Discipline makes Daring possible.



Whenever I put our plastic rubbish out for recycling, knowing that it won’t get recycled, but at best burned.  I remember this.

In 1998 I visited a factory that recycled rubbish from the street bins of Barcelona into cardboard for packaging. They didn’t sort a thing. They took everything – paper, cartons cans, banana peels, everything.

They extracted the easy metals, then boiled the rest up, extracted the aluminium (which they sold to the concrete factory across the way) and turned it the result into perfectly printable, usable card for packaging.

Why am I telling you this?

Because sometimes we have had answers, but they’ve been sidelined or ‘forgotten’ by the system.

Maybe part of our job as responsible businesses and humans is to help people ‘unforget’ that other ways are possible.  Or to imagine new ways that might be possible.   And to help us act together, to change the system.

To which end, I’ve got a little involved in a thing called The Carbon Almanac.

“Because when it comes to the climate, we don’t need more marketing or anxiety. We need established facts and a plan for collective action.”

Watch this space.



In a crisis, we want people to take responsibility, assert autonomy and agency and act together as a community for a higher purpose.

To prevent that crisis from being hijacked by a subgroup with an agenda.

It helps a lot of we’ve allowed them to master doing all these things first, by practicing them as part of their daily work.

The irony is, of course, that if we did that we’d probably have fewer crises.



As you can see, I’ve started a new book.

I don’t know why, but I find this image from page 3, somewhat chilling.

The Fundamentals of Power (my photo)

But I’m willing to be convinced otherwise.

It’s a lens, not necessarily a fundamental truth.

Wish me luck.

Enrolment and onboarding

Enrolment and onboarding

It’s easy to conflate ‘enrolment’ and ‘onboarding’ and think they are the same thing.  They’re not.

Enrolment means to ‘sign up’, to ‘commit’, to ‘buy into’.  It’s what you want your prospect to do at the end of Share Promise.  You want them to say ‘Hell yes, I’m in!‘, and start their journey with you.

Onboarding means to ‘acclimatise’, to ‘socialise’, to get to know ‘how things work around here’.  It happens at the start of Keep Promise – if it happens at all, that is.   Because if you’ve built your business around the client, it should already feel like home to them.

The foundational freedom

The foundational freedom

My second reading of this book has, as you can see, given me plenty to think about.   The most important of which is a different idea of what freedom really is.

The foundational freedom is the freedom to walk away.   To say ‘I don’t like it here, I’ll go somewhere else‘ – knowing that wherever you end up, you will be taken in and treated as a person, a fellow human being, who could become an honorary member of the family.

This freedom, which seems to have been exercised surprisingly frequently in our prehistory, and later, is a foundation for the next freedom, which is the freedom to disobey the rules.   Individuals or cadres that set themselves up to be ‘in charge’ of others, soon found they were in charge of nothing.  Their ‘subjects’ had simply moved on.

If people don’t have to follow orders, governance becomes quite different.  It has to be based on consensus rather than command, and since everyone is free to walk away, it also has to include everyone. People become citizens, with a role to play in shaping and maintaining their society.

This leads to the third freedom, which is the freedom to create new ways of living well with each other – new societies.   These societies don’t have to be permanent or rigid.  It seems many peoples lived well together in very different ways, depending on the season, changing the form of their ‘society’ 2 or three times a year.  They knew, because they lived it, that “The ultimate, hidden truth of the world is that it is something that we make and could just as easily make differently.”

How can we recover these basic freedoms?

A start would be to offer what all ancient peoples took for granted.  Hospitality.   The reassurance that a stranger, wherever they are from, will be taken in, recognised as a human being and a person, as someone like us.

In other words, to gain our own freedom, we have to give it to others first.

An infinite gamer

An infinite gamer

I listened to a short tribute to Barry Cryer on Friday.  Of course I found it funny.

It was also clear that he was an extremely generous person.   It seems that what he cared about was keeping good comedy going, and he did that by encouraging it wherever he found it.   He laughed at everyone else’s jokes, called his fellow comedians on their birthdays, and rang them also after every radio show he heard to congratulate them on their performance.  He considered every comedian a fellow comedian, even the younger ones who thought him old hat.  He mentored some of them, laughed with and congratulated others.

All I could think as I was listening to the programme was that if you want to know what it actually looks like to play an  ‘infinite game’, you just need to look at the life of Barry Cryer.  Seriously.

A good question

A good question

I can’t remember where I spotted it, but I love this question, clearly inspired by John Rawls:

“How would you design a business if you couldn’t know what position you would hold in it?”.

How would you answer?



I heard part of an interesting ‘teach-out’ yesterday.

In the old days, students were ‘members’ of the University – they were part of it, and contributed to its purpose, which was to create public good.   Now they are expected to be merely consumers of the ‘student experience’ it offers them.

The interesting thing is that despite the fees they pay, and the debt they incur to get to university, students don’t want to be passive consumers.  They want to participate.  They want to help co-create the public good.

The same is true of many other people.   Your clients and customers included.   Witness the enthusiasm with which people volunteer to help deliver the Olympics, support the vulnerable in a pandemic, carry out scientific research in their spare time, have their gardens dug up for archaeology.

How can you help them co-create the public good(s) you both desire?

Are there too many managers?

Are there too many managers?

That was the question asked on ‘The Agenda with Steve Paikin’ the other day.

Of course it’s the wrong question.

One real question is “How do you build an organisation that takes individual competences and creates an organisational capability”.   In other words, how do you co-ordinate the activities of different people into a consistent,  repeatable business activity?

Another is “How do we create organisations that are as capable of as the people inside them?”.  In other words, how do you make sure that individual capabilities are not stifled/wasted in the process?

If you want your business to achieve its purpose effectively and efficiently, you have to find a way of managing that addresses both of these questions.

Managers are a solution, but they aren’t the only one.  And they may not be the best.



What should you do when an important piece of data about a customer has been ‘lost’?

You tell them its their fault of course.

You send them a letter threatening them with loss of the service unless they rectify the mistake.

And since you’ve lost the same piece of data for thousands of customers, you make sure there are no extra people to answer the phone number you’ve given them.

I wonder how many customers they’ll lose as a result?

I know I’m cynical, but could ditching clients actually be the point?

It seems a pretty good way to go about it.