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 that old Gershwin tune notes, “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”

We cannot afford old system thinking much longer. We have to invent new systems, and the “we” includes all of us, not just a few experts.

Three stories featured in past newsletters illustrate pioneering Compression Thinking: PortionPac Chemical, the OS1 Scientific Cleaning process, and a distributed energy initiative in Denmark. The Denmark initiative increased the percentage of potential energy in fuel actually applied to human use (instead of waste heat) from about 40% to nearly 80%.

We need stories that illustrate how to obtain better quality while using dramatically less, recognizing that this deviates from normal thinking. Common themes are that total systems thinking and collaboration seem easier to conceptualize in communities than in companies because they are embroiled in competing for sales and profit. For example OS1 cleaning serves college campuses, a type of community. Distributed energy programs serve towns. And where’s the drama in a story? More likely it is in shifting human belief systems than in technological development.

Compression is such a contrarian story that getting it firmly in mind usually requires reflection over a period of time. To help with this, we’ve made a couple more references accessible:

1. An eleven-page Outline of Compression Thinking. It’s a “Cliff Notes” version of the Compression story. The outline parallels a set of Doc’s sides, also available.

2. Doc’s slides, forty of them, with commentary at the bottom of each constituting a Compression Overview package. Can you take the time to review these slides? Could you can take off from them and give a presentation on Compression Thinking? (Most of us can’t get into another person’s slides; we have to put our own twist and style on them.)

Doc’s slides may seem dense and lengthy; they are not a deck of sound bites. To digest them, reflect on them. Could you portray the same ideas more effectively? Better ideas are welcome.

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