One of the major challenges of our times is that of giving shape to a responsible economy, worthy of its name. That would arguably be an economy that mitigates both social inequality and our environmental crisis at the same time. And as this is a Herculean task which requires all our hands and brains it leaves us with the dilemma of decision making: where do we want to see our individual impact as enterprise designers in all of this? Will we just have to fix all those established organizations around us to leverage better futures?
In other words: should we simply put all our energy into helping existing enterprises to learn, evolve and become more human? Will this path lead to the solutions that we need so urgently? Or will we have to start from scratch by founding and growing entirely new organizations that have a contemporary DNA right from the beginning? Will we have to rethink how an organization functions on a blank sheet of paper?
Economist Kate Raworth designed a model (Doughnut Economics)
that aspires to serve as a compass to guide us towards a responsible and sustainable economy; one that has a future for us humans in store. However, she argues that there is no single established company out there which already succeeded in fully transforming in all relevant aspects according to her model. In fact, established organizations are particularly reluctant to change when it comes to their ownership or finance architecture. Will they ever overcome this limitation with the help of willpower and external consultants? Will organizations be able to finally break out of the system they are so deeply entangled with?
There are plenty of new enterprises on the rise which are based on fundamentally different structures, operating models and world views. In terms of their impact on industries, however, most of those enterprises are still far from moving the needle. Will they eventually get there if we help them to grow and thrive? It is difficult to argue with the fact that there are limits to growth — whether this applies to economies or single organizations.
But are there also limits to optimization? What about limits to customer-centricity? Or to stretch it a little further: what are the limits of enterprise design within mature organizations? And what else could we do to use our skills and methods to give rise to human enterprises? The beauty of Enterprise Design is that it seeks to solve enterprise challenges with a holistic perspective, avoiding the flaws of standardised approaches such as traditional strategy consulting. That is why it seems fruitful to take a step back and allow for reflection on individual impact and positioning.
The Human Enterprise is dedicated to exactly that.