I’m beginning the “soft launch” of something that has grown out of my work in Japan over the last several years. The Transformation Institute: Community, Business and Personal Transformation is coming to life at web address Robert Theobald and I used for our work from the mid-nineties until his death just before the beginning of the new century. Seems very fitting and appropriate.
Frankly, I don’t know exactly what the Transformation Institute is. I just know it wants to be born. Several questions contribute to its formation:
- We will encounter more and more collapse of existing systems in the coming years. How can we use collapse (disaster/emergency/revolt) as a springboard to transform our communities and our lives into ones which are healthy, resilient and thriving? A friend in Japan made a critical observation last April, speaking of the triple disasters in Japan. She said “we caused this.” Three simple words. They make us face the fact that while a natural disaster occurred, it was precipitated by an array of human choices. Many of our choices will lead to more collapses. Will we try to reconstruct the old normal, or can we learn how to use the energy of collapse to transform to a new more desirable state?
- While there are differences in our community, business and personal lives, transformation of the three is interwoven. How will we reconceptualize and recreate the relationship between these three aspects of our lives? One of my biggest lessons in Japan has been seeing what it looks like when business is still a part of community rather than apart from community. I’m not trying to glamorize business in Japan or say there are not issues and problems, but what’s been striking to me are the ways in which community and social needs trump financial profit. CSR isn’t enough, it feels kind of like an “oh, and, by the way, I wonder if there is something good we ought to be doing.” What would it be like for community, business and personal to conceive of themselves as integral parts of a greater, related whole?
- There is a great, latent potential for great cooperation and greater learning linking the whole of the Pacific Rim. We are an ecology together. How might the diverse insights, questions, knowledge and experience of countries, cultures and peoples on the Pacific Rim be invited into a deeper co-creative relationship? How do we honor the particular problems and potential present in each context and learn together a we work to create a future that works for all?
- Finally, the emergence of a new Tohoku Region in Japan will be a teacher to all of us. How do we learn with and from the people of Japan as this beautiful Tohoku region comes back to life? What can those of us elsewhere around the rim contribute as people in Tohoku learn how to work together to create the communities, businesses and lives they want? I remember the feeling in early April when I was co-hosting a group of 40 or so business leaders in Japan. We began with grief, sadness and confusion that turned into excitement within three hours. The shift was remarkable. When I sensed into the shift these words came back to me: we’ve been released from a future we did not want! How can Japan lead the way in transformation?
It’s an exciting time. Much is possible. I invite you to help me think about how the new Transformation Institute might contribute to the possibilities which surround us!