As our global community faces emerging societal challenges such as food shortages, water pollution, and climate change, acquiring new knowledge and skills to navigate this ever-changing world is vital. How can we reshape how we live and work to thrive in harmony with our environmental, social, and economic surroundings?
This blog article delves into three essential skills for developing entrepreneurial solutions for regenerative economies identified in the re:gen-u literature review to explain their roles in restoring, renewing, and revitalising our communities and systems.
Skill #1: Understand that Everything is Interconnected – The Power of Systems Thinking
Our literature review highlights the transformative power of systems thinking as a fundamental regenerative skill. Systems thinking encourages us to view the world as a network of interdependent systems, that is, every action or decision has a ripple effect. For example, our water systems are closely connected to our food and health systems, and our food and health systems can impact our economic systems. Uncovering these interconnections can guide us to develop solutions that boost our regional social, health, and economic development by improving water systems.
By adopting this holistic mindset, individuals can better connect seemingly unrelated topics and uncover the underlying relationships and interactions. Systems thinking also empowers us to make informed decisions by considering the broader consequences of actions, rather than focusing narrowly on our expertise or experiences. It enables us to solve complex problems with a more long-term and sophisticated perspective, thus generating more sustainable, inclusive, and innovative solutions.
Skill #2: The Pie is Bigger than You Thought – Collaborate, not Compete!
Another insight from the literature review is the significance of collaboration skills in developing shared goals and creating regenerative solutions with lasting impacts. A conventional “winners-take-it-all” mindset often results in fierce competition, extractive business models, and unsustainable practices, creating highly imbalanced and fragile systems. In contrast, collaboration reinforces mutual learning, respect, and empathy. It facilitates integrating diverse perspectives, promoting collective learning, and handling conflicts effectively. Therefore, the ability to work with suppliers, distributors, clients (and even competitors!) in the early stages of a product or service development process is an asset in developing regenerative economies.
Skill #3: Creating Values for Next Generations – Value Thinking
Finally, value thinking drives regenerative practices among consumers and producers. Value thinking involves critically observing and evaluating business opportunities or market trends through a sustainability lens. It realises visionary insights and creates lasting, inter-generational values by shaping value creation and driving regenerative consumer behaviours. Likewise, consumers with regenerative values may prefer circular or multi-functional products, favour access to products or services over ownership, or are more likely to engage in material recirculation, digital and shared circular services. Such demand, in turn, can also create a supply of products and services more aligned with regenerative principles.
In summary, harnessing systems thinking, collaboration, and value thinking skills enable us to navigate the upcoming societal challenges and actively contribute to regenerative change. Stay tuned for re:gen-u’s upcoming Status-quo Report to understand more about the unique knowledge and skills required for generating innovative solutions for a regenerative future.
Author: Choi Wai Maggie Chak, FH Münster University of Applied Sciences