HOWTO build a 1,000+ year organization with ChatGPT?

Shun-Yun Hu
12 min readApr 15, 2023
Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

This morning at 4am I had the question of: how does one build a really long-lasting organization (say over 1,000+ years).

I had some questions that could be very open-ended, and I had nobody around to ask, so why not ask ChatGPT?

Here are my questions and ChatGPT’s responses. I believe humanity’s relationship with technology and our combined knowledge/capabilties are at a tipping point. :)

What I was able to gather with about an hour of questioning and probing, probably would’ve taken a lot longer before ChatGPT (note the many typos I made too).

Q: WHAT are some of the longest lasting organizations?

There are many organizations that have been around for a very long time. Here are some examples:

Catholic Church — The Catholic Church has been around for more than 2,000 years, making it one of the oldest and longest lasting organizations in the world.

Harvard University — Harvard was founded in 1636, and has been in operation ever since. It is one of the oldest universities in the United States.

The Royal Society — The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge was founded in 1660 and is still active today.

The Freemasons — The Freemasons, a fraternal organization, was founded in the early 18th century and is still active today.

The East India Company — The East India Company was founded in 1600 and lasted for over 250 years before it was dissolved in 1874.

The Knights Templar — The Knights Templar was a medieval Christian military order that was founded in the 12th century and lasted until the 14th century.

The Red Cross — The Red Cross was founded in 1863 and is still active today, providing humanitarian aid around the world.

The Boy Scouts of America — The Boy Scouts of America was founded in 1910 and has been active for over 100 years, teaching young people about leadership, citizenship, and outdoor skills.

The Salvation Army — The Salvation Army was founded in 1865 and is still active today, providing assistance to those in need around the world.

These are just a few examples of organizations that have lasted for a long time, but there are many more that could be added to the list.

Q: how long has Tibetan Buddhism organization last?

Tibetan Buddhism is a form of Buddhism that originated in Tibet, and it has a rich history that dates back over a thousand years. The organization of Tibetan Buddhism can be traced back to the 7th century, when the Tibetan Empire was first established. However, it was during the 11th century that Tibetan Buddhism began to take on its unique characteristics, with the establishment of the first monasteries and the development of the lineage of the Dalai Lamas.

The Dalai Lamas have been the spiritual leaders of Tibet since the 16th century, and the organization of Tibetan Buddhism has been closely tied to their leadership. The current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was born in 1935 and has been the leader of the Tibetan people since he was formally recognized as the 14th Dalai Lama in 1950.

While Tibetan Buddhism has faced significant challenges over the years, particularly with the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959, the organization has endured and continues to thrive today. Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and centers can be found around the world, and the teachings and practices of Tibetan Buddhism are widely studied and practiced by people of many different backgrounds.

Q: how do the longest org on earth pass on power?
The way in which power is passed on in long-lasting organizations can vary depending on the specific organization and its traditions. However, here are some general ways in which power is typically passed on in some of the longest organizations:

Hereditary succession: In some organizations, power is passed down through a family line, with leadership positions being inherited by a designated heir. For example, the Dalai Lama in Tibetan Buddhism is traditionally chosen through a process of reincarnation, with the next Dalai Lama being identified as a child born after the death of the previous Dalai Lama.

Election or appointment: In other organizations, leadership positions are elected or appointed by a governing body or council. For example, the Catholic Church selects a new Pope through a process of voting among cardinals.

Merit-based succession: In some organizations, leadership positions are determined by merit and seniority. For example, in many academic institutions, senior faculty members are selected to take on administrative roles based on their contributions to the institution over time.

Combination of methods: Some organizations may use a combination of the above methods, such as a selection process based on merit and seniority followed by confirmation or appointment by a governing body.

Overall, the process of passing on power in long-lasting organizations can be complex and may involve multiple factors, including tradition, culture, and the specific needs and circumstances of the organization.

Q: how do some longest lasting org maintain control?
Maintaining control in long-lasting organizations can be a complex process, and the specific methods used can vary widely depending on the organization and its goals. Here are some common strategies that some long-lasting organizations use to maintain control:

Strong leadership: Long-lasting organizations often have a strong and respected leader who provides a sense of continuity and stability. This leader may have considerable power and influence within the organization, and may be able to guide the organization through difficult times.

Institutional memory: Many long-lasting organizations have a strong sense of institutional memory, meaning that they have a collective memory and understanding of their history, traditions, and values. This memory can help the organization to maintain a sense of identity and purpose, and can help guide decision-making.

Hierarchy and structure: Long-lasting organizations often have a well-defined hierarchy and organizational structure, with clear lines of authority and decision-making processes. This can help to ensure that decisions are made in a consistent and orderly manner, and that everyone knows their role within the organization.

Membership requirements: Some long-lasting organizations have strict membership requirements, which can help to ensure that only those who are committed to the organization’s goals and values are allowed to participate. This can help to maintain a sense of cohesion and prevent the organization from being hijacked by those who do not share its values.

Adaptability: Long-lasting organizations often have a strong ability to adapt to changing circumstances and new challenges. This can involve being willing to make difficult decisions, taking risks, and being open to new ideas and perspectives.

Overall, the strategies used by long-lasting organizations to maintain control can be complex and multifaceted. However, by using a combination of strong leadership, institutional memory, clear hierarchy and structure, membership requirements, and adaptability, these organizations are often able to maintain their longevity and effectiveness over time.

Q: do centralized or decentralized orgs last longer?

It is difficult to say definitively whether centralized or decentralized organizations last longer, as there are many factors that can influence an organization’s longevity, and the effectiveness of a particular organizational structure can depend on the specific goals and circumstances of the organization.

Centralized organizations typically have a hierarchical structure, with decision-making power concentrated at the top of the organization. This can make it easier to maintain control and ensure that decisions are made in a consistent and coherent manner. However, this can also make it more difficult to adapt to changing circumstances or take advantage of opportunities that arise outside of the central decision-making structure.

Decentralized organizations, on the other hand, often distribute decision-making power more widely throughout the organization, allowing for greater flexibility and responsiveness to changing circumstances. However, this can also lead to greater fragmentation and lack of coordination within the organization.

In practice, many long-lasting organizations have a combination of centralized and decentralized elements, with decision-making power distributed in a way that allows for both effective control and flexibility. Additionally, the most successful organizations are often those that are able to adapt their structure and decision-making processes to changing circumstances over time.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of a particular organizational structure depends on a variety of factors, including the goals of the organization, the external environment in which it operates, and the skills and abilities of its members.

Q: what are some long lasting decentralized orgs?

There are many long-lasting decentralized organizations in various sectors and industries. Here are a few examples:

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): AA is a decentralized organization that relies on a network of local groups to support individuals recovering from alcohol addiction. While AA has a central organizational structure and basic guidelines, each group is autonomous and makes its own decisions about how to run meetings and support its members.

Linux: Linux is an open-source operating system that is developed by a decentralized community of software developers from around the world. Anyone can contribute to the development of Linux, and the project is managed by a group of core developers who oversee the development process and maintain the quality and stability of the software.

W. L. Gore and Associates: W. L. Gore and Associates is a global manufacturing company that is known for its decentralized organizational structure. The company has no traditional hierarchy or management structure, and decisions are made by cross-functional teams that collaborate to achieve the company’s goals.

The Wikimedia Foundation: The Wikimedia Foundation is a nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia and other wiki-based projects. The organization is decentralized, with thousands of volunteers from around the world contributing content and managing the projects.

The Quakers: The Religious Society of Friends, also known as the Quakers, is a decentralized religious organization that emphasizes individual spiritual experience and community-based decision-making. Quaker meetings are typically run without a formal leader or hierarchy, and decisions are made by consensus.

These are just a few examples of long-lasting decentralized organizations, and there are many other examples across various sectors and industries.

Q: how long has the Quakers last?

The Religious Society of Friends, also known as the Quakers, was founded in the mid-17th century in England. The movement quickly spread throughout England and the American colonies, and has since become a global organization with a presence in many countries around the world.

The Quakers have been in existence for more than 350 years, and have played a significant role in many historical events, including the abolition of slavery, the women’s suffrage movement, and the civil rights movement. While the Quakers have faced challenges and changes over the centuries, the organization has remained committed to its core values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality. Today, the Quakers continue to have a significant impact on many social and political issues around the world, and their tradition and practices continue to evolve and adapt to changing circumstances.

Q: what’s the longest lasting company in the world?

Determining the longest-lasting company in the world can be challenging, as it depends on how one defines “company” and “longest-lasting.” However, there are a few companies that are often cited as contenders for this title.

One such company is Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, a hot spring hotel in Japan that has been in continuous operation since 705 AD. The hotel has been passed down through 52 generations of the same family, and holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest hotel in operation.

Another contender is Kongo Gumi, a Japanese construction company that was founded in 578 AD. Kongo Gumi specialized in building temples, and was passed down through the same family for over 1,400 years. The company was eventually absorbed by another construction company in 2006, but its legacy lives on.

Finally, there is Stiftskeller St. Peter, a restaurant in Salzburg, Austria that has been in operation since 803 AD. The restaurant has changed hands and undergone renovations over the centuries, but has remained in continuous operation for more than 1,200 years.

It’s worth noting that many of the longest-lasting companies are small family-owned businesses that have been passed down through generations, rather than large corporations with global reach. Additionally, many of these companies have survived by adapting to changing circumstances and evolving their business models over time.

Q: how do the longest lasting company maintain longivity?

The longest-lasting companies have been able to maintain their longevity through a combination of factors. Here are some strategies that these companies have used to maintain their success over the centuries:

Focus on core values: Many long-lasting companies have a strong sense of purpose and a set of core values that guide their decision-making. By staying true to these values and principles, companies can build a strong brand reputation and customer loyalty that can help them weather changes in the market.

Adapt to changing circumstances: Companies that have lasted for centuries have had to adapt to changing market conditions and evolving customer needs. By staying nimble and flexible, companies can continue to meet the needs of their customers and stay relevant over time.

Invest in innovation: Long-lasting companies have often been at the forefront of innovation in their industries, developing new products or technologies that allow them to stay ahead of the competition. By investing in research and development, companies can continue to innovate and stay ahead of the curve.

Maintain strong leadership: Companies that have lasted for centuries have often had strong leaders who are able to steer the organization through times of change and uncertainty. By cultivating a culture of strong leadership and succession planning, companies can ensure that they have the talent and vision to continue to succeed over the long term.

Build a strong corporate culture: Finally, long-lasting companies often have a strong corporate culture that promotes employee loyalty and engagement. By investing in employee development and creating a supportive work environment, companies can build a strong team that is committed to the company’s success over the long term.

Q: do centralized and decentralized orgs use different strategies to last?

Centralized and decentralized organizations can use different strategies to maintain their longevity, as they have different structures and decision-making processes.

Centralized organizations typically have a clear hierarchy and a top-down decision-making process. As a result, they can often move quickly and efficiently to implement changes or respond to market conditions. However, centralized organizations can also be vulnerable to top-down decision-making, which can lead to a lack of innovation or responsiveness to local conditions.

Decentralized organizations, on the other hand, often have a flatter organizational structure and a more distributed decision-making process. This can allow for greater flexibility and responsiveness to local conditions, as decision-making is often made by those closest to the situation. However, decentralized organizations can also be more difficult to coordinate and may face challenges in maintaining consistency across different regions or departments.

Given these differences, centralized and decentralized organizations may use different strategies to maintain their longevity. For example, a centralized organization may focus on maintaining a strong corporate culture and investing in innovation, as this can help them stay competitive and respond quickly to market changes. A decentralized organization, on the other hand, may focus on building strong local networks and empowering employees at all levels to make decisions, as this can help them stay flexible and responsive to local conditions.

Ultimately, the key to longevity for both centralized and decentralized organizations is to stay true to their core values and maintain a culture of innovation and adaptability. By doing so, they can continue to evolve and thrive in a changing world.

Q: how do long-lasting orgs maintain their purpose, values, and culture?

Maintaining purpose, values, and culture is critical for the longevity of an organization. Here are some strategies that long-lasting organizations use to maintain these key aspects of their identity:

Consistently communicate purpose and values: Long-lasting organizations make sure that their purpose and values are clearly articulated and communicated to employees, customers, and other stakeholders. This helps to ensure that everyone understands what the organization stands for and what it is trying to achieve.

Reinforce culture through hiring and training: Hiring and training practices can play an important role in maintaining a strong organizational culture. Long-lasting organizations often prioritize hiring employees who share their values and are committed to their mission. They also invest in training programs to help employees understand the organization’s culture and how they can contribute to it.

Encourage employee engagement: Long-lasting organizations often create opportunities for employees to be involved in decision-making and contribute to the organization’s mission. This helps to foster a sense of ownership and commitment among employees, which can be an important factor in maintaining a strong organizational culture.

Continuously review and update purpose and values: Long-lasting organizations recognize that the world is constantly changing, and they must evolve to remain relevant. They regularly review their purpose and values to ensure that they are still relevant and aligned with their mission.

Celebrate and reward behavior aligned with purpose and values: Long-lasting organizations celebrate and reward employees who embody the organization’s purpose and values. This helps to reinforce the importance of these aspects of the organization’s identity and encourages others to follow suit.

By consistently communicating purpose and values, reinforcing culture through hiring and training, encouraging employee engagement, continuously reviewing and updating purpose and values, and celebrating and rewarding behavior aligned with purpose and values, long-lasting organizations can maintain a strong identity and sense of purpose over the long term.

My own conclusion: purpose, value, and culture are the key factors in longivity, that help maintain a strong sense of direction and identity, as well as adapativity over time.

For those curious at why I started asking the question, because I’m curious whether we as humanity can finally build some organizations that create and keep long-term wealth, and make poverty history.



Shun-Yun Hu

Founder of Joint Commonwealth Inc. (JCF), Co-founder of Imonology Inc. Someone who enjoys to observe, to think, and to create…