All Posts By

James La Trobe-Bateman

Solar Panels for Senegal Schoolchildren

By | Impact-ology | No Comments
Solar panels for Senegal schools

A story about a small act that has a big impact on Senegal school learning.

In our events, emails and social media posts, we encourage you to increase your Impact on the world. 2020 – a new year and a new decade is starting. Lorrie & I have resolved to increase our positive IMPACT and Ripples in the world as well as encouragement to you and your IMPACT-ology journey.

 

We do this because… when you help others… you help yourself.

 

If you were at our October 2019 IMPACT-ology event in Port Huron-Michigan USA, you might remember we collectively agreed that $1 spent in the community has more impact on well-being than $1 spent anywhere else.

 

Here is an Amazing local IMPACT-ology story of how that is working: Tiny Solar Panels for Senegal Schoolchildren Immediately Improve Their Learning.

 

There is an organization on our Spanish island in the Atlantic ocean 60 miles off the coast of Sahara Desert and Africa that provides a summer school here for young people from Senegal to learn life skills to take back to their villages and improve their daily lives. Senegal is a small sub-saharan west African country not far (as the crow flies) from us. In their villages, they don’t have electricity in their homes or schools. That means no light after dark. This limits how much homework the children can do.

 

So the organization on our island donated 500 solar panel kits and are teaching the teachers and students how to assemble and install them in their homes (and schools). These solar kits are very small, enough to light up 4 LED bulbs. Though small, it is enough to provide light for students to complete their homework at home.

Guess what happened?!

 

Their teachers now report an immediate measurable jump in the rate of learning! 

 

If I gave YOU those little solar panel kits, I doubt it would have much impact on your life. Giving them to these Senegal children, and teaching them how to assemble and install themselves, has made a massive, immediate, positive IMPACT on their lives now and into their future.

 

QUESTION: What will your ripples be into the new year and decade of 2020… and beyond?

 

P.S.. Lorrie also wants to know.. With so many incredible things to do every day in this amazing world (many with very simple solutions just waiting for your help to make them happen)… What is Your Age Goal now..?

Is the US the Best Pinball Machine?

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It has long puzzled me that the ‘USA is #1 in the world’. And yet it does not have the best roads, it does not have the best education, it does not have the highest purchasing power per person, it does not have the longest life expectancy and it does not have happiest people. And yet I find myself better able to ‘do well’ in the US than anywhere else.

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Why Is Catbert the Evil HR Director?

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Interview for a job

Why do we have so much difficulty believing in a huggable people person running Human Resources? 

Scott Adams’ Dilbert character Catbert is totally believable as the ‘Evil HR Director’. Robert Townsend wrote in his book ‘Up The Organization’ that you should fire the Personnel Department and at worst have a 1 person People department.  Instead, since 1970, the Personnel Department has morphed into Human Resources.  Not only that, but the boss of that department is seen as evil. The world has gone backwards.

Let’s try some ‘whys’.

Why do you need an HR director? To make sure you have the quality and quantity of employees you need, plus to administer all the regulations around employment.

Why are there regulations around employment? Because employers can’t be trusted to treat their employees fairly.

Why can’t the employer be trusted? Because their job is to maximize profits for the shareholders, not for the employees.  So they will tend to cut corners if they can get away with it.

Why does management think of shareholders first and employees second? Because that is their main responsibility.

Why do shareholders think they should have priority? Because that is the way the system is set up.

…and you can go on.

Let’s stop there with the thought that the ‘system’ is the problem.  Not Catbert.

The system needs to change. 

It’s tough changing systems. Nonetheless, some enlightened bosses take a different view.  Richard Branson famously said that if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers.  Since your revenue depends on customers, taking care of your employees will take care of revenues and hence the shareholders.

But this is only a part solution.

We are talking about a change to the system.  So, we must talk about the ‘system’ that the corporation exists within.

Part of that system is the community around the corporation’s physical presence.

Henry Mintzberg goes deeper. We should put the corporation in the context of the society in which it exists.  This is because it draws ‘resource’ from that environment and has an ‘impact’ on the community around them.  It is not ‘fair’ to consider the corporation in isolation.  In particular, he advocates for rebalancing in favor of the ‘Plural Society’: the part that is not Private and not Public. Meanwhile, the world seems to be going backwards when it comes to the way corporations are run.

Isn’t time to turn the tide?

Sapiens

By | Impact-ology, Productivity | No Comments

Sometimes you have to read a book for just one insight.


The critics might be divided on whether it is a good book, but that one insight makes it gold in your eyes. I wouldn’t have read ‘Sapiens’ by Yuval Noah Harari, but for a good friend who recommended it. Then a few weeks later my brother gave me his copy and so I read it.


This was the insight.


Harari says that Homo Sapiens lived for many millennia alongside Neanderthals without immediately dominating them. So why did Sapiens become dominant? There seemed to be a number of environmental reasons. But what finally did it, he says, was Sapiens’ ability to co-operate with groups of people they did not know personally. If your influence is only with those you know, you are limited to about 150 people. When you co-operate with more, then your influence is far greater and your impact is far greater.


Sapiens succeeded over the Neanderthals because of their ability to spread common thinking beyond the immediate group. When you think the same, you act the same and so behave as a much larger cohesive and more powerful force. Who is more likely to prevail: 10 groups of 150 people who look superior but don’t have much in common with each other, or…1500 people who look inferior but think, talk and act in unison? We all know that power.


So how is this relevant to corporate life?


Well, how about ‘Standards’? There are formal ones, like ISO 9001. Or unspoken conventions, like cars having a steering wheel, the right hand pedal being for the fuel, the left hand pedal being for the brake. Imagine a world, where Fords had tiller steering, GM had a side joystick and the accelerator was on the dashboard? There is no question that the market in cars would not be as healthy as it is. Transport those standards to other countries, then you can sell your cars there. Plus you can find suppliers who can make components that will work for you better and cheaper. Everyone involved wins.


Co-operation with people you don’t know makes everyone’s life better. The impact of your ideas is far greater. In the case of Home Sapiens, it has led to dominance over the World.