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Turning Point Innovations for a Sustainability+ Flourishing World

Business as an agent of world benefit is about harnessing the strengths markets and the unique capacities of innovation and entrepreneurship, including the mutual exchange of value which is as old as the bustling bazaar, to create a better world.

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I can easily imagine that future generations will look back on these opening decades of the 21st century and call it, in Johanna Macy’s terms, the time of The Great Turning. If we had time-lapse photography to see the next generation or two unfolding I think what we would see is not a flower but an astonishingly fast formation of a bridge from an unsustainable to a sustainable earth. 

We can all rattle off the great challenges: the transition to a post-oil civilization; a world of human freedom and dignified work; an unleashing of the prosperity and peace double helix; a smart planet; a bright green economy with positive market signals and transparent markets; sustainable food systems and clean water; new designs for mass collaboration across industries and sectors; escape from poverty; cradle-to-cradle design and 3-D manufacturing; widespread nutritional excellence and health for all; a climate that stabilizes at 350 parts per million; a reverence for life across the biotic community; and an epidemic of human flourishing in a world of 9 billion people. When I speak of world benefit I am thinking of Turing point innovations. We are seeking not just the best ideas on the planet, but those with the most worldshaping potential here and now at this time—those that can help us win the race, safely without cataclysm, across the bridge from an unsustainable to sustainable+ flourishing world.<o:p></o:p>

<o:p> </o:p>But there is one more bar we want to raise. We are most curious about turning point innovations that work both ways. They are innovations that benefit the world as well as the business. My colleagues Chris Lazslo and Nadya Zechzembaya write about a both/and mindset of “embedded sustainability” involving the creation of shared value. Many others talk about the triple bottom line of people, planet and prosperity.  But my colleagues remind us, as do all great spiritual traditions and explorations in science, that it’s an integrated bottom-line. We are endlessly entangled. Both/And. World benefit is systemic—with wonderfully entangled benefit to business, society, and nature.  

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