Over the past few decades, the way in which we do business has pushed the foundation of our lives—the earth—to its very limits. The climate catastrophe caused by humans is now well underway. Life on our planet is going to become increasingly uncomfortable, meaning that the social inequalities within our globalized world will continue to sharpen.
The fact that we, as humans, need to do something, is clear to the overwhelming majority within our society. However, far too little is being done. Why is that? What’s stopping us? What will it take for business stakeholders to find the courage to roll up their sleeves and shape change?
Ever since we’ve been focusing on sustainable and regenerative business models, we’ve noticed that the “what”—“What do we want to achieve? What is our goal?”—is a hurdle most people cannot overcome. And with good reason: we don’t know what the future will look like. Combating climate change means challenges and changes unlike any humanity has faced before. We’re navigating into an era of total uncertainty—by sight alone.
But at the same time, we keep coming across organizations that are already displaying an indefatigable pioneering spirit, embodying business practices that don’t just inspire us, they also give us direction and have plenty to teach us.
This is why our three-day virtual InterStellar Learning Journey sees us bring together people striving for business change for themselves and their organizations, giving them the opportunity to get to know organizations and stakeholders who are already driving change today.
One of the participants in our last InterStellar Learning Journey was Svenja Weingärtner, Corporate Development Manager at Digitas Pixelpark. Her work focuses on strategic internal organizational development and employee experience.
Like many, she finds her daily work to be marked by a gap between what she’d like to do for our planet and what can be pragmatically implemented in the everyday life of a business. While she is currently playing her part in and shaping the shift towards sustainability in her work environment, she feels that she’s lacking a bigger vision in terms of how the network that the agency belongs to can integrate this topic in such a holistic way that it can reach all the goals set for the next 5–10 years.
“What do regenerative business practices look like? What do organizations look like if they’re pursuing holistic business models? What barriers do they encounter? What principles do they follow? And what can I do myself to engage with a task of this magnitude in my personal sphere of influence?"
The InterStellar Learning Journey is intended to answer precisely these questions and connect her with potentially like-minded people facing this same challenge.
Lots of astronauts who’ve had the chance to see the earth in its entirety report that their sense of awareness and perspective has undergone a shift of sorts after they return from space. They see our planet as a tiny, vulnerable ball moving through black nothingness without much in the way of protection, while also embodying everything that’s the foundation of our life as humans. On our journey, we strive to capture precisely this perspective, which is why we fly into space with our participants.
We set off together, spending the first day focusing on the initial two of our four regenerative principles: embeddedness and inclusivity. It sounds weird at first, but our goal is to give participants a sense of the scale of the task facing us and let them experience the feelings associated with this, like humility and hopelessness. But it’s not for nothing. Drawing on Theorie U, we experience together the urgency of our collective emergency in order to create a space where new ideas can later come into being. Why? Because regenerative thinking requires us to unlearn what we’ve learned and recognize our internal resistances so we can open ourselves up.
“The evening of the first day can be described in one word: world-weariness. We all understand that we can’t keep going on as we have been. Nonetheless, or possibly because of that, I was all the more curious to look into the possibilities that could turn my despair into a constructive desire for action.”
On the second day, of course, it was about combating this hopelessness somewhat: we’re now floating in a weightless space where we can find solutions. This day focuses on the principle of circularity, which we learn about, try out and experience via expert input, exercises and discussions. Our thirst for knowledge is fully quenched and the space for new ideas gradually opens up into a vast expanse.
The third and last day takes us back to Earth, where we focus on the principle of longevity and firming up future scenarios. Together, we look to the future to see what is to come. Our hope has returned, even stronger than before, because by the end of this journey participants have gained a wealth of inspiration, tangible solution mechanisms, allies, self-trust and a desire for action.
“The Learning Journey awakened both hope and constructiveness in me and showed me clearly that my sphere of impact can be much greater than I thought. Since then, the four principles of regenerative business practices have taken root in my daily thoughts and actions. I have learned that I can make a significant difference, even with comparatively little in the way of stimulus and food for thought.”
Of course, despite the common framework, every journey is a highly unique experience thanks to the people on it and the experts invited.