Bus Number

Bus number (n.): a measure of an organization’s resilience. To find the bus number for a group, company, or project, ask how many staff members and leaders could be run down by errant busses before the organization could no longer operate.

Low bus numbers suggest a young organization, the presence of a charismatic leader, or the labors of a technical expert. Higher bus numbers indicate strength. They arrive when an organization’s key figures have learned to delegate, and when people communicate well and keep readable records.

This word comes from Lucy B., during a meeting of KCDC, the nonprofit that she cofounded. Like most KCDC meetings of a couple years ago, the conversation took place around a Petworth dining-room table, with a few people cooking dinner in the adjoining kitchen. The act of sharing food, it turns out, builds cohesion.

The group’s bus bus number was one, then, but it’s now probably four or five.

Addendum: Lucy B. heard this word from Alan W.