magnify
Home Archive for category "Stories"

Seven Generations — A Beginners Guide

Oren Lyons (Onondaga)

“In our way of life, in our government, with every decision we make, we always keep in mind the Seventh Generation to come. It’s our job to see that the people coming ahead, the generations still unborn, have a world no worse than ours and hopefully better.”

 

This quote from Chief Lyons (Onondaga), derived from the Great Law of Peace of the Iroquois Nation, has always struck me as an elegant and powerful statement of how we should judge the impact of our public policies and personal choices.

But I’ve also always had trouble putting the idea into concrete practice.  I mean we’re talking about the impact on my great, great, great, great, great-grandchildren!

My help came from Chris Peters (Pohlik-lah/Karuk), president of the Seventh Generation Fund.

Read more…

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 

Failure of Imagination?

Published on August 6, 2012 by in Philanthropy, Stories

Foundation folks can be full of themselves at times.

Well, ok, most of the time…  And it’s a great risk for a grantee to point it out, especially when their grant is up for review.

But one such brave soul taught me an invaluable lesson.

A major conference was is town, and we took the opportunity to host a dinner for several of the Joyce Foundation’s major environmental policy grantees at my favorite local restaurant.  We were proud how consistently forward-thinking and innovative our grantees were, and wanted to thank them for their often under-appreciated work.

Read more…

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 

A Chaordic Walk in the Park

Published on July 27, 2012 by in Chaorder, Stories

The cyclist suddenly races up from behind me and goes hurtling past.

Surprised, I reflexively leap to one side, lose my balance, stumble over a curb, and abruptly sit down on a patch of grass. Muttering mild oaths under my breath, I watch as she gracefully dodges among the joggers, baby carriages and other bikers, and quickly disappears from sight. The juxtaposition of her balance, agility and speed and my awkwardness at first grates on me, but then I pause.

How did she learn to do that?

If I got on a bike and tried to follow her, I almost certainly would kill somebody.

Read more…

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 

The Visa Story

Published on July 26, 2012 by in Chaorder, Stories

Visa is often cited as an early prototype of chaordic organization. Despite Dee Hock’s caution that the organizational design of Visa was “at best a third right”, the story is both inspiring and instructive. What follows is an abbreviated rendition. For complete history, please read Dee’s book, One from Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization.

A TROUBLED INDUSTRY

In 1958, Bank of America issued sixty thousand credit cards to the residents of Fresno, California. After years of losses, the program became profitable and the bank blanketed the state with cards. In 1966, several California banks countered by launching Mastercharge. In turn, Bank of America began franchising BankAmericard.

Other large banks launched proprietary cards and offered franchises. Action and reaction exploded. Banks dropped tens of millions of unsolicited cards on an unsuspecting public with little regard for qualifications. Within two years, the infant industry was in chaos. Issuing banks were thought to be losing hundreds of millions of dollars, politicians were alarmed, the public was exasperated and the media was criticizing everyone involved.

Read more…

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 

Evolutionary Learning at Revolutionary Speeds

Published on July 22, 2012 by in Chaorder, Stories

• • • • •

It happens a billion times every day.

(c) the yes man

(c) the yes man

A seed falls to the ground. It waits for conditions to be right, and once they are, it begins its magic. Protoroots probe their surroundings, selectively absorbing the molecules they need. The roots pass the nutrients to the shoots as they reach for the sun.

Leaves and branches form, and eventually a flower buds, then blossoms.

Bees, butterflies, or insects may complete the pollination process. Deep inside the plant, molecules reorganize themselves into a seed, so that the cycle can repeat itself the following year.

But not quite.

Read more…

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 

Spotting Abalone

Published on July 17, 2012 by in Stories
(c) Mike Baird

(c) Mike Baird

A friend of mine* was at his favorite beach, enjoying the sun and the waves.

He had noticed for years that people dived for abalone just a little ways offshore, and seemed to have good luck on most days. Today was one of those days. A diver came out of the water and walked right by him, proudly carrying his day’s find.

“There’s nothing special about that guy,” my friend thought. “And it looks like fun.” He stood up right then and there, walked over to a nearby dive shop, bought the necessary gear, and headed back to the beach. Within a few minutes he was ready to go, and headed out into the water.

About an hour later, he came back to the beach a wet and discouraged man.

Read more…

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments