He’s back!!! Chauncey Bell returns.

After six years of absence, I’m coming back to blogging. I’ll explain my absence in more detail later. To hit a few high points, my wife was desperately ill and is recovering well, I was blinded by a surgical accident and a brilliant retinal surgeon brought my eyesight back, and this last year I had a neurological incident from which I am recovering. And, after a year of preparing a new venture, I found that I had to cancel it just a month ago.

I invite you to follow me as I return to a new version of my traditional work as a provocateur, designer, and collaborator with teams as they build new practices in enterprises. I’m starting by offering a series of workshops, starting in Seattle on the 13th and 14th of November.

Go to Harvester Academy to see more about the workshops and the new direction.

I will be gathering executives, managers, consultants, and coaches interested in learning more about designing and building new practices in established enterprises. In the workshops I’ll lay out the practices involved, show how they work, and invite the participants to work with me and others in my network to build new capabilities in their own and client enterprises.

If it makes sense to you, please register in the workshop. If you have questions or comments, the website is a good place to talk to me about that. I will appreciate your comments, and I ask that you pass this announcement on to people in your own network who you think would or should be interested in what I am offering.

As those of you who have worked with me in the past know, the path to building new worlds starts with diagnoses of current messes, which lead to projects to create new practices, that in turn shift the way that people think, talk, listen, act, and work together.

I’ll be limiting enrollment in the first workshop to 20 people. That probably means that the Seattle workshop will fill pretty quickly.

If you are reading this in other parts of the world, I will be defining dates for workshops in the UK, Latin America, Australia, and Canada in the near future. I will lead the initial workshops myself, but will be convening them in collaboration with other people who are in the business of guiding and preparing many different kinds of enterprises as they develop new practices. You can let me know now if you are interested in attending (or helping convene) another workshop. Some people from other parts of the world will be coming to Seattle to get started as soon as possible.

I am not aiming to build a workshop-delivery business. Rather I am looking to start working in a more networked fashion than I have in the past. I will be collaborating with people who are managing projects with their own clients in their locales, supported by me and my team, and by others in my network.

These workshops will be the point of entry to a rich international networked program of learning, collaboration, and the execution of projects and programs for bringing value in existing businesses and organizations.

I am deeply interested in what you have to say about what you see here, and what you think about what I am preparing to do.

All my best to you,



OK, I surrender ….

I’ve been bad. Busy with work with clients and friends on projects I like, I have not paid attention to my blog. But there is more. When I started blogging, and subtitled my blog “Exploring social, commercial, and technological innovation,” I promised myself to stay away from political commentary.

To put the point baldly, I was (and remain) deeply dissatisfied with the political discourse in this country, and in the West. Good people vilifying each other in whining, complaining voices, like contending junkyard dogs do not give us room to learn or grow. (I don’t have enough experience with the discourse in the East to have an opinion there, but I suspect I wouldn’t like it there either.) I thought that anything I might say would be wood on the fire, merely adding to an already bad situation.

Recently, however, I concluded that if I begin to comment on the difficult situation of the country and what might be done about it, and explore the question of how to prepare our children to act in and take responsibility for the world that we are leaving them, then I might be able say some things that would be acceptable to me.

So this is the first next posting on my blog, headed in much the same direction as before, but with some  new opportunities, and explorations.

Sometime in the next weeks I will have an important announcement for those who have followed the work that I and my colleagues of many years have done in designing new practices, .

So stay tuned.

At my wife Shirah’s request I wrote a review yesterday of John L. Austin’s How to Do Things With Words, an important book that Fernando Flores introduced me to many years ago. Take a look and tell me what you think.

My greetings and best wishes to you,


Recommending Russell Bishop’s new book, Workarounds that Work

Russell Bishop and I have followed each others’ work for decades, but only recently did Ron Kaufman introduce us. I recommend to your attention his new book, Workarounds That Work: How to Conquer Anything That Stands in Your Way at Work. His website is here, and his bio at the Huffington Post is here.

I first encountered the word “work” in the way that Russell addresses and plays with it in his book when my father gave it as his excuse for not being available to play with me when I was a child. He said, “I’m sorry, son, but I have to work.”

That caught my attention. What was this mysterious thing that was taking my father away from me? “Work” has been interesting to me ever since, at first as an enemy of my relationship with my father, and later as a central issue in all of our lives.

In the middle of this era of vilifying theory and worshiping practice*, it is inevitable that this book must be positioned as a book about practice and emphatically not about theory, but really I think that positioning hides some of the most important things that the book is about.

Russell is a wise and experienced man who has started several companies that have made huge contributions to very large numbers of people. He is also an editor and regular blogger at the widely-read Huffington Post. He knows well the substance of the old and oft-quoted adage, ‘…to practice without theory is to sail an uncharted sea; to work with theory without practice is not to set sail at all.’

In his book, to make it a happy one for a modern reader, Russell puts the practice in the foreground and the theory in the background and the spaces between the words.

A better way of talking about this book, at least for me, might go something like the following.

In Workarounds that Work, Russell models – in his way of speaking, in the way he reveals himself, in the examples he brings, and in his recommendations – a way of being that revels in the challenge and joy of work, and does not flinch nor whine about the myriad roadblocks that inevitably confront anyone trying to do anything serious in life. He is a joyful warrior in the middle of the mess of modern working life. Russell shows clearly the power of humility, gratitude, an indomitable spirit, a commitment to find alternatives and not remain stuck in ruts, and the soft underbellies of the enemies we face in everyday working life.

I often say that the fifth of my story about five great generators of waste in our modern working world – the interpretation that we are doomed to a kind of indentured servitude called ‘work’ – is the nastiest and most destructive. ‘Thank God it’s Friday’ – the announcement that we toil away five days of every week just waiting for a brief respite of freedom and meaning each weekend – is our declaration that we consider 5/7ths of our lives wasted. A tragedy.

Russell’s book is an antidote to work as toil, and full of good things.

*(My aside: Vilifying bad theory is may sometimes be worthwhile, and can be satisfying, and the fields of management and leadership are particularly full of bad theory.)


Think you know how to be responsible for your money?

My friend Fran Quittel has the background, the discipline, and the diligence to do the homework about what it will take to be responsible for your money in the world that is coming to us. By “be responsible” I am talking about the basics – finding out about the rules of the road at your local financial institution. What can you count on your bank (or credit card issuer, or insurance company, or …) to tell you, and what do you need to plan to dig to find out. The situation is getting hairier and hairier.

What do you need to do to exercise minimal, prudent vigilance over your money? Rest assured that you cannot trust today’s financial institutions, as a general rule, to exercise good judgment in your behalf, to act on intentions that are built around your concerns, or, to put it succinctly, to treat you as a customer. The bad joke of the recent election – capitalism for the masses, socialism for the financial elites – describes our current situation, not one that is in our past.

Read Fran’s essay in a recent issue of the California Progress Report, here.