The Need for Corporate Transformation in an Era of System Change

“How do you go bankrupt? Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

(Ernest Hemingway, 1926)

“It takes courage and clarity to challenge an established system. But it can be done.”

(Donella Meadows, Jørgen Randers, Dennis Meadows, 2004)

“The part can never be well unless the whole is well.”

(Plato, 380 BCE)

Source: (emphasis added)

Human population, organized into industrial societies and blind to the temporariness of carrying capacity supplements based on exhaustible resource dependence, responded by increasing more exuberantly than ever, even though this meant overshooting the number our planet could permanently support. Something akin to bankruptcy was the inevitable sequel.

Source: Bill Sharpe, Three Horizons: The Patterning of Hope, Triarchy Press, 2013 (adapted in Bill Baue, Compared to What? A Three-Tiered Typology of Sustainable Development Performance Indicators — From Incremental to Contextual to Transformational, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, 2019.)

58 Ultimately value is to be interpreted by reference to thresholds and parameters established through stakeholder engagement and evidence about the carrying capacity and limits of resources on which stakeholders and companies rely for wellbeing and profit… Interconnections between corporate activity, society and the environment and the purpose of the corporation should therefore be understood in terms of what the corporation, society and the environment can tolerate and still survive — that will be the main determinant of value. The challenges will be to reach agreement at corporate, national and international levels on what those thresholds and limits are, how the resources within those limits should be allocated, and what action is needed to keep activity within those limits so that value can continue to be created over time. [emphasis added]



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