Beyond Extraction, Creating Beautiful Businesses

By Dr. Christine McDougall. Edited by Julia Dopp.

My founding belief is that people long to come together, to work together on stuff that matters deeply to them, but we do not have the mechanisms and means to enable this to happen where people can show up in their full agency within a community, and learn as they go. As a leader, I am working to create the human architecture that enables people to come together to create enterprises and projects that enable self management, deliberate development through design, natural hierarchies and agency within community around a significant purpose.

In our current system we have been bamboozled by words and their meanings. Words need to be clearly understood. Your home does not accrete in value. Your dollar’s buying power goes down. We have conflated many things…like economics and finance. They need to be decoupled. Let’s call a spade a spade and start to dispel the many illusions.

For example: the limited liability corporation was designed by Queen Elizabeth 1st, to limit the liability of the colonisers of India. If your ship filled with spices and glories from the East was lost at sea, you would not be liable for the loss. It could be said the Limited Liability is a form of passing the buck. “I don’t want to take responsibility for x, so I will be sure that someone else will pay.” In Queen Elizabeth’s time, the people that paid were often the families of the crew, who lost their husbands and fathers with no compensation. Today, by evoking limited liability you are bringing in the energetic of what this means. The cost is evident in everything from the environment to the income gap.

Almost everyone engages in this conflated system of value extraction as pawns. It does not matter how smart you are, or how determined you are to build social enterprise; if you are in the game, you are sustaining the game.

Christine McDougalIn 2006 I realised I was a pawn in a game and I wanted to educate myself about what exactly I was playing into. It has been a long and very painful process. At the same time I have met and gotten to know people who are building new models, new boats, new systems that are designed to make it possible for people to live their values. Eventually, I was able to build my own: Big Blue Sky.

By the time I built BBS, I had tried for 30 years to bring diverse and awesome humans together around a central organising purpose and to do so that enabled all contributions to thrive and synergise. For 30 years I failed and it always fell into a messy human heap.

With BBS, I created a Trust (not a LLC) and we included the Trust Manifesto in the legal document. I wrote the Trust Manifesto with guidance from some of my colleagues. It enabled an extraordinary threshold crossing of highly diverse people to participate in the creation of BBS, entirely self managed and without a single human upset. We were all strangers to each other 6 months prior to the event, and none of us had event experience. Watching these people work together was like watching a symphony…it was chaotic and noisy until the day. And then it was heavenly to see. Every single attendee felt it. The event was held together by the love of a group of strangers inspired by a unifying purpose.

I know that the more enterprises we have that change their operating system and organisational design, the greater the mass. The greater the mass, the more data we can clearly track, to the point where we will be able to say to governments, “Look! Look at what these enterprises do for community, for health, for education, for child care, for productivity, for wealth generation for all. Here is the data, let the data tell its story.” I want our community of enterprises that demonstrate this new way of being in enterprise to become a force in its own right and as such affect policy.

My income generation currently comes from working with the “Type A” male, who is seeking to advance their leadership development to become a steward leader, able to handle increasing complexity and multiple perspectives simultaneously and to do so with wisdom. I have worked with this client type for 20 years, almost exclusively. Not by intention, but by happenstance. A good friend and branding expert pointed this out to me and said it was a very unique skill, for a women to work with high achieving men, and enable them to show up fully human, whole, real, and to begin to create lives and businesses that matched their wholeness and not the enculturated masculine.

As an older women in this space working with young gun entrepreneurs, men in tech, etc, I have experienced the very worst of men. And the very best. However, my focus is now on building new forms of enterprise, beautiful business, and working with men who have realised they must be the change.

And this is the point. If we want to grow as humans, we need to return to what is being created, and why, and how. Rather than reflexively going to the usual models, create new ones that dignify our enterprises and their people.

In other words: if you want to make a sh*t load of money and be the hero of the world, then name it. Own it. Don’t pretend to be something else. But if you care about the world, care from day one. Not when you have your billions. Weave what matters so deeply into the fabric of the enterprise that there is no argument. Live it, risk it, stand for it.

I have a twenty-four-year habit of doing hard physical exercise first thing in the morning (I’m talking 4:30/5AM), 365 days of the year. This has saved my mental health, more than once. But what motivates me to read the next article, to keep going when I feel like shit, to go back into the frey and have another go even when I know I am going to have stones thrown at me, is this:

I know people who are yearning to create a more beautiful world that our hearts dare to think possible. These are my people. If I can contribute to them and to the more beautiful world that my heart knows is possible, then the day is not done. Better still, if we can work together, to synergise the best of all of us, to create an orchestra of gorgeous beauty, then I get so excited I can hardly stand it. I am better when I work with people. I am doing this with love, without turning myself into a heroic pretzel, and with my eyes very clearly seeing that my friends three-year-old daughter will be alive in 2118. I know we can make her world more beautiful than the world is now.


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