Criteria for Beautiful Organisations

Written by Lothar Wenzl, Trainconsulting for COCOONERS N.13

April 26, 2024
4 min read
a group of people writing on paper

This article was first published in COCOONERS N.13 by Trainconsulting, one of the most committed organisations when it comes to enabling companies to thrive as they embrace their environmental and social responsibility.

We, at Trainconsulting, have discussed and played around with the concept of Beautiful Organisations in the last few years. This has started to profoundly change my view of organisations and their role in society and for the environment.

Here are some thoughts on the criteria of what beautiful organisations should do or avoid. They are, of course, work-in-progress but with this we want to start a dialogue in our ecosystem.

  • Constantly try to work for a better world (Club of Rome: Earth for all, 2022)

The first criteria could be seen as a headline and comprises the term better world, defined following the latest Club of Rome publication “Earth for all” [1]: “It is feasible to redesign economic and social policies to put our societies on a pathway towards wellbeing for all within planetary boundaries.” In the book, we find the necessary “major upgrades” to get there: eliminating poverty, reducing inequality, empowering women, transforming the food system, energy turnaround.

Focusing on these upgrades organisations will have an excellent orientation to streamline their goals according to the big shifts that an “earth for all” demands.

  • Process their beliefs and how these drive behaviour

Belief (systems) are the most concrete and fundamental foundation for our aspirations and motivation for our actions. They are much more concrete than values and force us into deeper self-reflection and awareness of our drivers.

How big is the responsibility of managers for the ecosystem? Not only for profit but also for the contribution of your organisation to the wellbeing of all within the planetary boundaries? As soon as we start to reflect and have dialogues on such topics, we are already one step closer to a better world.

  • Be in resonance with (their) ecosystem / people

Hartmut Rosa [2] argues that human beings have an innate need for resonance, defined as the experience of being in harmony with oneself and the world, and suggests that modern society has led to a fragmentation and alienation of people from themselves and their surroundings.

This is one of the major shifts necessary in the world we live in. Organisations (people and society) need to expand their focus towards and thus connectedness with the ecosystem, and therefore to also meet the existing challenges. Being in resonance means to constantly observe these phenomena and to integrate positive actions for a better world in business models and strategies.

  • Produce ethically (= re-generative and in line with social and democratic standards) and source from / invest in sustainable partners

Once resonance and awareness have risen, organisations will increasingly focus on not exploiting more than the earth can give, applying universal Human Rights and maintaining social standards in all parts of their value chain. As most companies (people and nations) are far away from that status, striving for ethical production, transforming business models, services and products towards circular models will be the challenge of our lifetime and it needs to happen in the next 10 years.

Let’s get concrete: this means that every business strategy should address these topics and the way forward.

  • Be based on cooperation and dialogue

Our beliefs about leadership and management need deep learning and change. Organisations need more transparency, more dialogue. We need spaces that hold us [3]. Trust evolves there, ambiguity and ambivalence can be expressed and organisational interests and conflicts can be processed and solved. Ultimately organisations are vessels of the utmost importance for the social cohesion and for the healing of the environmental crisis.

Having called resonance into play as one of the major shifts, we underline it here. Only organisations that are built this way will attract and retain people who care. And we as customers will only care for such organisations.

  • Make sustainable profit

Sustainable means built for regeneration. For organisations it also means stable profits required to be able to invest in their own future, capabilities and practices that help to continuously innovate. Sustainable profits are needed to become and remain beautiful.

I am deeply convinced that only those organisations applying these or similar criteria and continuously aiming to work for a better world will survive in the long run. Nothing less than our planet and our global society is at stake. Some good news at the end: we already have (more and more) beautiful companies moving in this direction and yes, we still can change and save the world.

[1]: Sandrine Dixson-Decleve et al: to the Club of Rome: Earth for all, a survival guide for our planet, oekom, 2022.
[2]: Hartmut Rosa: Resonanz, Suhrkamp, 2019
[3]: Gianpiero Petriglieri, Insead

COCOONERS is our half-yearly publication, printed out in a very limited number of (recycled-paper) copies, and released in digital version. You can read more about it here:

If you would like to receive updates on this and other topics related to the evolution of the world of work, subscribe to our newsletter here: