There is No Such Thing as a Regenerative Business

Vincent Deinum talks about building a regenerative business on EnvironMental with Dandelion

So to reduce our negative impact might not be enough; we need to go beyond that and restore what we have broken down.

Vincent Deinum about building a regenerative business

In this episode of EnvironMental with Dandelion, we welcomed Vincent Deinum onto the show. Vincent is a regenerative guide with The Regeneration – a company focused on helping businesses and individuals become more regenerative. We got the chance to talk about creating a paradigm shift, what it means to build a regenerative business, plus why there is no such thing.

Vincent brought a wealth of knowledge to our discussion, shedding light on his role in guiding organizations towards a regenerative horizon. First, he helped us set the stage with getting clear on what it means to be regenerative.

Understanding Regeneration

Regeneration starts with acknowledging the degeneration in our world. Then, it’s about actively working to restore and move towards a future that leaves a positive footprint on nature, ecosystems, and communities. It’s a step beyond sustainability, because it focuses on restorative practices. Every part of the regenerative process contributes to the flourishing of our planet and its inhabitants.

Virtually every aspect of the way humans live has a degenerative impact on the planet. When we talk about ‘creating a more sustainable future’ we aren’t talking about sustaining the ‘now’ because the way we live as a society right now isn’t sustainable. We’re talking about creating a future that could be sustainable. To do that, we need to regenerate a lot of what is lost. That includes that world’s leaders shifting focus from ‘GDP’ to ‘regenerative business.’

What is a Regenerative Business? And Why They Don’t Exist (yet)

We asked Vincent to explain what a regenerative business is. He told us that it means integrating nature, ecosystems, and communities into the core mission of an organization. This often requires major change in decision-making processes, organizational structures, and the internalization of a regenerative mission. It’s about creating products and services that not only do no harm but actively contribute to the well-being of our environment and society.

That’s why a regenerative business doesn’t exist yet. We haven’t moved past creating a net-negative impact. But, as Vincent put it, “that doesn’t mean that there aren’t organizations that are already showing ways of being restorative. For example, by simply putting nature, ecosystem, landscapes, and communities in your mission, by making a promise to people and planet.”

This shift, the one from degenerative to regenerative in business, is the role that Vincent and The Regeneration plays in the transition to a more sustainable world. We think this shift is one of the most important – and one of the most difficult – parts of creating a world that is safe and equitable for everyone.

Overcoming Challenges and Embracing Change

Introducing a regenerative paradigm to organizations steeped in traditional corporate structures is not without its challenges. Vincent emphasized the need for unlearning and relearning, addressing underlying dynamics, and fostering personal transformations, especially among leaders. It’s about telling a new story and inspiring a collective journey towards regeneration.

A New Organizational Structure

We spoke a lot about the organizational structure of a regenerative business. The first, and maybe most important thing is to give Mother Earth a seat at the table. This isn’t just in name, but it’s actually a chair in the decision-making room. this allows nature to be included in every discussion.

Additionally, a regenerative business is organized with the least amount of bureaucracy possible. The Regeneration itself is organized in circles that focus on various aspects such as movement building and communication. Then there is someone appointed within each circle to meet with the other circle representatives. This non-hierarchical, collaborative approach allows for consent-based decision-making and fosters a different kind of relationship among members, which is essential for a regenerative approach.

It also isn’t without its challenges. A typical corporate environment is very based in a hierarchical structure. Just the idea of a non-hierarchical conversation in some companies feels strange. Vincent finds that people are looking towards the ‘boss’ or the ‘leader’ of the group. Even just the simple migration to equal exchange and solving things together is a paradigm shift that takes unlearning. It shows us there’s a long way to go, and it starts with the leaders.

The Regenerative Business Re-imagines Leadership

The thing we loved most about this conversation was that Vincent challenged our concept of leadership. While we’re always advocating for a collective model where everyone has a role to play, Vincent challenged our definition of a leader. He stressed the importance of conversations that matter, where people engage with their colleagues to discuss and honor the values within the organization. It gave us a new way to think about leadership: everyone can be a leader, it just depends on the conversation.

If we felt challenged by this shifting paradigm, you can best that anyone that has ever worked in corporate will too. We believe that people follow their charismatic leader – and it’s certainly part of the dogma of the capitalist culture. But if we take a step back and think about it, we’re left wondering if this assumption is true. Do people want to follow one leader? Or can we create a culture with values so strongly held that it doesn’t need a single figurehead at the helm? We think it’s worth a try.

How to Connect with Vincent and The Regeneration

You can find out more about the regenerative work they’re doing here:
Follow them on Instagram: @regeneratie_cooperatie
And on Linkedin here.

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