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Glossary - Only a Ten Hour Week by Eli Berniker

Acryonyms, Acronym Definitions, and Special Terms

Part I: Acronyms and Their Meanings

Average Mutual Information (AMI)
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)
BCE (Before Common Era)
Benton County (BC)
Boeing Commercial Airplane Group (BCAG)
British Petroleum (BP)
Corvallis Metro Credit Trust (CMCT)
Design experiment team (DET)
Ekonomit (EK)
Emergency room (ER)
Emergent Manufacturing Facility (EMF)
General Electric (GE)
Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)
Gross domestic product (GDP)
Gross national product (GNP)
Keep It Simple and Stupid (KISS)
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
Nuclear power plants (NPP)
Numerically controlled (NC)
Open book management (OBM)
Operating system (OS)
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs)
Point of view (PoV)
Requisite Response Variety (RRV)
Return on investment (ROI)
Rural Community Ecological Energy Systems (RCEES)
San Francisco (SF)
Sociotechnical Systems (STS)
Sociotechnical Systems Design (STSD)
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Theoretical Ecology (TE)
Theory of Constraints (TOC)
Throughput Linked Earnings (TLE)
Throughput per Hour (TPH)
Total System Throughput (TST)
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Part II: Terms Associated with Particular Disciplines, Theories, or Models

Commons A shared community resource, such as a pasture in agriculture or a knowledge commons in culture.

common weal An ancient term for the common good.

Plenty Economic security resulting from the capacity to “make a living” from a limited number of hours of work.

Resilience The capacity to recover from deformations or stress without breaking. This is a necessary capacity in sustainable communities.

Scarcity Economic insecurity, even for those with reasonably well-paying jobs. It is a necessary condition for the economy to function.

Social Ecology An emerging field concerned with the design of our society and its constituent organizations. It seeks to integrate across many different disciplines.

Sustainability This begins with families who must be able to meet their needs. Families that are not sustained cannot be obligated by concerns for global sustainability.

System We are taught to see systems as sets of observable, interrelated, and interdependent elements or functions; systems are “real.” In this book, systems are a way of seeing, a PoV, or a model used to

make sense of complexities. As such, systems are always incomplete. We should remain aware of what we are not seeing.


The functions of money

  • means of exchange Money serves to facilitate trade instead of bartering.
  • unit of account Money allows us to keep track of value and transactions.
  • Store of Value If the money has intrinsic value—say gold—it serves as a store of value. We assume money in a bank retains its value, even if it is only data.
  • Information Money allows us to establish relative prices whether or not there are transactions. Almost all money is data in computerized systems. Very little money is in our pockets.

Debt-money Ninety-eight percent of the world’s hard currency money is created as debt that must be repaid with interest. It exists almost entirely as data, which is manipulated via transactions.

Fiat currency Money without intrinsic value. It has value because governments say so and they are willing to accept it in payment of taxes.

Knowledge Economy This represents the shift from work requiring physical labor to work with high-cognitive requirements.

Metro This book suggests a complementary, virtual, digital representation of value that may be accepted as a means of payment in particular communities. It does not displace “real” money.

Metro Economy A region, or community, that utilizes a virtual complementary means of exchange labeled the “Metro.”

Community Economics

To fathom community economics, economy is partitioned into subeconomies to better understand their roles and functioning.

  • Family and Individual Economy The household economy that sustains individuals and families, as well as raises children. Work in the Family Economy has no value because it is not for exchange.
  • Production (or Export) Economy That subset of economic organizations that produce value for exchange beyond the community earning income that supports the community, e.g., businesses not limited to local markets.
  • Social Economy That subset of a community economy that serves the needs of the community, such as governance, health care, transit, power, water, and infrastructure.
  • Distribution Economy That subset of a community economy that is the locus of exchange of goods and services in the community. This includes local enterprises and national retail chains.
  • Cultural Economy That subset of a community economy that creates culture and education, within and for, the community. It can rarely support itself with earnings.
  • Financial Economy That set of institutions that deal with money, credit, and interest. This is not part of communities, although communities depend on it.


Theory of Constraints A body of knowledge about the functioning of productive systems. The capacity of all such systems is limited by constraints or “bottlenecks.”

  • Governing constraint Given that a production system is a set of interrelated and interdependent resources and functions, a governing constraint or constraints must exist that limit the capacity of the system. All other resources have underutilized capacities.
  • Throughput The value delivered to customers by a production system. This is not value accumulated within the system.
  • Throughput Accounting A set of accounting principles that treats the enterprise as if it were an economy rather than a machine. It sets up entirely different managerial decisions than conventional accounting. For reporting purposes, it is readily converted to GAAP standard reporting.



  • Global efficiency is a measure of the throughput generated by the whole production system.
  • Local efficiency is a measure of the output of production units. Dilemma: If local efficiencies are optimized, global efficiency is always subverted.
  • Value, not cost The value of an hour saved on the governing constraint is the value of an hour for the entire system. The value of an hour saved on a nonconstraint is a mirage. You did not need it.
  • Marginal Cost The cost of manufacturing one more unit of product. It is only material and energy if nonconstrained resources are used. Surplus capacity, in machines and people, has no economic cost, but it can produce significant value. Our communities are blessed with considerable underutilized resources that have no economic value.


Sociotechnical Systems Design (STSD) This is a body of knowledge about the design of teams and their work. Its roots are in coal-mine experiments in England and industrial experiments in Scandinavia. It has evolved over the last sixty years.

  • Capital cost of jobs The average capital investment in a production enterprise, divided by the number of jobs in that organization. The annual capital cost of jobs may be many times the wages.
  • Automation The transfer of work to machines and computer systems, which increases capital costs and reduces required human work.
  • Cognitive content of work As a result of automation, most physical work has disappeared, worker roles are problem- solving, and the cognitive content of work has increased. Work is becoming increasingly professional in content.
  • Work Arounds Nonprocedural actions required to maintain system functioning. These are necessary because systems rarely function as they are expected to function.
  • Participative design Participative teams should design their own work because of their knowledge and experience, and because that creates the adaptive capacity to deal with contingent events.
  • Requisite Response Variety (RRV) The number of problem- solving responses in an individual or team-work role. The greater the RRV, the greater the adaptive capacities of individuals or teams.
  • Constraint-free design Design processes should be ideal seeking. Assumed constraints limit the horizons of the possible. In practice, many assumed constraints prove to be irrelevant.
  • Fast Cycle Team A design experiment team that tested their capacity to reduce maintenance engineering processes from weeks to hours. Design experiments were conducted as a way of demonstrating potential organization designs.


Theoretical Ecology A body of knowledge relating to how collections of natural organisms form communities that endure for hundreds of years in rain forests, swamps, and river estuaries.

  • Mutuality loop A set of organisms linked together whose interactions are positive around the loop. It has the effect of increasing the capacities of the loop for all participating organisms.
  • Centripetality The effect of concentrating resources in mutuality loops as they grow.
  • Average Mutual Information (AMI) An index of the density of interactions in a community of organisms. The AMI of mutuality loops is higher than unorganized organisms. This is a term borrowed from economics.
  • Coordination This term is proposed as a substitute for AMI when describing mutuality loops in human communities. Mutual information is the basis for coordinating actions in groups and communities. Coordination need not imply economic exchanges.
  • Ascendency (with an e) A term describing a set of mutuality loops that has become the identifying community in a particular habitat, e.g., a coral reef. This is spelled with an e because it does not mean domination.
  • Unorganized Complexity A term describing many organisms that are not part of mutuality loops because they lack the resources to create them. This is an apt description of the state of many human communities.
  • Total System Throughput (TST) An index of the scale of mutuality loops; the total energy flow through the community. In principle, this is identical with TOC throughput.
  • Field-to-Fork mutuality loop This is a set of collaborative loops proposed in a Metro Economy with the purpose of eliminating food insecurity.