Building organizational capacity for sustainable business transformation

The focus of the third edition of Prosperous Planet’s Insight series is our unique approach to organizational capacity building and change processes. For companies looking to navigate towards success in the Anthropocene, understanding the significance of such processes is key to also achieving sustainable economic aims.

Prosperous Planet is defined by our ambition to enable businesses to navigate towards sustainable success in an increasingly intricate world. Addressing the wicked problems of the Anthropocene is a feat that not only requires mobilization within all sectors and fields; effectively combatting the complex issues characterizing Earth’s new geological epoch necessitates radical collaboration and synthesis of diverse methodologies and knowledge. Prosperous Planet recognizes the vital importance of such collaboration and the need to build effective organizational capacity to achieve sustainable business transformation. Grounded in the latest developments in the frontiers of sustainability science, Prosperous Planet’s unique approach to business in the Anthropocene also draws from groundbreaking developments in the fields of human psychology and organizational development to ensure the structures buttressing our clients’ journeys towards sustainability are conducive to open collaboration and psychological safety.

The complicated, interrelated problems that we are currently facing signal a need for us to collaborate in novel ways. How we have typically worked before is no longer suitable for the challenges that now stand before us, and although our previous experiences have been valuable, they will not be able to solve the challenges of the Anthropocene. In such a context, creative approaches to collaboration grounded in science are crucial to sustainable business success. Collaboration enables a variety of different people with different backgrounds and different perspectives to learn from each other and generate effective solutions to wicked problems. Prosperous Planet’s cultivation of collaboration and organizational change is central to facilitating cross-pollination between a variety of perspectives, but ensuring the context encompassing such processes is one that fosters a willingness to share is just as significant. Fostering an environment and shared understanding that together serve as a base for people to freely speak their minds and be actively listened to is an approach to sustainability that defines Prosperous Planet.

Liene Leimanis Bartlett

Liene Leimanis Bartlett, Designer and Facilitator of Change Processes, is one of the driving forces behind Prosperous Planet’s innovative approach to organizational capacity building and change processes. Driven by an interest in the structures, activities, formats, and exercises that support openness, trust-building, and the generation of innovation, Liene helps both Prosperous Planet’s employees and clients design and facilitate collaborative environments where people are motivated to share, are willing to
listen, and where innovations and synergies are nourished. Liene’s close
collaboration with our clients entails designing engaging meetings, workshops, and team cultures. Underlying all of these activities is a foundation of openness and trust that ultimately fosters an environment where innovation is more readily able to occur and the sustainability science underlying Prosperous Planet’s approach to business in the Anthropocene is able to be catalyzed for true transformation. In her own words,

I work with the human aspects of change and transformation. The Anthropocene requires fundamental changes to how an organization creates its business models, the approaches they have when it comes to profitability, the ways in which CEOs lead and run the organizations themselves. What I do with clients is coaching and team development, focusing on the human needs of the individuals I am working with and ensuring their basic needs of being appreciated, having status, and having a good level of influence in the group are met. Psychological safety is critically important to building organizational capacity to address the wicked problems of the Anthropocene. Creating a sense of certainty, creating a sense of fairness and inclusion, and enabling a balance of autonomy and relatedness are essential aspects of my work. What I do materializes in the support of the organizations we work with to set up meeting structures and communication strategies, working with the ‘how/process’ part of transformation which supports the ‘what/content’ part.

Such support strengthens the flexibility and resiliency of organizational capacity. At a time when changes and transformations are increasingly rapid, compounded, and entangled, unless human conditions are adequately addressed to ensure happiness, satisfaction, and appreciation at work, such complex changes and transformations grow even more difficult to manage. Through fostering situations where our clients gain a deeper self-insight and are able to better lead themselves towards effective collaboration and success in the Anthropocene, Prosperous Planet sets itself apart from other change makers in the sustainability space. By connecting understandings of human psychology to the organizational processes that facilitate positive social-ecological development in the private sector, increased efficiency and innovation is made possible.

“What Is Experiential Learning?” What Is Experiential Learning?, University of Windsor,

Guided by research and theories such as Amy Edmondson’s concept of psychological safety, Joseph Luft’s and Harrington Ingham’s JOHARI window, David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle, and Jarl Silfverberg of the Swedish National Defense College’s Content/Process model, Prosperous Planet promotes an environment that is free of the fear of being criticized, diminished, or ignored. In such a social climate, “stupid” questions and ideas are not off the table; they are welcomed, uncriticized, and an integral part of the creative process. Such organizational capacity building encompasses not only Prosperous Planet’s external work with clients; this work is fundamental to the internal operations and success of the Prosperous Planet team in the pursuit of our mission to create innovative business futures fit for the Anthropocene. Creating and implementing structures and processes that support our colleagues with their wellbeing, productivity, efficiency, and resiliency enables Prosperous Planet to excel in the field of management consultancies. Indeed, a holistic view of change, one that recognizes and acts on the importance of ensuring psychological safety and innovative collaboration, is key to continued success in the Anthropocene. As Liene offers, “If psychological safety exists, that is a fertile ground for building on others’ ideas and for innovations to occur. I think that’s a vital ingredient for transformation.”

Although the challenges of conducting business in the Anthropocene are many and fierce, a robust, empathetic organizational structure can provide critical support to those embarking on journeys of transformation amidst Earth’s new geological epoch. Considering this, Prosperous Planet advocates for an approach to organizational development that reflects our approach to sustainable business development: one that is science-based, considerate of risk and opportunity, and keenly aware of how organizations need to transform in the Anthropocene. What sets Prosperous Planet’s approach to sustainable business development apart from others is that we acknowledge that effectively addressing human psychology is necessary to achieve success — and that success is not just about growing, saving money, and safeguarding the environment; success for Prosperous Planet also means success on a personal, human level and, moreover, an understanding of how all of these elements are intimately connected. Striking the right balance between social, environmental, and business considerations is not easy, but with a Prosperous Planet approach, it is possible.

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