of Seeing, The Dynamics of Nature and The Dynamics of Business – we then wished to show how these teachings could be implemented in a practical manner in business, governmental and other organisations based on our many years of experience in industry, in both the private and public sectors.

We decided to coin a new definition for the word ‘holonomics’, which for us is a combination of the words ‘whole’ and ‘economics’. The Greek origins of these words contain three components; ὅλος (holos – all, whole, entire, total), οἶκος (oikos – house) and νόμος (nomos – custom or law). Economics can be thought of as the understanding of the laws and customs of our home (oikos + nomos). We cannot have a limited view of our home, for home is a living planet of finite resources. Our understanding of economics has to encompass an understanding of the wholeness of nature and business systems in all their complexity, and this can only come from what we call ‘holonomic thinking’ – a dynamic and authentic understanding of the relationships within a business system, and an appreciation of the whole.

Part One of our book is devoted to leading the reader into the dynamics of seeing. These four chapters introduce the reader to the work of Henri Bortoft who passed away in 2012, just a few months after the publication of his final work Taking Appearance Seriously: The Dynamic Way of Seeing in Goethe and European Thought. While Henri was writing this book, the name he almost settled on was The Dynamics of Being. It was at the last moment that he had the inspiration to call it Taking Appearance Seriously, a name which is a philosophical play on the word ‘appearance’. Holonomics is divided into three parts – The Dynamics of Seeing, The Dynamics of Nature, and The Dynamics of Business – in honour of the profound insights of Henri, and is written in a manner that will lead the reader towards their own understanding and experience of the dynamics of being.

Work began on the book back in 2011, and both Maria and I have been amazed at the generous encouragement and help we have received, with much valued feedback and support coming from our friends both here in Brazil, and from around the world, and our friends and colleagues at Schumacher College and the wider global Schumacher family, including some advance praise which you can see below. Satish Kumar has kindly written the foreword in which he writes that:

The days of compartmentalisation are passing. We are at the dawn of a new age where we must look for unity in diversity, the big picture in small parts, macrocosm in microcosm, large vision in little details and Holonomics in economics. We can enter this new age of wholeness by the act of deep seeing, by expanding our consciousness, and by transforming our perceptions. This book is a handy tool to accomplish such metamorphosis, a manual to move from a linear model to a cyclical system of business.

Further information about the book is available on Floris Books’ website here. It has been wonderful working with Floris, especially as they have already published a number of other books from members, teachers and friends of Schumacher College, including Henri Bortoft (The Wholeness of Nature, Taking Appearance Seriously), Brian Goodwin (Nature’s Due: Healing Our Fragmented Culture), Stephan Harding (Grow Small, Think Beautiful: Ideas for a Sustainable World from Schumacher College) and Craig Holdrege (Thinking Like a Plant: A Living Science for Life). We do hope that many of you will enjoy reading Holonomics, and that it will help you in your work integrating complexity, systems thinking and sustainability into a wider organisational and educational context.

Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter by Simon Robinson and Maria Moraes Robinson, with a foreword by Satish Kumar is published by Floris Books, Edinburgh, 24th April 2014. ISBN 9781782500612, 192 pages with 30 B/W images, illustrated and rendered with the generous help of Michael Pruett. An eBook version will be available as well.

Please also see our Holonomics page on Facebook.

Advance Praise for Holonomics

The authors of this remarkable book have distilled the essence of the ideas and values taught at Schumacher College, a unique transformative learning centre based on systemic thinking and grounded in deep ecology, and they show how these teachings can be applied with many case studies of enlightened businesses. Holonomics is a powerful antidote to the fragmentation and materialistic orientation of today’s dominant culture.

Fritjof Capra, author of The Hidden Connections, co-author of The Systems View of Life

The central question of our time is “How can we live divided no more?” This wonderful book provides the science, the philosophy and the business practices that lead us to an answer. The Robinsons present the concepts and thinkers who first awakened a new sense of excitement and possibility in me many years ago. What a gift to have these monumental, mind-changing ideas woven together skilfully in one book. If you absorb their perspectives, you can’t help but have your mind changed—for the benefit of both people and planet.

Margaret J. Wheatley, author of Leadership and the New Science, and most recently, So Far From Home: Lost and Found in Our Brave New World

Holonomics portrays reality in our universe as the interconnectedness of all to one and one to all. While great poets, artists and modern scientists intuitively see reality as relationships, economists, politicians, and business leaders fail to understand how parts and the whole relate in the world we inhabit. This failure now causes human economic activity to steadily diminish the quality of life as it has existed on Earth until very recently. In Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter, Simon and Maria Robinson draw from works by several holistic thinkers, most notably the late Henri Bortoft, to present a powerful mode of thinking that promises to deliver a new and life-enhancing approach to human economic activity. I urge all economists, elected public officials, and people in business to connect with the timely and important message the Robinsons convey to us in Holonomics.

H. Thomas Johnson, Professor of Sustainability Thinking, Portland State University , Portland, Oregon, USA, and co-author of Profit Beyond Measure

Brazil’s Hunters of Good Examples (Caçadores de Bons Exemplos)

Here is a very amazing story from Brazil which we saw on Fantastico last night, a Sunday evening current affairs show from Globo. In January 2011, tired of only hearing bad news, Iara and Eduardo Xavier sold their home and left Divinópolis, in Minas Gerais, with a single goal: to hunt down good examples across the country. Their mission is “to find people who make a difference in the community in which they live, running a social project or positive action.”

Iara and Eduardo Xavier

Iara and Eduardo Xavier

So far, they have covered 160,000 km cataloging around 700 amazing projects across 18 different states. They do not scour the internet for projects, they simply arrive in towns and cities, and get tips from people they meet. They then turn up unannounced to ensure that they experience the projects in as pure a way as possible.

Photo Credit:  Iara and Eduardo Xavier

Photo Credit: Iara and Eduardo Xavier

As they say on their Facebook page:

We believe that there are much more positive actions than negative actions in the world. So … Our goal is to raise awareness in the hope that people will do the same as the good examples we find, and also to encourage people to help those who are already doing this.

Iara and Eduardo Xavier are a truly inspirational couple. They were not able to find funding for their project, and it may well be that they now have to sell their car. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Caçadores de Bons Exemplo


Casal larga tudo e viaja em busca dos bons exemplos do Brasil (Fantastico)

Brazil’s Strategic Roadmap for Industry, 2013 – 2022

Strategic Roadmap

Last year, I wrote an article on Brazil’s first forum on Bioeconomics I was invited too which was organised by CNI, the Brazilian Confederation of National Industry (Confederação Nacional da Indústria) and which impressed me greatly. Following on from my two articles on the New Cities Summit I was at last week, I thought I would write up some brief notes about a major new report released by CNI. I see the Strategic Map for Industry (Mapa Estratégico da Indústria) 2013-2022 as a vital piece of work for the development of Brazil.

Strategic Roadmap
The strategic map is based on the following ten themes

  • Education
  • Macroeconomic Environment
  • Efficiency of State
  • Juridical Security and Bureaucracy
  • Market Development
  • Labor Relations
  • Financing
  • Infrastructure
  • Taxation
  • Innovation and Productivity

Introducing the report, Robson Braga de Andrade, Presidente da Confederação Nacional da Indústria writes that:

The Brazilian industry presents his vision for the country. The Strategic Map of Industry 2013-2022 represents an effort of more than 500 business representatives, to define the actions necessary to make Brazil grow more and better, and reflect on the problems that impede this growth.

Our reference is 2022, the year in which Brazil celebrates 200 years of independence. It is an inspiration to increase our ambition and to formulate a strategy on what we want to be and what we need to do.

This comparison should guide our ambition and our sense of urgency. The National Confederation of Industry invites entrepreneurs, society and the branches of government to mobilize in the process of building a more competitive and fair economy.

It is really encouraging to see Education take a prime place in the development of Brazil. As you can see from the graphic above, Brazil is positioning itself as a country which blends innovation with sustainability, but its vision will only truly be achieved with a far more educated population. The report by the CNI provides a clear plan of action with measurable indicators, but only together with a single vision will it reach these targets.

I asked a representative from CNI if the strategic map was available in English, but unfortunately it is only available in Portuguese. Brazil has a huge number of challenging complex issues, but here on Transition Consciousness, while recognising these, I try and focus on those people, projects and organisations who are making important contributions to our transition to a better way of living. I would like to see an English version, since so many foreign companies and people are coming to Brazil given its emerging role on the world stage, and the continuing economic crisis in so many other countries.

The New Cities Summit was extremely encouraging, and showed just how much desire there is to create a truly global dialogue. I am therefore really looking forward to the annual Strategy Execution Summit in São Paulo which will take place in August which has as its theme The Necessary Evolution. This summit, which is organised by my wife Maria, brings together some of the most senior representatives from both the largest national and international organisations in Brazil, as well as representatives from many partners and small and medium enterprises, to discuss the evolution of business strategy. José Augusto Coelho Fernandes, Director of Politics and Strategy at CNI will be taking part, discussing strategic agendas and the engagement of stakeholders on day one.

This year there is yet again an emphasis on sustainability, and shows just how central sustainability and sustainable thinking is embedded into the largest organisations here in Brazil. It is something Brazil can be truly proud of, and together with the Confederation of National Industry, while many other economies suffer the strain, I believe Brazil can really begin to make the progress it strongly deserves.

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