Living Assets

A More Effective Mental Model

Important insight often comes with a shift in perception one that enables us to see the world in a more revealing way. In this website we shall examine the world in a different context. Our analysis turns on a simple distinction between living assets (people and Nature) and non-living (capital) assets. Traditional capitalism generally places a higher value on capital assets than on living ones. We take the opposite view. And the stock market clearly agrees.

Living assets supersede non-living capital assets because:

  • They are the source of all capital assets and profit
  • They naturally regenerate over time while capital assets depreciate
  • They are creative/adaptive whereas capital assets are merely tools

A Simple Change in Perception with Large Effects

The world today is in a transition phase that has much in common with the European Renaissance. We are discarding old perceptions about the way the world works and developing new mental models that herald great promise. Such major shifts in worldview are rare. Now, as then, their motivating forces reside in new scientific and philosophical insights juxtaposed against major systemic failures.

The immense shift in thinking that took place during the Renaissance was from a mindset that humanity should live by faith alone to an outlook based on the primacy of reason. The shift occurring today is from a worldview governed by linear, reductive reasoning to one guided by a non-linear, holistic approach. It is a step away from the narrow, deterministic laws of Newtonian physics into an expansive metaphysics informed by the new sciences of ecology, chaos theory and system dynamics.

In the emergent new thinking, companies are living systems communities of people operating within the larger living systems of society and Nature. This is a radically different view from the traditional one of the company as moneymaking machine. Implicit in this worldview, living assets (people and Nature) are more important than non-living (capital) assets because they both define and impel the system.

That single change in perception turns the industrial capitalist view of business on its head. Ends, such as profit, no longer justify means especially ones that harm society and Nature. Instead, profit becomes a means to serve life.

Because profit can only arise from life, profit must ultimately serve life.

Inherent Value Comparison


  • Conscious/adaptive
  • Self-reproducing
  • Self-organizing
  • Generative
  • Active
  • Connected/synergistic


  • Inert/non-adaptive
  • Non self-reproductive
  • Other-organized
  • Depreciating
  • Passive
  • Disconnected