From ego-system to eco-system

-by Otto Scharmer, syndicated from, Nov 05, 2013

The current capitalist economy is fundamentally ego-centered: it is structured to satisfy my wants as an individual and to privatize or even atomize decision-making. Most attempts to deal with this problem (like corporate social responsibility) do so by extending the awareness of consumers and producers beyond themselves to take in the welfare of other stakeholders. But this process is inadequate to deal with the size and complexity of the crises that we face.

What’s really needed is a deeper shift in consciousness so that we begin to care and act, not just for ourselves and other stakeholders but in the interests of the entire ecosystem in which economic activities take place. Otherwise, there is a danger that these externalities will be mitigated while the consciousness that creates them is left untouched, allowing the same costs and inefficiencies to re-appear in a different guise. There is little point, for example, in arguing for commons-based property rights and shared ownership if people’s consciousness is still stuck at the individualist, self-interested, ego-driven level.

Therefore, the economic imperatives of our time call for an evolution of our consciousness from an ego-based system to an eco-based system, from one state of awareness to another. To paraphrase Einstein, the problem with today’s capitalism is that we are trying to solve problems with the same consciousness that created them. How can we construct pioneering pathways into a co-creative, eco-system economy?

The shift from ego- to eco-system awareness requires a journey that involves walking in the shoes of other stakeholders, and fine-tuning the instruments through which consciousness is created: namely an open mind, an open heart, and an open will.

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