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Nusantara is a region enriched from centuries of practising a unique philosophy described as ‘syncretic’ in her global marriage and subsequently bears this in her embrace of life.

This story started from an exchange at an international chess tournament. I can’t remember how the conversation got going but the idea revolved around how to save the dying artisanal craft in our region. At that time I had barely emerged from fighting bankruptcy, bought a new house after selling my previous one, and just beginning to accumulate a small reserve towards my retirement. Also, my strengths lie in deal-making and within contracting business models. So I was reticent about starting anything new. Especially something I had no previous experience in — a start-up, something with many moving parts, no experience in logistics, supply chain management, and little experience in marketing.

But I also had a remaining itch. Can this idea of a Community in Business as advocated by M Scott Peck actually work? What Scott described in nuanced detail, I had lived growing up. However since it was a culture I was born into, I didn’t truly understand or appreciate it. That was just the way things were until they weren’t. In my 20s it was deemed by some that our culture was weak and they set about dismantling it for a more adversarial culture.

But I now have a little spare capacity and my 10 years in Chess had taught me how devious the mind can be.  I now have a deeper understanding of self-defeating behaviors under pressures of intense competition, and thinking systems under different time considerations. So now I know a little more. I also know more about Business Models.

But I had also retreated from the “real” world. A little bubble I found myself in, in order to heal from my traumatic business failures in the corporate world.

So what was Scott’s idea about a Community in Business? Is there even such a thing? Yes, financial security does alleviate many anxieties. That I know from hard experience. But can Business be used as a vehicle towards Spirituality and Community?

That was the inquiry. And after having circled my wagons for so long, I decided to get on the road less traveled again. A return into the Kafkaesque world of business, back into the complex world of smoke and mirrors where many things were not as they seem. I believed the answer lies in the business model — a model that needed to recognize and reward unity in diversity — and to recognize it took more strength to be patient, more character to be generous, and more courage to face realities instead of escaping into the fantasy world of fight or flight.

But tiny tiny steps this time. So a small Team was assembled — one was in charge of the supply chain, a finance guy, a web designer, a back-end technical guy and a potential investor. The task before us was to see ‘the elephant in the room’. What will it take to achieve our goals… and, if indeed it was even possible, to build a business model where Community, as envisaged by Scott, could be practiced in Business.

At least now I know why Scott’s work appealed to me all those years ago. The Community he described was very similar to my own childhood experience within the Nusantara culture. I had lived it once before — unity in diversity — before our culture was hijacked. Maybe I now know enough to make a little difference this time around.

To be continued…

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Read “The Nusantara Story” Series