Multiplication Center

The Perfect Storm

June 23, 2010

BOB BUFORD As I said in my last musing, I feel like Rip Van Winkle waking up from a state of sleep (my January-March health concern). The lessons learned and the plans made are just coming to the surface. They seem fresh and new. The big lesson learned: I am less in control than I previously thought. 

Try as I might to scheme, program and plan as my wise friend, Peter Drucker, told me in 2005, “We’re going to live in a very turbulent world for the next thirty years.” What I face in terms of both health and financial events will contain plenty that will be new, novel and largely unforeseeable. 

I also have a new dream; I would like to be involved in one more Big Movement before I die. And I believe the conditions are ripe. 

You may recall that my last musing (June 1) focused on “The Great Reset.” More and more, my mind is opening to a bright and optimistic side to the current financial crisis. Previously I commented on Richard Florida’s thesis that prior Great Depressions bear a striking resemblance to the economic crisis we are currently living through. The previous periods have been characterized by “creative destruction” leading to new waves of innovation in systems and social infrastructure. As Tom Friedman says, “We can’t bail our way out of this mess. We have to innovate our way out.” Ditto Jim Collins. The title of David Brooks’ most recent New York Times Op-Ed is in the same spirit: “Trim the ‘Experts,’ Trust the Locals.” 

And perhaps, most surprisingly, it seems to be that this is going to be a time of great opportunity for both rich and poor, for both the rising Millennial Generation as well as the affluent aging boomers and the super rich. 

Listen in on a conversation I had since my last museletter that has opened my previously blind eyes to see. 

Last Monday, I was walking to dinner with Mark Rhode, who has moved from twenty years in the advertising agency business and a co-founder of Springbow, an internet solutions company. Mark’s Halftime success to significance transition now finds him as a Senior Executive with World Vision. He directs what is now called the Enterprise Engagement Group for WVI, the largest international world relief group. Mark said, “I think it’s a perfect storm for the poor,” to which I said, “Wow! Tell me more.” 

Listen to Mark connecting the dots:

Media – exposes the plight of the poor to the rich of the world.

Megachurches – are releasing millions of volunteer hours to serve in Haiti, as they did not so long ago in the Katrina disaster. (It is happening locally outside the four walls of the church too – big time!)

Technology – connects our individual donors in a very personal way with the “Tsunami Girl” they sponsor. World Vision’s donor engagement program used to be a year end letter. Now it is a two-way dialogue between donor and recipient with Skype, the Internet, or phone photos often monthly.

The Tax Law – There’s a whole new movement developing around social minded LC3 corporations. Check it out with your tax lawyer.

NGO’s – now have status among global organizations.

Halftimers – There’s a wave of Second Half people like you and me lending their entrepreneurial and technical skills to enterprises serving the poor. Kevin Jenkins, the new CEO of World Vision was CEO of Canadian Airlines. He’s moving to London to be closer to Africa!

Mark is working on a brief paper connecting those and other dots. We jotted a lot of it out on the back of a menu over dinner!  That’s just one conversation in the past week that filled me with enthusiasm. There are others. 

The Drucker Institute – The prior week was filled with encouragement. My reason for flying to California was for a board meeting, but I got the most buzz from quality time with our fresh and fired up young staff.
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In the next five years, we expect:

  • Thousands of Drucker Society volunteers around the world will be teaching many more times that number of nonprofit leaders, business executives and even high school students how to put Peter’s teachings into practice, resulting in demonstrably stronger and healthier communities.
  • People will have more than 1 million visits to the Institute’s social-media platforms, including Drucker Apps, and we will have captured inspiring stories of how they’ve converted the concepts they found there into action. 
  • Though strategic partnerships, the Institute will have begun to transform the humanitarian-relief sector, making it more effective and efficient so that organizations such as World Vision can save more lives. Not only will Drucker’s work be shared with these nonprofits; it will be extended directly into the hands of those they serve by teaching essential management practices to some of the poorest people in the world.
  • Through the Bright China Foundation, there are now 23 Drucker Academies teaching Drucker Management Principles in major universities across the face of China. 

The Social Activism of the Super Rich

Meanwhile at the other end of the spectrum, last Thursday’s Wall Street Journal (June 17) carried a remarkable story. The one sentence opening paragraph said this:

“Warren Buffett and Bill Gates called Thursday on their billionaire peers to give away half of their wealth.”


The story continues, “The pronouncement of Messrs. Buffett and Gates stems from a series of dinners the two men held over the past year to discuss the effects of the recession on philanthropy with some of the nation’s richest people. … The result of the dinners is an invitation called the Giving Pledge which asks the nation’s billionaires to publicly commit at least half of their wealth to philanthropic and charitable groups within their lifetime or after their deaths. … The goal is to create an expectation in society that the rich should give away their wealth and create a peer group of wealthy people who can offer advice on philanthropy. … “One of the most important things about philanthropy is that people do what they are passionate about. They won’t do it otherwise” said Melinda Gates.

… New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “I am a big believer in giving it all away and have always said that the best financial planning ends with bouncing the check to the undertaker.”


Linda and I agree!


So What about You?


1.Think back to your high school graduation. Make a list of ten unforeseen events in the time since then: health, finances, relationships, eternal events. 

2.If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you attempt in the next ten years? 

3.What unpredictable event causes you the most apprehension now? 

As always, I welcome your thoughts. You can e-mail me personally at,
or converse with the entire community at


Warren Bird small Warren Bird, Ph.D., is Research Director at Leadership Network, and co-author of 23 books on various aspects of church health and innovation


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