Discipline makes Daring possible.

We are many

We are many

A quote from anthropologist Margaret Mead today:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Imagine what we could do if we all got together?

The other way around

The other way around

Of course the Cui Bono? question is worth asking the other way around too.

“Who truly benefits from the way you want things to be?”

That might be why some people are resisting.

The scientific method

The scientific method

We constantly observe the world around us.    We form certain assumptions about how it works and why it works that way.

But we rarely take things further and actually test those assumptions with an experiment.   If we did, we’d find out that they are often incorrect.  Which might lead us to draw new conclusions and most importantly take different actions as a result.

“The scientific method” isn’t just for science.   It’s a great way to approach building your business ‘on purpose’.

Using it to understand your customers better is a profitable place to start.



Instinctively, I don’t like being paid by the hour or day.  I’d much rather be paid for delivery of a service.

There are a couple of reasons for this.  One is a simple dislike of being at someone else’s beck and call.  The other is to do with risk.

If I am paid by the hour, and I take longer than expected to deliver the goods, the client pays more.   If I take less time than expected, they gain.   They are incentivised both to pay me as low a rate as possible and to have me work as fast as possible – perhaps even more hours than we agreed.

These risks are flipped if I am paid for delivery.  If I have to put more effort in than I expected, I lose.  If I am able to deliver with less effort, I’m the one who gains.  I am incentivised to deliver a clear result in as short a time as possible.  The client gets whatever it takes to complete the job.

For a business like mine, being paid for delivery makes more sense, because I am in control of the process.  Over time I can expect to get better at estimating effort, and slicker at delivery, so over time, I can expect to gain.

For a business that is not in control of the process – like shipping cargo by sail for example, the situation is different.  On the whole, ships prefer to be chartered, because they can’t control the weather.   There is little opportunity to gain by delivering faster.   Being chartered means that even though they can’t gain, they at least don’t lose.

What was counter-intuitive (to me at least) is that this arrangement might be preferable to the client who charters them.   Until yesterday.

For one of my clients, Sail Cargo Alliance, the aim isn’t just to ship goods by sail, it’s to connect a worldwide community of small producers, ships, ports, independent shops and customers.   For the Alliance, paying for the ship’s time makes perfect sense, because their attitude is collaborative.

OK, they take the risk of the ship arriving late, but having control over the ship’s time creates opportunities for revenue generation that don’t exist if they are simply paying for delivery.  For example, they can add passengers to the trip, or if a ship arrives early, they can offer day-sailing trips, or tours, or on-board hospitality.  And by sharing any additional revenues with the ship, they might just have created the best of both worlds.

Clearly my instinct is wrong.    The answer is not time or delivery, but some mixture of time and delivery that minimises the downside and maximises upside for both parties.   That enriches the relationship rather than simply exploiting it.  Commerce without the capitalism.

Hmm.  Worth thinking about for the next project.



We set up signals in our societies and our businesses to warn us when things might be going wrong.

It is possible that they go off by mistake, or due to causes we didn’t foresee.  The systems we live in are complex.

But investigation is always a better bet than simply shutting our eyes.

The least that will happen is that we learn something.

Every day is Earth Day

Every day is Earth Day

Today’s image is NASA’s ‘global selfie’ for Earth Day 2014.

It’s a reminder that we are all part of a global ecosystem.  We affect it as individuals.   Even more so, we affect it through the social systems we build on top – some of which take on a life of their own.

Some of our effects are benign, or at least harmless.    Others are malign – diminishing, depleting and damaging.   Making the planet a less hospitable place for others and ourselves.

It’s not too late to switch to having only benign effects.

Any difference we can make individually, will help.   But we’ll make a bigger difference when we get together.

Our social systems are just that – social.  We made them up.  We can make up new ones, different ones, better ones.  That enrich and nurture people and planet.

But where do I start?

With yourself, your family, your friends, your workplace, your street, your block, your town, your county, your country.   You get the idea.

Find the others.

Then do something together.

Happy Earth Day.

“The ultimate, hidden truth of the world is that it is something that we make and could just as easily make differently.” David Graeber.

Cui bono?

Cui bono?

There’s a question worth asking whenever someone says “that doesn’t work” or “we can’t do that”, or “that’s not worth investigating”.

“Who benefits from the way things are right now?”

Those are the people you really need to convince.

Just in time

Just in time

When you’re setting up a client in your systems for the first time, it’s tempting to ask up front for everything you will need for the journey.


If your tailor is making you an overcoat, you don’t expect them to measure your inside leg.

Only ask for what you need right now, to get the client started. Otherwise you’ll overwhelm them with unexpected (and to them, unnecessary, perhaps even unnerving) work, to get information that may well have changed by the time you actually need it.

Keep your information gathering aligned with what you’re doing together.    That keeps it feeling natural, and you’ll have all the right information when you need it – just in time.

You’re welcome!

You’re welcome!

I used to think that the first step in Keeping your Promise was setting up the client – getting everything in place to be able to deliver your service to them smoothly and efficiently.

How very functional of me.

Now I feel differently.

Sure, your client has enrolled with you on their journey, but they are probably already feeling a little buyer’s remorse, questioning whether this really is the right thing for them.  What they need now is the reassurance that you will continue to ‘see’ them as a human being, not just as a ‘thing’ to be processed.

So, start your Keep Promise with a welcome.  Get the metaphorical bunting out.  Find a way to make your new client feel safe, special, and seen.

It doesn’t have to be over the top.   It doesn’t have to be expensive.   It doesn’t have to be the same for everyone.   It does need to be congruent with your Promise of Value.

How could you show new clients they are welcome?

Why humans love change

Why humans love change

Listening to ‘In our time’ this morning, I heard that one of the reasons our ancestor Homo Erectus emerged could be that the Rift Valley environment around them started to change relatively rapidly and unpredictably as a result of volcanic activity.

This created a new evolutionary ‘niche’ – for a species that was able to efficiently switch between environments rather than adapt efficiently to just one.  Walking upright, sociality and speech are just some of the outcomes.

In other words, we’ve evolved to live in the midst of change.

To be sure, most of us prefer our change to be evolutionary rather than sudden and drastic, but I bet there’s hardly anyone you know that hasn’t undergone some sort of major shift (changed job, changed marital or parental status, moved house) in the last five years.  We are programmed to explore possibilities, see opportunities, to talk about new things, to try them out – with others if we can.

Why then do corporates have such a problem with change management?

Because we’re human.   We love change but we prefer to do it ourselves, than have it done to us.