• Holonomics: Frequently Asked Questions

    by  • 24 April 2014 • Alternative Business and Economics • 0 Comments

    RobinsonHolonomics-3dThis month, Floris Books is pleased to publish Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter by Simon Robinson and Maria Moraes Robinson as part of our growing collection of books on alternative business and economics. But what exactly is Holonomics and how can it benefit us? Authors Simon Robinson and Maria Moraes Robinson have answered some of the frequently asked questions.

    Could you explain the meaning behind the title of your book, Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter?

    The word holonomics was first used by Hertz in 1896 to describe a branch of mathematics. We coined a new meaning for this word, which can be thought of as the combination of wholeness (holo) and economics. Holonomics therefore represents a radical new way of seeing and understanding economics and business.

    What is the key insight in Holonomics?

    In Holonomics, what we are doing is leading readers into a higher level of cognition, one which takes us from a consciousness based on logical-rational-symbolic processing, to one which includes sensing, feeling and intuition. When we talk to business executives, we explain that what we are doing is giving them a new mental operating system, which we call the holonomic operating system, allowing them to make sense of and truly comprehend the complex problems and situations we face today.

    In Holonomics you introduce the concept of holonomic thinking. How would you describe holonomic thinking?

    Systems thinking plays a key role in holonomic thinking, in that it leads us towards a deeper understanding of systems in terms of their qualities, and the relationships between the parts of a system.

    Holonomic thinking is able to see beyond just understanding a system as interacting objects, to a point where we can comprehend the meaning of that system. But this meaning can be found in our intuition, and not our rational-logical way of seeing. It is only once we are able to see the deepest meaning of a system, that we can then say that we can see and understand the whole system.

    In what ways can holonomic thinking be applied in business?

    There are many ways, and in our consultancy and teaching work we are introducing holonomic thinking into business strategy, organisational design, change management, innovation, sustainability, human resources, brand management and communication to name just a few areas.

    To give just one example, imagine a large organisation wishes to communicate its strategy to the whole organisation. A traditional way could be to cascade the communication down through the organisation. In this instance, those executives who are sending out the information may simply expect all employees to share the same mental models and world views as themselves, and that their message, which is communicated in just one manner, will be understood by all people at all levels in the organisation.

    When we move into holonomic thinking, we move away from the logic of command and control hierarchies, and towards a way of seeing in which the essence, the soul, the meaning of the company comes to presence in each and every employee. Instead of traditional communication methods such as emails and brochures, the company can introduce story telling, dialogue, gamification and experiential exercises to really help employees explore the meaning of the strategy on their own terms. In this manner, the employees gain a meaningful understanding of the strategy in a manner that allows them to understand their role in the future of the organisation, and in a manner which will motivate them and help them understand how they can play an active role in the success of the company or organisation.

    Your book is subtitled Business Where People and Planet Matter. In what way can Holonomics help us to become more sustainable?

    Holonomics has been written in three sections – The Dynamics of Seeing, The Dynamics of Nature and The Dynamics of Business. These represent the three pillars of Holonomics, which are the foundation for the transition to a more humane, mindful and sustainable way of living and conducting business.

    The dynamics of seeing is about re-discovering our connection to the natural world. Sometimes it seems that we are so absorbed in our thoughts, and lost in technology, that we no longer have an authentic connection to people and to nature. In elevating our level of consciousness, we can reconnect again to the world around us through our sensory, feeling and intuitive ways of knowing. It is only when we have a more balanced way of knowing the world that we come to understand the wholeness of nature, a nature in which we are embedded and which we inhabit, rather than conceiving nature as out there and separate to us.

    In the dynamics of nature we come to learn about the complex systems found in nature, thus developing a systemic way of understanding the world, allowing us to redesign our systems and organisations in a manner which is less destructive, more efficient, more resilient and more sustainable in the long term. For example in many business ecosystems, a single company or organisation when operating on its own can only solve 6% of the sustainability issues, because the remaining 94% of sustainability issues are found in the supply chain as a whole.

    And finally, in the dynamics of business, we explore the importance of human values in business, since for us it is not possible to be sustainable without a deep-held belief in the importance and practice of these values such as peace, love, truth, right-action and non-violence. In Brazil, an important business magazine CEO reported that seven out of ten Brazilians would refuse to buy products or services from companies whose activities were irregular (i.e. corrupt or unethical). Businesses are discovering that they can no longer exploit customers and clients in the name of short term maximisation of shareholder value. A new way of doing business is needed, and only those companies who are authentic and practice human values will be able to achieve long-term sustainable financial results.

    Could you give some examples of companies that are already using these kinds of principles?

    Absolutely. Holonomics explores many different case studies from a wide range of industries, such as the Amoeba Management System of Kyocera, the lattice organisational structure of Gore, the concept of competition and co-operation within chaordic organisations developed by Dee Hock, the founder of VISA, and Puma’s environmental profit and loss accounts to name just a few.

    From Brazil we have two in-depth interviews from two company presidents who both are implementing the foundations of holonomic thinking, but in their own unique ways. Our first interview is with Luís Norberto Pascoal, the president of the auto-repair company DPaschoal. A few years ago DPaschoal went through a radical transformation in their business model, moving to a new way of doing business where mechanics are trained to recognise situations where they do not need to sell the customer new tyres if none are needed. This had a huge negative impact on their financial results in the short term, but in the longer term created a great deal more long term sustainable value due to more loyal customers.

    Education is also at the very heart of their purpose and mission, and so DPaschoal have developed new ways to train mechanics in Brazil, even if they work for competitors, since if mechanics are to be able to work in more sustainable manners, they have to have continual education. Luís Norberto has also contributed to the creation of one of Brazil’s most important educational movements which has made a significant impact in raising educational levels in school children across the country.

    Our second depth-interview is with Sergio Chaia, who at the time of writing was the president of Nextel Brasil, and who is now Vice President and Director General of Symantec for Brazil and Latin America. Sergio is a practicing Buddhist, and he is introducing leadership practices based on Buddhism in order to develop people and create workplaces where people can both prosper and be happy. Human values such as truth, love, peace, right-action and non-violence are at the heart of his beliefs, and these are the values which are also present in all of the case studies we write about. Without these core values we cannot be truly sustainable, but with them we can transform economics into a new way of doing business, where both people and planet matter.

    If you want to find out more about this new approach to business, Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter is available now from Floris Books and all good bookstores.

    Follow Simon Robinson on Twitter @srerobinson or see his website transitionconsciousness.org

    Follow Maria Moraes Robinson on Twitter @DoraMoraesR

    You might also be interested in:

    Hearing Our Calling

    The End of Money and the Future of Civilization


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