Discipline makes Daring possible.

Your help please

Your help please

When I talk about a Customer Experience Score in these posts, what immediately comes into your mind?


  • a number


  • a piece of music


  • something else : ___________________________


Let me know.

Thank you!

Is this wording better?

Is this wording better?

Yesterday, I listened to Wendell Pierce talking about jazz with James O’Brien.

He came up with a phrase that struck me:  ‘Freedom within Form’.

And I wondered, is that a better description for what I help small businesses achieve, than ‘Discipline makes Daring possible’?

I know some people have a problem with the word ‘Discipline’.

What do you think?


What does ‘Freedom within Form’ mean to you?


What does ‘Discipline makes Daring possible’, mean to you?


Tell me, I’d love to know.


Thank you!


Regenerative Uncertainty – creating space for innovation

Regenerative Uncertainty – creating space for innovation

I thoroughly recommend following Vaughn Tan on LinkedIn, or subscribing to his newsletter, on innovation and uncertainty.  He works with much larger organisations than I do of course but there is always food for thought for me on how to apply his thinking to my framework.

Today’s tasty dish is generative uncertainty, or how to make uncertainty work for you instead of against you.

A problem for any size of business is balancing consistency with opportunity.

Your clients want to broadly know what’s going to happen over the next days, weeks and months in and around your business.  And so do you.

At the same time, you want to be able to take advantage of any unforeseen opportunities that might crop up and avoid or at least weather any unexpected shocks.

In other words, you want your business to stay the same, even if you want it to be bigger, and you also want it to be able to change at short notice.

Traditional management structures – hierarchy, silos, bureaucratic workflows – help to keep a business the same, by centralising control and slowing down the business’s reactions to events.  Which makes it hard to change.

Complete self-management at the front end enables a business to react rapidly, because control is distributed, but makes it much harder to stay consistent, can lead to wastefulness of shared resources, and at worst leads to entropy.

Vaughn’s solution is to design spaces where innovation is directed, (Clear Guardrails) but within that direction, is free to come up with whatever it likes (Encourage Emergence), and where the ‘parent’ organisation is prepared to put time and money into emergent ideas that look promising without knowing beforehand what that support might look like (Be Ready to Provide Flexible Support).

I think small businesses can provide this kind of space too.   Without having to introduce the usual corporate structures.

Here’s how I do it:

Clear Guardrails:

Your Promise of Value, Unbreakable Promises and Customer Experience Score are yuor Clear Guardrails:

  • Your Promise states what you are here to do and for whom.
  • Your Unbreakable Promises set the boundaries of what you are willing to compromise.
  • The Customer Experience Score provides a floor for how you do it at the moment – the least that should happen.

Encourage Emergence:

  • Every individual playing your Customer Experience Score is free to use their knowledge, experience and judgement to interpret the Score in the best way possible for the client in front of them.   That means every actual Customer Experience can be quite different, yet consistent.  When someone encounters a new situation, they can deal with it.   The Score encourages emergence.

Be Ready to Provide Flexible Support:

  • The value of encouraging emergence comes from recognising when something is an opportunity rather than an exception.   It’s unfair to expect someone to do that on the fly, so your Customer Experience Score includes an ‘Improve Process’ Activity, that runs alongside making and keeping Promises.
  • Improve Process is about regularly gathering and interpreting feedback, both as individuals running your own performances of the Score, and together as a team, to identify opportunites for both playing the existing Score better and creating new Scores to meet new challenges or opportunities.  People can give each other the flexible support they need to take advantage of useful changes.


Discipline makes Daring possible

What do you think?

Catching up

Catching up

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found it really hard to sleep over the last few nights of hot weather, and even harder to think during the day.

So this week, I’m going to be catching up on sleep and on food for thought, so I can better keep my promise to you with more interesting stuff than I have done lately.

I can’t wait.



‘He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity’

(Ecclesiastes, 5.10).

Ever since we’ve been human, we have understood the damage that can be done by the monopolisation of wealth and power.  From earliest times we developed ways to prevent it in our communities – burying it with the owner, holding regular debt jubilees where everyone went back to a baseline, taxing the marginal income of the extremely rich at rates that made further accumulation pointless.

Profit for profit’s sake is vanity.

It’s also destroying our ability to live well.  Even our ability to live at all on this world.

Are you happy with that?

If not, and you’re wondering where and how to get started, this tool I helped to build will help you see the system, so you can change the system:

Connect the Dots.

Discipline makes Daring possible

A tool for thinking

A tool for thinking

Writing your Customer Experience Score makes you think:

About how you really want your business to work.  How it can best make and keep its Promise to clients.

About why you started it in the first place.  What it is here to do.  How it will help you leave your mark.

As you write, you use your Score to communicate your thinking to your team.


Also to help them think:

About how they really want to work.  How they can best make and keep their Promise to themselves.

Why they joined your business in the first place, what it is here to do.  How it will help them leave their mark.

How they can help you make your business work even better at making and keeping its Promise to clients.


Before long, it isn’t your business.


It’s our business, designed by you, refined by us.


You’re one Boss among many.


So when it’s time for you to leave.

It will be safe in our hands.


Discipline makes Daring possible.



I’ve always been sceptical about claims that double-glazing businesses are ‘very clean, and tidy up after themselves’.

Not because I think they aren’t, but because I’ve always suspected that emphasising the ‘tidying up’ might be a way to distract from poor work on actually putting in the windows.


I’m wrong of course.


What being clean and tidy signals is a pride in the job and consideration for the customer.

A committment to leave the client’s home as least as good as it was before the job, if not better.

A willingness to conserve bits and pieces the client wants to reuse.

A willingness to fill in holes you didn’t make, because that’s what a proper job looks like.

It might cost a small amount extra – hardly anything really, because not to do a proper job is usually harder – but every little helps to build a bank of goodwill and loyalty.


On which to grow a business that lasts.


For 30 years, so far.


Sidcup Fascia & Soffit Ltd.



It starts when a subcontractor decides they’ll do what’s legal, rather than what’s current best practice.

You don’t see them as part of your team.  That’s why they’re subcontracted, so they cost you less.


Trouble is, they don’t see themselves as part of your team either.

They certainly don’t see your customers as theirs.

So why make any extra effort to keep your Promise.


Whatever that is.


If a customer complains, well, never mind, it’s legal.  Even if it is inconsiderate.  Even if it is different from every other installation.

Your subcontractor isn’t going to re-do work that meets the minimum standard.  You’re not going to pay them to do it again.


So, slowly, over time, current practice gets eroded.

Until the minimum becomes the best your customer can expect.

Especially when they have no choice.


What you don’t yet see, is that you’ve undermined your own foundation.

When you’ve eroded your standards away to the minimum, it isn’t hard to be better.

So as soon as a better alternative appears, you’ll have nothing left to hold you up.

Certainly not your customers.


I’m looking at you Openreach.

Catch it now, while you can.

A brilliant tool

A brilliant tool

A good tool tells you what it’s for.   So that it’s simple to understand, and simple to use.

A good tool is powerful.  So that it can be used at multiple levels of granularity.

A good tool is also simple to make.  So that it becomes accessible to everyone.

Some of the best tools are also tangible.  So that mind and body work together to embed mastery.

My friend Bev Costoya has invented a new tool that is simple, powerful, accessible and tangible, to help people like us to fully evaluate the impact of ideas on the ecosystem that surrounds us, so that we can change the world in the right direction, on purpose, instead of by accident.

It’s called the Wolf Tool,  and it is absolutely brilliant.

Everyday genius

Everyday genius

You might like this excellent podcast series from Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini, authors of ‘Humanocracy’.

In ‘The New Human Movement‘  they tell fascinating stories of how huge companies have been able to re-invent themselves simply by giving everyone who works for them a bit more of what they really want:

  • Agency – to make their own ‘me-shaped’ dent in the universe.
  • Mastery – to learn and master (even teach) new skills.
  • Autonomy – to be free to choose how they make their dent.
  • Purpose – to do this for something bigger than themselves, that has meaning beyond the sale.
  • Community – to do all this with ‘people like us’.
    • Status – to know (and for others to know) where we stand in our communities.


Thereby unleashing the ‘everyday genius’ of everyone, instead of relying on that of a chosen few.

Imagine the impact you could have if you started from here in the first place?