“URI bows in profound respect to Dee Hock. Why? The year was 1997, three years before URI was born. A global group of folks yearning to create a URI met at Stanford University to write a Charter for this new creation. We used words like “love,” “fellowship,” “unity,” but there was no gravity or comprehensiveness in our thinking. We needed serious help from someone who had experience in the real world of translating fundamental aspirations into tangible realities.” - Bishop William Swing
URI’s organizational concept emerged from a passionate curiosity about how to build an organization that learned from nature’s way of organizing. Dee Hock, a banker and founder of the VISA card, challenged the way organizations worked. He left VISA in 1984 and went into retreat. He searched for organizational models compatible with the human spirit and biosphere, and he pioneered a visionary concept called chaordic (from “chaos” and “order”) organizing. This new approach depended on shared purpose, core principles, self-organizing interdependent parts, and freedom that allowed for unlimited diversity of expression. He believed that organizations existed to serve the creative energy and resourcefulness of the human spirit. He believed that “given certain circumstances and the liberty to try, ordinary people would consistently do extraordinary things.” This vision honors the essence of each person to live into his or her fullest capacity and highest service as a human being.
Dee consulted with a URI team for two years to develop key organizational concepts for URI. As these ideas developed they were shared widely with the greater URI global community. Many voices were invited into the process to craft the organizational design for URI, and the result was the URI Charter.
URI is forever indebted to the indispensable gift of practical experience and theoretical brilliance that Dee brought. His pioneering ideas were true to URI’s visions and values. He helped URI become an organization that could conform to legal requirements, act with authority on the world stage, and live into the future.
Bishop Swing shared how Dee summarized his journey: “I’ve had a wonderful life. How many people do you know who’ve had that kind of crazy dream, a seemingly impossible dream and yet lived to see it come into being, see it come to fruition, see it come to maturity, see it go beyond me, light years beyond me?”
The entire URI community thanks you, Dee, as well, for helping to make the crazy dream of URI come true.”
Below please find The Right Rev. William E. Swing's reflections on Dee Hock and the impact on URI.