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Crazy times call for 
MAD Leadership & Business Models


How the spread of the COVID-19 virus might just be what the global education system needs; an opportunity to recalibrate and equip tomorrow’s business, organisations and leaders with the capacity to truly Make A Difference.

Through this article we hope to illustrate how challenges experienced during COVID-19 can unlock opportunities to Make A Difference, we will give you a peek behind the scenes of MAD's 9-week "Beyond Sustainability" course with HyperIsland  and showcase the business concepts developed by HyperIsland's Business Developer students. Finally,  we will share an overview of the MAD Education Leap and five Leadership principles at a glance.


We’ve heard it before: The only thing constant is change, and the rate of change is constantly increasing. Moreover; We won’t solve today’s challenges with the same mindset that created them. That means:

1. With every second, your ability to learn and unlearn becomes more and more valuable.

The models we were taught to memorise when we were young become obsolete as we discover more about our world and universe. 

2. We need to explore beyond the societal structures and incentive systems that created the challenges in the first place. In a world where “scale” and “profit” are the metrics of success in a finite world of resources, we are geared to compete with each other aggressively “capturing” market share - “annihilating” the competition. A zero sum game - that inevitably results in greater inequality. What if we explored an alternative reality that extends beyond this fear-based narrative fueled by instant gratification? What if instead of “competing in markets”, we learned from nature and explored how to “contribute to an ecosystem” we can all thrive in? 

Beyond the Ability to Sustain a Business - to Make A Difference
We would argue that this rise of unprecedented challenges - turned on their head - hold the key to unlock unprecedented opportunities. That being locked in isolation, can become the opportunity to open up and connect: Imagine if we were to use the current pandemic and the system collapses as a collective Creative Destruction of an education system that was built to prepare people to enter factories (listen to a teacher and memorize facts) - and instead channel the enormous potential - to crowdsource and co-create not only knowledge, but more so cultivate the capacity that will be (is) required to go beyond the ability to sustain; creating organisations that - as they operate - inevitably make a difference. Business that would be fundamentally built with the core idea of: It is not how you spend your money - but how you earn it. Leveraging each element of their organisation to create impact. 

Education’s Role - More than an Academic Exercise
So how do we cultivate this capacity? And in doing so - can we create an education system - a vehicle for learning - that is exponential in itself? We believe so. We are currently running a course with alternative business school, HyperIsland - a learning institute renowned for equipping students with the necessary skills and competencies for the future of work; creativity, teamwork and self development. They were the perfect partner to embrace our core learning principle: nothing should be done as an academic exercise. It is simply too much of a waste of two of the most important resources we have: time and the curious human brain power. 


Imagine if - just as with a business model that by the operational nature makes a difference - every hour and moment spent in the education system would Make A Difference. Every exercise explores potential approaches and prototypes solutions to the world’s toughest challenges; In essence, either they work as thought and thus drive impact instantly - or provide us with valuable insights,  that will be used to uncover yet overlooked solutions. Both immensely valuable, the later potentially even more so, as it expands our collective body of knowledge, paving the way for pioneering and leapfrogging interventions.  

MAD’s Beyond Sustainability Course with HyperIsland

MAD’s Beyond Sustainability Course with HyperIsland

Since few things have the power to bring people together, unlock insights, catalyze action and impact as much as uniting around your passions - that is exactly what we did. The students were clustered by which SDG that resonated most with them. The course then simply supported them to move through a learning experience that is both challenge driven: I.e. tackles real life problems, and mission fueled: i.e. brought together around a shared vision.  What emerged was 5 MAD business concepts.

MAD Business Models Created by HyperIsland’s

Business Developer Students

After 9 short weeks the business developer students transitioned from learners to practitioners - exploring viable businesses they believe will Make A Difference - and here is your opportunity to contribute to the ecosystem - simply with your ideas and feedback.


If you would like to have an overview of the developed business cases, please click on the landing page here. If you would like to gain more in-depth insights, please dive in the section below! 


Planateers promotes more conscious e-commerce behaviour by raising awareness of the  environmental consequences of “serial returners” who order multiple sizes and styles of clothes online and then ship most of the products back - creating a lot of cardboard waste, travel miles and clothes that cannot be resold. Breaking this “free returns” habit will save money for the clothes retailer and a lot of unnecessary carbon emissions. 

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New Normal is a consultancy developing a gender equality charter and certification system that uses gamification techniques to support governments, media and corporations in achieving gender equality in positions of leadership.

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GRO urban greening initiative may have the perfect solution for self-sufficiency, community building and motivation during self-isolation. Providing city dwellers with information and resources on how to start and grow their balcony gardens, citizens will be able to start their own food gardens and connect with newbies and farmers via an online platform - increasing self-sufficiency in food while decreasing climate impact.

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Wavesave aims to improve the health of ocean by focussing efforts on reducing the plastic waste that comes from lack of proper recycling infrastructure. The group has developed a “premium pant” offering for hard to recycle plastics that will then earn discounts with premium suppliers of products made from recycled ocean waste. (Products range from designer eyewear to running shoes). 

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Young Entrepreneur is building upon the “fritidsgård” or youth recreation centres model, providing youth in marginalised areas with equal opportunities to discover new passions, interests and career opportunities. Paying forward their learnings from HyperIsland to these youth centres, the founders of this initiative will provide youth at these centres with the resources and training to create their own companies.

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MAD Education Leap!

We believe that the future of Education is Learning. Lifelong Learning that is Challenge driven, Mission fueled and Crowd sourced. That is, nothing is done as an academic exercise, but instead everything contributes towards Making A Difference. 

A Difference for the Individual itself and targeted challenges - collectively feeding into a crowdsourced, constantly expanding and developing knowledge repository. A library of knowledge of the learning process itself, as well as the ground breaking tools, approaches, and solutions for the biggest societal challenges of our time.


A library that instead of hard bookshelves is a thriving community and constantly evolving transdisciplinary and diverse narrative. A narrative that is not defined by the elite, but rather by the masses. The overlooked Pioneers who have been called mad. Mad because they refuse to settle with the status quo.


These, the MAD changemakers, are the ones who are mad enough to think they can change the world.


And thus we know they will. 

5 MAD Leadership Principles at a Glance: 

#1. THE SUCCESS OF AN INTERVENTION IS DEPENDENT OF THE INNER ENVIRONMENT OF THE INTERVENOR / BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE. MIT (U-Theory by Otto Sharmer) and Gandhi can’t both be wrong. Thus the entire mad learning experience is designed with the individual at its center, and with the inner and outer development interwoven throughout the journey. Any business or organisation developed will only be as “good” as the leader’s inner space.

#2. THE BETTER YOU UNDERSTAND ROOT CAUSES & HAVE A CLEAR VISION (NOT ILLUSION), THE MORE EFFICIENT SOLUTIONS YOU CAN DESIGN, and the better you can qualify and capture emerging opportunities. Addressing symptoms is putting out superficial fires, meanwhile the roots are still burning. This goes for Products and Services as well as Interventions.

#3. CULTIVATE ABUNDANT ECOSYSTEMS. Billions of years of Evolution can’t be wrong. Learn from nature and seek symbiosis; how can you nourish an ecosystem that expands the collective market through turning everything on its head; someone's waste is your resource, and vice versa. Don’t let yourself be fooled and limited by a predefined market that narrows your potential win to someone else's loss. Craft solutions that open up new markets and win-win-win symbiotic partnerships. Symbiosis creates resilience, something that will support you in ever changing weather. 

#4. WHAT YOU MEASURE IS WHAT YOU GET. Our brains love the kick of ticking boxes, fulfilling predetermined outcomes. If we narrow our potential to this - we execute linnearly (1 *), versus explore 360* degrees around us - and practically kill the ability to discover new insights (and thus all impact and revenue that would follow). Dare to measure what truly matters; How well you are addressing root causes, fulfilling your mission and delivering on your vision? Build, measure, learn is great - just don’t forget to internalize and make sure the progress aligned with your values. It’s (somewhat) easy to climb quickly up the ladder, to then realize it was leaning on the wrong wall. Don’t measure speed up the ladder - explore and ensure the wall! 

#5. LIFELONG LEARNING. Coming back to how we started this article: The value of learning and unlearning increases by the second in a world of exponential change. Thus, if the coming 100 years will be equal to 20 000 years -  your lifelong learning will have the opportunity to continuously accelerate if you leverage the neurological growth hack of turning fear of the unknown into curiosity to explore. P.S. 20 000 years is twice the time since the last ice age, just to put it into perspective (you don’t want to be the person who held onto chopping ice…) 

Sincerely MAD, 

Emelie & Fiona

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