Mushin Schilling will kick off the Berlin Change Days 2011 with his keynote speech titled "Economy 3.0 - moving towards a major upgrade of the Human Operatin.... In this interview he gives a preview of what Economy 3.0 means to him and how he is experimenting with new forms of organizing business and society. And what makes him participate in the Berlin Change Days once more and give the keynote address?
Mushin, could you please introduce yourself. Who is Mushin Schilling?
My main talent, my unique selling point so to speak, is to put feet under visions. I am a person who, by experience, learned how to do so. I have the talent to relate what comes out of ideas, to extract what the essence is. I like to use this metaphor where the mountain top symbolizes the vision, and we are in the valley finding and creating our way up to the top, seeing what is needed next and what the challenges are. This demands a special kind of creativity, on-the-way-creativity, and I've discovered that I'm quite good in turning ideas into operational procedures for the climb.
An example of what I am currently working on is to bring the Internet, and all that this entails, into the construction industry, and to foster collaboration between companies without them losing their competitive edge. The ‘higher goal vision’ is to tackle the corruption, or cheating behavior that is common in the building industry, by using modern software to make the entire operation transparent and manageable in a collaborative manner. That means, we have to tackle a great range of challenges, and this demands creative solutions.
All of this fits in with my more general interest in what we probably should call Economy 3.0.
Economy 3.0 is also the theme of your keynote speech. What do you mean by this?
Economy 1.0 was based on direct trade in goods, and this had been the prevailing systems for 1 to 1 ½ million years. Economy 2.0 is connected with money; trade in goods via an interim token that contains their value. This includes positive interest, paper money, but also money with negative interest which is good for the economy but bad for everyone who wants to hoard it. Economy 3.0 includes three major topics: 1) a revision of money, a rediscovery of what value really is; 2) an understanding of win-win-win situations; and 3) learning organisms.
Firstly, we are making a revolutionary discovery these last decade or two about what value actually is. We have always been a collaborative species. Our society for thousands of years has been an incredible product of all sorts of collaboration. But collaboration has recently, in the last 200-300 years, been devaluated, while the value of egoism has increased. This has been the result of bourgeois individualism and of so called ‘objective measurement’, which says that only measurable things have economic value; a conviction which in fact today is the only accepted collective truth.
Secondly, Economy 3.0 means taking the win-win-win principle into account in every transaction. Win-win is the best Economy 2.0 can possibly come up with, both parties to a transaction win; we can call this ‘enlightened capitalism’. The third win occurs when culture, society and ecology also win with each transaction. The third win is, most of the time, quite hard to measure. For ecology we are slowly arriving at concrete measurements, auditing the whole value-creation-chain for its ecological consequences and trying to stick a price on each of these, and then take that into account. But for community, culture and society that seems much harder to do. So in Econonmy 3.0 for every transaction we have to take into account what the 3rd win will be.
Thirdly, we have to go towards creating continuously learning organisms, or in other words intelligent learning companies. Like organisms need to learn and adapt in nature, so businesses have to learn and adapt to the economic or business ecology. The challenge is to make competition and collaboration really an intelligent affair, to create learning organisms that are not led by the egos of the staff but are informed by and embedded in business ecologies, and cause these ecologies to flourish.
The question is how to get to Economy 3.0 from where we are now. The current situation is a catastrophe. It is great that here in Europe we have had the longest period of peace since ages, but the limits of Economy 2.0 have become increasingly clear. I am talking about the derailment of financial markets, the extreme culture of greed (we actually live in a system built by and for greedy people), and the big ecological challenges. The real challenge for us, and that is what the Berlin Change Days are also about, is not to find the best theory to change things, but to identify and support good examples of businesses that are moving into the direction of Economy 3.0.
What changes are needed to get to Economy 3.0?
Economy 3.0 is an expression of a change within the Human Operating System. The Human Operating System is much about the way we relate to the world and how we act within it. It doesn't seem to me that a change of consciousness is required, the consciousness of many people has and is continually changing, what is required is a change of the way we do things. For thousands of years, and still today, the Human Operation System was organizing most matters like a pyramid, with the boss all the way on top; the clearest reflection of this is a military hierarchy. This is not a very intelligent way of organizing things anymore; it may have been when things moved slowly, nothing much changed, but nowadays I would call such an operating system stupid, dumb. In the more flat hierarchies, where everyone in a team is equal you often see egos fly all over the table, completely unrelated things are being mixed up and influence the way business is being done. So the egalitarian operating system also doesn't work very well, except in the very early stages of start-ups where there are just a few people, pioneers, creating something they are inspired by. What we need for an intelligent system is to allow all players to contribute their knowledge. Holocracy is the best possible governance system I've came across while looking for operating systems for learning companies; and we are investigating how that could work between companies, creating synergy and collaboration.
The Unknown is a good friend to real entrepreneurs. And so we don’t know whether Economy 3.0 will work as imagined. We do believe, and have some real life evidence, that collaboration works better than competition, but we haven’t proven it yet. I am always looking for people and companies who want to test some of the many possibilities and chances of transition, to work with practical examples to make collaborative entrepreneurship profitable and increase market share. What it comes down to is, if 10% of the economy is created through win-win-win solutions, through Economy 3.0, we can speak of a success.
But before we speak about successes, we want to play a different game, because basically it’s more fun. Entrepreneurs often start out with idealistic reasons and a creative input, which easily gets lost underway. People spend more time on their job than on anything else, so that’s the area where revolution has to happen. Google and a few other companies show that you can organize work places that are fun. Good companies are those with the lowest rates of sick leave.
And what role do you play in this? What do you see as your ‘mission’?
I have taken up the challenge to identify the leverage points. The knowledge we gained from Economy 2.0 is that entrepreneurs are those who turn the demand or wishes of others into products and services people are willing to pay for. Economy 3.0 still runs on this entrepreneurial characteristic; creating value for people and identifying opportunities that can be turned into profit.
In the company I have been working with from the start in 2009 we discovered the opportunity to provide a flat rate for services. Companies buy a service flat rate, they tell us their needs and offers, and we bring parties together. We stand in between the expert and non-expert, talk about needs, try to maximize profit and provide services for both parties. The business facilitators who are doing this job are not paid by the flow of money between the parties, they don't get a cut or provision, but by our company, so they can stay neutral. We are being hired to make sure there is a win-win situation. Our secret agenda, secret because we don't make any PR for that, is also to look at the third win. Our business facilitators are working on general business2business solutions in all areas and keep the learning systems alive. This company is a learning company in extremis; we learn from ourselves and from other companies that are learning, and we spread this knowledge and information.
One of my basic question is: how can I improve the quality of the work places for people? In my role as the CTO of this company, I am creating software apps, and always asking: is this app going to make the job easier? If people can exercise what they are good at, they are happy. I am now creating a suite of apps for the construction industry, with the goal to take as much of other things out of the hands of the constructor so he can do as much as possible of what he likes to do. If people want to do something for society, I always ask: do you know what you are good at?
This company is one of the testing grounds of Economy 3.0, a try-out, it’s part of my life research project. I am using it to explore possibilities for Economy 3.0. Often I receive strange reactions when I say this, but I do business as someone else would go a spiritual way.
Why do you take up the challenge to be the keynote speaker at the Berlin Change Days?
I consider the Berlin Change Days as a meeting place for mutual co-education. As a keynote speaker, I hope to create a co-learning situation in which we will be able to discover how we can play a meaningful role in the major change the world, and all of us individually face. For me it’s fun to pass on what I learned, but it is even much more fun to learn from interesting questions, experiences and expectations. As the name says, it’s all about changing, and I see this in three different ways: 1) Personal change; what’s in it for me, why do I want to (contribute to) change? 2) We are embedded in a larger context, and we can learn what is helping towards whole systems change; what is in it for us? 3) If you want to change a system, exchanging best tools and being together with people wanting and doing this, is a fantastic way to learn.
What has been your experience with the Berlin Change Days?
I participated in 2009, and for me it was a learning and connecting experience of a high quality that I didn’t expect. I made interesting contacts who have helped me to advance in work and personal life, I learned about processes and I learned what I definitely don’t what to do, I got rid of ideas.
And what do you expect to bring home from the Berlin Change Days 2011?
It is an opportunity to look for talent. Finding the right people is the biggest part of running a company. 70% of what you have to do, you don’t need to know. What is more important is who you are, whether you are curious to learn, are creative, etc. Working with employees I always look at the balance between the overall financial costs and how much they are involved in creating value for the company. So apart from expecting that I'll learn from the people coming, having lots of fun hanging out with new people and old friends, I'm really looking forward to meeting lots of people who are our natural allies on the way to creating the most crucial part of the new Human Operating System we need for Planet Earth: Economy 3.0.
Curious to read more about what Mushin is working on? Take a look at his Google+ page and to his collection of link, blogs, videos around Integral business.
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