Printer Friendly Page Criteria for Solutions

What is a Solution?

Solutions must be viewed in the context of more general major social innovations. The unifying concept of the solutions presented in this website is that they make the modern world work better for people. The Solutions are measured against these six criteria:

"The Six Criteria"

  1. Beneficial and Fair
    The innovation is beneficial to society as a whole and, beyond that, is fair to all the persons and groups affected by it.  There is no interest on my part in seeking innovations that favor one group over others and no credence to the "we-they" syndrome -- the assumption that "we" (however defined) are good, right and favored by god, birthright, skill, wisdom, skin color, or whatever, while the "they" are unnamed or are other individuals (or groups), whose interests and lives the "we" tend to ignore or disparage, too often with great consequential damage. 

  2. Reduces Violence
    The innovation works toward minimizing violence. Although there are times and occasions when violence, such as self-protection, police action, war, and rebellion may be needed, violence in the modern world shatters trust and typically defers beneficial social innovations for many years.

  3. Sweeps Broad Sectors
    The innovation involves many aspects and sectors of humanity, including economic, political (and often others) as well as being a social innovation. To be fair and beneficial to all, the economic and political effects of any proposed innovation must be fully taken into consideration.

  4. Rights Major Wrong
    The innovation is aimed squarely at fixing a major wrong. A major wrong is an arrangement of economic, legal, political, and social conditions that are hurtful to most people either (a) currently in the US, (b) in many other countries, or (c) in the world as a whole.

  5. People Friendly
    The innovation, though of necessity often complex, is coherent, internally consistent and can be explained and, over time, made understandable and acceptable to a large fraction of the population and ultimately to most (a) experts in the specialty and technical areas that the innovation covers and (b), corporate, educational, scientific, religious and political leaders.

  6. Ecologically-Sustainable
    The innovation enhances or, at least, does not on balance degrade the natural ecology. It does not directly or indirectly kill off living species or degrade the earth, air, and water, in natural ecosystems for the foreseeable future.


"Doing Well by Doing Good"
by Alan F Kay 9/14/06

Here are metaphors and vignettes that reinforce each other and
suggest ways to do good, do well and have fun.

A. When climbing the ladder of success be careful not to kick anybody on the way up. You may need the guy on the way down.

B. Fish have no word for "water". They know no other media. Some gill-breathing species occasionally rise above the surface for a few seconds of air. They might wish to stay up longer and learn to fly -- and indeed might just do that over the course of millions of years. Empathizing with the fish, those of us struggling to make a better world hope that our smarter species can succeed in a few years. We may have 10 or 20 years. We don't have millions of years.

C. There are two reasons I now only invest in companies that meet first-rate clean, green, sustainable standards. First, compared to the tens of thousands of listed companies, limiting my attention to the mere few hundred that also meet high standards, greatly eases my evaluating process. Second, I'll tell you this. When closely involved in clean, green companies, you'll meet a better class of people.

D. To compete with other investments Wall Street demands that the value of a company measured by revenue or profit must grow pretty close to 15% annually. Material growth cannot continue at an exponential rate forever. By the end of this century aside from at most a few astronauts surviving some months on the moon, the rest of us will have to live on finite earth pushing against the resource limits of usable air, water, topsoil, oil, and the like.

Let's take a look at how well the 15% Wall Street demands have been met over the past century. The most successful company, Exxon Mobil, in 2006, according to "Fortune" had 347 billion dollars annual sales with profits of 39.5 billion. Not so many years ago, as a young man I recall the very first "billion dollar" company, minuscule compared to Exxon Mobil today. For every company that achieves the 15% growth rate Wall Street loves, a hundred others fall by the wayside. In 2003, the financial industry made a whopping one third of all US profits. That's taking a lot of money out of the pockets of the vast majority of us working in non-financial companies and organizations!

Exxon Mobil is the direct descendent of Standard Oil. The story, uniquely inspiring to Wall Street, made its founder John D Rockefeller, the richest man in the world, largely based on a feature of purchase-and-sale agreements suggested by Standard Oil's corporate lawyer, Henry Flagler, that bought up competitors at unprecedented and not-to-be-refused prices. Standard Oil issued enough stock to maintain its percentage ownership after acquisitions. The practice then legal, soon after Rockefeller dominated the oil business, became illegal and is now known as "watering stock"!

E. Transition to a society that is now mainly competitive and slightly cooperative to one that is the other way round, something like 10% competitive and 90% cooperative. The fact is that humans enjoy cooperation, despite macro-economists incorrectly characterizing the motivation of people as dedicated to the pursuit of self-interest through competition.

F. Think of two or more heads of state (and/or their deputies) seeking agreement on working together. Or imagine two or more corporate CEOs similarly seeking such an agreement. In either case, or in a mixed case (heads of state agreeing with corporate CEOs) none of the parties agree to anything until each party is sure that it is in their own interest. This is standard practice. Anything else would be crazy, right? Well maybe not. Look at it this way.

Suppose they all went much further and only made agreements that would be beneficial to all countries -- or all companies -- or, better still, most of the people in the world. Would the world be a better place for everybody including the deal- makers? You bet it would. Imagine how you would feel if you knew that every deal-maker in the world was selflessly agreeing only to arrangements that produced a better world for all! Even the best servant-leaders who are heads-of-state seldom go so far.

It is extremely difficult to go from where we are to a better place. So how do we get there from here? Most people would say impossible.

In over twenty years of hard effort I and my partner, Hazel Henderson, slowly worked out some important ways to do just that. Seventeen of them are in this website. Many others are at www.hazelhenderson.com. Over a forty year period Hazel and I worked in our separate ways on these innovations. These activities often provided synergistic experiences: from organizing civic, public service groups and start-up companies, to writing books and articles, to drafting legislation and regulations, to guiding official government valuations, and to assessing technology for the Congress. With all this in the works, we are optimistic.



Next: I. Democracy at Risk

>>> #1 Overcoming Excessive Secrecy in Government

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