CJ Fearnley's Business Philosophy
Organizations are important because institutionalizing cultural
functions is a time-honored way to ensure that those services
(including the production, distribution and application of physical
and metaphysical resources such as know-how) are provided to society
on an on-going basis. In order for organizations to regeneratively
 provide their functions (in particular, beyond any one lifespan
or beyond what any one person can do), they must organize a number of
people together to provide their services for society. Business, then,
is the complex of efforts in an attempt to provide cultural services in
support of continually regenerating our society. For me, however, going
one step further is necessary, that is, I take the stand that business
undertakings must strive to work in support of The Integrity of
eternally regenerative Universe. In my view, this is the highest
value and most fundamental objective of any business enterprise.
Fuller defined "God"
as The Integrity operative in Universe and asserted that
the purpose of Humans in Universe was to work in support of eternally
regenerative Universe, i.e., we have a cosmic function in support of God.
I deeply accept the responsibility and the ethics inherent in Fuller's
philosophy and acknowledge that my interpretation of Fuller is a deep and
guiding influence in the development of my own business philosophy.
 That is, more than simply sustainably because the second law of
thermodynamics ensures that systems that are not regenerated syntropically
(anti-entropically) will dissipate (entropically) over time.
My business philosophy is still evolving as
experience and reflection teach me more and more each day. The following
is a list of the principle considerations comprising my current and
always evolving business philosophy.
- Leadership is initiative taking with others. Communities can
spontaneously form in non-hierarchical leadership structures
(witness the Linux community where even Linus Torvalds isn't "King").
More often, organizations have one or more leaders who serve to create
and/or guide their growth and development. Business leadership is
about organizing teams of people to help solve those larger problems
that cannot be addressed by individuals. Since leadership works
through others and has a history of being corrupted, it is important
that leaders and their organizations develop strong values and
institutional safeguards to ensure sustainably effective operation.
These include integrity and honesty ("to tell the truth, the whole
truth and nothing but the truth"), initiative taking, values-based
vision, the disciplines of know-how and know-what, asking better
and better questions, inclusiveness, diversity, compassion, checks and
balances, group decision-making, etc.
- Human civilization can be expected to forever be on the cusp of
dramatic emerging developments of critical concern to the regenerative
function of society itself. Because each of us has such limited
experience and understanding of the complex of interrelationships
between the systems that constitute global Human civilization, it is
impossible to expect that any limited human leader will be good enough
to get it right all the time. So it is of vital importance that each
individual in each generation take initiatives to "do what they see
needs to be done" to lighten the load on our institutional leaders.
That is, each one of us has a responsibility to take on leadership
roles in areas of our personal interest. It is our civic duty.
It is a vital part of our function in Universe.
Commitment changes the world. Every time I have made a
self-commitment, I have significantly moved toward its goal.
Commitment moves the world.
Until one is committed
there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back,
Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation),
there is one elementary truth,
the ignorance of which kills countless ideas
and splendid plans:
That the moment one definitely commits oneself,
then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one
that would otherwise never have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
raising in one's favor all manner
of unforeseen incidents and meetings
and material assistance,
which no man could have dreamt
would have come his way.
I have learned a deep respect
for one of Goethe's couplets:
``Whatever you can do, or dream you can -- begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.''
-- W.N. Murray from The Scottish Himalayan Expedition, 1951
- Reality must be attended to rigorously. It is very easy for humans
to think that their (always inadequate) abstractions are "True".
Each of us gradually builds the abstractions that form our vision
of reality with the facts of our experience. Humans do not have
"single-frame" access to God's Truth, so our vision of reality is
always blurry. The discipline of answering questions with only
experientially gathered data is essential to developing an honest,
realistic vision of reality. To be effective and incisive, reality
must be our guide in life and in business.
- Money is a resource management tracking tool; it should never
be the goal. The goal, as stated previously, is to provide services
to society in support of eternally regenerative Universe (other
efforts are experiments or fads or dreams or simply thoughts, but
not the function of business). Money provides a tangible, sometimes
harsh, but very realistic accounting tool to measure exchanges (of
goods and services) between individuals and organizations. A truly
successful organization will, naturally, make huge amounts of money.
Money then becomes a resource to invest in additional efforts in
support eternally regenerative Universe.
- Money helps ground a business in reality. It is an important
tool for measuring the ability of an organization to sustainably
do its work. Indeed, money is a metric function defined by each
individual's personal values about the goods and services they need
and want (the domain) and mapping them to a number system (usually
one that is isomorphic with the integers). The number system is,
generally known as "money". Financial goals are also a
tool, not the goal. The goal is to make the world work better and
better and better ... "to support eternally regenerative Universe".
- Budgets are commitments to deliver specified functions for a fixed
price. The budget provides a measurable accountability between a
promise and the money. Of course, budgets are estimates and will
never be precise. The inevitable unforeseeables will challenge
every budget. The best managers will ensure that the budget is
"right" before they commit to it and will then honor their
commitment to live within the budget and deliver the promised results
on time and on budget. Making the tradeoffs necessary to deliver
the results on budget is difficult, but it is the skill required of
good management. Finally, it should be noted that there are some
business development efforts that are so important that they must
be done whatever the cost. Even so, it is important to demand
accountability and budget them to ensure that the organization
proceeds comprehensively with its development and doesn't get too
sidetracked with one function at the expense of the integrity of
- Growth should be the consequence of an organization finding more
and more effective ways to contribute to the regenerative functions
of society (and even of Nature itself). When an organization
continually sees more things that need to be done (and if they
are incisive as evidenced by real customer or client feedback and
consequential money resources), then growth will naturally result.
Eternal regenerativity is the goal, growth is simply a consequence
of creative and effective actions by an organization in support of
eternally regenerative Universe. "Corruption" could be defined
as a focus on growth without Integrity. When Buckminster Fuller
quipped that one must decide to either "make money or make sense,
as they are mutually exclusive" he meant that the obsessive focus
on money-making is corrupting of Integrity.
- Deep within each person is the desire to demonstrate competence.
It is the responsibility of each person and their management partners to
puzzle out how the worker can demonstrate their competence in service of
the business objectives. This is not always easy, of course.
- Organizations and communities use social technologies (ranging the
gamut from positive ones like diversity, cooperation and all-win
agreements to negative ones like prisons, layoffs, and terminations)
to manage their human resources. Performing any management function,
not the least of which includes managing people, involves understanding
the scientific principles of social interactions together with values
and ethics. Often the tactics of execution overwhelm the strategies
and policies that finite humans must process "in the moment".
Addressing such issues requires patience, courage, vision, and a
healthy amount of mistake mystique (Buckminster Fuller's
expression for the challenge involved in learning and "making right"
our inevitable mistakes).
- Most people spend nearly a third of their lives in business
activities; and a significant percentage of the rest of their lives
consuming products and services from businesses. Business is exactly
the place where our idealism must be exercised. It is where we
spend most of our waking lives! So human resource management must,
at minimum, be humanistic.
- A vibrant, caring organization that values its people highly
must also ensure that the right people are in the right jobs for the
good of the organization. It requires creativity and effort to marry
these two critical values in human resource management. I try to never
forget the sentiment of the following quote in considering these issues:
If at all possible, we must try to find an appropriate role for each
associate or employee in our organizations.
Every human being must be viewed, according to what it is good for;
for none of us, no not one, is perfect; and were we to love none
who had imperfections, this world would be a desert for our love.
-- Thomas Jefferson
"Unity is plural and at minimum two." There is no one-frame
view of "Truth": we live in scenario Universe. Therefore, Having a
single "all-powerful" "boss" is contrary to the laws of nature; it is
not the basis on which one can build a really successful organization
on a regenerative basis. The saying "the buck stops here"
is simply rhetoric in support of a monarchical boss. Even if one
person could be skilled enough to be "King" (or CEO even), that
would not provide for an eternally regenerative organization because
people eventually leave organizations (by death, retirement, etc.).
History also shows that when one person acquires too much power, they
frequently become corrupt. So, we cannot depend on any one person
to lead our organizations. It is necessary to get feedback from
employees, customers, and other stakeholders. Currently, business
enterprises are governed by an aristocratic Board of Directors.
This is "democracy" by the few, the privileged. Nonetheless, a Board
of Directors is a better governance structure than the Monarchy model
of a single President and CEO, since it provides some level of checks
and balances to moderate the foibles of a single fallible Chief.
Because real democracy engages all stakeholders in an
organization's governance structure and because it encourages
the discussions that bring out insights that otherwise might
not even be identified, I assume it is the best way to ensure a
governance structure with a wholistic, realistic perspective for the
organization. Business governance ought to take the a wholistic,
fair, and most importantly, regenerative view by engaging a broad
swath of its participants as executive decision-makers.
- Marketing is the engineering process of getting an organization's
functional capabilities (their offerings) to those entities in need
of such functions. Marketing is, therefore, fundamentally the effort
to try to solve the distribution problem. The distribution
problem for a civilization of more than six three-illion
(billion) human beings is extraordinarily complex. Although marketing
is in principle the honorable discipline of trying to solve Humanity's
distribution problem, it is frequently subverted by the indiscretions
of gimmicks, hype, puff, greed, and sometimes downright fraud.
The challenge of marketing is to accept the responsibility of Integrity
and delivering the organizations regenerative products and services
to those who can benefit from them in the most efficient manner
- The keystone in any organization are those who provide the funding
for the work of the organization (the investors, customers, clients,
or taxpayers). These "customers" need to recognize a value (they
need to feel it!) for their contribution or the regenerativity of
the organization could become at risk. The tried and true way to
ensure happy customers is to deliver a strong value proposition cost
If you take care of the customers, the money will take care of itself.
-- Buck Fleming, Former LinuxForce President & CEO
- An organization must deliver sustainable value to its stakeholders
including its investors, its customers, and its employees. This is
the primary feedback cycle that runs the organization. Keep all your
stakeholders very happy and the organization should thrive.
- My business philosophy is based on
and "making things work", not "dog eat dog".
- I am committed to making the world work for 100% of humanity.
I think Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and Linux®
contribute significantly to that goal.
- Sooner or later "right makes might" will win out over "might makes
right". Business should do what's right in support of eternally
- The scientific approach requires that one demonstrate the incisiveness
of one's hypotheses. LinuxForce
will be my experimental proving grounds for developing and applying
my business values and skills. Which reminds me of a favorite quote:
Now to get back to work!
You can't better the world by simply talking to it.
Philosophy to be effective must be mechanically applied.
-- Buckminster Fuller
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View the author's home page at
http://www.CJFearnley.com/ and blog