AS I SEE IT
AS I SEE IT
More than 60 of my 89 years have been devoted to a search for answers to three questions, which should beself-evident to any thinking person since the middle of the twentieth century.
Why are organizations everywhere, whether political, commercial, or social, increasingly unable to manage their affairs?
Why are people, everywhere, increasingly in conflict with and alienated from the organizations of which they are part?
Why are society and the biosphere increasingly in disarray?
The search for answers led to a realization that we are in the midst of a growing epidemic of institutional failure, not only in the sense of collapse, but the more pervasive and insidious form. Institutions increasingly unable to realize the purpose for which they were created, yet continuing to exist, growing wildly out of control as they devour resources, demean people, and destroy the environment.
It led to a realization that a 400-year-old societal age was rattling in its death bed and another was struggling to be born; that everything was changing with accelerating speed, with one incredibly important exception. There has been no new concept of societal organization since the notions of nation state, corporation, and university were brought into being, the newest of which is centuries old.
The search also led to an opportunity to re-conceive in the most fundamental way the purpose and organizational structure of a collapsing, infant, bank card industry, and bring into being an organization unlike any that had existed before. Within three years it restored the industry to health and went on to become the largest commercial enterprise on earth. Annual volume of financial transactions under the Visa Inc. name and marks now approaches $11 trillion.
Since resigning as CEO of Visa and leaving the business world 32 years ago, my search has continued, leading to two decades working with other industries interested in finding the answers to those questions and doing something about them. It has led to addressing hundreds of meetings of concerned people, writing and publishing four books, and a variety of recorded interviews and other articles.
Active participation in the world of electronic information and communication has never appealed to me. Yet references to my work and quotations attributed to me have steadily proliferated on the internet, most out of context, some reasonably complete and accurate, some incomplete or inaccurate, some paraphrased, and a few absurd.
The purpose of this website is to provide those with interest access in context to what I have actually said and published, and to expose new readers to the concepts and ideas that emerged from the search.
chaord [kayʹ-ord], n., fr. E. chaos [GR. and L. Chaos, n, formless,, primordial matter: utter confusion; utterly without order or arrangement] and fr. E. order [ME. ordre, fr. OF. ordre, fr. L. ordo, ordinis, n. line, row, regular arrangement in accordance with rules] 1. Any self-organizing, self-governing, adaptive, non-linear, complex organism, organization, or system, whether physical, biological or social, the behavior of which harmoniously blends characteristics of both chaos and order. 2. An entity whose behavior exhibits observable patterns and probabilities not governed or explained by the rules that govern or explain its constituent parts.
chaordic [kay-ordʹ-ic], adj., fr. E. chaos and order. 1. The behavior of any self-organizing, self-governing, organ, organization, or system that harmoniously exhibits characteristics of both order and chaos. 2. Patterned by chaos and order in a way not dominated by either. 3. Blending of diversity, chaos, complexity and order characteristic of the fundamental organizing principles of evolution and nature.
educe [eh dyoos' v. tr. 1. to bring forth or develop from latent or potential existence; to elicit.
Born March 21, 1929, in North Ogden, Utah.
September 1947 to June 1949. Weber College, Ogden Utah.
September 22, 1949. Married Ferol Delors Cragun in Salt Lake City, Utah.
1949 to 1952. Branch Manager, Pacific Finance, Ogden Utah.
1952 to 1953. Branch Manager, Pacific Finance, Klamath Falls, Oregon.
1953 to 1955. Assistant Manager, Public Relations and Advertising Department, Pacific Finance, Los Angeles, California.
1955 to 1962. General Manager, Columbia Investment Company, Los Angeles, California.
1962 to 1966. Northwest Regional Supervisor, CIT Financial, Seattle, Washington.
1966 to 1970. Vice President and General Manager, BankAmericard Department, National Bank of Commerce, Seattle Washington, and Chairman of the National Executive Committee of BankAmericard issuing Banks.
In 1967, The National Bank of Commerce entered the Bankcard business as one of the first six banks in the United States licensed by Bank of America to issue BankAmericard, credit cards, and enroll merchants. It quickly became a national system with more than a hundred licensed banks. Other banks banded together to create Mastercard. Massive card issuance exploded nationwide as bank after bank entered one system or the other. With wholly inadequate credit controls, or systems for the authorizations and clearance of sales drafts between banks, credit and operating losses skyrocketed, bringing the twosystems to the brink of collapse.
In 1968, a meeting of licensee banks was called by Bank of America to discuss some of the critical problems. It soon disintegrated into angry accusations and finger pointing. Long convinced that Bank Credit Card was a misnomer and marketing blunder, that its real future was as a global device for the exchange of value, Hock was appalled by the chaos in the system and at the meeting. Concerned that the NBC program would be overwhelmed by system failure, and that attempting to find solutions was futile in mass meetings, Hock suggested an organized system of national committees be formed to quickly assess the full extent of the problems and seek a sensible, long-term solution. The suggestion was endorsed by Bank of America and unanimously adopted by the attendees, and a day later Hock found himself the chairman of an executive committee to lead the effort.
It soon became apparent that problems were much worse than anyone imagined. Convinced that the only solution was re-conception of the entire system, Hock challenged three others to join him in a week long effort to conceive an ideal organization to create the world's premier system for the exchange of value. In 1970, after an intense, year-and-a-half long effort, the first part of an organization unlike any that had ever before existed came into being: National BankAmericard Inc., with Hock as President and CEO. Within two years, operating problems and losses were under control and the business was highly profitable, growing at the rate of 50% compounded annually. Within three years, the international portion of the system was re-conceived as Ibanco. Within five years the worldwide system was unified under the name Visa, and was, by a considerable margin, the largest system for the exchange of value in the world, a position it continues to hold today under the name VISA Inc. Annual volume of transactions under the VISA name and marks now exceeds $10 trillion annually.
1970 to 1984. Chief Executive Officer of Visa USA, Visa Mideast and Africa, Visa Latin America, Visa Asia Pacific, and Visa International. San Francisco, California
1984 to 1992. Ranch owner, recluse, student and philosopher. Pescadero, California.
1992 to present. Adviser, speaker, and writer working to develop and bring into being new, Chaordic concepts of societal organization that more equitably distribute power and wealth and are more in harmony with the human spirit and biosphere. Pescadero, California and Olympia, Washington.
Note: For the complete story of the creation of Visa and my growing concern with the epidemic of institutional failure that now plagues the world, see either Birth of the Chaordic Age, or its second edition, One From Many: Visa and the rise of Chaordic Organization.