Leading for Regeneration: The Fieldbook

An Integral Change Process for Organizations and Communities


Through Regenerative  Organizations, we work with private enterprises and community agencies to  support their desire to go beyond business-as-usual to embrace the triple top  line, which can be stated as growing prosperity, celebrating community,  and enhancing the health of all species for all time.

This fieldbook has been developed to provide the knowledge, skills, and practical tools all types of organizations can use to shift their culture, and their performance, to secure a prosperous future while preserving the natural environment and empowering their communities.
Contact us at jhardman@regenerativeorganizations.com for further information.

We operate from the conviction that the  current focus on regeneration and sustainability is a necessary though temporary phase in our journey to wiser and more fulfilling ways of life. We believe that organizations and communities worldwide are ready to engage in this higher purpose and that collectively we possess the ingenuity,  imagination, and resources to make this happen.

Leading for  regeneration is defined here as:

Development of higher levels of awareness that translate into behaviors that go beyond preserving existing natural and  social resources to restoring and redesigning resources that have become depleted through overuse or misuse, while ensuring a healthy bottom line.

Regeneration calls for radical innovation, which we interpret as the capacity to do and make things in entirely new ways unconditioned by prior assumptions, whether economically, environmentally or socially. In the most successful cases, it results in a systematic, integrated, and systemic approach to everything an organization does. This is the leadership challenge that we embrace at Regenerative Organizations.

Challenges and Opportunities

While leaders in all types of organizations acknowledge a number of challenges to becoming regenerative, there have never been greater opportunities in this area. Four of the most repeated concerns we hear are:

  • ‘We know we must evolve if we want to continue to be successful, but we haven’t really figured out how to do this.’Sustainability and regenerative practice are strategic goals that leading organizations have incorporated in order to remain profitable while improving their social and environmental footprint. The programs and tools contained in this book offer a detailed description of the process whereby organizations can refine their vision and their strategy in order to do well while doing right.
  • ‘We are finding it hard to get buy-in from shareholders, personnel, and stakeholders on the importance and value to the organization and society of changing our operating model.’Regulatory, social, and market pressures are making it increasingly clear that  integrating sustainability by design as a core operating principle is not just desirable, but a requirement for any organization that wants to keep its position as a leading and respected provider of products and services.  In effect, this is fast becoming the accepted operating paradigm of the best organizations worldwide.
  • ‘While we have initiated efforts to bring down our environmental footprint, develop our corporate social responsibility, and engage the community, we haven’t found the time or the tools to design and implement an integrated strategy for sustainability.’In fact, as this book shows, there are numerous tools that are making
    sustainability plans and regenerative practice easier to develop, implement,  track, measure, and report.  ‘There are
    those of us who are still skeptical about the economic viability of
    implementing a sustainability plan.’
  • Sustainable business development and investing in the U.S. in 2011 is estimated at 28 billion dollars, up from 20 billion in 2009, and is projected to reach 35 billion in 2014 (See Sustainability: The Next 3 to 5  years [Enviance]).
    One of the companies we work with in south Florida, Dirt Pros EVS, is currently ranked as the 17th fastest growing company in Florida, and 232nd in the U.S. (Inc. 500/5000). Central to their success is their comprehensive Sustainability Plan coupled to unparalleled Corporate Social Responsibility in a highly competitive industry (see http://dirtpros.com).

Learning to Flourish while Treading Lightly

The Leading for Regeneration process is not a quick-fix recipe for regeneration
and sustainability.  It is grounded in a theory of change based on two fundamental premises:

  • While behaviors make change happen, they are only as good as the awareness and understanding of the systems that drive them. Therefore, regeneration
    and long-term prosperity are something we must do for ourselves. They require a leadership and entrepreneurial mindset willing to radically redesign the  future.

The regenerative journey, therefore, begins  when an organization engages in generative conversations that lead to an understanding of its current level of
awareness of its total impact and value, and to assess its willingness and capacity to change. Once this first phase has been completed, it becomes possible to implement the research and field-based programs and tools contained here to develop an integral approach that will address the organization’s greatest priorities and aspirations.

This process serves to:

  • Establish a vision and a strategy for regenerative leadership and practice;
  • Assess readiness, raise awareness and build capacity; and
  • Select, adopt and deploy the best tools to assess, measure, and track regenerative practices and behaviors.

By following this transformational process, organizations can thrive and play a critical leadership role by:

  • Showing the way on how to prosper while having a highly beneficial impact on the broader community through a comprehensive, long-term sustainability plan;
  • By demonstrating, in as little as two years, that significant revenue and market share can be derived from generating new business and sustainability-related efficiencies, new products and services; and
  • Being recognized as a top-tier, trustworthy regenerative organization by shareholders, personnel, stakeholders, and society as a whole.

We hope you find the processes and resources included in this book helpful in supporting your unique journey.

John Hardman, Ph.D.
Regenerative Organizations


New in Fall 2011: Open Sustainability Leadership Graduate Level Course at Florida Atlantic University

Sustainability Leadership for Engineers [EGN 6930]

(For engineering and non-engineering majors)

Offered by the College of Engineering and Computer Science

Instructor: Dr. John Hardman

Fall 2011 Semester,

4:30 pm – 7:20 pm

New Engineering Building: EE 212 (LEED Platinum Certification pending)

Restoring the present – Redesigning the future

This elective 3-credit course is open to degree and non-degree seeking students (and professionals) at FAU and the wider community. Its major goal will be to develop the essential knowledge and skills of sustainability change agentry through leadership and team development. The course will be centered around student-selected case studies focusing on sustainability-related issues relevant to engineering, technology, experimental and the social sciences, private enterprise, community agencies and nonprofit organizations.

As a means to ‘restore the present and redesign the future’ to improve the quality of human life, regenerative leadership for sustainability is rapidly becoming a core value in academia, private enterprise, and the civic sector, and is therefore of interest to professionals from all fields and disciplines.

For additional information on the course and the registration process, please contact John Hardman at whardma1@fau.edu or 561 789 9418.

Are you cultivating your organization’s regenerative capacity?

By now, most of us have got the message that sustainability is here to stay. For example, if you are still not fully convinced of the existence of climate change, Ken Robinson tells us, perhaps you need to get out more. What’s more, since Hurricane Katrina, and more recently with the nuclear trainwreck in Japan, natural events are increasingly associated with human (mis)behavior. This trend does not appear to be decreasing, but quite the opposite. The human inability to measure unanticipated consequences, the five aspects of which sociologist Robert Merton had already described in 1936, is showing itself ever more forcefully in the growing devastation of our environment, the diminishment of social health and equity, and the meltdown of the global economy.

Where to start to turn around this destructive, ignorant, and repetitive pattern of behavior? Are you and your organization (private, public, nonprofit, community, government, school, university, hospital) discussing these issues?  How can you know if you are capable of becoming regenerative, of restoring your inner and outer environment with a healthier way of doing and making things, and of serving your clients, customers, stakeholders, and constituents?

The survey below has been designed to help you measure your organization’s capacity to do this. The Regenerative Capacity Index (RCI) has been developed from ongoing research and work with major companies, nonprofit organizations, communities, government officials, environmental professionals in the field and in higher education. This instrument is designed to measure your organization’s capacity to engage in creating a better world for present and future generations. See where you are and what you need to emphasize in order to transform your organization.

Regenerative Capacity Index (RCI)

We welcome feedback and suggestions. If you would like to conduct a full scale assesment of your organization’s regenerative capacity, please contact us at jhardman@regenerativeorganizations.com.

Top 2010 Sustainability Stories

With the UN-sponsored climate Conference of the Parties (CoP 16) in Cancun, and the global biodiversity agreement in Nagoya provided some welcome relief from the increasingly disquieting climate events worldwide, to say nothing of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a lot happened in the sustainability field in 2010 that is worth highlighting, not all of it bad. I have chosen Alan AtKisson’s (see Atkisson.com) brief summary of his ten top sustainability stories to provide a quick refresher for those who would like to keep a record for future use in their businesses, their communities, their schools and universities. Happy New Year and read on…

The Death of Growth as the Basis for Economic Prosperity

Reinventing the Future

For those of us who are attempting to reach beyond the inescapable conclusion that business-as-usual is obsolete, it is critical that we explore fresh  approaches seeking to integrate economic, social, and environmental wellbeing. Many of us are now concluding that the bailouts worldwide not only did not serve to resuscitate the global economy, but that they were placed in the wrong hands for the wrong reasons. The recent review in New York of the UN Millennium Development Goals shows how far we have still to go to achieve universal prosperity, social justice, and environmental sustainability. Whether from fear or greed, short-term thinking is having and will continue to have unanticipated negative consequences for the next generations. Out of this gloomy scenario, however, it is refreshing to come across forward thinking pioneers working to bring us back to our senses by proposing realistic, workable alternatives at the policy, system, and organizational level. Two of these are briefly reviewed here.

In the foreword to his groundbreaking  paper, ‘Prosperity without growth: The transition to a sustainable economy,’ British economist Tim Jackson wrote that “Prosperity for the few founded on ecological destruction and persistent social injustice is no foundation for a civilised society.” Jackson understands that economic investment is critical, but that this needs to consist of a ‘green stimulus’ focusing on ‘energy security, low-carbon infrastructures and ecological protection.’ Among the concrete benefits, these investments would include:

  • freeing up resources for household spending and productive investment by reducing energy and material costs
  • reducing our reliance on imports and our exposure to the fragile geopolitics of energy supply
  • providing a much-needed boost to employment in the expanding ‘environmental industries’ sector
  • making progress towards demanding global carbon reduction targets
  • protecting valuable ecological assets and improving the quality of our living environment for generations to come. 

This proposition approaches what Otto Scharmer (2009) calls the regenerative ecosystem economy. Scharmer identifies seven dimensions and categories of economic growth that need to be reframed in order to move the economic system from what he calls the 2.0 to the 3.0 stage:

  • Coordination mechanisms: Upgrade the economic operating system from one driven by competition and special interest group led legislation (“ego-system awareness”) to one that operates from shared seeing and common will (driven by an intentional “eco-system awareness”).
  • Nature: Design all production and consumption cycles completely earth-to-earth (without the need for landfills and in co-evolution with the natural ecosystem).  
  • Labor: Create economic human rights (such as basic income, access to health, education, entrepreneurial opportunity) in order to enable all people to actualize their full creativity for shared wealth generation and social well-being.
  • Capital: Redesign and redirect money and capital flows to serve all sectors of the economic system (and develop commons based property rights in support of it).
  • Technology: Build communities of creation to generate breakthrough technologies in areas that matter most to societal needs and aspirations.
  • Leadership: Reinvent leadership learning to facilitate “learning from the emerging future” rather than reproducing the patterns of the past.
  • Public Awareness and Conversation: Create infrastructure innovations that allow all citizens to become aware of their real power in co-creating the intentional ecosystem economy and in deepening our democracy. (p. 2)

Rather than operating from a narrow mindset of scarcity and competition, can we figure out ways to work together to generate, and regenerate, a better society and our biosphere? Thousands of individuals, for profit and nonprofit organizations are already doing it. Why not you?


Jackson, T. (2009). Prosperity without growth: The transition to a sustainable economy. London, UK: Sustainable Development Commission. See http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/    

Scharmer, O. (2009). Seven acupuncture points for shifting capitalism to create a regenerative ecosystem economy. Paper presented at the Roundtable on Transforming Capitalism to Create a Regenerative Economy, MIT, Cambridge, MA, June 8-9, September 21, 2009.

How Sustainability Oriented is your Senior Leadership Team?

Senior Leadership Team Sustainability Survey

Sustainability and cutting edge are close to becoming synonyms in the business world. For the best, regenerative practice – returning to the earth and society more than you take out while returning the highest levels of profitability – has become a guiding principle.

Leading the charge, companies like Nike, Apple, Walmart, Starbucks, Patagonia, Interface, and 7th Generation are continually re-inventing themselves in their markets without waiting around for regulations to catch up with them or for the public to tweet them to death.

So how about your company? Is your leadership team there yet, or are you still trying to figure out how to turn things around without losing your shirt in the process?

Take the Sustainability Competency and Opportunity Rating and Evaluation (SCORE*) self-assessment for executives to see where your team stands. Other assessments in this competency assessment and rating portfolio include:

  • Facilities
  • Human Resources
  • Office Practices
  • Purchasing
  • Environmental Affairs
  • Marketing/Public Relations
  • Finance/Accounting
  • Sustainability Director
  • Information & Communication Technology

For further information on these and our other comprehensive tools for leading your organization to sustainability and regenerative practice, please contact us at jhardman@regenerativeorganizations.com.

Senior Leadership Team Sustainability Survey

*SCORE is a business sustainability assessment and rating tool developed by Darcy Hitchcock and Marsha Willard of AXIS Performance Advisors. Regenerative Organizations is a SCORE licensee.

Are you Regenerative?

Open Letter to Authentic Leaders

One of the reasons people fail to achieve new goals is that they try to change their behaviour without first altering their thinking. This always fails.[1]

As we enter the second decade of the new millennium, save some great exceptions at a more local level, it has become apparent that the initial optimism regarding a new global economy based on clean energy and a fairer distribution of wealth has taken a beating. In the face of a global recession, billions of people are at increasing economic, social, and environmental risk. The attainment of widespread prosperity in a flourishing, equitable society within a healthy biosphere continues to appear as a distant dream. This is reflected politically and economically in the scandalous inability of world leaders to cross the divide between industrialized and developing nations to agree on integral solutions to global problems, as became evident at the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December 2009, compounded by the current apathy regarding the follow up meeting in Mexico, as indicated by Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, in August of this year[2]. Additionally, the government bailouts of global finance, business and industry indicate very clearly that a free market based on consumption and growth continues to be the most widely accepted economic model worldwide, despite the growing evidence that this may be turning out to be one of the most misguided – and riskiest – investments in human history. If we accept the definition of capitalism as a system grounded in the free exchange of goods and services in a self-regulated market, logic might conclude that there was a serious flaw – and/or a hidden agenda – behind the reasoning that supported the intervention in the first place.

While many believe that the solutions to this state of affairs can be extracted from the problems themselves, a growing movement of individuals, communities, organizations, and institutions is engaged in creating a new paradigm, an entirely different way of being and of doing. Regenerative leadership speaks of a new generation of leaders that has lost the desire to solve old problems with old methods. Their profound dissatisfaction with the business-as-usual model has led them to lose confidence in the systems of the past and to conclude that, as a society, we may only prosper by designing new models of human activity based on entirely different assumptions uncontaminated by the systems of the past.

An important aspect of this new-found sense of purpose comes from the understanding that a new society can only come from an entirely new mindset founded on the acknowledgement of the critical role of human consciousness in the formation of our behaviors. Regenerative leaders understand that only through this inner work and by empowering others in the workplace and in their personal lives to engage in this process also, that we will be able to develop the behaviors that will heal and restore that which has been damaged while maintaining viable economies. For many, this requires us to go beyond technocratic solutions, policies and programs targeting sustainability and sustainable development. This point is driven home in ‘sustainability circles’ in the oft repeated story about the old married couple who are asked how they were doing, to which they responded that they were “sustaining.”

Regenerative leaders are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the notion of sustainability, and indicate the need for a profound cultural shift towards human systems that engage in healing, restoring, and increasing the planet’s natural and social capital more than they extract from it. While this may appear utopian, this is what it will take for those of us who wish to ensure a better world for our children and their children.

How can we get this done? 

Regenerative systems and organizations are led by people at all levels who are driven by a sense of higher purpose integrating social, environmental and economic concerns, where leadership is exercised collaboratively within and across organizations without excessive concern about positional authority.

To ensure truly regenerative outcomes, leaders emphasize the critical importance of engaging in personal and collective consciousness development or inner work. This includes the practice of letting go of of the constraints of deeply held beliefs and assumptions regarding the nature of reality and how things work. It involves authentic inclusion of all internal and external stakeholders in generative conversations that liberate individual and group creativity to find entirely new operating models.

These organizations leverage their core business to promote community prosperity and wellbeing. They don’t “do” charity or philanthropy, nor do they provide off-the-shelf solutions. Whether they are local or global players, they understand that they are active members of their community, and they work with these to identify and address the most critical problems not from the boardroom but at the grassroots level.    

The current state of global connectedness and inter-dependence made possible by social media and the World Wide Web offers unprecedented opportunities for a profound transformation of human society towards sustainability and beyond, through a combination of a shift in consciousness and active participation in local, regional, and global initiatives in education and regenerative economic development. Where the efforts of governments, institutions and corporations fall short, thousands of nonprofit organizations and social entrepreneurs are stepping in[4], energetically pursuing a new mindset to bear on the triple top line to grow prosperity, celebrate community, and enhance the health of all species for all time[5]. The best, most long lasting solutions will be discovered by harnessing not just our intellect, but our collective minds, hearts, and hands[6] to take up the challenge.

If you would like to know how to move your business organization, institution, or community to get this done, contact John Hardman at jhardman@regenerativeorganizations.com

[1] Doppelt, B. (2008). The power of sustainable thinking: How to create a positive future for the climate, the planet, your organization and your life. London: Earthscan.  

[2] MacFarquhar, Neil (2010-08-09). “U.N. Chief Recommends Small Steps on Climate”. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/10/science/earth/10nations.html?_r=1&ref=earth. Retrieved 2010-10-05

[3] Doppelt, B. (2009). Leading change toward sustainability: A change-management guide for business, government and civil society : Greenleaf Publishing.

[4] Wiser Earth: The Social Network for Sustainability. http://www.wiserearth.org/. Retrieved 2010-10-05

[5] Cuginotti, A., Miller, K. M., & van der Pluijm, F. (2008). Design and decision making: Backcasting using principles to implement cradle-to-cradle. Master’s thesis. the School of Engineering Blekinge Institute of Technology, Karlskrona, Sweden.

[6] Scharmer, O. (2007). Theory U: Leading from the future as it emerges. Cambridge, MA: The Society for Organizational Learning, Inc.