Professor Jem Bendell

Notes from a strategist & educator on social & organisational change, now focused on #DeepAdaptation

Archive for May, 2010

Crowd-sourcing philosophy on Facebook

Posted by jembendell on May 24, 2010

The power of crowd-sourcing information and ideas is proven by the power of wikipedia. New innovations in crowd sourcing include crowd funding, for instance for the movie Age of Stupid.

I decided to have a crack at this for something quite abstract, yet very important.

I have increasingly realised how easy it is for people to assume that one “thing” is “good” and become attached to that assumption in ways that lead to bad judgement. It happens a lot in the worlds of organisational and policy development. Examples in my field include cross-sector partnerships being seen as always good, or U process facilitation as always key, or government subsidy or regulation related to climate change as always good. Im a fan of each of these, but I’ve seen how assuming such things to always be good without understand context or intention, is a real problem. I realised this is something related to very deep themes around systems thinking and non-attachment. So, I thought I’d put the question out to my pals on facebook, to see how they could help me clarity these insights, so I could then communicate them more clearly in my advisory and writing.

Here are the preliminary results. If you can, please add in comments on this post, and Ill continue to crowd-source philosophy through wordpress!

The thread:

May 17th Facebook status: Jem is looking 4 egs or quotes 2 illustrate a problem of mistakenly thinking a practice or thing is itself “good”, rather than seeing it as good at a particular time due to its context-dependent effect & people’s intention behind it, so that no “thing” is good, except an intention & an ability to understand effects in cont…ext. The same thing in different contexts & with different intentions is not the same thing. Ideas?

Jerri Husch
read some of the early work in anthropology, ie. Clifford Geertz who talks about meaning creation. Or read some of Peter Berger and Luckmann’s stuff from the ’70’s who talk about action and the “social context of meaning creation”. They were the early ones to talk about how the “norms” of what is “good” and what is “bad” are based on the social context of the actors and objects….. 30+ years later they are still the best—-good luck with the work and would love to see what you come up with.
May 17 at 1:08am ·

Jem Bendell
thx. im not wanting to study it, simply to communicate this principle as simply as possible, and mention any classics e.g. from antiquity, that make the same point. any ideas?
May 17 at 1:24am ·

Jerri Husch
maybe check this out…..a good overview and maybe some quotes?
May 17 at 1:32am ·

Trineesh Biswas
more neo-classical than classical, but economic governance in the uk and the us for most of the last thirty years has been marked by the notion that privatisation, deregulation, and market forces were always good and efficient, with insufficient case-by-case analysis.
May 17 at 9:45am ·

Linda Popova
A tip from a Classicist, though not necessarily easy to communicate…Read Derrida’s essay “Plato’s Pharmacy”, which, among other things, discusses the “betterness” of the spoken word over the written. It is essentially a discussion of Plato’s dialogue Phaedrus and the relationship between memory and writing. It is centered on the use of the word… See More ‘pharmakon’, which in ancient Greek means both remedy and poison. Socrates’ death by drinking the hemlock is hence said to be ambiguous: is it damnation or salvation? The Phaedrus itself makes use of two further myths – the myth of the cicadas and the myth of Theuth – to illustrate that point…Also of interest, on the ambiguity of mental concepts (metaphors) dependent on context, Lakoff’s and Johnson’s book Metaphors We Live By is a good primer, with less linguistic jargon than my first recommendation. Good luck. Fascinating subject. Would be curious to see your take on it. Best, L
May 17 at 9:46am ·

Linda Popova
p.s. And then, of course, there’s Kant’s take on the subject and my musings on the Patriot act (with which I am sure you will disagree), but nonetheless, you could use this as an example of divergent vs convergent thinking. Since science should be based on divergent mental models, i.e. competing hypotheses rather than scholarly dogma (convergent politics), I am happy to be in disagreement:-)
May 17 at 10:05am ·

Kate Tench
To raise the tone somewhat and spin netgative to positive – “Even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day” Withnail & I (I believe it was “I”).
May 17 at 11:10am ·

Tiago Pinto-Pereira
“Knowledge is neither good nor bad, but man’s use of
it can be either good or bad.” Paraphrases a sentence i remember in my theory of knowledge course in high school. Not sure of the origin of this epistemological sentence.
May 17 at 1:01pm ·

Vicente Garcia-Delgado
The problem arises because we keep under the illusion that things are “things” when they are really “processes”. For example rather than saying “I am” we ought be saying “I become.” (try that for size…)
May 17 at 3:33pm ·

Jerri Husch
what a great conversation!! Thanks Jem et. al.!!!
May 17 at 4:24pm ·

John Manoochehri
Those are too complicated as examples.

Start with the original myth: the Midas touch. King Midas wanted gold, because it was his hearts desire, and was granted the wish that all he touched would become gold. He touched a tree and rejoiced at the golden tree. He touched his daughter – and then was distraught at the golden daughter. “The same thing… See More in different contexts & with different intentions is not the same thing.”

This story has at least two resonances: the problem of proxy-indicators of welfare, and the problem of the changed context.

One reason Midas liked gold, and the reason we like money, and consumer goods, is that they are ‘vehicles’ or welfare, they ‘carry’ welfare, but they are not in fact happiness or value themselves.

What happens all too often is that these vehicles of welfare, in particular when we get used to ‘storing’ them, as a way of holding over welfare into the future for example (e.g. by hoarding gold to buy more things in the future, banking money, etc), become ‘proxies’ of welfare, i.e. we see them as stand-ins for the welfare itself, and thereby, equivalent to the welfare itself, in the mind. The need to translate the proxy into the actual welfare recedes, and we become obsessed with money and object ownership, even while being unhappy!

Thus we are reminded “only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned, and the last fish has been caught, will we realise that we cannot eat money”. The child that has a hoop and a stick is happy, and the man with a house full of goods is sad, even if the house holds his old hoop and stick. “The same thing in different contexts & with different intentions is not the same thing.”

The other resonance is problem of changed context, where, not particularly because one’s concept of, or intention for, an object or action has changed (e.g. from an object as a vehicle of welfare, to an object as a proxy of welfare), but because the situation has changed, and thereby the welfare effect of the object or action has changed.

The hopeful boyfriend who brings a beautiful rose to his second date, shining with expectation that the girl will fall for his charms, but forgetting his girlfriend is allergic to roses; the father trembling down the stairs towards a disturbing noise, with a baseball bat clutched for protection, discovering it is just his child watching TV; the mythical king mistakenly turning to gold what he valued more than gold, more than anything – all of these are examples of an initial intended welfare effect of an object or action having quite the opposite effect (rose > love; rose > sickness; baseball bat > protection; baseball bat > threatening act; golden touch > more lovely gold things; golden touch > one less lovely daughter).

Or, as you put it. “The same thing in different contexts & with different intentions is not the same thing.”
May 17 at 11:05pm ·

Jem Bendell
im beginning to find a wonderful new use for facebook because of u guys! Hey, its funny how people think that someone having a midas touch is a good thing. Many people speak of a designer or ceo having a midas touch for a brand.. and yet.. the midas touch is a tragic story of greed and ignorance.
May 18 at 12:27am ·

Jem Bendell
ps: this has been such an interesting use of fb ill blog about it, so anyone else wanna chime in this week? all tips welcome.
May 18 at 12:28am ·

Vicente Garcia-Delgado
go ahead! “I am becoming” game!
May 18 at 12:31am ·

Posted in Academia and Research, Corporations, Lifeworth, My Life, Spirit?, Sustainable Development | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Dumb ideas on the deficit

Posted by jembendell on May 18, 2010

The new government is getting ready to cut public spending to reduce the deficit. That means people losing their jobs, and people who need support getting more “efficient” support i.e. less. Someone you know is probably worrying about their job; maybe they’ve told you, maybe they just didn’t seem their usual selves.

So, as it seems rather peculiar to me that a government doesnt own its own currency and therefore gets into debt in its own currency, here are some dumb ideas to reduce the deficit, not the country.

First, tell the Bank of England to write off all UK government bonds, or gilts, that it holds. No arguments, replace any bureaucrats at the bank if they disagree.

Second, tell those banks that the government has major shareholdings in to loan pounds to the government at zero interest, to a certain proscribed level that the bank can administer without failing.

Third, pass legislation requiring all banks registered in the UK to lend a certain percentage of all their loans to the government at zero interest.

Fourth, charter a new bank, the Bank of Britain, wholly owned by the tax payers of the UK (one tax payer one share, non tradeable), that would have assets such as national treasures assigned to it as collateral, and instruct it to use the maximum of its fractional reserve lending powers to lend pounds to the UK government without interest, and instruct the Bank of England to give the Bank of Britain it’s full support.

Fifth, tell the Royal Family that they must donate any shares in the subsidiary of the Bank of England (BoE Nominees) and any government-related shares (Treasury Stock) to the new Bank of Britain to demonstrate their duty as principle citizens at a time of financial crisis. If they dont, make the request public. If they still dont, then legislate for it.

Sixth, outlaw mechanisms financiers could use to bring down the economy or the government, such as short selling of certain items and the use of dark pool masked trades, and issue clarification that commercial acts intended to force governments to collapse is treason. It might be less dumb to take this action first, not last.

Seventh, establish a Financial Truth and Reconciliation Commission to explore how the current monetary system was designed, who designed it, and the necessary restorative justice, and also a Monetary Democracy Inquiry to explore policy options at home and abroad for a fair and sustainable financial sector.

As these ideas havent been argued by specialists and politicians, I must presume that are dumb ideas. Therefore I would benefit greatly from any teaching from monetarists or lawyers explaining why precisely each of these ideas is unworkable, and are more dumb than stopping able-bodied people from using their skills to help their neighbours in our “big society”, just because of a change to our money supply?

Or is it dumb to say the pound is ours?

Posted in Corporations, Sustainable Development | 2 Comments »

My Micro-blogging:

Posted by jembendell on May 18, 2010

Been tweeting about work, since starting this in January. If the stuff below is of interest, follow me at

Just added event on the Authentic Luxury Network; speaking in Geneva on June 3rd at Hotel Bristol, from 12.

Academics back carbon tax not cap & trade scam Implications for CSR & ESG climate 1:55 AM May 11th via web

Checking out “Paris Drinks of the “Authentic Luxury Network”” on authentic luxury network: 9:22 AM May 4th via a Ning Network

Bee colonies collapse. We’re part of nature; & the least wise of species 2 forget it & 5:01 AM May 2nd via web

Paris 7th to 9th then Geneva 9th to 12th – drinks on 7th in Paris, then on to UN event on financial crisis in GVA 11:38 AM May 1st via web

finally UK politician speaks of systemic changes; not deep enough but at least some straight talking sri csr 8:57 AM Apr 20th via web

What is a University to do when staff are caught at plagiarism? PR crisis to opportunity? csr businessethics 12:23 PM Apr 12th via web

just worked out ive produced 111 publications (not including blogs n tweets). will upload on at some point in 2010 4:29 PM Apr 8th via web

after some stressful deadlines, remembering what’s really important 10:49 AM Apr 7th via web

entrevista en el lujo sostenibles csr sustainability luxury lujo 10:25 AM Mar 26th via web

talks on sustainable luxury in Madrid on Mar 24 @ ISEM Fashion BusinessSchool csr 8:09 AM Mar 18th via web

‘Going Green: The Future of Luxury’ broadcasts on CNBC Europe 12th Mar 23.00(CET), 13th&14th @ 20.30(CET) also at 8:10 AM Mar 12th via web

Pakistan fund to sign UNPRI making it 1st asset owner in SouthAsia. Will India catch up? csr sri finance 1:15 PM Mar 11th via web

The FT reports on a growing shift to responsible & sustainable luxury & my little role in that. fashion csr

Beware the new irresponsible biz lobbying in green mask

In rare interview #UNPRI boss talks2me about #SRI #ESG #sustainablefinance #CSR #GFC & work of #UN with investors

Posted in Corporations, My Life | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

CSR Jobs Portal

Posted by jembendell on May 13, 2010

For those of you who didnt know, in 2001 I set up a corporate responsibility jobs site. Last year we revamped it to become the world’s most comprehensive source of CSR jobs info. It uses fancy open source technology to amalgamate jobs info from around the world, and send it out to users on the basis of their expressed preferences. There are over a 1000 opportunities on the site at any one time. A copy of the bulletin going out today follows below, so u can see the way it looks (although without the links). The portal is at so check there if you want to follow up on one of the job opportunities!

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Lifeworth Monthly Bulletin
Date: Thu, 13 May 2010 12:27:31 +0100
To: jem

Welcome to the Lifeworth Monthly Bulletin of jobs and events in responsible enterprise. It includes an editorial from Lifeworth, featured events, top jobs, other events, the top topics on our site, and this month’s expert insights. Your user name is jem. For information on how to retrieve your password or unsubscribe, see the bottom of the email.


We should never be too busy to look at the horizon. But many of us are so busy with the here and now of our jobs. Therefore we don’t have time to see what opportunities are out there for us to make a greater impact in the world. But now there is a solution….

Read more from Lifeworth’s Jem Bendell


Don’t Miss Deadline for Jobs at the Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI)

The Principles for Responsible Investment is an investor initiative in partnership with UNEP Finance Initiative and the UN Global Compact.
28 May 2010


Knowledge Manager, Edelman, USA
Director of Implementation Support, UNPRI, United Kingdom
Director of Communications and Marketing, UNPRI, United Kingdom
Clearinghouse Manager, Social Issues, UNPRI, United Kingdom
Community & Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Nestle, United Kingdom
Consultant, WWF-UK, United Kingdom
Supply Chain Manager, BCI, China
Associate – Budget & Financial Analyst, Room to Read, USA
Director of Value Chain Social Responsibility, Cisco, USA
CSR/Labor Rights Program Associate , Verité, USA
Contract ESG Research Analyst, RiskMetrics Group, USA
Communications Specialist, Shakti Foundation, India
Corporate Social Responsibility ( CSR ) Specialist, Al-Majal For Environmental & Technical Services, Oman


Don’t Miss Deadline for Jobs at the Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), UNPRI
Ouverture Inscriptions DAS Management durable, HAUTE ECOLE DE GESTION GENEVE & UNIVERSITE DE GENEVE, Switzerland
International EFMD – FDC Conference “Strategic Movements in Business Education”, FDC, Brazil
Launch of the 2010 Corporate Responsibility Salary Survey Results, Acre Resources
Local money design webinar series 2, Value for People, Germany
2nd International Worldly Leadership Summit ‘Leading with Responsibility and Conviction’, United Kingdom
1st International Conference in Responsible Leadership in Africa., South Africa
BASELondon 2010, Siemens, United Kingdom
ERSCP-EMSU 2010 Conference, Netherlands
2010 Asian Business & Management Conference, Japan
Asia Pacific Academy for Business In Society (APABIS) Annual Conference, Japan
CSR and International Development Executive Summer Course – Switzerland – July 4-11, 2010., University Geneva & MHC International Ltd, Switzerland


Innovative Financing for Global Networks Steve Waddell begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting on Networks
Marketing and Military Metaphors Ryan Jones
Video Blog: Steve Puckett on CSR in Singapore and the Energy Sector Wayne Visser
CSRI News Digest (Week 1, May 2010) Wayne Visser
McDonald’s Announces “Global Best Practices” in Sustainability Supply and Green Initiatives Wayne Visser
Sustainable Packaging Delivers Lighter Weight, Higher Recycled Material Content Wayne Visser
Cow Manure Project to Produce 38,000 mWh of Power Annually Wayne Visser
EPA Helps States, Utilities Reap Greater Energy Savings Wayne Visser
Canadian Lawmakers Pass Climate Change Act Wayne Visser
Chemical Supply Chain Embraces Wal-Mart’s Sustainability Goals Wayne Visser
Spain’s Leading PLC’s Take Close Look at Suppliers’ CSR Credentials Wayne Visser
Does Type of Ownership Matter for CSR? Wayne Visser
Slides: CSR 2.0: The Future of Corporate Social Responsibility Wayne Visser
Course: Introduction to CR (London, 13 Jul 2010) Wayne Visser
Course: Measuring Socio-Political Risk (Calgary & Edmonton, 14 & 17 May 2010) Wayne Visser
Online course: Sustainability Reporting (21 Jun-1 Aug 2010) Wayne Visser
CSR 2.0: From the Age of Greed to the Age of Responsibility Wayne Visser
BP: morally confused? Adrian Henriques
A New Approach to Network Leadership Steve Waddell on Networks
Oil spills and externalities Crane and Matten


1. General Environment (446)
2. Education or Culture (266)
3. Consumer Affairs (157)
4. Capacity Building (125)
5. Social Development (116)
6. Social Enterprise (107)
7. Human Rights and Security (98)
8. Diversity and Non-Discrimination (98)
9. Sustainable Resource Use (88)
10. Community and Philanthropy (77)
11. Climate Change (76)
12. Public Health (74)
13. Clean Technology (45)
14. Governance and Risk (28)
15. Pollution Prevention (27)
16. Health or Safety at Work (19)
17. Intellectual Property and Tech Transfer (16)
18. Responsible Investment (11)
19. Sustainability Reporting (9)
20. Personal Development (8)
21. Stakeholder Dialogue (8)
22. Anti-Corruption (8)
23. Employee Ethics (4)
24. Labour Practices (4)
25. Fair Marketing (3)
26. Fair Competition (3)
27. Fair Supplier Relations (3)
28. Fair Taxation (3)
29. Social Dialogue (3)
30. Employment Creation (3)
31. Political Involvement (1)


To include a job or event on our website and in this bulletin, visit A listing is free, with an optional charge to promote it to the top of our database, on our homepage and have it included in the monthly bulletin.

If you are seeking talent, then you can become an Employer member and access the extended profiles of our subscribers, including their CVs and contact information. If you are an expert in responsible enterprise and finance, you can become an Expert member, and share your insights with our subscribers, through our website and monthly newsletter.

Are you expert?

If you are an expert in responsible enterprise, you can upgrade to Expert member, and share your insights with our subscribers, through our website and monthly bulletin. Log in as jem to your account page now!

Your account

If you do not already receive a WEEKLY email with a comprehensive listing of all jobs and events related to your regional, sectoral and professional interests, then log in to and update your profile. This is also where you can add or change an email or add your CV

This email is sent to you as you subscribed to Lifeworth’s jobs information service at some point since 2001. To unsubscribe, log in and then DELETE your account. Your username is jem. If you have forgotten your password, then obtain a new one by following the instructions at:

Posted in Corporations, Lifeworth | 10 Comments »