Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Role of Business.. of course about providing a product or service, perhaps both, of value to a customer, client, or patron so as to generate revenue, and profit.

Businesses have many links and impact points in our global society. Actions of apparently small and insignificant meaning have a cascading effect on things that we may or may not know about. A decision to buy a certain brand of frozen chicken at the supermarket transfers money to businesses and enterprises that extend far beyond the local retailer. Millions of these simple transactions add up to billions of dollars circulating the global economy. They have far reaching implications with employee relations (health care, vacation, wages, etc.), taxes, vendor profit and therefore that vendor's internal and external relationships with their suppliers and communities, and on and on. Systems thinking is an interesting way to think about our actions and their impact on individuals and institutions around us. I remember thinking about this when I heard Peter Senge speak at the NESEA Building Energy renewable energy trade show held at Boston University back in March of 2004.

As I continue to observe and ponder what business "is" and how we can make it sustainable and socially responsible, systems thinking strikes me as one of many potential tools to unravel the complex relationships that define "business". Will it help understand companies' relationships with its employees, its vendors, its customers, and its community? How does thinking about our daily interactions with coworkers and customers in a larger context affect the overall health and prosperity of the business, our communities, and the planet?

The underlying imperative is to maintain and strengthen the company's financial sustainability. A company with the best reputation in the community and the highest social performance but a failure financially punches a hole in the very model of "sustainable business".

Saturday, November 05, 2005

70 Degrees on November 5t

I was supposed to meet some riding buddies at 9:00 in Harvard Square, but last night's dinner and small time bar-hopping with another friend in Beacon Hill got me home way past my bedtime. I ended up rolling out solo at around 1:00 PM to enjoy the heat of the day. The fact that there is "the heat of the day" in November in New England is an anomaly, or perhaps an aberration? I'll stick with anomaly.

I had one of my best rides of the year, about 2:15 spent rolling through the vibrant, sometimes flamboyant yellows, oranges, and golds of leaves' death throes. I took the usual escape route from Waverly Square, passing McClean Hospital and following Concord Avenue out to Trapelo Road and then over 128 into Lincoln. I passed the Gropius House, soon after passing another Seven rider on an Odonata, now known as the ID8. I continued past a bare headed rider on an older Bianchi with downtube shifters and met up with route 126, taking a right toward Thoreau's Walden Pond. Yes, he was out in a shack, communing with nature as the first hippie, but he managed to make it into town every now and then and have dinner with Ralph Waldo Emerson. There were many people at the pond, a few intrepid souls were in it. I crossed route 2 and rolled through Concord Center, where the throngs strolling by with ice cream cones reminded me more of July than November.

After confirming that the water fountain in the center of town was turned off - darn - I headed out of town on Lowell street, joining the route of the Boston Road Club's Smackdown ride that will gladly kick your butt Wednesday evenings in the summer. I prepared myself for Strawberry Hill Rd., the first test of a rider's mettle at Smackdown. The road heads up, mildly at first, but with a nice steep pitch at the end that usually reduces me to a slobbering, driveling the back. Since I can not drop myself, I put the hammer down and pretended I was about to get dropped. I felt pretty darn good, keeping it in the big ring all the way to the steep bit at the end...not bad. Soon after that, I made the hard right and joined up with route 225, heading into Bedford. I managed to pull up to a gent on an older Axiom with a Wound Up fork. We proceeded to chat about his three Sevens, including a Teres and a new Sola. He shared his love for Seven's craftmanship and ride. It was nice to hear someone talk about their bikes with so much passion, bikes that the company I work for built. He was from Holland, and could not wait to take one of the bikes home to show his friends. Bike lust. I continued on the Smackdown route, attacking myself on the Col de Lexington, but not dropping myself, and back through Lexington center on Mass Ave. A right past Wilson Farms, hearing my co-worker Karl yell at me as he passed in his CAR heading in the opposite direction on Pleasant Street and I made it back home. Great ride.

I felt good, even when I was pushing hard in a big gear or making an effort over a hill. I felt as though I could give it a little extra gas, and I would get the burn, but not the burn and "pfft" that normally accompanied any threshold effort lately. I implemented changes in my position as a result of using the Seven Custom Kit and Fit Methodology. I can contribute feeling better to nothing else. As instructed, I lowered my saddle a good two centimeters, incrementally of course, and suddenly feel that I am seated centered on the bike. Over the summer, I was struggling with sitting off to the right as a result of the saddle being too high. I noticed the faint sweat line on the saddle from one's back side that one can see after getting off the bike was just about dead in the center of the saddle. It's all about the fit.

I must still remember to be thankful for the fact that I am able to ride at all.

An acquaintance I met through AltWheels sent me a new website he's involved with, do great stuff. I scanned it briefly, and hope it does well. Check it out.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Update on the ConferenceBike

If it weren't for the heartstrings pulling me back for the Harvest Fair in Granville, MA, I would have been part of Eric Staller's ConferenceBike Tour making its way across the US. This kinetic creation breaks down many barriers by its mere existence. When Eric helped me get it donated for a weekend by Hammacher-Schlemmer for AltWheels in 2004, I was amazed by how many people immediately broke into smiles and excited chatter when they climbed on.

I've been out on the Alaris. I rode Tuesday morning at 5:40. It's early, but the chill in the air and the lack of traffic make for a poetic calm that is worth the abrupt introduction to the day. I was in bed at 9:30 that night...totally whipped. I'll do it again tomorrow. Forecast, 36 degrees and clear.

Did I catch you with the Harvest Fair link? I was amazed that it was in another blog.