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 [1] 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. Buckminister 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.

[1] 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.

    Initiative and Leadership

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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,
    always ineffectiveness.
    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

  4. Integrity, Finance and Growth Provide Needed Reality Checks for Business

  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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".
  8. 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 the whole.
  9. 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.
  10. Human Resource Management

  11. 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.
  12. 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).
  13. 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.
  14. 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:
        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
    If at all possible, we must try to find an appropriate role for each associate or employee in our organizations.
  15. "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.

  16. Marketing

  17. 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 possible.
  18. 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 effectively.
      If you take care of the customers, the money will take care of itself.
      -- Buck Fleming, Former LinuxForce President & CEO
  19. 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.
  20. Miscellaneous Business Values

  21. My business philosophy is based on Synergetics and "making things work", not "dog eat dog".
  22. 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.
  23. Sooner or later "right makes might" will win out over "might makes right". Business should do what's right in support of eternally regerative Universe.
  24. 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:
    You can't better the world by simply talking to it.
    Philosophy to be effective must be mechanically applied.
    -- Buckminster Fuller
    Now to get back to work!

Author Information

Contact the author at cjf@CJFearnley.com. View the author's home page at http://www.CJFearnley.com/ and blog at http://blog.cjfearnley.com