Robert W. "Doc" Hall

Author Archives

  • Compression Thinking Values

    Having prevailed for centuries, the expectation of unending economic expansion is now buttressed by deep belief systems. Evidence that expansion has to end contradicts these beliefs, so any alternatives contradicting both beliefs and prior experience are hard to imagine. However, as previous updates have noted, continued expansion is blocked by multiple limitations of a finite […]

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  • Webinars and Events

    A series of three webinars will begin with the first at 1 pm Eastern Time on January 22. They are under the auspices of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence, and AME has a fee: $25 for AME members; $50 for non-members. For descriptions of all three webinars and to sign up, you can go directly […]

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  • Tower of Babel Effects

     In the biblical story in Genesis 11, people speaking the same language wanted to build a great city with a tower reaching the heavens. Displeased by this ambition, God scrambled their language so that they could no longer understand each other, and the project died aborning. Ever since, this story has alluded to the phenomenon […]

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  • Topsoil Dialogs

    Bet you did not know that the United Nations designates December 5 as World Soil Day. The UN is trying to bring attention to an environmental threat that could be existential, but to little avail. Every day is proclaimed to be for something. When mentioned in lists of environmental threats, topsoil loss is usually tucked […]

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  • Event Development

    From the beginning of the Compression Institute, we’ve been aware that its mission is a huge shift in thinking from business-as-usual. This is no small endeavor. We’ve been pretty quiet because becoming consultants helping people do something new seldom penetrates the business mindset of buying skills training. That rarely touches the core problem of easing […]

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  • Framing Success

    Last week I (Doc Hall) went to the 10th Lean Accounting Summit. Having attended most of the first nine, I saw many familiar faces, although the majority of attendees were first-timers. The objectives of lean accounting are to align cost systems with the actual flow of operations and to issue timely cost reports that better […]

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  • Real Change is Local

    Although the climate change march in New York City failed to top the news, it was much bigger than organizers’ ambitions for the march three months earlier. The next day saw a follow up demonstration called Flood Wall Street. With the fossil fuel industry as its main target, activism is warming up. Another spark was […]

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  • Externalized Costs and Social Capital

    In theory we think it fair to justify all processes on the basis of the total process, not just part of it, financially or otherwise. An external cost is one that somebody else pays, so it may be considered a subsidy. An example is a picnic in a park. If picnickers leave messes for the […]

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  • Why Live Better; Using Less?

    Global consumption of fossil energy and raw materials continues to rise. Doubling consumption (and extraction) every decade, or even every 50 years, has to stop sometime. Were there no concerns like putting more greenhouse gases in the air, this system is running down. It will not run out, as if drawing water from a fixed, […]

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  • Vision and Reality

    Robert Owens’ Vision of Utopia — New Harmony                                                                                  How it Actually Turned Out Robert Owens’ […]

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  • Vigorous Learning Using Compression Thinking

    Migration toward vigorous learning seems easiest to see from a company view, one that most of us are used to: 1. Eliminate operational waste of no benefit to customers or any other stakeholder – the prime objective of lean thinking. 2. Then minimize environmental waste in your own operations – green the lean, so to […]

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  • Doublethink Traps

    Learning to do better while using much less will involve endless messy issues, from large scale to small. Understanding threats like endocrine disruptors depends on technology known to few. In addition, issues are loaded with values clashes, conflicting interests, and misinformation – “wicked problems.” Regulation and politics-as-usual often bog down in game playing and doubletalk. […]

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  • Why Local Issue Learning Groups

    We really do have to cut back our overall use of resources – transform from resource intensive “cowboy” economics into an economy of wiser competence. From what we have seen, that is unlikely through government policy or by entrepreneurs inventing independent partial solutions, although those can contribute greatly to improving systems vital to our well […]

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  • Why We Must Address Compression Issues

    Compression refers to humanity being squeezed tighter and tighter on a finite planet having limited resources. It also refers to the learning processes by which we must address tangled complex issues in a practical way, engaging in much more effective interaction using the limited time that we have. The reasons for this are overwhelming. Humanity […]

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  • Minding the Gap

    “Mind the gap” is a robo message on British trains cautioning departing passengers to beware of the gap between train and platform. This catchy phrase is being applied to many gaps, like the income difference between the 99% and the 1%. The Compression Institute and like-minded movements have in mind a different gap, the one […]

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  • Quality Over Quantity

    Food and agriculture illustrate clashes between “learning organizations,” especially local ones, and industrial economies of scale to supply consumer societies. In industrial economies few people now grow what they eat or prepare meals from scratch. Instead they buy processed ingredients and plate-ready restaurant food. Research suggests that people who don’t cook know less about food […]

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  • Telling New Stories

    Nearly all the stories we tell ourselves ignore the obvious, that ultimately we cannot consume more than nature can provide. Perhaps we keep telling them because a realistic story seems to be such a downer. On a macro scale, our economic theories (stories) presume that jobs and return on investment depend on voracious consumption. As […]

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  • Doing Better; Using Less

    This issue begins a series intended to picture a world that is improving quality of life while consuming far fewer natural resources. Can you help us visualize this very different future? Doing better while using less – much, much less – is simple to understand, but it bucks existing systems of thought in business and […]

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  • Global Squeeze Plays

    Sadly, the graphs below have a similar pattern. In each case, the lines closing together coincide with increasing political unrest. There’s much more to the story from the resource shortage angle, but standard journalism is not designed to probe that deeply very often. Graphs are from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. However, Gail Tverberg spotted […]

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  • The Compression Issue

    Economic growth depends on expanding use of physical resources, but it has been the easiest and fastest road to improved quality of life – or to a high life that we think is quality at the time. We became really good at it. The Chinese miracle converted resources to economic development and their tidal wave […]

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  • Action Time

    After long delay, The Compression Institute recently received 501c3 status from the American IRS. Our web page will soon explain how you too can make a tax-exempt contribution. We’re not greedy, but contributions will be welcome. So what might you contribute? Time and energy, of course. But also money so that others can contribute time […]

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  • Blinded by Light

    Artificial lighting illustrates another principle of Compression Thinking, quality over quantity, always. Several other principles align with quality over quantity, including trying to avoid being blindsided by unintended consequences. This is the second in a series on Compression Thinking Principles. For most of us excess lighting does not pop to mind as being a waste, […]

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  • Redefining Development

    This post is the first of a series on “principles” of Compression Thinking, which is so different that it can redefine what is meant by economic development. Let’s begin with a key principle, global return on energy (EROI) decreasing for many, many reasons. Less discussed, but related is that obtaining large quantities of common raw […]

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  • Out of Our Own Complexity

    Complexity is automatically difficult to discuss because something truly complex is murkily understood, therefore impossible to precisely define. Yogi Berra nailed complexity: “If I understand it, it’s simple; if I don’t, it’s complicated.” Something intricate, like a fancy mechanical watch, may not be very complex. If we apply our minds to the mechanism for a […]

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