a process for exploration
Deep adaptation offers radical ways to face and respond to the climate crisis. This is a tough call for businesses, as individuals need to work through their own feelings, and the organisation must see how to transform and survive. Seeding our Future offers processes and support to help business leaders and consultants to face both these issues.
The impacts of climate change are alarming and uncertain, for all of us. It’s clear that business will need new approaches, new information, and inputs from people who understand both the corporate world and process of Deep Adaptation. It’s this rare combination which Seeding our Future offers.
What is Deep Adaptation?
Jem Bendell is a Professor at University of Cumbria. In 2018 he reviewed the latest climate science, and like others, recognised that the current situation and future outlook is much more serious than generally reported. His original 30-page paper is a key document, and has now been downloaded 450,000 times. The key points Jem makes include:
- It is probably too late to ‘stop’ catastrophic climate change, so alongside movements like Extinction Rebellion, it’s vital that we look at deep adaptation.
- The likeliest major impacts are likely to arise from food shortages due to large-scale crop failures arising from severe weather events.
- Jem believes that societal collapse is likely in developed countries within ten years.
- He highlights the deep emotional impacts of a truly alarming outlook as an essential part of what we have to engage with.
Business response to deep adaptation
In order to begin to explore and create pathways for the future, we must first move through our defences to enable us to face the truth of the situation – however that is for us as individuals and as a collective. Beyond the stark realities of climate change itself, each person will connect with this and face it in their own way, with different feelings and sense making. Working with the deep adaptation framework of Resilience, Relinquishment, Restoration, Reconciliation, we will create a space which will allow you to feel the threat, share your experience and make meaning through this collective exploration. Resistance is a natural process in any change – to acknowledge this and get curious about your resistance will support your own adaptation.
As leaders you will not be able to lead through this change until you have felt and worked through your own resistance issues. Facing the threat also allows the opportunities to reveal themselves and enables a shift to a future focus, creativity, and ability to think transformationally. An essential part of Seeding our Future’s approach is to provide supportive processes to enable all this. We have found that a really different setting can be a catalyst, and we advocate using a wild outdoor venue for some gatherings, such as Hazel Hill Wood (see more below).
What can Seeding our Future offer?
These challenges are unprecedented, and there are no easy answers. SOF work with clients to co-create a tailored approach. The elements of this process could include:
- Framing: An informal, small-scale first meeting with the leader of the organisation, for an honest discussion of issues, hopes, fears, aiming to agree the aims and shape of first stages of an intervention.
- Engagement: A half-day session, probably at corporate HQ, for the designated client team, and the facilitation team who will work with them. This session will aim for mutual trust and understanding, and agreed aims from immersion workshops.
- Immersion Workshops: To address effectively these issues needs significant time, in a catalytic residential setting. Three-day, two-night programmes are desirable, two day one-night is a minimum to enable a personal and organisational journey. The process would be tailored to agreed aims and the context of each client.
Some examples of potential content:
- Facing facts about the climate crisis and the outlook for the next 5-10 years, including both personal and organisational impacts.
- Processes drawing on the supportive natural setting of the wood to help participants face and function with strong emotional responses, such as fear, despair and overwhelm.
- Exploring how to support all staff in handling these kinds of emotions.
- A future visioning process, using the woodland ecosystem as catalyst, to create a deep sense of future possibilities, seen from a range of viewpoints (e.g. the business, consumer activists, the environment, investors, regulators, etc).
- Constructing a few potential scenarios for the overall future strategy of the business, and assessing these on a range of criteria, including shareholder needs, personal values of workshop participants, future legacy, customer impact.
- Drawing together priorities to take this further, e.g. areas needing more fact-finding, scope for project teams, how to engage with stakeholders.
- Looking at personal support to enable participants and others to keep engaging with the full realities of the situation.
- Follow-up: The target outcome from the immersion workshops is to design a process, which can then be led by the client, potentially with help from consultants, coaches, etc., who they already use.
Who are Seeding our Future?
We are a small team, working to support a range of clients with future resilience. Our lead partners for the business sector are Alan Heeks and Jake Farr, see profiles below. The team includes several others with extensive relevant experience, and we have access to inputs from Jem Bendell. We also work in partnership with consultancies specialising in leadership and change management.
Alan Heeks: a Harvard MBA with many years corporate experience as a manager and consultant; including co- founding Caradon plc, a major management buy-in. His work has focussed on future resilience since 2012, and he is working closely with Jem Bendell. Alan directs Seeding our Future, which is also assisting community groups and NHS doctors.
Jake Farr: Organisational psychologist, executive coach and Gestalt psychotherapist with over 20 years experience working with senior leaders of their organisations. She brings a deep awareness of the psychological and emotional process of change, and offers clients a creative, holding and holistic space from which to face the future and explore potential responses to the climate crisis. See www.apodltd.com
Hazel Hill Wood: this is a 70-acre woodland retreat centre near Salisbury with off-grid residential facilities. Alan and Jake are both trustees of the charity which runs the project, and have led many programmes there. See more at www.hazelhill.org.uk
Eco accommodation at Hazel Hill Wood
To explore further: