Operate at Your Highest Level of Effectiveness

I read an interview in Discover (Kushner, 2008) that had this
teaser at the top: ``The award-winning pioneer of green architecture
is on a campaign to save the planet, one building and community at a
time.'' This makes me roll my eyes. If you're trying to fix any big
problem by fixing one thing at a time, come on, face it: you'll
never save the planet. There are just too many buildings. Making a
big difference in this world requires making systematic changes to
the way things are done. 

Don't serve soup in the soup kitchen if you
can run the soup kitchen more effectively. Don't run the soup
kitchen if you can start new soup kitchens. Don't start new soup
kitchens if you can change national policy so that the disadvantaged
are helped across the board. When you think of it this way, trying
to fix hunger by feeding one hungry person at a time is
pretty senseless in a world with millions of hungry people. By the
time you've served lunch to the 150th person, the first one's ready
for dinner.

This is not to say that nobody should serve soup. We need people at
all levels. My point is that you need to be working the the level at
which you are most effective.


Kushner, D. (2008) The Discover interview: William McDonough. Discover, October, 66--70.


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