Magazine
11 juin 2021

L'économie des beignets n'est ni une question d'échelle ni de temps. C'est une question de conception.

Kate Raworth interviendra au Ouishare Fest 2021, un festival qui se déroulera à Paris du 23 au 25 juin et qui abordera les plus grandes questions mondiales dans les domaines économique, technologique et politique à travers le concept du "temps". Intéressé(e) ? Plus d'informations sur notre site web ici !

Dans votre grand livre "Doughnut Economics", dessiner des images apparaît comme une révolution. Pourquoi les images sont-elles beaucoup plus puissantes que les mots ?

Kate Raworth : Si vous prenez tous les mots qui sont écrits à l'intérieur du beignet, je pense que personne ne cillerait. Cependant, si vous les mettez en forme dans ces deux cercles concentriques, cela donne du pouvoir aux gens, ils peuvent entamer une conversation avec plus de confiance. J'ai commencé à lire sur le pouvoir de l'imagerie et j'ai découvert que plus de la moitié des fibres nerveuses de notre cerveau sont liées à notre vue. Si nous montrons une image de quelque chose et un texte sans rapport avec celle-ci, nous avons tendance à croire que l'image est correcte. Nous adaptons ensuite le texte dans notre esprit pour qu'il corresponde à l'image. Nos yeux sont des observateurs de modèles. C'est pourquoi nous voyons des chiens dans les nuages et des fantômes dans les ombres. 

Nous devons déconstruire ce monde où les images sont considérées comme des illustrations. Selon George Lakoff, la vie des gens est considérablement influencée par les métaphores conceptuelles qu'ils utilisent pour expliquer des phénomènes complexes. Nicolas Copernic, dans les années 1500, a dessiné le système solaire connu que Ptolémée avait d'abord dessiné avec la terre statique au centre. J'adore l'histoire selon laquelle il a attendu d'être sur son lit de mort pour oser publier son dessin, car il savait que celui-ci était révolutionnaire. Les images peuvent provoquer une profonde crise philosophique quant à la position de l'humanité dans l'univers, car elles sont très difficiles à supprimer. 

Je considère les images des manuels d'économie classiques comme des graffitis intellectuels. Les graffitis sont très, très difficiles à effacer. Si vous demandez aux personnes qui ont étudié l'économie, elles se souviennent des images mais pas des équations. Plutôt que de nous concentrer sur ce qui ne va pas avec les anciennes images, nous devons en inventer de nouvelles pour les remplacer. Dans chaque chapitre de mon livre, il y a une ancienne image et une nouvelle pour la remplacer. Les images déterminent ce que nous rendons visible et ce que nous laissons invisible, ce que nous mettons au centre et ce que nous laissons à la périphérie, et cela façonne tout.

Nous savons tous que la confiance joue un rôle clé dans l'économie. Les images permettent-elles d'instaurer la confiance ?

K. R. : Les mots peuvent devenir très chargés et les gens les utilisent de différentes manières : capitalisme, socialisme... Les images contournent en quelque sorte cette histoire, et elles peuvent être un objet frontière où nous pouvons nous rencontrer. Au cours d'un atelier, si quelqu'un dessine un diagramme, tout le monde le montrera du doigt et contribuera. Certains des meilleurs ateliers auxquels vous pouvez assister sont ceux où vous vous retrouvez avec un type d'image assez sauvage sur le mur. En utilisant le pouvoir des images, ils peuvent instaurer la confiance et établir une vision commune dans ce sens. Et, bien sûr, elles nous permettent de nous connecter aux métaphores, qui sont l'un des moyens les plus puissants par lesquels nous comprenons le monde. 

Votre livre nous invite à dépasser les approches étroites afin de rassembler toutes les idées émergentes à travers l'économie. Quel est le point commun de ces approches "hétérodoxes" en économie ?

K. R. : Lorsque j'ai entrepris d'écrire Doughnut Economics, j'ai lu toute l'économie qu'on ne m'avait jamais enseignée, en commençant par l'économie écologique qui positionne l'économie par rapport au monde vivant. J'ai lu l'économie féministe qui reconnaît la valeur des soins non rémunérés, mais aussi l'économie de la complexité, qui reconnaît la dynamique de la façon dont le monde bouge réellement, l'économie comportementale et l'économie institutionnelle qui reconnaît le pouvoir et l'importance de la conception des institutions. J'ai rassemblé un grand nombre d'écoles fortes qui sont souvent appelées économie hétérodoxe. Je voulais voir ce qui se passerait si elles dansaient sur la même page. Sinon, le risque est que chacune d'entre elles devienne une réponse thématique à l'économie dominante. Nous devons créer une alternative qui les rassemble.

Bien sûr, ce que j'ai présenté était incomplet. J'aurais aimé avoir la capacité d'écrire davantage sur les inégalités mondiales et les relations entre les nations en fonction de leur histoire. Jason Hickel a écrit un livre, The Divide, qui traite de l'histoire de notre monde et des relations économiques entre les pays. Il nous donne un point de départ bien plus utile qui part de la valeur humaine et du monde vivant. J'ai écrit le livre Seven Ways to Think, puis j'ai organisé un concours en disant : "Eh bien, montrons à quel point cette liste est incomplète", avec Rethinking Economics, un mouvement étudiant. Nous avons eu des réponses vraiment étonnantes de la part des gens, qui ont montré qu'il y avait tellement d'autres façons d'apporter une nouvelle pensée économique.

Nous devons passer de la pyramide avec nous au sommet à la toile avec l'humanité intégrée à l'intérieur.

Où voyez-vous des passerelles au sein de l'économie et au-delà ? Par exemple, comment voyez-vous l'articulation entre l'acceptation des limites de notre planète et l'acceptation de nos propres limites en tant qu'êtres humains ? 

K. R. : Je ne pense pas en termes de limites. En fait, je pense en termes de santé et d'équilibre. Et là encore, on en revient aux métaphores, n'est-ce pas ? La santé humaine est quelque chose que nous comprenons tous. Nous savons que nous avons deux poumons, un cœur, un estomac, un système respiratoire, nerveux, squelettique et musculaire. Nous comprenons donc que nous sommes constitués de systèmes complexes qui fonctionnent ensemble et c'est ce qui nous maintient en vie. Nous savons que la santé réside dans l'équilibre entre tous ces systèmes. Tout comme le corps humain combine ces multiples systèmes, la planète en fait autant. Elle possède un cycle du carbone, un cycle hydrologique et un cycle des nutriments. Elle possède une couche d'ozone protectrice et une toile de vie. Chaque enfant apprend la biologie du corps humain à l'école. Ils doivent également apprendre à connaître le corps planétaire. 

Ce qui compte vraiment, c'est la conception de l'entreprise elle-même et ces cinq caractéristiques de conception : objectif, réseaux, gouvernance, propriété, finance.

Des philosophes comme Philippe Descola nous invitent à entretenir une relation avec le reste de la vie sur terre, comme les animaux, les plantes. Dans quelle mesure cette affirmation est-elle liée à l'économie?

K. R. : Je pense que l'économie des westerns est vraiment dommageable dans la façon dont elle présente l'humanité. Elle dépeint un portrait très étroit de ce que nous sommes. Cette petite image d'un homme seul, l'argent à la main, l'ego au cœur, une calculatrice dans la tête et la nature à ses pieds est profondément dommageable à bien des égards. Elle nous dit que nous réussissons par l'intérêt personnel et la compétition. Nous devons passer de la pyramide avec nous au sommet à la toile avec l'humanité intégrée à l'intérieur. C'est un peu comme si Ptolémée plaçait la terre au centre du système et que Copernic disait, non, non, non, la terre n'est qu'un des éléments qui se déplacent. Satish Kumar a une remarque pertinente à ce sujet. Il s'est rendu à la London School of Economics et a demandé : "Où est votre département d'écologie à la London School of Economics ? Comment pouvez-vous enseigner l'économie si vous ne comprenez pas l'écologie ?".

Je ne parle plus de l'environnement car il n'est pas vivant, par définition. Je préfère parler du monde vivant. Nous avons donc beaucoup à apprendre sur les mots et les images que nous utilisons afin de nous situer judicieusement par rapport au reste du monde vivant.

Comment faire en sorte que la transformation des modèles d'entreprise, en particulier celle des grandes entreprises, soit suffisamment rapide pour faire face à l'urgence climatique ? Tout le monde s'accorde sur la nécessité de changer, mais c'est une question de temps. 

K. R. : Les grandes entreprises peuvent faire beaucoup à temps. Regardez ce qu'elles ont fait pour faire face au Covid : elles ont transformé leurs lieux de travail, elles ont permis à leur personnel de travailler à domicile, elles ont remanié leurs structures de pratiques professionnelles, etc. Quand ils veulent le faire, ils peuvent le faire. Je ne pense pas que ce soit une question de temps. Je pense que c'est une question de conception.

Je travaille avec des entreprises depuis 2012. Et j'ai participé à des conversations fascinantes avec des multinationales, des entreprises sociales et des start-ups. Ils veulent d'abord se concentrer sur le design de leurs produits, sur les matériaux avec lesquels ils sont fabriqués, sur les salaires versés dans les chaînes d'approvisionnement, etc. Mais en fait, ce qui importe vraiment, à mon avis, c'est le design de l'entreprise elle-même et ces cinq traits de design

  • Objectif : pourquoi existez-vous en tant qu'entreprise ?
  • Réseaux : qui sont vos fournisseurs, clients, alliés et partenaires dans l'écosystème industriel ? Comment renforcez-vous vos valeurs et votre objectif à travers eux plutôt que d'être sapé par eux ? 
  • Gouvernance : qui a voix au chapitre dans la prise de décision ? L'avez-vous inscrit dans vos statuts ? Quels sont les paramètres qui déterminent votre succès public ? Quelles incitations accordez-vous aux cadres intermédiaires ? 
  • Propriété : comment l'entreprise est-elle détenue ? Le fait que l'entreprise soit détenue par ses employés ou ses clients, par son entrepreneur fondateur ou sa famille, par des actionnaires ou du capital-risque ou par l'État a des implications très importantes. 
  • Le financement : D'où vient le financement ? Voulez-vous des rendements à deux chiffres, année après année ? Investissez-vous ici parce que vous voulez un rendement financier équitable, et/ou parce que vous voulez voir une transformation sociale et écologique au sein de votre entreprise ?

En ce qui concerne la finance, BlackRock a déclaré qu'il n'investirait pas dans des entreprises qui ne s'occupent pas du changement climatique. Dans quelle mesure cela peut-il contribuer à changer la conception des grandes entreprises ?

K. R. : Les mots sont beaux, mais il faut passer à l'action. Il y a un risque réel dans le monde que les institutions financières et les investisseurs utilisent ce langage des questions environnementales, sociales et de gouvernance. Si vous vous plongez dans ce qu'ils font, c'est très superficiel. 

Vous voyez les attentes dans le domaine de l'investissement, les gens disent que nous devons marier les rendements à deux chiffres pour les investisseurs avec les performances en matière de gouvernance environnementale, sociale et d'entreprise. Je pense que cela devrait être l'inverse. Nous voulons une réduction à deux chiffres de l'empreinte matérielle d'une entreprise sur le monde. Nous délivrerons ensuite les rendements financiers compatibles avec cette transformation qui doit être opérée. La planète se meurt, mais les investisseurs veulent leurs 15 %.

D'après votre propre expérience, existe-t-il une échelle idéale pour que les entreprises ou les villes appliquent l'économie du beignet et modifient leur conception ? Nous entendons souvent "nous sommes trop petits, ou nous sommes trop grands"... 

K. R. : Ce n'est pas une question d'échelle. C'est une question de conception. Une multinationale détenue par une famille qui a des valeurs assez radicales peut faire partie de certaines pratiques vraiment transformatrices. De même, si vous avez une entreprise sociale ou une start-up de trois personnes qui conçoit sa propriété, son financement et son objectif, elle peut aussi être un puissant moteur de transformation. Lorsqu'une startup entre soudainement dans une phase où elle doit se développer, elle va là où le financement est disponible : le capital-risque. Cela entraîne immédiatement un type de propriété complètement différent et le risque de transformer votre objectif : "il est temps de grandir et d'être raisonnable parce que nous sommes dans une grande entreprise maintenant". Et soudain, l'entreprise qui a été créée dans un but précis est dirigée par la finance et le profit. 

Vous devez connaître l'ouvrage de Boltanksi et Chiapello, Le nouvel esprit du capitalisme. Avez-vous peur qu'à un moment donné, l'économie du beignet, comme tout autre concept ou innovation, finisse par être avalée par le capitalisme ?

K. R. : Oui, absolument. Que va-t-il se passer quand le beignet va rencontrer le courant dominant ? Le beignet va-t-il véritablement transformer le courant dominant ou le courant dominant va-t-il avaler le beignet et le transformer en outil ? C'est, bien sûr, la question prédominante sur laquelle nous travaillons. En créant le Doughnut Economics Action Lab, nous cherchons continuellement à équilibrer ouverture et intégrité. Nous l'avons rendu ouvert, nous avons placé le concept dans le Creative Commons, nous invitons les gens à l'adapter et à l'appliquer dans leurs villes, dans leurs salles de classe et dans leurs entreprises. Il y a une confiance et un risque à cela. Nous avons donc également déposé le nom Doughnut Economics. Nous avons établi des principes de pratique. Nous avons défini les conditions, les choses à faire et à ne pas faire de l'économie des beignets. Nous sommes en train de construire une communauté mondiale de personnes qui l'utilisent. Nous avons un outil sur notre site Web, qui s'appelle "When Business Meets the Doughnut". Il s'agit d'un atelier que vous pouvez suivre et dans lequel vous pouvez poser une série de questions sur votre entreprise. Vous ne pouvez pas l'utiliser comme entreprise dans une présentation sur la stratégie de marque et les médias sociaux, car vous commencez alors à en faire un outil de marketing. Nous voulons inviter les entreprises à participer à la conversation. Nous voulons que les gens discutent de la manière dont ils transforment leur entreprise, pas seulement leurs produits, mais la conception profonde de leur entreprise.

Quelles sont vos conclusions du laboratoire d'action économique Doughnut. Qu'est-ce qui fonctionne ? Quelles sont les réalisations pour une application concrète à l'échelle de l'entreprise ou de la ville ?

K. R. : Qu'est-ce qui marche ? L'inspiration de pair à pair. C'est une chose pour moi de parler sur une scène ou sur un podcast de la façon dont vous pourriez apporter le beignet à la ville. Mais quand une ville le fait, Amsterdam par exemple, cela inspire d'autres villes de manière phénoménale. C'est pourquoi, dans le Doughnut Economics Action Lab, nous nous attachons à mettre en lumière le travail des praticiens, car nous savons que les enseignants sont inspirés par les enseignants, les villes par les villes et les entreprises par les entreprises. 

Nous allons là où se trouve l'énergie, ce qui signifie que nous ne frappons jamais à une porte fermée. Les personnes qui choisissent d'utiliser le beignet sont les acteurs du changement qui veulent vraiment s'engager avec lui. Hier encore, nous avons eu notre première session de travail en ligne avec des partenaires désireux de l'utiliser, non pas dans un contexte de Nord global, mais dans un contexte de Sud global. 

Nous sommes une toute petite équipe. Nous ne sommes que huit personnes : nous cherchons d'abord à obtenir beaucoup de traction. Un écosystème de nouveaux praticiens et organisations économiques est en train d'émerger : B Corp, Economy for the Common Good, We Alliance, Doughnut Economics, Regenerative Action... Ils montrent tous que les idées évoluent et qu'il existe de nombreuses façons différentes de fonctionner dans des contextes différents. Il est vraiment important que nous reconnaissions que c'est un énorme travail d'équipe. Si nous repensons au pouvoir des réseaux, nous avons suffisamment d'objectifs communs pour savoir quand transmettre les opportunités à d'autres personnes en qui nous avons confiance. Les idées se répandent plutôt que de s'étendre. Nous ne voulons pas devenir de plus en plus gros. 

Enfin, Doughnut Economics Action Lab est un nom très intentionnel. Il s'agit d'action. Nous avons un livre plein d'idées. Maintenant, travaillons avec ceux qui veulent les mettre en action. La façon dont nous concevons notre propre organisation est notre plus grande expérience. Elle comporte des risques, et nous ne savons pas comment cela va se passer. Nous apprenons tout le temps. C'est un défi et c'est passionnant. 

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Kate Raworth est une économiste qui s'attache à rendre l'économie adaptée au 21e siècle. Son livre Doughnut Economics : seven ways to think like a 21st century economist est un best-seller international qui a été traduit en 20 langues et a été sélectionné pour le prix du livre d'affaires de l'année 2017 du Financial Times et de McKinsey. Elle est cofondatrice de Doughnut Economics Action Lab, qui travaille avec des villes, des entreprises, des communautés, des gouvernements et des éducateurs pour faire passer Doughnut Economics d'une idée radicale à une action transformatrice. Elle enseigne à l'Environmental Change Institute de l'université d'Oxford et est professeur de pratique à l'université des sciences appliquées d'Amsterdam.

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Plus d'informations sur ce sujet :

> Le progrès économique constitue un développement mortifère

L'économie des beignets n'est ni une question d'échelle ni de temps. C'est une question de conception.

par 
Samuel Roumeau
Magazine
9 juin 2021
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INTERVIEW Ouishare Fest with Kate Raworth. Doughnut Economics aims at ensuring that “no one falls short on life’s essentials while ensuring that collectively we do not overshoot our pressure on Earth’s life-supporting systems, on which we fundamentally depend. [...] It acts as a compass for human progress.” But how does it work? Where do we start? Kate Raworth answers our questions.

Kate Raworth will speak at Ouishare Fest 2021, an in-person festival that will take place in Paris from June 23-25 and will address the world’s biggest issues in the economic, technological and political fields through the lens concept of “time”. Interested ? More information on our website here !

In your major book “Doughnut Economics”, drawing pictures appears like making a revolution. Why are pictures much more powerful than words?

Kate Raworth : If you just take all the words that are written inside the doughnut, I don't think anybody would blink. However, when you put them in a shape in these two concentric circles, it empowers people, they can go into a conversation more confidently. I began to read about the power of imagery and I discovered that over half of the nerve fibers in our brains are connected to our eyesight. If we show an image of something and some unrelated text with it, we tend to believe that the image is correct. We then adapt the text in our mind to fit the picture. Our eyes are pattern spotters. That is why we see dogs in the clouds and ghosts in the shadows. 

We need to deconstruct that world where pictures are seen as illustrations. George Lakoff says people's lives are significantly influenced by the conceptual metaphors they use to explain complex phenomena. Nicholas Copernicus, in the 1500s, drew the known solar system that Ptolemy had first drawn with the static earth at the center. I love the story  of him waiting until he was on his deathbed before he dared to publish this because he knew that this picture was revolutionary. Pictures can cause a deep philosophical crisis in humanity's position in the universe, as they are very hard to delete. 

I think of the images from  the mainstream economics textbooks as intellectual graffiti. Graffiti is really, really hard to scrub off. If you ask people who have studied economics, they remember the pictures but don't remember the equations. Rather than focusing on what is wrong with the old pictures, we must come up with new ones to replace them. In every chapter of my book, there is an old picture and a new one to replace it. Images determine what we make visible and what we leave invisible, what we put at the center and what we leave at the periphery, and that shapes everything.

We all know trust is playing a key role in economics. Do pictures build trust?

K. R. : Words can become very loaded and people use them in different ways: capitalism, socialism... Pictures somehow circumvent this history, and they can be a boundary object where we can meet. During a workshop, if someone is drawing a diagram, everybody will be pointing to it and contributing. Some of the best workshops you can attend are the ones where you end up with this quite wild picture type on the wall. Using the power of pictures, they can build trust and establish a shared vision in that sense. And, of course, they allow us to connect to metaphors, which are one of the most powerful ways by which we understand the world. 

Your book invites us to go beyond narrow approaches in order to gather all emergent ideas through economics. What is the common ground of these “heterodox” approaches in economics?

K. R. : When I was setting out to write Doughnut Economics, I read all of the economics I'd never been taught, beginning with ecological economics positioning the economy in relation to the living world. I read about Feminist economics recognizing the value of unpaid carebut also complexity economics, recognizing the dynamics of how the world actually moves, behavioral economics, and institutional economics recognizing power and the importance of the design of institutions. I brought together a lot of strong schools that are often called heterodox economics. I wanted to see what would happen if they danced on the same page. Otherwise, there is a risk that each of them becomes an issue-based response to mainstream, dominant economics. We need to create an alternative that brings them together.

Of course, what I presented was incomplete. I wish I had the capacity to write more about the global inequalities and relationships between nations based on their histories. Jason Hickel wrote a book, The Divide, which is about the history of our world and the economic relationships between countries. It gives us a far more useful starting point that begins with human value and the living world. I wrote the book Seven Ways to Think, and then I held a competition saying “well, let's make a point on how incomplete this list is”, with Rethinking Economics, a student movement. We had truly amazing responses from people showing there were so many other ways that we could bring a new economic thinking.

We have to move from the pyramid with us at the peak to the web with humanity embedded inside it.

Where do you see bridges within economics and beyond it? For instance, how do you see the articulation between accepting the limits of our planet and accepting our own limits as human beings? 

K. R. : I don't think in terms of limits.In fact, I think in terms of health and equilibrium. And again, now we're back to metaphors, right? Human health is something that we all understand. We know we have two lungs, one heart, one stomach, a respiratory, nervous, skeletal and muscular system. So, we understand we're made up of complex systems that work together and that's what keeps us alive. We know that health lies in the balance between all those systems. Just as the human body combines these multiple systems, so does the planet. It has a carbon cycle, a hydrological cycle and a nutrient cycle. It has a protective ozone layer and it has a web of life. Every child learns about the biology of the human body in school. They must learn about the planetary body, too. 

What really matters is the design of the company itself and these five design traits: purpose, networks, governance, ownership, finance.

Philosophers such as Philippe Descola invite us to nurture a relationship with the rest of life on earth, such as animals, plants. To what extent does this statement relate to economics?

K. R. : I think that Westerns economics is really damaging in the way it presents humanity. It depicts a very narrow portrait of who we are. This little picture of a man standing alone, money in his hand, ego in his heart, a calculator in his head and nature at his feet is deeply damaging on many fronts. It tells us that we succeed through self-interest and competition. We have to move from the pyramid with us at the peak to the web with humanity embedded inside it. It's very similar to Ptolemy putting the earth at the center of the system and Copernicus saying, no, no, no, the earth is just one of the elements moving around. Satish Kumar has a relevant point about this. He went to the London School of Economics and asked, “Where is your Department of Ecology in the London School of Economics? How can you teach economics if you don't understand ecology ?”

I no longer talk about the environment because it's not alive, by definition. I prefer talking about the living world. So, there's a lot of learning we need to do with the words and pictures we use so that we wisely place ourselves in relation to the rest of the living world.

How can we make sure that business model transformation, especially that of big companies, is quick enough to deal with climate emergency? Everybody agrees on the need to change but it's all about time. 

K. R. : Big companies can do much on time. Look what they did to face Covid: they transformed their workplaces, they allowed their staff to work from home, they redesigned their work practice structures and so on. When they want to do it, they can do it. I don't think it's about time. I think it's about design.

I've been working with companies since 2012. And I've been part of fascinating conversations with multinationals, social enterprises and start-ups. They want to focus on the design of their products first, on what materials they are made from, what wages are paid in the supply chains, etc. But actually, what I think really matters is the design of the company itself and these five design traits

  • Purpose: why do you even exist as a company?
  • Networks: who are your suppliers, customers, allies and partners in the industrial ecosystem? How are you reinforcing your values and your purpose through them rather than getting undermined by them? 
  • Governance: who has a voice in decision-making? Have you written it into your articles of association? What metrics determine your public success? What incentives do you give to middle managers? 
  • Ownership: how is the company owned? Whether the company is owned by its employees or its customers, by its founding entrepreneur or family, by shareholders or venture capital or by the state has really important implications. 
  • Finance: Where is financing coming from? Do you want double digit returns year on year? Do you invest here because you want a fair financial return, and/or because you want to see a social and ecological transformation within your company? 

Regarding finance, BlackRock said they would not invest in companies that don't address climate change. To what extent can this contribute to changing the design of big companies?

K. R. : Words are nice, but put it into action. There's a real risk in the world of financial institutions and investors using this language of environmental, social and governance issues. If you dive into what they're doing, it's very superficial. 

You see expectations in the field of investment, people are saying we need to marry double digit returns for investors with performance on Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance. I think this should be the other way round. We want double digit cuts in a company's material footprint on the world. We will then deliver the financial returns that are compatible with that transformation that must be made. The planet is dying, but investors want their 15 percent.

From your own experience, is there an ideal scale for companies or cities to apply the doughnut economy and change their design? We often hear “we are too small, or we are too big”... 

K. R. : It's not about scale. It's about design. A multinational company owned by a family that actually has quite radical values can be part of some really transformative practices. Similarly, if you have a three-person social enterprise or start-up that designs its ownership, financing and purpose, it can also be a strong driving force for transformation. When a startup suddenly hits a phase where it needs to grow, it goes where financing is available; from venture capital. It immediately brings in a completely different kind of ownership and the risk to transform your purpose : “it's time to grow up and be sensible because we're in big business now.” And suddenly, the company that was set up for purpose is being driven by finance and profit. 

You must know Boltanksi and Chiapello work, The new spirit of capitalism. Are you afraid at some point that the doughnut economy, like every other concept or innovation, ends up swallowed by capitalism?

K. R. : Yes, absolutely. What's going to happen when the doughnut meets the mainstream? Is the doughnut going to genuinely transform the mainstream or is the mainstream going to swallow the doughnut and turn it into a tool? This is, of course, the predominant question that we are working on. By setting up Doughnut Economics Action Lab, we are continually aiming to balance openness with integrity. We've made it open, we’ve put the concept in the Creative Commons, we invite people to adapt it and to apply it in their towns and cities, in their classrooms and in their companies. There are a trust and a risk to that. So, we also trademarked the name Doughnut Economics. We set out principles of practice. We set out conditions, dos and don'ts of Doughnut Economics. We’re building a worldwide community of people who are using it. We have a tool on our website, which is called “When Business Meets the Doughnut.” It's a workshop you can go through and you can ask a series of questions about your business. You cannot use it as a company in a presentation in branding and social media, because then you begin to turn it into a marketing tool. We want to invite business into the conversation. We want people to discuss how they are transforming their business, not just their products, but the deep design of their business.

What are your takeaways from the Doughnut Economic Action Lab. What works? What are the achievements for concrete application at business or city scale?

K. R. : What works? Peer-to-peer inspiration. It's one thing for me to talk on a stage or on a podcast about how you could bring the doughnut to the city. But when a city does it, Amsterdam for instance, then that inspires other cities phenomenally. And so, in Doughnut Economics Action Lab, we put a lot of attention on highlighting the work of practitioners because we know that teachers get inspired by teachers, cities by cities and businesses by businesses. 

We go where the energy is, meaning that we never knock on a shut door. People who are choosing to use the doughnut are the change makers who really want to engage with it. Just about yesterday, we had our first online working session with partners interested in using it, not in a global north context, but in a global south context. 

We're a very small team. We're just eight people: we’re looking for a lot of traction first. An ecosystem of new economic practitioners and organizations is emerging: B Corp, Economy for the Common Good,  We Alliance, Doughnut Economics, Regenerative Action… They are all showing that ideas evolve and there are many different ways that might work in different contexts. It's really important that we recognize this is a huge teamwork. If we think again about the power of networks, we have enough shared purpose to know when to pass on opportunities to others that we trust. Ideas spread out rather than scale up. We don't want to get bigger and bigger. 

Lastly, Doughnut Economics Action Lab is a very intentional name. It's about action. We've got a book full of ideas. Now let's work with those who want to put them into action. The way we're designing our own organisation is our own biggest experiment. It takes risks, and we don't know how it will go. We're learning all the time. It's challenging and exciting. 

____

Kate Raworth is an economist focused on making economics fit for the 21st century. Her book Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist is an international bestseller that has been translated into 20 languages and was long-listed for the 2017 Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year award. She is co-founder of Doughnut Economics Action Lab, working with cities, business, communities, governments and educators to turn Doughnut Economics from a radical idea into transformative action. She teaches at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute and is Professor of Practice at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

____

More on this topic:

> Le progrès économique constitue un développement mortifère

by 
Samuel Roumeau
Magazine
June 9, 2021

Doughnut Economics is neither about scale nor time. It’s all about design.

by
Samuel Roumeau
Magazine
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INTERVIEW Ouishare Fest with Kate Raworth. Doughnut Economics aims at ensuring that “no one falls short on life’s essentials while ensuring that collectively we do not overshoot our pressure on Earth’s life-supporting systems, on which we fundamentally depend. [...] It acts as a compass for human progress.” But how does it work? Where do we start? Kate Raworth answers our questions.

Kate Raworth will speak at Ouishare Fest 2021, an in-person festival that will take place in Paris from June 23-25 and will address the world’s biggest issues in the economic, technological and political fields through the lens concept of “time”. Interested ? More information on our website here !

In your major book “Doughnut Economics”, drawing pictures appears like making a revolution. Why are pictures much more powerful than words?

Kate Raworth : If you just take all the words that are written inside the doughnut, I don't think anybody would blink. However, when you put them in a shape in these two concentric circles, it empowers people, they can go into a conversation more confidently. I began to read about the power of imagery and I discovered that over half of the nerve fibers in our brains are connected to our eyesight. If we show an image of something and some unrelated text with it, we tend to believe that the image is correct. We then adapt the text in our mind to fit the picture. Our eyes are pattern spotters. That is why we see dogs in the clouds and ghosts in the shadows. 

We need to deconstruct that world where pictures are seen as illustrations. George Lakoff says people's lives are significantly influenced by the conceptual metaphors they use to explain complex phenomena. Nicholas Copernicus, in the 1500s, drew the known solar system that Ptolemy had first drawn with the static earth at the center. I love the story  of him waiting until he was on his deathbed before he dared to publish this because he knew that this picture was revolutionary. Pictures can cause a deep philosophical crisis in humanity's position in the universe, as they are very hard to delete. 

I think of the images from  the mainstream economics textbooks as intellectual graffiti. Graffiti is really, really hard to scrub off. If you ask people who have studied economics, they remember the pictures but don't remember the equations. Rather than focusing on what is wrong with the old pictures, we must come up with new ones to replace them. In every chapter of my book, there is an old picture and a new one to replace it. Images determine what we make visible and what we leave invisible, what we put at the center and what we leave at the periphery, and that shapes everything.

We all know trust is playing a key role in economics. Do pictures build trust?

K. R. : Words can become very loaded and people use them in different ways: capitalism, socialism... Pictures somehow circumvent this history, and they can be a boundary object where we can meet. During a workshop, if someone is drawing a diagram, everybody will be pointing to it and contributing. Some of the best workshops you can attend are the ones where you end up with this quite wild picture type on the wall. Using the power of pictures, they can build trust and establish a shared vision in that sense. And, of course, they allow us to connect to metaphors, which are one of the most powerful ways by which we understand the world. 

Your book invites us to go beyond narrow approaches in order to gather all emergent ideas through economics. What is the common ground of these “heterodox” approaches in economics?

K. R. : When I was setting out to write Doughnut Economics, I read all of the economics I'd never been taught, beginning with ecological economics positioning the economy in relation to the living world. I read about Feminist economics recognizing the value of unpaid carebut also complexity economics, recognizing the dynamics of how the world actually moves, behavioral economics, and institutional economics recognizing power and the importance of the design of institutions. I brought together a lot of strong schools that are often called heterodox economics. I wanted to see what would happen if they danced on the same page. Otherwise, there is a risk that each of them becomes an issue-based response to mainstream, dominant economics. We need to create an alternative that brings them together.

Of course, what I presented was incomplete. I wish I had the capacity to write more about the global inequalities and relationships between nations based on their histories. Jason Hickel wrote a book, The Divide, which is about the history of our world and the economic relationships between countries. It gives us a far more useful starting point that begins with human value and the living world. I wrote the book Seven Ways to Think, and then I held a competition saying “well, let's make a point on how incomplete this list is”, with Rethinking Economics, a student movement. We had truly amazing responses from people showing there were so many other ways that we could bring a new economic thinking.

We have to move from the pyramid with us at the peak to the web with humanity embedded inside it.

Where do you see bridges within economics and beyond it? For instance, how do you see the articulation between accepting the limits of our planet and accepting our own limits as human beings? 

K. R. : I don't think in terms of limits.In fact, I think in terms of health and equilibrium. And again, now we're back to metaphors, right? Human health is something that we all understand. We know we have two lungs, one heart, one stomach, a respiratory, nervous, skeletal and muscular system. So, we understand we're made up of complex systems that work together and that's what keeps us alive. We know that health lies in the balance between all those systems. Just as the human body combines these multiple systems, so does the planet. It has a carbon cycle, a hydrological cycle and a nutrient cycle. It has a protective ozone layer and it has a web of life. Every child learns about the biology of the human body in school. They must learn about the planetary body, too. 

What really matters is the design of the company itself and these five design traits: purpose, networks, governance, ownership, finance.

Philosophers such as Philippe Descola invite us to nurture a relationship with the rest of life on earth, such as animals, plants. To what extent does this statement relate to economics?

K. R. : I think that Westerns economics is really damaging in the way it presents humanity. It depicts a very narrow portrait of who we are. This little picture of a man standing alone, money in his hand, ego in his heart, a calculator in his head and nature at his feet is deeply damaging on many fronts. It tells us that we succeed through self-interest and competition. We have to move from the pyramid with us at the peak to the web with humanity embedded inside it. It's very similar to Ptolemy putting the earth at the center of the system and Copernicus saying, no, no, no, the earth is just one of the elements moving around. Satish Kumar has a relevant point about this. He went to the London School of Economics and asked, “Where is your Department of Ecology in the London School of Economics? How can you teach economics if you don't understand ecology ?”

I no longer talk about the environment because it's not alive, by definition. I prefer talking about the living world. So, there's a lot of learning we need to do with the words and pictures we use so that we wisely place ourselves in relation to the rest of the living world.

How can we make sure that business model transformation, especially that of big companies, is quick enough to deal with climate emergency? Everybody agrees on the need to change but it's all about time. 

K. R. : Big companies can do much on time. Look what they did to face Covid: they transformed their workplaces, they allowed their staff to work from home, they redesigned their work practice structures and so on. When they want to do it, they can do it. I don't think it's about time. I think it's about design.

I've been working with companies since 2012. And I've been part of fascinating conversations with multinationals, social enterprises and start-ups. They want to focus on the design of their products first, on what materials they are made from, what wages are paid in the supply chains, etc. But actually, what I think really matters is the design of the company itself and these five design traits

  • Purpose: why do you even exist as a company?
  • Networks: who are your suppliers, customers, allies and partners in the industrial ecosystem? How are you reinforcing your values and your purpose through them rather than getting undermined by them? 
  • Governance: who has a voice in decision-making? Have you written it into your articles of association? What metrics determine your public success? What incentives do you give to middle managers? 
  • Ownership: how is the company owned? Whether the company is owned by its employees or its customers, by its founding entrepreneur or family, by shareholders or venture capital or by the state has really important implications. 
  • Finance: Where is financing coming from? Do you want double digit returns year on year? Do you invest here because you want a fair financial return, and/or because you want to see a social and ecological transformation within your company? 

Regarding finance, BlackRock said they would not invest in companies that don't address climate change. To what extent can this contribute to changing the design of big companies?

K. R. : Words are nice, but put it into action. There's a real risk in the world of financial institutions and investors using this language of environmental, social and governance issues. If you dive into what they're doing, it's very superficial. 

You see expectations in the field of investment, people are saying we need to marry double digit returns for investors with performance on Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance. I think this should be the other way round. We want double digit cuts in a company's material footprint on the world. We will then deliver the financial returns that are compatible with that transformation that must be made. The planet is dying, but investors want their 15 percent.

From your own experience, is there an ideal scale for companies or cities to apply the doughnut economy and change their design? We often hear “we are too small, or we are too big”... 

K. R. : It's not about scale. It's about design. A multinational company owned by a family that actually has quite radical values can be part of some really transformative practices. Similarly, if you have a three-person social enterprise or start-up that designs its ownership, financing and purpose, it can also be a strong driving force for transformation. When a startup suddenly hits a phase where it needs to grow, it goes where financing is available; from venture capital. It immediately brings in a completely different kind of ownership and the risk to transform your purpose : “it's time to grow up and be sensible because we're in big business now.” And suddenly, the company that was set up for purpose is being driven by finance and profit. 

You must know Boltanksi and Chiapello work, The new spirit of capitalism. Are you afraid at some point that the doughnut economy, like every other concept or innovation, ends up swallowed by capitalism?

K. R. : Yes, absolutely. What's going to happen when the doughnut meets the mainstream? Is the doughnut going to genuinely transform the mainstream or is the mainstream going to swallow the doughnut and turn it into a tool? This is, of course, the predominant question that we are working on. By setting up Doughnut Economics Action Lab, we are continually aiming to balance openness with integrity. We've made it open, we’ve put the concept in the Creative Commons, we invite people to adapt it and to apply it in their towns and cities, in their classrooms and in their companies. There are a trust and a risk to that. So, we also trademarked the name Doughnut Economics. We set out principles of practice. We set out conditions, dos and don'ts of Doughnut Economics. We’re building a worldwide community of people who are using it. We have a tool on our website, which is called “When Business Meets the Doughnut.” It's a workshop you can go through and you can ask a series of questions about your business. You cannot use it as a company in a presentation in branding and social media, because then you begin to turn it into a marketing tool. We want to invite business into the conversation. We want people to discuss how they are transforming their business, not just their products, but the deep design of their business.

What are your takeaways from the Doughnut Economic Action Lab. What works? What are the achievements for concrete application at business or city scale?

K. R. : What works? Peer-to-peer inspiration. It's one thing for me to talk on a stage or on a podcast about how you could bring the doughnut to the city. But when a city does it, Amsterdam for instance, then that inspires other cities phenomenally. And so, in Doughnut Economics Action Lab, we put a lot of attention on highlighting the work of practitioners because we know that teachers get inspired by teachers, cities by cities and businesses by businesses. 

We go where the energy is, meaning that we never knock on a shut door. People who are choosing to use the doughnut are the change makers who really want to engage with it. Just about yesterday, we had our first online working session with partners interested in using it, not in a global north context, but in a global south context. 

We're a very small team. We're just eight people: we’re looking for a lot of traction first. An ecosystem of new economic practitioners and organizations is emerging: B Corp, Economy for the Common Good,  We Alliance, Doughnut Economics, Regenerative Action… They are all showing that ideas evolve and there are many different ways that might work in different contexts. It's really important that we recognize this is a huge teamwork. If we think again about the power of networks, we have enough shared purpose to know when to pass on opportunities to others that we trust. Ideas spread out rather than scale up. We don't want to get bigger and bigger. 

Lastly, Doughnut Economics Action Lab is a very intentional name. It's about action. We've got a book full of ideas. Now let's work with those who want to put them into action. The way we're designing our own organisation is our own biggest experiment. It takes risks, and we don't know how it will go. We're learning all the time. It's challenging and exciting. 

____

Kate Raworth is an economist focused on making economics fit for the 21st century. Her book Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist is an international bestseller that has been translated into 20 languages and was long-listed for the 2017 Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year award. She is co-founder of Doughnut Economics Action Lab, working with cities, business, communities, governments and educators to turn Doughnut Economics from a radical idea into transformative action. She teaches at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute and is Professor of Practice at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

____

More on this topic:

> Le progrès économique constitue un développement mortifère

by 
Samuel Roumeau
Magazine
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