In this dialogue, CCARE’s founder and director, Dr. James Doty, will ask Werner Erhard about his life’s work and how compassion has played a role.
Werner Erhard is an original thinker whose ideas have transformed the effectiveness and quality of life for millions of people and thousands of organizations around the world. For nearly 50 years he has been the creator of innovative ideas and models of individual, organizational, and social transformation. His work has been the source of new perspectives for thinkers and practitioners in fields as diverse as business, education, philosophy, medicine, psychotherapy, developing countries, leadership, conflict resolution, and community building. Erhard has created new ways of seeing things in areas where progress has stalled or where breakthroughs would make a significant difference. A majority of the Fortune 100 companies and many foundations and governmental entities have used his ideas and models. Fortune magazine’s 40th anniversary issue (5/15/95), in examining the major contributions to management thinking, recognized Erhard’s ideas as one of the major innovations of the last few decades. In recognition of his humanitarian work in the U.S. and around the world, in 1988 Erhard was awarded the Mahatma Gandhi Humanitarian Award.
Since 2002 Erhard has committed his time and intellectual effort almost exclusively to the academic world. Some of his recent research, writings, lectures, and courses can be accessed from his author page in the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN). Most recently in Capitalism and Society, (The Center on Capitalism and Society, Columbia University).
More than three million people around the world have participated in the public, corporate, charitable, and academic programs and courses he has created.
Erhard’s ideas were first introduced to the public through programs derived from his models, which programs included The est Training and The Forum of the 1970s and 1980s. Social scientist Daniel Yankelovich said of a large-scale study he conducted of participants of The Forum: “Several of the study’s findings surprised me quite a bit, especially the large number of participants for whom The Forum proved to be ‘one of the most valued experiences of my life’. This is not a sentiment that people, especially successful, well-educated people, express lightly.”
Erhard is largely self-educated, albeit with tutoring from some important thinkers of his time, including: Gregory Bateson, Warren Bennis, Isaiah Berlin, Hubert Dreyfus, David Eagleman, Heinz von Foerster, Richard Feynman, Fernando Flores, Ronald Heifetz, Michel Foucault, Milton Friedman, Humberto Maturana, James Grier Miller, Sir Karl Popper, Karl H. Pribram and Hilary Putnam (Erhard says any of his errors are his sole responsibility). One of his tutors, Professor of Philosophy, Michael E. Zimmerman, said of Erhard “He had no particular formal training in anything, but he understood things as well as anyone I’d ever seen; and I’ve been around a lot of smart people in academia. This is an extraordinary intellect I saw at work”.