8. Overcoming Linear Thinking with Systems Thinking

At HES, we promote the view that if entrepreneurship is to successfully meet the sustainability challenge, we must adopt systems thinking. As Larsen (2000) writes, we have become too “accustomed to thinking of business in terms of discrete units with clear boundaries between them. We forget that these boundaries exist primarily in our minds or as legal constructs”.

Our view also chimes with the Harmony Principles espoused by HRH The Prince of Wales (HRH et. al 2010)  more recently captured in the new Terra Carta charter,  launched by the Prince at the One Planet Summit in Paris on 11th January 2021. (https://www.sustainable-marketsorg/TerraCarta_summarium_Jan11th2021.pdf). These messages highlight our responsibility for preserving the integrity of all ecosystems, and for them to be treated as “one common system and addressed simultaneously”.

Consequently, we align with the working definition of Harmony has adopted from David Cadman  (2017), one of the UWTSD’s Harmony Professors of Practice at the Institute of Harmony: “Harmony is an expression of wholeness, a way of looking at ourselves and the world of which we are part. It’s about connections and relationships. The emotional, intellectual and physical are all connected.   We are connected to our environments, both built and natural; and all the parts of our communities and their environments are connected, too.   Harmony asks questions about relationship, justice, fairness and respect in economic, social and political relationships.  As an integrative discipline it can be expressed in ideas and practice.”

A practical example of harmony is represented by SEKEM Holdings in Egypt, winner in 2003 of the Right Livelihood Award  (the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize). According to the award citation SEKEM “shows how a modern business can combine profitability and engagement in world markets with a humanistic and spiritual approach to people and respect for the natural environment”. 

The solution adopted by SEKEM is a harmonious business model that integrates or harmonises economic, eco, humane and social entrepreneurship – and it is contended here that if entrepreneurship is to address the sustainability challenge its future is to see problems and opportunities more holistically and harmoniously, rather than as unrelated elements in what is a highly interconnected system.

Read about SEKEMA HES Case Study by Professor David A. Kirby & Dr Iman El-Kaffass

Read also about SANERGY –  A HES Case Study by Professor David A. Kirby

Extended Viewing 

Here Felicity of HES, talks about her interpretation and experiences of systems thinking, and its link to the sustainability agenda https://harmonious-entrepreneurship.org/2020/12/18/systems-thinking-and-the-sustainability-agenda/


HRH The Prince of Wales, Juniper, T., and Skelly, I., (2010), Harmony: a new way of looking at our world. London: HarperCollins.

Larson, A (2000), Sustainable innovation through an entrepreneurship lens. Business Strategy and the Environment.9 (5) 304-317.

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© Harmonious-Entrepreneurship.org

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