Chaorder, slow business and holistic economics


Over the last week or two, I’ve been quietly absorbing information – letting ideas slowly slot into place in my mind. Instead of forcing problems, I often find that leaving them to percolate produces wiser more thoughtful results (perhaps thoughtfulness is a misnomer). When I was learning juggling tricks as a wayward teenager, I remember a piece of advice – which was that if you were struggling with a trick, then practice hard and then have a nap (this was an appealing solution) and when you awoke, you’d likely be better than before you dozed off. It worked.

A number of topics have caught my attention these last weeks, and I’m slowly, gently sorting them as I go about my days (although they’re lacking in siestas). Here are a few highlights:

I’ve run across Dee Hock, the founder of VISA previously, but I’d forgotten how interesting his life has been. He essentially founded VISA, creating what he describes as a chaordic business, built on evolutionary principles, rather than traditional hierarchical premises. Not only did he found one of the most influential and interesting organizations of our time. He then retired, completely, to live a simple existence: ‘In May 1984, at 55, Hock put his beliefs to the test. He resigned from Visa and three months later, with his successor in place, dropped completely from sight. Six years later, in an acceptance speech as a laureate of the Business Hall of Fame, Hock put it this way: “Through the years, I have greatly feared and sought to keep at bay the four beasts that inevitably devour their keeper — Ego, Envy, Avarice, and Ambition. In 1984, I severed all connections with business for a life of isolation and anonymity, convinced I was making a great bargain by trading money for time, position for liberty, and ego for contentment — that the beasts were securely caged”‘ I’m reading Dee’s book at the moment and hope to update soon with further thoughts.

A friend Andy, who runs this fantastic consultancy, was kind enough to introducing me to the concept of ‘Slow business’ in this great article. It details an example of another company that has blossomed through simplicity and a focus on their core personal and professional values.

I’m also weaving through Dwane Elgin’s ‘Voluntary Simplicity‘, a fantastic book that details many people’s explorations of simplicity. I’ll post a summary when I’ve finished reading and percolating.

Finally, I’ve just finished an article on ‘holistic economics’ a perhaps less-dodgy name than the ‘triple-bottom-line’ theory John Elkington coined. More to follow on that shortly.

Simply stated, the process of thinking, exploring and examining simplicity has caused the concept and its benefits to blossom in my mind. Testament to the power of attention. If you’re interested in a topic, focus some time and attention on it.

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