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A Stitch in Time - Two Rivers


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June 11, 2001—Bonds Overcoming Boundaries

Creative Partnership. We can't wait to dip into John Bayley's new book, Widower's House, which takes up his life after the death of his wife, Iris Murdoch, the awesomely talented, mind-providing English novelist. Previously we had hailed here his Elegy for Iris, an account of his marriage to and deep bonds with his wife (see Best of Class #81). He has, in the meanwhile, followed up with Iris and Her Friends, which we will also have to read. His new book deals with his ongoing grief and, finally, his passage into a new life.

Strategic Alliances. One could wish for such closeness in all relationships, even in business. It is the sort of unity rarely achieved in professional partnerships, riddled as they are by both greed and ego.  As we note in our forthcoming Annual Report on Annual Reports 2001, sympathetic collaboration is one of the dimensions chief executives must strive for in today's networked business environment. They must achieve harmony with enterprises and institutions with which they have no formal legal or economic ties. Either self-interest or a love for major collective accomplishment must drive them to work together with partners they cannot command.

Josiah Royce. The American philosopher Royce had it right. In looking at gold-rush California, he shows how self-interest propels people into community--and then how a sense of community makes a number of good things happen. See his California from the Conquest in 1846 to the Second Vigilance Committee in San Francisco (1856). Collective self-interest eventually gives birth to global altruism, a tendency we must graft onto the free-market economics now sweeping the world.

Yubeng. We cite an example of universal partnership on Two Rivers this week. Yubeng, a reservoir of Tibetan culture and biodiversity, has led to a joint effort by Yunnan officials and western conservationists to preserve this special place standing in the shadow of Kawegebo, Tibet's second holiest mountain.

Of course, we are saying here that successful strategic alliances assume that business executives can overcome a contradiction: Can they achieve close community in a marketplace riven by the forces of competition? We think so.


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