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Rethinking the future with some exciting synergies

By Rafe Champion - posted Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The approach to leadership and community development that is spelled out in The Three Laws of Economic Performance: Rewriting the Future of Your Organization and Your Life is one of the more durable products of the consciousness-raising movement of the 1960s which had its epicentre in Southern California. In 1971 Werner Erhard provided the starting point with est, Erhard Seminars Training. That morphed into The Forum during the 1980s and in the 1990s Landmark Education took over the ideas and developed a suite of courses and programs that are now available in many countries around the world, including Australia and New Zealand. An offshoot of Landmark Education is the Vanto Group which provides a full range of consultancy services in human and organizational development. Closely linked is the Barbados Group, a self-selected group of high powered researchers and consultants, many of them connected with Landmark.

In this book the authors provide an accessible account based on the accumulated experience and insights of the Barbados group, Landmark and its forerunners and affiliates. Steve Zaffron "Zen Master in a business suit" has a long association with Werner Erhard, Landmark and Zanto. His younger colleague, Dave Logan, "Dr. Phil to the Fortune 500", took a more academic path and now divides his time between the School of Business at the University of Southern California and consulting in education and cultural exchange.

The three parts of the book can be read in any order. The first part shows how the three laws are applied at the organizational level, using case studies of a range of industries on several continents; the second applies the three laws to leadership at any level in an organization; the third has a more individual focus on leadership and personal development.


The laws are:

1. How people perform correlates to how situations occur to them. The corollary is "Leaders have a say, and give others a say, in how situations occur".

2. How situations occur arises in language. The corollary is "Leaders master the conversational environment".

3. Future based language transforms how situations occur to people. The corollary is "Leaders listen for the future of their organization".

The laws show the influence of the "linguistic turn" of modern philosophy and a pervasive theme is the way our perceptions of reality and our expectations of the future, and the way other people perceive us, are structured by our use of language. The point is to use language in different ways to obtain different results. The authors make a break from traditional and conventional uses of language with some distinctive innovations, especially the idea of occurrence, that is how the world and the future occurs to us.

It has been a very exhilarating experience to take two short Landmark courses and to read this book in between. The courses provide an intricate blend of theory and practice, so you really need to be there. (Try to explain the experience of taking a sharp return catch from a perfectly flighted offspinner).


It is exciting to see the synergy of the Popperian themes (especially the theme of non dogmatism versus rigid thinking) and the practices and reflexes that are developed in the courses.

And there is more! The Landmark courses are not about selling, motivation or even self-improvement. They are about making the world work better. Here we find synergy with the Australian School of Economics and the Classical Liberal Agenda.

And so my "listening" for the future is a world of increased peace, freedom and prosperity, based on the synergy of Karl Popper's critical rationalism, classical/Austrian economics, the classical liberal agenda and Landmark Education!

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This is a review of The Three Laws of Economic Performance: Rewriting the Future of Your Organization and Your LifeSteve Zaffron and Dave Logan.

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About the Author

Rafe Champion brings the grafting qualities of the opening batsman and the cunning of the offspin bowler to the task of routing dogmatists, protectionists and other riff-raff who stand in the way of peace, freedom and plenty. He has a website and he blogs at Catallaxy and also at The History of Australian and New Zealand Thought. For more about Rafe visit here. All of his posts on Catallaxy for 2007 can be found at this link. Not all the links work and some need to be cut and pasted into the browser.

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