In 1968, Hock was an official of a local bank in Washington state that was franchised by the Bank of America to issue its credit card brand, BankAmericard. Through a series of unlikely accidents, Hock helped invent and became chief executive of the credit system that became VISA International. Early on, he convinced Bank of America to give up ownership and control of their BankAmericard credit card licensing program, forming a new company, National BankAmerica, that was owned by its member banks. The name was changed to Visa in 1976.
In May 1984, Hock resigned his management role with Visa, retiring to spend almost ten years in relative isolation working a 200-acre (0.81 km2) parcel of land on the Pacific coast to the west of Silicon Valley. He was inducted into Junior Achievement's U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1991, and the Money magazine hall of fame in 1992.
In his 1991 Business Hall of Fame acceptance speech Hock explained:
Through the years, I have greatly feared and sought to keep at bay the four beasts that inevitably devour their keeper – Ego, Envy, Avarice, and Ambition. In 1984, I severed all connections with business for a life of isolation and anonymity, convinced I was making a great bargain by trading money for time, position for liberty, and ego for contentment – that the beasts were securely caged.
Hock had built Visa as a deliberately uncentralized organization. On March 13, 1993, Hock gave a dinner speech at the Santa Fe Institute where, based on his experiences founding and operating Visa International, he described systems that are both chaotic and ordered, using the term "chaordic" from the words "chaos" and "order".
In February 1994, Hock accepted a grant from the Joyce Foundation for his travel expenses to study the possibilities of implementing chaordic organizations. The non-profit Alliance for Community Liberty was formed in 1994 by Hock to develop, disseminate and implement these new concepts of organization, and was renamed The Chaordic Alliance in 1996.
In spring 2001 The Chaordic Commons - a 501c3 nonprofit organization - was formed to supersede the Chaordic Alliance.
Impact on organization development
In addition to his career in the financial industry, Hock has been active in developing new models of social and business organization. He has been particularly interested in forms of organization that are neither rigidly controlled nor anarchic, a hybrid form he terms chaordic.
Hock has authored a book on the subject, Birth of the Chaordic Age (1999) with an edition named One from Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization (2005) which includes two new chapters.
- Cleveland, Harlan. "A Philosophical Wallop." The Futurist 34.4 (2000): 56-7. ProQuest. Web. 1 Mar. 2014.
- Waldrop, M. Mitchell (1996-10-01). "The Trillion-Dollar Vision of Dee Hock". Fast Company magazine. pp. 75–85. Retrieved 2008-04-30. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "A Brief History of The Chaordic Alliance from 1993 to 2001 and Chaordic Commons from 2001". Chaordic Commons. 2005-12-01. Retrieved 2008-04-30. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)