CO-BUILD-20: The Blueprint for a World Post-COVID-19
“RegenAbility, the future of Sustainability”
Discover a conversation between Virginie Helias, Chief Sustainability Officer, Procter & Gamble and Vincent Avanzi, Chief Poetic Officer, The Ink Of The Future. This op-ed is the result of an unusual and innovative conversation between an exec and a poet, a doer and a dreamer, a Chief Sustainability Officer and a Chief Poetic Officer, one that we can listen to with words to inspire and punchlines to reuse and the other that we can watch in action to back it up with real examples to follow. During the lockdown with the world on pause, the two met virtually to discuss a possible storytelling for the world post Covid-19 to build back better for brands and leaders and to use as a possible blueprint for the way we do sustainable business in the world of tomorrow. Please discover a mix of enchanted vision and grounded action as the balance of both worlds. May this blueprint bring hope and be the roadmap for a more regenerative way to do business and to be human.
Full conversation here and below are the poetic storytelling pieces.
- It’s Humanity O’clock, the Time Has Come.
With the world on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and much of Humanity contemplating the possible worlds of tomorrow, we may have reached the tipping point we’ve all been yearning for. The question now is: How can we as a species —and as businesses— learn from the past, contribute to the present and cowrite the future together? Time is of the essence given the climate emergency. Horizon 2030, Action 2020. It is now “Humanity O’clock” and the time has come as Nicolas Hulot would say. The time has come for brands and leaders to step forward and align their business models to the needs of our planetary ecosystems. The time has come to focus not just on our personal income, but on our universal outcome.
2. The Blueprint: Write the Best Story Mankind Ever Told
« In the beginning (of the world) was the word.” (John 1:1) Throughout History, stories and words have always preceded reality and guided our narratives. Maybe the time has come to write the best story mankind ever told, a new story for the future of Humanity, a compelling story, an inclusive, inspiring, regenerative, poetic and collective narrative. As a new era awaits, we are all invited to co-write a new “blueprint” for the world(blue being also the color of harmony and of the oceans on our home planet), as a new common horizon, as a dream (as Napoleon Hill said “a goal is a dream with a deadline”), a pledge, a manifesto of an “Edendorado” in Esperanto, that universal language that can be felt and understood by all beings sincerely, with a story that can be desirable for all, by all dreams and all means necessary.
3. A Poetic Title: From “COVID-19 to “COBUILD-20”
Jonas Mekas wrote, “in the very end, civilizations perish because they listen to their politicians and not to their poets.” Let’s start listening to the poets. Words are a world of wonders. Maybe poetry will shape the world and maybe we’re all poets inside, waiting to burst out. What type of storytelling could we all write, and each contribute to? Transitioning to post COVID-19 times, we would like to propose a possible title for this story and call it “COBUILD-20,” to build together collectively in 2020, with a 2030 horizon, not a “brave new world” like Huxley, but a “sane” new world, to shift the paradigm of business and the reverse the priorities of life, ecology and economy. We are all aware of the “4 Ps” of sustainable business: “People, Planet, Purpose, Profit.” The time has come to embody them fully and add a fifth “P” for Poetry in it to give it a true meaning to lasting prosperity.
4. Key Positive Impact (the new KPI): From Business as Usual to Business with a Soul
We may need to change the rules of the game and also improve the version of players. As enlightening leaders, let’s elevate ourselves and align our mindsets, our footprints and our heartbeats to go from the cycles of History to a lasting Future, from corporations in competition with one another to cooperation as a higher mission with each other, from gaining market shares to making “humanity shares,” from a short-term profit to a long-term benefit, from presenting PowerPoints to discussing “purpose points,” from less harm to more good, from rivals and going viral to thinking about what is really vital for our survival, from old business models to role models for business, from agony by money to harmony of many, from high times of modernity to lifestyles of sobriety, from aiming at our Moonshot to landing here our own “Earthshot,” basically transitioning from business as usual to “business with a soul.”
May we, individually and collectively, as leaders and companies, be more “in service” and less “for profit,” more in balance between being and doing, nature and culture, business and wisdom. This may be the middle path to reach a “World-Wise Win-Win,” where everybody, (the people, the planet, the societies, the shareholders, the employees, the consumers) wins because we have changed the hierarchy of the indicators of success. Tomorrow, being “number one” might not be measured by profitability, but the sustainability and the level of positive impact. After so many years of talking about it, let’s change the indicators. The acronym KPI? Let’s replace the “target scorecard” of Key Performance Indicators by a “planet postcard” of Key Positive Impacts, aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Statistics already start to show that the companies with the most social and environmental impact will be the ones that will prevail in the near future. One sign of planetary awareness is also the fact that we are seeing the emergence of a new generation of leaders and a new civilization of humans that will, as consumers and citizens tomorrow, gradually demand this alignment from organizations in order to adhere to brands.
5. Replace the Word “Sustainability” (Ability to Sustain) with “RegenAbility” (Ability to Regenerate)
With new narratives generally come new words that create new realities. Take the word “sustainability” for example, which has been trendy for over a decade now. If we look at it from a different angle, it literally means the “ability to sustain.” Maybe the ability to sustain the world as it was prior to COVID-19 is not the solution. What ability could we be looking for instead? Our “human-ability,” our “common future-ability,” our “oneness-ability,” our life preservation ability or simply our “regenerability” as our ability to regenerate resources to make the economy go into a virtuous endless circle, just as the planet goes round, hence respecting the cycles of all living species on its soil? We would like to propose a neologism and call it “RegenAbility,” as a contraction of “regenerability,” the ability to regenerate, to make it modern, unique, meaningful and mark the time. The lexical field contains power and words rightfully put together are action. Change the words to change the world, Change our perspective and the way we look at things, not think but also feel, not only with mental eyes, but also with poetic hearts and minds.
6. Enlightening leaders, we are the “RE” Generation!
And may we be the “RE” Generation. The one to lead the way to RE-enchant the world, RE-poetize our societies, RE-connect with nature, RE-boot our economic system, RE-think our ways of living, RE-build our society and economics for the future, RE-lease the human passion and our best potential, RE-veal our most precious dreams, RE-vive the roots of who we are, RE-turn to the essentials of our humanity in terms of life, love, solidarity, empathy and biodiversity. And basically RE-connect truly with people, gather together and not separate the elements of nature, a philosophy we inherited from Descartes. As Satish Kumar (founder of the Schumacher College) would say, “soil, soul and society” are interdependent. RE as RE-invent tomorrow with RE-silience today. This is a “once in a mankind” opportunity so let’s take a stand with both of our hands and be that RE-generation, not a mere RE-peat generation. It might be our own RE-volution, to cosign a “RE-Generation Declaration”, for life preservation, better life relations and international conversations. A “You-Turn” to not reach a point of no-return in ten years from now. Horizon 2030, Action 2020.
7. The Birth of “Chief RegenAbility Officers”
We can switch job titles as well. Inside companies, we would like to launch a movement to embrace new “Chief RegenAbility Officers” that will lead the way in helping corporations embody this new narrative to influence the entire company and therefore impact the eight billion people on this planet. Change the job functions to change the company direction and put more poetry in your job description, in your job title and in your leadership in order to further re-enchant capitalism and adding a much needed dose of humanism and life wisdom prism.
8. One Humanity: May the “New Normal” be Written with Two Ls for “All”
In the end, we know, if any doubts were still possible, that the planet cannot be treated as a mere market and that life really has no price. As Robin Williams would say in a modern Corporate Poets Society, “poetry, beauty, romance, love… these are what we stay alive for.” Sustainability and RegenAbility are our common responsibility as One Humanity. The companies of tomorrow that are the most engaged and responsible will outperform the rest. Start the transition now. Be part of the solution, not part of the pollution. The key of the story may be in finding the collective purpose of mankind, our grand horizon, our collective purpose, our higher mission. The future of our planet is in our hands and everything is still possible. And maybe Adam Smith was incorrect about the “invisible hand” of the market, maybe the true hands are the helping hand we give others and the writing hand to cosign our own story. Imagine eight billion people all “co-creating equal.” “A dream you dream alone is only a dream, a dream we dream together is reality,” said a wise man once from the Beatles in a song destined to touch us all.
All brands and leaders, this is our chance for lasting change. The time has come to transcend ourselves and reveal our true essence as human heroes in action and sustainable pioneers. To be an example, be an “activist” as Emmanuel Faber (Danone) would say. This is our time now to lead the way. We are the first generations to feel the effects of climate change and maybe the last that can do something about it. And maybe the cosmos kept the best for last. If “poesis” in ancient Greek means “to create,” be a corporate poet to transform our reality. Let’s give this story life, together. All businesses have as motto to change the world, now’s the time to really contribute to changing the world for the better. Welcome in this exciting new journey of Humanity, aboard the boat of our common future, the enlightening leader “ship.” May our ambitions meet the horizon in order for the “new normal” to be written with two “Ls:” for “all.” Finally, we all have a key word of life, pick yours now, make a commitment and change the world with it. CO-BUILD-20 to co-write and re-invent the future. Back to you… for us. Our time is now. Horizon 2030, Action 2020.
Welcome all aboard the Enlightening Leader-Ship
Join the ship and add your words, your vision, your actions. And may our ambitions meet our common horizon.
Read the full conversation between Virginie and Vincent here (send a email to contact @ odysseehumaine.com to receive the PDF)
Author: Vincent Avanzi is a Chief Poetic Officer, author, speaker, storyteller and speech writer. Former Microsoft employee and twice a globe-trotter, he founded The Ink Of The Future to reenchant the world with poetry. He developed the concept of “corporate poetry” to bring out the soul of corporations and develop the human global awareness around sustainability, singularity, wisdom and harmony. He is the author of seven books including “Harmony and the Genius Spot of Mankind” (Human Odyssey), a journalist at Les Echos and was dubbed an “enlightened leader” by Decideurs Magazine. Recurrent speaker at Sustainable Brands, he is also a consultant on brand identity and accompanies CEOs and leaders on their transformational journey, their storytelling and the art of writing inspiring speeches. “Poetry will save the world and we’re all poets”.
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