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Since Adam Smith first introduced today’s modern capitalist theory, our linear way of doing business has brought massive innovation to everyday life.

But as we’ve continued this “growth at all costs” approach, we’ve also seen the catastrophic impact its had on our planet. Because of this, companies are rethinking their roles in this world (Patagonia being an example).

But waking up to a better future doesn’t just happen. We have to build it. Smarter people than me have already said, “if selling more stuff caused the situation we’re currently in, selling more stuff won’t be the solution.”

So how do we find the solution? While it’s easy to get discouraged reading the news, seeing those smart thinkers come up with concepts like the circular economy, doughnut economics, and degrowth economic theory makes me both excited and hopeful in what the future might be.

As a student figuring out what type of work I want to do in the world, I think it’s a worthy endeavor to look at alternative ways of what brand growth might look like. This is partially why I’ve been curious about web3 and the philosophy, tools and systems that are being experimented.  

Moving forward, I think we should look at corporate collectives. This way, we put the responsibility not on a single organization, but a network of organizations that bring different strengths to the table.

This is actually how ancient tribes survived in prehistoric times. Everybody would pick their thing to specialize in and everyone would rely on one another.

You could call this a pay to play model. In addition to corporate taxes, public companies would be required to join specific collectives based on the needs of that cohort and size of the company doing business. Oversight could be elected officials who would then have visibility to state projects and corporate collective projects to avoid redundancy. This gives private citizens a way to make a positive impact on this world without having to run for office.

While these corporate collectives help address the inner circle of the doughnut model, we still need to tackle the outer circle. This is where the circular economy comes in. While it’s primarily being adopted by the fashion industry, we’re seeing more and more organizations become b-corp certified. While it can be increadibly daunting at first, it’s important to identify the early wins and roadmap how we might design a half-circle and eventually full-circle business model.

And even though it is easy to write off big corporations like Coke and Pepsi, it’s important to note that the more start-ups who adopt clean business practices, the more inclined these big companies will change their business practices to stay competitive. Some are further along than others. And it’s not an easy change, but it’s happening.

And keep in mind, you don’t need to be a management consultant to spark these conversations. Identifying the space in culture for a brand to play in is often the first step. Articulating a brand strategy and how that might integrate these new models for growth could then follow up.