Re: Vision Stmt Examples LO2166

Gary and Lilly Evans (
20 Jul 95 09:58:02 EDT

Replying to LO2017 --

On Monday, 10th July Jackie Mullen said:

>I've had to bite my tongue a few times while attempting to add my two
cents worth on this topic. I think that if I had to come up with a vision
statement that encompassed the beliefs of the Emilia-Romagna region for
the past twenty years, I would call it ideology and I would call it
Communism. Of course, I'm talking about local traditions and situations
that found resonance in communist ideals. I wouldn't want to start going
on about political theory in and of itself. Nonetheless, Emiglia-Romagna
and Tuscany, where most of these "networked" business communities are
located, are still the predominant strongholds of the offspring of Italian
Communist Party. (Although the names have been changed to protect the
innocent! :-) ) <end quote>

It is fascinating to see how one's starting context colours their views.
It is also great to hear from people who are directly involved in the
regions one speaks about. Thank you Jackie for your perspective.

Now, I was brought up next door to Italy, in what used to be Yugoslavia.
With that background, you will understand why it would not occur to me to
think of any region of Italy as "Communist". In fact, no Central or
Eastern European country spoke of itself as Communist - even USSR (at the
height of its power) was "Socialist". We were all taught that communism
is an ideal to be attained in the future and that the socialism is the
interim period. So, much for politics and brainwashing - each side did
their fair share of it!

I would argue that no matter what the conscious drive for the networking
and small to medium size business development may be, their vitality and
existence in the region is undeniable. The social responsibility is
something that also comes through. In fact, the example from Jackie's
note confirms this:

>In Naples a producer of shoe parts with a small, but expanding operation,
explains how profits during high production season are saved and used to
pay workers during the slow season. He explains that it just wouldn't be
right to lay off his extra help since there is no other work to be found.
The journalist comments that that's not a way to become rich. The
craftsman gives him a wry smile and says "no, it's not how one gets rich,
but its how we do things." <end quote>

How is the above different from Ben&Jerry's approach in Vermont? Surely
they could easily boost their profit by not setting aside 7.5% of it each
year for charity! I personally do not see getting rich at the expense of
other's as my objective in life.

Later, Jackie mentions

>I'm told that it's only in the last generation or so that calling someone
a businessman (the term businessperson is not used here) isn't akin to
disparagement.... Still, the idea of Business does not sit well with many
people, it seems to have a separate meaning from that of local commerce.
<end quote>

In Continental Europe the education counts. Thus, people are proud of
their professional background. Business is how they make money from it,
not an end in itself. There is a story that several years ago, someone
asked the wife of then CEO of Siemens at a party: "Madam, what is your
husband?" She replied: "He is an engineer." This may be a strange
response to an American or British senior executive.

I believe it is exactly because we come from so diverse cultures and
backgrounds that we should strive to unearth examples of learning
companies, communities and cultures that are not Anglo-Saxon. To this
end, can anyone tell us more about the history of Stora (Swedish paper
company), reputedly the oldest company in the world - over 750 years in


LIlly Evans             

". The world does not know how to reward people for what they are, rather than for the grade they occupy in the hierarchy." Theodore Zeldin