Last Wednesday, I had the privilege of hearing the perspectives of two of the most creative and original thinkers on the scene today, Bill McDonough of Cradle to Cradle fame and Tony Michaels, an entrepreneur specializing in environmental science and “systems thinking” who founded the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Southern California. Both are brilliant analysts in the disciplines of sustainability and closed loop systems and a joy just to listen to.
Bill, whom I have been fortunate enough to spend some time with, loves to talk about what the Chinese are doing in regard to new models of sustainability. Being exposed to his insights helped open my mind to new ways of viewing things, making me far better able to appreciate Tony’s ideas about complexity models and how something in one system can be the missing link or accelerator for another. He is especially adept at analyzing why some systems work and some don’t. In fact, I would compare Tony’s role in helping us understand the nature of successful systems and what makes one ten times more effective than another to that of author and lecturer Jim Collins in making the complexities of business more comprehensible.
Having the opportunity to listen to two individuals with such fresh and innovative viewpoints on the same day was an experience I would describe as both humbling and inspiring. You might even say it has given my perspective a total makeover – and in doing so, made me realize that we are all going to have to engage in more of such unconventional thinking to enable us to get the right pieces in place for the creation of biological and technical systems capable of supporting a human race that now is at seven billion people and counting.
So, after having found myself fascinated by listening to Bill and Tony, my advice would be: reach out for something different today. Read an article you would never normally read. Google and research something that’s about it as far from your norm as possible, and see if it provides an “accelerator” for your own thinking. At the very least, I think your perspective will be changed — and perhaps even “rocked” like mine was last Wednesday.