About Alchemy of Change

Is the system going to eat you up and relieve you of your humanity? Or are you going to be able to use the systems to human purpose? - Joseph Campbell from The Power of Myth interview with Bill Moyers

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What was the Focus of Alchemy of Change?

There are two great levers we humans use to shape our modern world: organization and technology.

Here I explored the impact these two forces have on the micro and the macro; on each of us as individual human beings and on society and the planet on which is relies.

Organization is the way we humans come together to coordinate work. We’ve been doing it since before we were even human. The way we organize ourselves is changing, thanks in large part to new technologies of connection. Top-down hierarchies aren’t going away, but they are making room for networks and forms of less formal types of collaboration. These changes in the way we organize ourselves affect us on a deeply personal level; some might even call it the level of the soul. At the same time, our organizations also deeply impact society and the other living systems on which it relies.

Technology accelerates change like no other force on the planet. On a individual level, it shapes the way we think, the way we live, what we eat, and eventually it will reconstruct us. Technology also shapes our organizations, and through them, it shapes the way we structure our society. Technology is now even competing with the most basic forces of nature to reshape the planet in fundamental ways. In the end, technology may well transcend organization. In that process, what will it do to society and to the soul?

What’s the Perspective Here?

Every writer has a bias. As powerful as technology and organization are, they are both neutral forces. Each can be used to create health and happiness or pain and suffering.

I’m a huge technology enthusiast – a geek, through and through – and I like thinking about networks and new organizational structures. But I believe we are using technology and organization in ways that are causing us to lose our way as a species – and that it is time to stop doing that.

I think of technology and organization as today’s alchemy. They are our two most powerful tools for change.

Alchemists of old were purported to be able to transform lead into gold: a metaphor for fully tapping that greater something that resides deep inside each and every one of us – whatever we may choose to call it. Joseph Campbell used to call it the hero within each and every one of us. I like that. To me, it represents the best of our shared humanity. And if you look closely, you will find that hope embedded in all that you read here.

Thank’s for coming. I’m hoping to create some conversation here through your comments on individual posts here and on Google+.




Alchemy of Change background image tile by Patrick Hoesly.  He has beautiful images up on Flickr. Thank you Patrick.


  1. Gideon, great point of view. There are some companies which have been doing this for some time. The John Lewis Partnership in the UK, over the last 150 years, and Gore Tex Associates in the US, and I am sure there others. They are successful, fulfilling to work for and social responsibility aware, so why aren’t they emulated? Maybe because they are private as opposed to public companies, which might suggest that the issue lies with the processes we use to define what public companies do, how we hold them accountable and the way they are perceived. (?) 

    • Thanks for the thoughts, David, and I think you are right on here. The more I dig into this whole thing, the more and more that ownership structure comes back time and again as one of the key sources of dysfunction. It’s one of the reasons that I’m such a fan of Marjorie Kelly and her book “The Divine Right of Capital.”

  2. Robert E. del Sol

    Thank you for this work Gideon. It takes a lot of courage to take this to the level you are pushing it. I wish you the best.

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