Taking the Bite out of Apple TSOMU Series -Part 3 of 3
This 3 part series looks at 3 perspectives of the cost to people in the manufacturing of Apple Products
• Defining the Future Inquiry
By Lavinia Weissman
New York, New York
“Is there some mystical reason why an innocent person becomes the target of evil? Of course not. People who talk about the karma of victims as if some hidden fact is bringing down the rain of destruction are speaking from ignorance.”
Steve Jobs, in his life-time, had personally mastered the vision of living a life of life-long learning. He translated his vision into the design and manufacturing of products that can be adopted as the most power enablers to make this possible.
By large, as a society of people of any means, we cannot move beyond ignorance if we cloister ourselves from the world of learning. Jobs constructed a vision of the ICloud so that from anyplace, anytime with any device people can synch and learn to solve the problems they face everyday at home and for what they do for work.
Recently, Sustainability, CSR and Accountability experts have focused on the cost to humans of how Apple products are manufactured; it is an interesting direction in my mind to see that the Jobs technical legacy has constructed a technical platform that is so critical to creating a framework for the human interaction that can embed social sustainability in society and culture today.
This platform enables the publication and production of media that works in a cloud where individuals can shape their personal learning by vocation or the way they live to take that learning and solve problems with others that can be formed into community solutions of any kind. Laurene Powell Jobs, during her husbands final days, guided him to find the peace that he had not found inside himself and with others before his death by supporting him to articulate this vision.
Walter Isaacson, Job’s biographer, provided a most complete story capture of conversations with President Obama, Bill Gates (Philanthropist), and the technical leaders of Silicon Valley global companies, in just a few conversations that could create a picture of this vision for these leaders to act on, if they chose.
The story that Isaacson offers is fundamental in my mind to launching a new thought leadership in practice. I see this story line as part of a briefing for launching a learning community that focused on creating the educational framework from which people can build a system of response to heal poverty and economy of debt and lack, I don’t see how we will create the system by which to full benefit of the power of this technical platform.
Basic to forming this kind of learning community, the convening team that sorts out the launch, the invitation and to convene the community needs to an economy model and hub to support its formation and translation into local scale that mentors the participants into a form of knowledge and emotional intelligence that can translate vision into action and lasting form.
This community can become a forum or hub that represents and attracts the attention of leading educators that I have written about that include John Sexton, President of NYU and Freeman Hrabowski, President of UMBC. Sexton and Hrabowski are calling for the formation of a new educational format where portals of learning provide the architecture to the students all around the world to solve problems drawing from the best of humanities, science and technology that inspires a new experience of thought and engagement for anyone who joins in this form of learning that is sustainable.
How does this fit with Jobs Vision?
In Jobs final days of conversation with his biographer, Walter Isaacson, Jobs noted that Apple was a great company like HP, Intel, and Disney, because it was built to matter and live beyond simply a purpose of the founders developing an IPO to go public so the founders can leave and cash in. The literature shows that HP, Intel, Disney and Apple have lasted out and emerged from failure out of learning and a commitment to make a difference.
Jobs went on to say that when these companies get off course, that is the real cost. Inn my opinion the cost to humans associated with these companies. This is about a from of sustainability that respects profit and people in balance.
At present, the complexity of engagement and the state of the world economically and the perpetuation of poverty, building companies to last in this way is not sufficient to insure a health global economy for people, planet and profit. In a consumptive society, the production of products, organization of services and innovation are often developed with a regard for building the most attractive product features and benefits.
Jobs talent for doing this in a very Zen like manner resulted in meeting the needs of talent beginning with the graphic design community with the launch of the Mac and reshaping and defining a “Mac Lifestyle” by 2004, that had the Apple products represent and associate with a lifestyle of promise rather, distinguishing Mac from Windows based products that have been tools of productivity.
Facebook and Linkedin.com have entered the global market affording a market of communication that is accessible to millions of people for free, supported by the sale of apps and advertising. However, these global gathering social media complexes do not have the substantive architecture that is basic to reshaping local economies of people where the needs of the people in local community are put ahead first so they can move beyond poverty and learn within their communities to sustain.
Talking on a platform does not provide the financial resources that insure the health and success of these projects to sustain.
I believe the forthcoming generation of learning and inquiry has to expand beyond the view of business as usual from a community and local economy perspective beyond the limitations of institutional views.
Who Belongs in this Inquiry?
In the tradition of view of economic development projects have always been like Microsoft organized as a fragmented vertial channel to solve a problem, e.g. foster more innovation to create more jobs; bringing costly pharmaceutical treatment to 3rd world countries. The problem identified to solve is in some regard a task.
- The first step is to invite local communities to join in regions where there are problems associated with global companies that foster human injustice, e.g. Shell Oil in Nigeria, BP Gulf Oil Spill, Apple Human Costs to Manufacturing in China;
- Begin by convening and analyzing the most basic needs of people impacted by this harm and providing them a stable infrastructure from which they can learn , work and live is a new form of inquiry that will begin to create a new form of mastery of quality of life for people in the locales through which they live and work;
- This implies participation from the companies and governments in these locales where other distinct problems can be solved like the lack of industry or any sustainable economy, similar to what has been shaped for Rancho Petacal in Mexico by Roberto Vargas Marciel, Maher Ashram in Pune, India by Sister Lucy or the Honey Bee Network led by Anil Gupta, the first Pew Research Fellow;
- Critical to the success of these projects, funding sources need to come from all sectors of participation, philanthropic foundations and where possible contributions from the local communities of people, who build these community by building a local economy of goods and services that aligned with the culture of location.
Taking the Bite Out of Apple
Accountability experts in sustainability and corporate sustainability have been steered over the last 3 decades since the issue of the Brundtland Commission Report in 1987 to continue the norm of how investors and corporations approach markets using a vertical channel approach.
It’s ironic at this time that Steve Jobs, founder and leader of the most successful company, Apple – in his final year of life called on great leaders to outline his integral view of life drawing on Edwin Land passion for integrating humanities and science to integrate into technological development.
Spiritual Leader J. Krishnamurti who inspired Physicist David Boehm from this view as well. Boehm in his writing pointed to the value of inquiry and dialogue as the path to creating a culture that embedded the most fundamental respect for what it means to be a human being.
At this years World Economic Forum gathering global leaders and private citizens from around the world left the meeting challenged to address the growing harm of poverty and harm to people.
This opens the door to the greatest challenge accountability experts have ahead for them – shifting accountability to defining and measuring sustainable metrics that serve people and local economy.
The 1984 launch of Apple Computer was in synch with the creation of the Brundtland Commission. How ironic that Steve Jobs, Apple’s founder has left a legacy to solve the most challenging and controversial problems associated with Apple by gathering with a small group of leaders, mostly personal friends to define the opportunity that technology implies to education and the change that this implies to all our approaches to education from how we educate children in schools to higher learning to the restructuring of how adults learn life long to sustain within their communities local economy.
Author’s Bio: Lavinia Weissman is sustainable leadership coach, health advocate, capacity builder, and publisher/editor-in-chief of thestoryofmeaningfuluse.com.
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