A Business Plan for Cultural Change:
The Goose That Lays the Golden Egg
Our current and “his-storical” business models are based purely on short-term profit (power). For example, imagine you have 100 acres of wheatland in sub-Saharan Africa (or Eastern Oregon). With simple farming methods and minimal investment, this land can be cultivated for a few hundred years, up to indefinitely, with a reasonable $20,000 return (of grain) every year. Yet a crafty businessman in our culture might invest $50,000 into setting up at deep well and irrigation system (800 barrels of oil). Then the same 100 acres can grow alfalfa and vegetables for 10-15 years, increasing the yield to $50,000 every year. At the end of 15 years, however, the soil will be completely barren and full of salt and minerals from the ground water. The crafty businessman can pocket the extra $300,000-$450,000 profit and move on to the next project. This plan works great as long as the short-term profit is all that matters and the long-term costs are ignored. The same land could earn a more modest $20,000 a year for 100 years, and the profit would be $2 million with the added benefit of providing jobs for a small community of people. Instead, in our current culture, one person gets a payoff, a lot of oil was used, and the resource was destroyed or severely damaged. This is how to destroy the goose that lays the golden egg.
Business doesn’t have to work this way. The goose can continue to lay eggs for future generations, but only if our value system allows it. For more examples of how this might work, see www.thebridgers.org.
“Up to a point a man’s life is shaped by environment, heredity, and movements and changes in the world about him; then there comes a time when it lies within his grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be. Only the weak blame parents, their race, their times, lack of good fortune, or the quirks of fate. Everyone has it within his power to say, this I am today, that I shall be tomorrow. The wish, however, must be implemented by deeds.”
– Louis L’Amour, The Walking Drum