The Great Transformation

Published on: Jul 15, 2020Entrepreneurship Summit
Entrepreneurship Campus

By Entrepreneurship Campus

The Great Transformation


Entrepreneurship Summit October 9 - 11, 2020

"From here and today a new epoch of world history starts, and you can say you were there." This is what Goethe wrote about the cannonade of Valmy on September 20, 1792. The great transformation between 1770 and 1850, that of kingdoms National states, from feudalism to capitalism, from manufacture to industry, crystallized for Goethe in this one fixed point.

Today we find ourselves in such a great transformation again. From abundance to sustainability, from greed to meaning, from industrial society to digitization. We recognize that everything is in flux and look for a fixed point where the new becomes visible to us. But our chances of that are slim. In the midst of upheaval, it's easy to see that something of the old is breaking. But virtually impossible to see which path the new will take.

We have to radically change our perspective and way of thinking, says Maja Göpel, Secretary General of the German government's Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU): "Our world today is fundamentally different from the world two hundred and fifty years ago, when the industrial revolution began. And yet today we are mainly looking for solutions with the view of the world of that time. We forgot to check our thought patterns for their suitability for the present.”

In the realm of economics (and this is the only realm we are concerned with here), the industrial way of thinking has led us into a fivefold perverted situation:

  • In the production of goods, costs are kept down at all costs. The result is inhumane and dangerous working conditions, overexploitation of people and nature, and recurring scandals about product counterfeiting and fraud.
  • In order to be able to sell more and more goods, companies have to spend more and more money on marketing. Because everyone is doing this, sales efforts increase disproportionately. The actual production costs today are usually only a fraction of the final price, often not even a tenth of it.
  • The spiral of increasing marketing expenditure and the fixation on profit maximization are moving us further and further away from what in the history of economics was its true purpose: to economize with limited resources.
  • Where profit maximization comes first, everything else takes second and third place. Even if the PR departments of the companies try to paint a different picture. The values ​​on which the cohesion of a society is based are thus increasingly falling under the wheels.
  • The ruthless use of resources has dramatic consequences for the ecosystem and threatens our livelihoods. Even with an immediate change of course in the direction of sustainable management, climate change could no longer be stopped, at best it could be limited. But there can still be no question of such a reversal.

Let's hear Maja Göpel again: "Challenging our thought patterns clears the view of the levers with which we can get out of the crisis and shape the future in the 21st century."

The most important of these levers are: ourselves. Because the path is not predetermined in a Great Transformation - it is determined by those who walk it.

  • By those who walk the path as customers. Who use their banknotes as ballots for a better world. Who formulate their own needs and don't allow themselves to be caught up in marketing. Demanding transparency, not fancy branding.
  • By those who walk the path of activists. Who are committed to a good cause, who are active in the neighborhood, in their community, locally and globally. who do something.
  • By those who walk the path of entrepreneurship. They are the ones who can look at the new without having to consider the old. They are the ones who create the alternatives in the first place, perceptible to the senses, with which we can all become active for a better world.

The economy of the Great Transformation does away with the perversions of the old economy.

  • It does not save on production, but focuses on higher quality, longer shelf life, less harmful production processes, better conditions for employees (occupational safety measures, fair remuneration).
  • It avoids the cost of customer acquisition. Because it focuses on people, their needs and their values, instead of maximizing sales and profits with increasing sales efforts.
  • It creates the greatest possible transparency in the ingredients of the products and in the cost pools, and it enables the traceability of the processes.
  • It puts an end to wasteful capitalism and instead installs lean economics that are in harmony with the resources of the ecosystem and the planet.

A new epoch of world history can emerge from this economy of the Great Transformation. And we can say we were there.

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