The power of one

Since the 1970s Majuli islander Jadav Payeng has been planting trees in order to save his island. To date he has singlehandedly planted a forest larger than Central Park in New York City.

 

For the movie buffs, pair this story with the Oscar-winning The man who planted trees (L’homme qui plantait des arbres):

 

Good governance went out of the window when a reductive view of human nature took hold

Simon Caulkin [website, @nikluac]  in The Guardian:

The irony is that we know what makes companies prosper in the long term. They manage themselves as whole systems, look after their people, use targets and incentives with extreme caution, keep pay differentials narrow (we really are in this together) and treat profits as the score rather than the game. And it’s a given that in the long term companies can’t thrive unless they have society’s interests at heart along with their own.

So why do so many boards and managers, supported by politicians, systematically do the opposite – run companies as top-down dictatorships, pursue growth by merger, destroy teamwork with runaway incentives, attack employment rights and conditions, outsource customer service, treat their stakeholders as resources to be exploited, and refuse wider responsibilities to society?

The answer is that management in the 1980s was subject to an ideological hijack by Chicago economics that put at the heart of governance a reductive “economic man” view of human nature needing to be bribed or whipped to do their exclusive job of maximising shareholder returns. Embedded in the codes, these assumptions now have the status of unchallenged truths.

Parting words to graduating students

my advice to you is simple:

find out what you are meant to do and do it,

and find out who you really are, under all the junk that has been attached to you by those who would make you everybody else, and be that.

(…)

what you are meant to do and who you really are are not the same thing:

what you’re meant to do is learned, discovered,

but who you really are has always been there — it is a matter of unlearning who you have been told to be, or told you are, or should be,

until all that is left is the knowledge of who you are and always were: nobody but yourself.

via How to Save the World.

Create your own (imaginary) Board of Directors

In his book, Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques, Michael Michalko provides a few suggestions for this technique…

  1. Select three to five business movers and shakers, living or dead, whom you admire most (real or fictional, living or dead).
  2. Get photographs of your Board and pin them up to constantly remind you of the talent at your disposal.
  3. Research your heroes. Read everything about your heroes that you can get your hands on.
  4. Take notes on your favorite passages. Pay particular attention to the creative techniques they employed to solve problems.
  5. When you have a challenge, consult the members of your board and imagine how they would solve it. (thanks Paul)

Tom Peters on The Brand Called You

Big companies understand the importance of brands. Today, in the Age of the Individual, you have to be your own brand. Here’s what it takes to be the CEO of Me Inc.

From a classic article from 1997 that Seth Godin has picked up here.