Thrivability is a growing global movement, with passionate champions around the world. We define it as the intention and practice of aligning organizations with how living systems thrive and how people thrive. It’s the recognition that organizations work the same way living systems do – living systems like our bodies, rain forests and coral reefs – because they are living systems. And when we bring what we know about thriving living systems to our organizations, we get amazing results. Results like joyful and effective collaboration, inspired innovation, shared learning, adaptability to changing circumstances, and just plain getting stuff done. The more you understand about how life thrives – and the more you align your organization with those patterns and tendencies – the more of these results you can expect to see. Most importantly, your organization will be inherently in harmony with life, aiding its own sustainability and contributing to life’s ability to thrive on the planet.
How does thrivability work?
In practice, thrivability is about identifying and committing to your organization’s own best means of enhancing life’s ability to thrive. And it’s about aligning with life’s core operating patterns across every aspect of the organization. In many cases, this involves familiar strategies and tactics, but it also calls for new approaches of participation, playfulness and flow. The bottom line is that when people understand that their organization is in meaningful service of life and when the way they work feels vibrantly alive and effective, it’s a powerful formula.
Why is thrivability important?
Understanding how life works – and how to support that pattern in our organizations – opens up tremendous new possibilities not only for organizations, but also for society and for the future of life on the planet.
The dominant guiding story about organizations continues to depict them as machines, separate from people and nature. Our belief is that the limitations of this story are at the root of most – if not all – of society’s problems, and that our failure to recognize the life in our organizations is intricately linked to our decreasing ability to sustain life on the planet.
Though organizations do have mechanistic characteristics, there is also life within them. And it’s their aliveness that enables compassion, creativity, collaboration, collective intelligence and resilience to emerge.
For this reason, thrivability is ultimately a rally cry to set our sights beyond profitability, corporate responsibility, and even sustainability to the larger goal of “enabling life to thrive.” After all, you get what you aim for. And how you aim for it also affects the outcome.