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Fairmount Santrol Professor of Social Entrepreneurship David Cooperrider provides his insight on current articles relating to Business as an Agent of World Benefit.
David Cooperrider & Chris Johnston: Professor, author of Appreciative Inquiry, and designer of large group planning and whole system-in-the-room Ai Summits.

Casey Crawford, 37, is chief executive of the nation’s fastest-growing private mortgage bank. He’s on track to oversee $7 billion in new home loans this year. And over the next decade, he wants to give it away. All of it--and have it generate social impact funds for years to come. How? Transfer 100% of movements shares to the nonprofit arm, yet still have the company aiming for industry-wide leadership in growth and impact.


After providing superior value for customers and employees, they intend for all dividends to be paid to The Movement Foundation, where it will be used to invest in community centers and charter schools.


“The vision is that everything beyond our capital requirements would be reinvested back into communities across the U.S.,” Crawford says in an interview. “People will come to us because we give them great service and great rates. But how cool would it be for people to know that because they patronize our organization they’re helping reinvest in the community, doing good and loving others. That’s the story I want to tell.”


Think about that for a moment. A rising star CEO, running an Inc. 500 success story, with no debt or outside equity, instead of plotting a big exit or an IPO while the market is hot, is preparing to gift his company to nonprofit work.


“I think we are cashing out — into other people’s lives,” Harris says. “If all you accomplish is making money, that’s a pretty empty life.”

Movement Mortgage is a Business and Society Innovation Worth Watching

Movement Mortgage is a Business and Society Innovation Worth Watching

Casey Crawford, a charisma-filled former football star, stands in a dilapidated brick building less than two miles from the stadium where he once played in front of thousands. Today, no one is watching or cheering. And he’s not smiling. The only sound is the echo of his black dress shoes tapping across the empty concrete floor of a cavernous room once used for hydraulic-equipment repairs. There’s a determined look on his face, a focused cadence to his words.

He’s in charge of a multibillion-dollar mortgage business, but today he talks about the homeless. He talks about kids who sleep in cars before going to nearby Ashley Park Elementary School. He talks about immigrants who arrive in Charlotte unable to land good-paying jobs and the generational curse of poverty in the west side.
David Cooperrider & Chris Johnston: Professor, author of Appreciative Inquiry, and designer of large group planning and whole system-in-the-room Ai Summits.
It is moving forward: the proposed Solar Park would be the world’s largest solar PV power plant, with a total solar installed capacity of 750 MW. Acquisition of 1,500 hectares of land for the Rs45 billion ($750 million) project is said to be close to completion.
World’s Largest Solar PV Plant in Motion in India

World’s Largest Solar PV Plant in Motion in India

“A cabinet meeting chaired by the Chief Minister of India’s Madhya Pradesh, Mr Shivraj Singh, has approved the proposal for commissioning the world’s largest solar power plant in the Rewa District.”
David Cooperrider & Chris Johnston: Professor, author of Appreciative Inquiry, and designer of large group planning and whole system-in-the-room Ai Summits.

How do you cultivate appreciative intelligence? You learn from people who see the future in the tiniest successes, progress moments, and strengths of today. For example Xerox could have been Apple. However it could not see what was precious right in front of them. Remember what Steve Jobs said in 1978 when he visited the Xerox research labs to look at what everyone else called a very flawed new computer interface. He looked at it, this ugly and very flawed display, and said something like, "“I thought it was the best thing I’d ever seen in my life…it was very flawed…still, the germ of the idea was there and within, you know ten minutes, it was obvious to me that all computers would work like this some day.” 

The other night, in Hawthorne, California, Elon Musk unveiled “the missing piece” in the transition over to clean energy. The Tesla Powerwall, a large household battery (with industrial applications as well), was that piece.


"Our goal is to fundamentally change the way the world uses energy," Musk told a press conference at the Tesla Design Center on Thursday night.


"It sounds crazy, but we want to change the entire energy infrastructure of the world to zero carbon." 


In Musk’s mind, we orbit the key to weening the world off of fossil fuels. “We have this handy fusion reactor in the sky called the Sun,” he said to the crowd as his keynote. Solar energy then, relying on commercially available solar panels, is the first step in the weening process.


We’ve long heard the promise of solar power, but the public hasn’t viewed it as a real competitor to fossil fuels (at least the American public). However, the math is all there. Musk referred to a striking graph to make his point (shown in the video). The blue square is the total amount of surface area that would need to be covered by solar panels to take the US off the grid—and the area is miniscule—like placing a dot on a basketball—a very small dot, from the tip of a felt pen.


Why is it so hard to think like an Elon Musk-- someone seeing so much possibility for world transformation in just a tiny battery and the ability to harness the best in business to create value and build a better world? I think, in Tojo Thatchenkery's words its an ability to "see the mighty oak in the acorn"--an appreciative intelligence that comes from disciplined inquiry (look up Tojo's book Appreciative Intelligence.)


Leadership = affirmation: its the ability to see the future in the tiniest signs of what works, what's best, and what's possible-- and then to unite all of that with a businessworthy purpose. Appreciative inquiry, together with meaning and purpose, is such a powerful combination.  Changing the entire fossil fuel basis of our economy is bold, for sure, and it's not often you hear CEO's give speeches like this. But its certainly a precious glimpse into appreciative intelligence. You deserve to take a look:


But beware its not this leader's flawless oratory skills that make this so powerful: its the authenticity of his vision. Leadership is about seeing; its about the appreciative knowing and the ability to read the world for its intimations of something more.