Thoughts to share in response to this question: What are the principles of ECO-MUTUALITY ?

The term “eco-mutuality” has merit and I really appreciate the set up you offer here.

My sense is the term itself matters — of course words matter! — but without the right mindset, or operating system to reference your point, even the right words can still be misconstrued.

For example, while even the term coiner himself, John Elkington, has revisited “Triple Bottom Line” with a critical eye, I would argue it still works if we don’t interpret it as a set of trade-offs to be balanced, but rather a conceptual awareness that multiple types of accounting are in play for any business whether they choose to measure and manage them or not.

You point out that the term “Sustainability” has been insufficient and I completely agree, although in part I believe this is because people have chosen to interpret it in multiple ways, not necessarily because the word itself is broken. We could take this interpretation challenge in many directions well outside of this field. For example, what does it mean to be a “deeply religious person” or even to be “happy”? We could have a field day (or some very uncomfortable conversations!) if we tried to create consistent and exact interpretations of these terms.

What to do? I see two parallel and complementary approaches to this challenge. The first is we keep doing what you and others are doing (including John Elkington and many collaborators and colleagues) which is to nonetheless try to reinterpret, relabel, and redefine. In doing so we increase and upgrade our own understanding, and in sharing this new understanding we hopefully share new perspectives on existing concepts and raise the bar of understanding more broadly — not to set vocabulary trends but to bring about deeper awareness of complex ideas.

The second, and I believe the more fundamental challenge, is to continue seeking out new ways to change the operating system. Whether this is labeled “business model innovation”, “creative destruction”, “rewiring the global industrial complex”, or just “evolving” — I’m not too fussed. And I’m keenly aware that I’m writing this in English while the majority of my fellow and sister humans around the world may be arriving at related thoughts in different languages and so my labeling efforts are not the primary force that will make the change. In fact, I’m willing to bet that those in the “sustainability field” (for lack of a better label…) — regardless of mother tongue — will not be the primary force that makes the change. But we will hopefully be among those who create the enabling conditions.

Having said all that, my term of choice that I largely keep to myself because people’s eyes cross and they wonder what on earth it has to do with them, their business or their future, is ‘biomimicry”, as it strikes at the core of creating the conditions that enable life to thrive.

Thank you for the great piece and provocation!


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