February 5, 2021


I spent quite a bit of my early career being called an analyst – someone who resolves or separates things into its elements or constituent parts.

In reality, like all of us, I’m mostly a synthesist. Putting thoughts, information, ideas, anecdotes, experiences together to make a whole – a model of the world that is coherent, at least to me, hopefully to others too.

When it comes to work, here are some of the ideas (axioms? premises? prejudices?) I grapple with, trying to synthesise a useful model of what it means to scale successfully as a business:

  • Making things (not necessarily tangible) that will be appreciated by other people is a fundamental human need.
  • Everyone needs agency, mastery, autonomy, purpose, community and status.
  • Being human is difficult, valuable, not to be wasted.
  • Nobody has a right to control another person (with rare exceptions that are to do with the other person’s safety).
  • Nobody ever achieves anything alone.
  • Most small business owners care about the impact they are making on their customers, their team and their community.  Increasingly they care about the impact they make on the planet.
  • Most employees work in order to live.
  • Most employees want to do their best work.
  • Most people want to be able to bring their whole self to everything they do, including work.
  • Most employees want clarity about what they are there to do.
  • Most employees don’t want to be told how to do their job.
  • Most small business owners never set out to be in charge of other people.
  • Most people want to do things for themselves, until they can’t.   When they can’t they want to be helped to get back to doing it for themselves.
  • Most small business owners aren’t capitalists.
  • There is plenty of business to be done to enrich people and planet.   Small business owners don’t need to be capitalist.
  • Processes are for people.  Procedures and work instructions are for machines.

I’m not there yet with my coherent model, but I feel like I am getting there, and I’m enjoying the process.

What would you add to/remove from my list?