The House of Beautiful Business — (please visit the Journal of Beautiful Business here) — features “business leaders, founders, technologists, artists, philosophers and scientists who think together . . .with an aim to radically change the language, systems, and practices of business and to shape a more positive vision for technology, business, and humanity.”
The House recently hosted an event entitled ‘The Great Wave,’ which was a ‘practical-fantastical, global event,’ which happened to be virtual too.
For me, this wave, was a welcome ride into ‘what can be,’ and an opportunity to learn from business leaders who think expansively about just that… what can be.
Here are three inspiring ‘Great Wave’ perspectives that you shouldn’t miss:
Do our entangled patterns matter?
Karen O’Brien, IPCC Nobel Peace Prize Winner asks this question “What if we transcend the individualistic, reductionist paradigm that currently influences our understandings of social change, and what if we open up to the possibility that we are all part of one entangled system and live in a world of potentiality?”
Consider reading her speech here: You Matter More Than You Think. It is a reminder that each of us — in our own sphere of influence — whatever that is — matters. We have potential in every moment to matter —and especially as we consider our ‘entangled patterns’ with one another — we matter even more.
As we aim to make a difference for our world — the opportunity is for business leaders to keep our entangled patterns top of mind as business purposes are scoped out and to consider the ripples each decision makes on everything else.
Is certainty a bust? Well…. yes, sometimes it is.
For example, when you’re a physicist trying to get your brain around the inner workings of quantum physics, it turns out, being certain, is a bust.
Business leaders can learn something from quantum physicists. Shohini Ghose, Professor of Physics and Computer Science at Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario eloquently described how light is a “shape-shifter,” and how waves function to describe possibility.
These quantum physicists have learned that we need to move away from ‘knowing…to ‘not knowing’…to probability.
This is because ‘what might happen, or what could happen,’ is a better question than assuming we know what will happen or that we can predict based on binaries.
As Ghose said, ‘the universe is really telling us this, it is more incredible and beautiful and beyond our everyday experience than we could have imagined.’
‘the universe is really telling us this, it is more incredible and beautiful and beyond our everyday experience than we could have imagined. . .’
As a result, Ghose pointed out, physicists have learned that if you embrace uncertainty there are things that you can do better. . . “like encryption, for example.”
And, she says, leaning into quantum uncertainty as a fundamental law of the universe, means that other-worldly things like “teleportation,” — even — are becoming reality.
When removing binary thinking — — which limits things to 1’s and 0’s — or winning and losing — the door is opened to every imaginable possibility from there.
Business thinkers can open these door too!
As Leonard Cohen’s famous words about the future remind us….
‘Ring the bells that can still ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
When you crack that door of uncertainty open….the light shines in. The light is the — what if? possibilities . . and what can be? . . . questions.
This bright light offers us the opportunity to say ‘hello,’ to what is possible.
Should we make room for the philosophers in business? Yes.
Martin Reeves of the BCG Henderson Institute interviewed Françoise Baylis who spends her time thinking about ethical practice and theory about her biggest question. . . ‘What kind of world do we want to live in?”
Baylis reminds us that we are often tempted to first answer and then ask questions.
She reminds us of the doors of possibility that open when we step far enough back from problems so that we can view them from new vantage points by giving ourselves permission to ask larger questions of ourselves.
For example, an exercise in moral imagination…forces us to look at ‘usual things,’ very differently.
We might ask a question like this: “what if we had a different understanding of what it meant to be wealthy? What if ‘wealth’ was defined by how much you could give away — constantly gifting? — rather than keeping?”
And when making decisions she reminds us to keep the ‘should,’ decisions in mind in addition to the ‘can we do it’ questions.
“Should we do this? The benefits are easy to see. But, let’s think about the harms too. Who might be harmed if we do this?….. Sometimes our decisions change when we answer that question too.”
Baylis reminds us that there isn’t just one way forward. . . forward can be on a lot of different paths —it might mean “turning right, left, or forging straight ahead. . .”
All in all, she reminds us that we have agency to make choices beyond what we might see just right in front of us and that we ought to remember this agency to make a difference.
What are we left with as the wave reaches shore?
Our opportunity is to keep what Baylis’ asks us to in mind…. “What does a better future look like? What do we want it to do? What do we need it to do?”
To do this we can. . .
- Elevate uncertainty, in order to ask more often ‘what if,’ and ‘what can be, questions;’
- Honor and maximize the entangled patterns we’re a part of as we leverage the best of our moral imaginations to build something better than what we have now;
- Invite the philosophers to the table to challenge our moral imaginations.
When we do this, we’re primed to imagine and discover and build what is possible.
We’ll create futures we want to dedicate to our children and to the children we once were.
With gratitude to the House of Beautiful Business for their ‘big thinking,’ event! — Shannon