In my last blog post, I shared a document we created about ten years ago, “Decurion’s Operating Philosophy.”  Over the decade since we first shared that document with our members (employees) and prospective members, we have made several efforts to refine and clarify the way we explain our approach to business.  In this post, I present one of our earlier efforts, “A Note on Decurion’s Operating Philosophy.”

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Ten years ago, more than a decade after we had identified Decurion’s purpose, we attempted to capture in a document our approach to business.  We wrote it mainly for our members (the term we later introduced for employees).  And then we used it in our recruiting efforts.  While imperfect, it did help people here better understand what we were up to, and it gave people thinking about joining us an idea of what they could expect to encounter.  Other than adding an axiom (see below), we have not found it necessary to alter the document.  It remains an accurate description of why we are in business and how we approach it.  So while we think Robert Kegan and his colleagues did a great job of describing Decurion in their Harvard Business Review article “Making Business Personal,” I want to share this document as our best take on ourselves.  We refer to it as “Decurion’s Operating Philosophy”:

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The April 2014 issue of Harvard Business Review includes an article that features Decurion prominently.

More than 20 years ago, we identified Decurion’s purpose as providing a place for people to flourish (updated three years ago to providing places for people to flourish).  Since then, we have been on a journey to make that purpose more and more true, more and more a fact of day-to-day experience at Decurion.  We have got clearer on what it means to flourish, and we have introduced practices that apply to individuals and to communities.

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When I was 16 and on a family trip to Greece, I visited the tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis, author of Zorba the Greek.  On his tomb was written, “I hope for nothing.  I fear nothing.  I am free.”  As I begin to talk about myself and about Decurion, I recognize that I have at least as many fears now as I did then.  Among other things, I fear appearing ignorant, uninformed, or confused.  I don’t want to be reduced, diminished, or dismissed.  And I am averse to having others characterize or functionalize me.  All of this is bound to occur as I speak about what is most important to me.  But my hopes are bigger than my fears. Henry David Thoreau wrote, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.  Now put the foundations under them.”  I want to create contexts in which people (including me) can pursue full and meaningful lives.  And I have pursued that aspiration largely through my work at Decurion.

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