This ground-breaking book argues that people in business must adopt a ‘holonomic’ way of thinking, a dynamic and authentic understanding of the relationships within a business system, and an appreciation of the whole. Complexity and chaos are not to be feared, but rather are the foundation of successful business structures and economics.
In January 2015 Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter was selected as one of Sustainable Brands Top 36 Sustainability Books alongside both older, well-known books like Biomimicry, Natural Capitalism and Cradle to Cradle, and more recent influential books including The Responsible Entrepreneur, Flourishing Enterprise, Corporate Diplomacy and The Big Pivot.
If we look at what lies at the heart of our book Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter, it is the practical implementation of deep, profound and lasting transformational change. If we analyse this in relation to organisations, what we often find is that the leadership only focus on the structural aspects of strategy. The behavioural aspects are ignored, therefore resulting in sub-optimal execution.
Holonomic Thinking can inspire new strategies by helping executives to upgrade their mental operating systems and developing a dynamic new way of seeing the whole organisation:
Systemic – Understanding the organisation as an organic and dynamic system of interrelated organs.
Experiential – Understanding the lived experience of each person – employees, management, leadership, stakeholders and the community.
Meaningful – Understanding how shared meaning emerges in the organisation over time, allowing the organisation to be able to become agile, efficient and transparent – an authentic whole.
Ethical – Understanding how human values are the foundation of authenticity, agility and change
Holonomic Thinking can inspire new strategies by helping executives to upgrade their mental operating systems. Businesses around the world are facing rapidly changing economic and social situations. 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.
The video below shows Simon and Maria opening plenary presentation at Sustainable Brands London from November 2014 in which they discuss Holonomics and also a new case study in which holonomic thinking was introduced into the core strategy of a large organisation.
Holonomics presents a new world view where economics and ecology are in harmony. Using real-world case studies and practical exercises, the authors guide the reader in a new, holistic approach to business, towards a more sustainable future where both people and planet matter.
Commenting on how the book can change the mental models of executives, Simon Robinson said “It is not the case that we need to change our methodologies. What we need is a new way of seeing and thinking that allows us to be mindful and truly make sense of complex situations. A new mental operating system is available, and we have termed it holonomic thinking.”
In an early review of Holonomics, Fritjof Capra, author of The Hidden Connections, and coauthor of The Systems View of Life, said “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.”
Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter is published by Floris Books from Edinburgh, and is out now via Amazon amzn.com/1782500618 and all other major retailers worldwide.
Tamay Kiper from Sustainable Brands:
Holonomic thinking encourages the understanding of relationships in their wholeness. This perception of ‘wholeness’ comes from both scientific and artistic consciousness. When perceiving phenomena, the underlying organizing principles appear in the imagination, in a place of authentic ‘belonging together.’ The better we see the ‘belonging together,’ the better our mental models will be — there will be effective feedback loops and we will become more aware of our own thinking, and also aware of mental processes and experiences that are otherwise hidden from us. At the same time, we shouldn’t become so entranced that we confuse any advanced model with the deeper truths of reality, the totality of which cannot be modeled explicitly. Holonomic thinking emphasizes the ‘belonging’ and the meaning of the systems and their coexistence.
Giles Hutchins, author of The Nature of Business and The Illusion of Separation:
What Holonomics skilfully achieves is applying the rich philosophies of phenomenology and holistic science to our daily business endeavours and for that reason it is ground-breaking and an important book for those seeking to shift organisational consciousness.
Gill Coombs, author of Hearing our Calling:
As a former Schumacher College MSc student, I wish I’d had this book as a study guide! With clear and logical structuring and explanations, it makes some complex ideas accessible. It also takes the reader on an experiential journey which is possibly as close as you can get to doing the MSc in Holistic Science without actually doing it! What’s more, this book presents a well-reasoned case for a ‘holonomic’ as opposed to ‘mechanistic’ business model, seamlessly translating the ecological and perceptual teachings of holistic science into the world of work. Business can be an authentic, adaptive, truly innovative and even happy activity, and ‘Holonomics’ show how this can be achieved.
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.
In this video, Satish discusses Holonomics with Simon:
Further information about the book is available on Floris Books’ website here.
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, April 2014. ISBN 9781782500612, 192 pages with 30 B/W images, illustrated and rendered with the generous help of Michael Pruett.
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, coauthor 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