Discipline makes Daring possible.

Goodbye 2021

Goodbye 2021

This will be my last post for 2021.

It’s been a heck of a year, and 2022 looks like it’s going to carry on this new tradition.

I hope your 2022 will start as your 2021 ends – merrily, with goodwill to all men.

That’s all we really need.



If you need to have a job in order to live (and most of us do), then work all too easily becomes a series of power plays, tests of will between worker and supervisor, supervisor and manager, manager and director.  Between subordinate and superior.

Power plays that can get nasty, because there is no way out, no safe word you can say to signal ‘Stop, I’ve had enough‘.

When everyone but the person at the top feels too afraid to disobey, and is unable to walk away in protest, what cascades down is unfreedom.  Or as we might have called it in earlier times, slavery.

How much worse then, if it turns out that what you are in thrall to isn’t even human, but AI.    Statistics generating targets that take no account of actual conditions on the ground – a pandemic, a storm, a tornado – with no possibility of being overidden by an intelligent human.

As a result 6 people died in this Amazon warehouse, picking stuff people don’t need, made using resources that could be better used elsewhere (or not used at all) to make money Bezos doesn’t know what to do with.

Work should not be this way, need not be this way.

Stop.  I’ve had enough.

And I know where and how to change it.

Bullshit Jobs

Bullshit Jobs

This week, I’ve mostly been re-reading this book by David Graeber, published what seems like a lifetime ago in 2018.

In 2015, YouGov published a poll, showing that when asked whether their job “makes a meaningful contribution to the world?” 37% of respondents said ‘no’, and 13% of people said they didn’t know.  That’s a terrible waste of human potential.

Until recently many of those 37% or 13% will have been furloughed, while many of the other 50% weren’t – their jobs (care workers, nurses, shop workers, bus-drivers etc) were simply too ‘key’ to allow that, or they were self-employed.

I wonder whether furlough gave some of the 37% time to re-think what they wanted from work?   Is that what’s behind ‘The Great Resignation”?

What seems to be fairly clear from my re-reading of this book, is where most of those ‘bullshit jobs’ are.   They’re in corporates, or privatised government agencies.

Where they aren’t is in small businesses.

One more reason why I believe bigger small businesses are the future.

Not worth a candle

Not worth a candle

As usual ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ will be on TV this Christmas.  I’ll be watching it, again.

And noting, again, that nothing that makes the protagonist’s life worth living has anything to do with scented candles, Amazon orders, or objects of any kind.

Of course not.  We are not what we own, but who we know.   We are the sum and product of our connections with others.

Which makes me even angrier that more than a dozen people died last weekend in Kentucky because a manufacturing or fulfillment target counted for more.

This isn’t ‘legendary customer service’ – I don’t believe any customer would value on-time delivery of their order over the life of the person making or packing it.

In fact it shows that the customer isn’t really important either.  It would have been so easy to let people know ‘We’re sorry, but a storm is on it’s way, and we daren’t risk our people’s lives.  We’ll make arrangements to get your goods to you another way, but they may be later than you expected’.

As you know, I believe a business should be built around making and keeping promises to its customers and clients, but when you can’t, or shouldn’t, due to forces outside your control, say so and do the right thing.  The people you serve will love you more for it, not less.



A long weekend of reading.   Sometimes I like to give my heart and brain a rest with some light, frothy fiction I’ve read many times before.

Or, if I’m honest, some dark and murderous fiction, from someone like Jo Nesbo.

You can’t be thinking all the time, and these are great ways to switch your brain off before bed.

What’s your preferred ‘nonsense’ for giving yourself a break?



PS If you’re looking for something inspirational and non-frothy, I recommend ‘The Daughters of Kobani’.  A true story you’re unlikely to hear anywhere else.

Tired out

Tired out

My cat spends almost all her time in our new extension, staring through the big doors into the garden, eyes peeled for squirrels, mice, other cats.  Ready to shoot out and deal with anything that invades her space.

Most of the time, none of these things are actually happening, but still she stares, mistaking any movement of grass, branch or shrub for a potential threat.

Finally, tired out after hours of fretting over imaginary invaders, she takes herself off to somewhere she feels safe and sheltered, and sleeps.

She’s a cat, she’s wired that way.  So to an extent are we.  But we know that.  Which means we can choose to behave differently, and save our energies for dealing with the real predators, not the imaginary ones.

We could start by turning our back on the big windows.




There are quite a few traffic bollards near where I live.   They are there because in the past, drivers persisted in using the narrow pavements inappropriately, endangering other road users, and damaging the fabric of the public realm.

For at least one set, the need has disappeared.  Lorries delivering to the school across the road used to go up onto the pavement in order to reverse through the gate.  The school has since moved and widened their gate, making this manoeuvre unnecessary.   The bollards remain, narrowing the pavement even further.

Bollards, like rules, are a last resort.  A physical or legal barrier erected to block behaviours that have proved impossible to prevent by other means.

The trouble with this is that most bollards don’t tell you why they were erected.  They seem arbitrary, so they leave behaviour untouched.

But if you design them with a bit of imagination, they can both block undesirable behaviour in the moment, and change it for the future.

In other words, rules, like bollards, are part of a process, not an event in themselves, and if you treat them that way, you’ll make them more effective.



There’s no blog today, because I’ve been submitting slides to support my application for a Women in Innovation Award.   I found out I’d been shortlisted last week, and have my interview on Friday.

Wish me luck!

But most of all, thank you for being there.

Cultivating culture

Cultivating culture

Growing a culture is easy.  You just leave an agar dish open to the air.   The culture you get is a matter of what falls into your dish.

For a business, it’s the same.  As soon as you add people to your business, you get a culture. As new people join, they pick up the norms, the narratives, and the identities of the people already there.  The result of whatever’s fallen into your dish.

But with a framework that attracts the right things into your dish, that’s easy to grow on and around, it’s possible to grow a culture you’ve designed rather than one that happens by chance.   Even if you’ve already got the wrong culture already in place.

What would your business culture look like if you designed it?