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Sender: Steven H Johnson
Subject: Re: A method in search of a question?
Date: Thu, Aug 14, 2014
Msg: 101108

Tom, you're instincts are right. "Value chain" as used in the business world is much narrower in meaning.

One can look at farming as a value chain that begins with a seed company at one end and finishes with a family eating food at the other, and then disposing of human waste. If they have a composting toilet, perhaps the value chain loops all the way back around to the farm again.

One can look at the energy industry as a value chain that begins with wells and mines and ends with consumers receiving value while residents of the planet must cope with global warming and climate change and extreme weather events and humanitarian disaster.

In any end-to-end business model, every step along the way can be assessed for both its positive consequences and its negative consequences, as one would do in a triple bottom line context, or in a reappraisal of today's end-to-end business models.

When a business model causes important harm, then a wise civilization searches for a better business model, one that still delivers the desired benefits without generating the harm.

All the industries that matter have great complexity. The Energy Industry. Agriculture. Health Care. Public Education. And many others. Vast business models will have vast consequences, and it is precisely the question of vast scale that draws our attention to them. If current business models cause harm at vast scale, finding better business models is a dialogue challenge of considerable urgency.

Best,

Steve

Steven Howard Johnson - Civic Futurist 410-562-0361 Book in Progress: Thoughtful Patriotism

On Aug 10, 2014, at 7:03 PM, Tom Atlee wrote:

> Hear! Hear! .... I think... > > Not being connected much to the corporate/business world, I'm less conversant with "business models" and "value chains". So I'll venture an intuitive broad definition of these to see if they work for Steven et al. > > 1. A business model is a way of organizing an activity - a way of "setting things up" - to produce (and continue to produce) something of value. In this sense, the U.S. Constitution is a "business model", as are a family and a tax code. > > 2. A value chain is an articulation of the value changes observable at each life-cycle stage of a product or service - or activity of any kind. It includes increases and decreases in value, considering both the impacts people and systems have on the product (or service or activity) AND the product's (or service's or activity's) impact on the people and systems connected to it. For example, competent labor adds value to a computer during its manufacture, AND a toxic work environment takes value away (or generates negative value) during that same activity. Likewise, after its purchase, the computer adds value to a consumer's life while negatively impacting the value of the person's life who is salvaging its parts in a toxic dump after its disposal. And creative volunteers would add value to a community celebration's value chain. > > If we can accept these definitions - which I suspect radically expand the territory covered by those terms in normal business jargon - then everything you say about "business models" would apply to our social/political/economic systems and everything you say about "value chains" would embrace concepts like "triple bottom line" and "full cost accounting" and "internalizing the social and environmental costs of a product into its price". > > Furthermore, these extended definitions naturally extend the concept of "value" to embrace meeting deep human needs and the functional needs of human and natural communities - as well as concepts like "natural capital", "social capital", etc. So we're not just talking dollars here. > > And with these concepts we can begin to replace "collateral damage" (and its twin concept, "side effects") with more honestly inclusive and consciousness-raising terms like "whole-system impacts". (After all, a "side" effect is a real effect that we want people to attend to only as an afterthought, and thus is more of a PR term than a scientific one.) > > Does any of this make sense? If so, then a high mission of dialogue and deliberation could be seen as facilitating whole-system business models that nurture positive value (satisfy real needs of people and nature) at every step of the value chain. > > Just thinking... > > Coheartedly, > Tom > > ________________________________ > > Tom Atlee, The Co-Intelligence Institute, POB 493, Eugene, OR 97440 > site: http://www.co-intelligence.org / blog: http://tomatleeblog.com > Read EMPOWERING PUBLIC WISDOM - http://empoweringpublicwisdom.us > THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY - http://www.taoofdemocracy.com and > REFLECTIONS ON EVOLUTIONARY ACTIVISM - http://evolutionaryactivism.com > Please support our work. Your donations are fully tax-deductible. > http://co-intelligence.org/donations.html > ________________________________ > > On Aug 10, 2014, at 10:14 AM, Steven H Johnson wrote: > >> Hi everyone, >> >> In principle, I like Mark Gerzon's suggestion that those of us who want to explore individual issues in greater depth should seek volunteers to participate and work together - offline - to see where their dialogue takes them. Perhaps they'll develop some breakthru insights. >> >> But somehow I'm not fully sold, and here's my concern. It's a concern that applies not only to Mark's suggestion, but also to some of the excellent comments of Tom Atlee as well. >> >> We live in a time of bureaucratized organizations and industries and agencies. We also live in a time of extraordinary scale. Corporate behaviors at vast scale have consequences at vast scale - think fossil fuel consumption. Government behaviors at vast scale have consequences at vast scale - think of the federal government's screwed up business tax code. >> >> The future we will create for ourselves depends, therefore, on our ability to size up the business models that shape our civilization. >> Which ones are generally beneficial? Which ones are harmful? And - for those sectors that are shaped by faulty business models - how are we to redesign them? How are we to envision new business models that become part of our well-being, rather than part of our chronic dissatisfaction? >> >> If the art of business model redesign is the key to our better future - as I think it is - what sort of dialogue will have the best chance of finding good redesign approaches? >> >> Will it be "transpartisan"? Will it be one of Tom Atlee's suggested models? Or any of several deliberative democracy models? >> >> To my way of thinking, all those options miss an important part of the problem. "Business model" is shorthand for something more complicated - the behaviors of an entire Value Chain, and the consequences generated by that value chain under Business As Usual scenarios. >> >> If we were to set for ourselves a platinum standard, what would it look like? >> >> With respect to any particular business model and the value chain it affects, we'd want to be able to size up today's reality and recognize both its beneficial consequences and its damaging consequences. We'd also want to be able to wrestle our way forward to new scenarios for how to shape those business models, and the conduct of the value chains they govern. >> >> We'd especially want to be able to rethink our most problematic business models. >> >> To my mind, a platinum standard for dialogue is one that brings together participants who collectively have an end-to-end understanding of a major value chain. Such a dialogue doesn't limit itself to modest adjustments; it's willing to explore paradigm shift scenarios too. Such a dialogue will take on the scale question, with a special focus on its dangers: "Is there a redesign scenario that protects us from causing collateral damage at great scale?" A platinum dialogue presses forward till it's found one or more solid reforms to recommend. >> >> So . . . when I think about "transpartisan dialogues" or "citizen juries" or "deliberative dialogues," I ask myself - are we ready to tune them up a bit? So that some of our dialogues, at least, will operate at a platinum level? >> >> 'Nuff for now. >> >> Steve Johnson >> >> Steven Howard Johnson - Civic Futurist >> 410-562-0361 >> Book in Progress: Thoughtful Patriotism >> >> >> To unsubscribe from the TRANSPARTISAN list, click the following link: >> http://lists.thataway.org/scripts/wa-THATAWAY.exe?SUBED1=TRANSPARTISAN&A=1 >> > > ############################ > > To unsubscribe from the TRANSPARTISAN list: > write to: mailto:TRANSPARTISAN-SIGNOFF-REQUEST@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG > or click the following link: > http://lists.thataway.org/scripts/wa-THATAWAY.exe?SUBED1=TRANSPARTISAN&A=1 >

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