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VISA, A Hybrid Innovation

Dee Hock was in 1973 the founder and has been CEO Emeritus of VISA, a non-profit, private partnership, whose partners are most of the commercial banks in the world.  With revenue of $2 trillion per year VISA has been the world's largest business.  The VISA concept was an innovation not based on technology, although it adopted state-of-the-art information technology for its purposes as it evolved.  Hock's "chaordic organizations" have an important similarity to the "Solutions" programs.  A guiding principle, invoked over and over again to organize VISA and get it operational and upwardly scalable as new bank partners joined, was this: the VISA charter, by-laws, and operations had to be made scalable so as to permit the entrance of new partners with the full status of initiating partners.  Furthermore, all partnership decisions had to be based on what a consensus believed ought to be not on what was widely expected to be

VISA benefits the bank partners far more than the majority of users, the customers and merchants who participate in VISA and outnumber the bank  partners by at least a thousand to one.   In his best-seller "Birth of the Chaordic Age", based on the VISA experience, Hock explains that the bank owners of VISA refused when he tried to get them to agree to keep the partnership open for customers and merchants to join that would have meant that anyone with a VISA card or merchant who accepted VISA payments would get a share of VISA surplus or "profits".  VISA failed to meet the first criteria of Solutions.  VISA became a commercial success, not the magnificent social innovation Hock aspired to.