Discipline makes Daring possible.



“My demonic drive to overcome or destroy any barrier certainly helped Riverford up to a point. But since we became employee owned, I’ve come to appreciate that dispersed power & consultation lead to better, safer, less impulsive decisions, & they don’t have to come at the price of bravery & responsiveness. Watching governance develop at Riverford makes me realise we need to give those with emotional balance, who shout less & don’t need power to bolster their fragile egos, a route to leadership & influence.” Guy Singh-Watson.

As the entrepreneur, the original Boss, you are the pebble that got the ripples going, the source of the vision that made the business take off.  But as we know, that doesn’t necessarily make you the best person to take it further.

At least, not on your own.

But for a founder, it can be incredibly scary to cede control, to hand over responsibility for that precious customer experience to someone else.

The answer is to take the ‘governance’ – the way your vision drives what the business does, and how it does it – out of one head (or a few), and build it into the business itself.

So it can be a firm foundation for leadership and influence; a springboard for bravery and responsiveness, accessible to everyone.

A bit of Discipline from you, the original Boss, makes Daring possible.   Everyone can become a Boss.

There’s no better way to ensure that your legacy will ripple on.

Ask me how.




Today’s recommendation is to read ‘Humanocracy‘ by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini; to follow them on LinkedIn, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, ‘The New Human Movement


Yes, they are talking about big organisations.

They are also in many cases old organisations, who have lasted this long often at the top of their industry.

They are also in many cases big, old organisations who have managed to survive by changing how they run themselves.


What they all have in common is that they view the business as a great big collaboration of talented people, rather than a machine.


How big could your business get if you looked at it this way?  How long could it last?


You have an enormous advantage over these organisations – you haven’t gone corporate yet, so you don’t have to undo that first.


Take it.


“This is what is possible when you treat human beings like they are actually human beings”. John Ferriola.


Discipline makes Daring possible.

Ask me how.



Today I’m recommending two platforms that exemplify serendipity – the finding of interesting things you weren’t actually looking for.

The first is Wikimedia Commons, a library of images, sounds and videos available to use for free, usually under a creative commons license.   I get almost all of the images I use for my blog from this platform, so I look here every day.

This morning, a picture of rather beautiful countryside in the Western Caucasus intrigued me, so I clicked on it.  Having read through the Wikipedia entry, I clicked on another link and ended up at the Circassian Genocide, an event I’d never heard of.   Sadly, just one of many.

Wikipedia is brilliant platform for a bit of mental flânerie, The information it contains is so interconnected, you never know where you might end up, or what you might learn.  Well worth allowing 10 minutes a day for.

The second such platform is Connect the Carbon Dots, a project that came out of The Carbon Almanac.

Connect the Carbon Dots is a platform that shows the interconnectedness of the climate emergency with other pressing issues for humanity, but more importantly the interconnectedness of solutions for those issues.

Because if you can see the system, you can change the system, especially if you get together with other to do it.

We’re currently looking at ways to make it even more useful. Have a look, explore, see where it takes you.



One of the ways those who benefit most from the status quo try to put us off doing anything effective about the climate crisis is by telling us that our lives will be poorer as a result.

The truth is our lives will be different.  In the same way that my life now is different from that of my parents, and even more different from their parents before them.

Here’s my counter argument:

Humans beings are extremely creative.  We can find enjoyment, art and pleasure in the most unpromising of surroundings and the most minimal accoutrements.  We will invent (are inventing) new ways of doing the things we enjoy.

We already have lots of things to play with.  Things we’ve already made, that can be passed around, recycled, and repurposed in so many ways. People are still listening to radios their grandparents and great-grandparents listened to. We will find (are finding) ways to keep them from polluting our environment any further.

We can grow and make lots more things.  They may not be the same things we grew before, and we will have to make them in different ways, that don’t damage our chances of survival on the planet, but we are extremely creative we will find (are finding) multiple ways.

We’re being offered a form of minimalism.  We don’t have to accept it.

Which is why my recommendation for today is to take a look at Kaffe Fassett to see just how wonderful more can be.

The ability to enrich our lives doesn’t depend on money.

It depends on how we look at things.

A bit of Discplined looking can make Daring possible.

Unusual perspectives

Unusual perspectives

Today, I’m recommending Jason Fried’s blog.

As I’m sure you know, Jason wrote “It doesn’t have to be crazy at work“, a book well worth reading if you haven’t already.

Jason writes from the perspective of a business that is ‘big enough’, doesn’t need to be bigger, and is primarily a vehicle for improving the lives of its customers and employees.

Nowadays that’s quite the radical view, and it gives him a very different perspective on all the things businesses do, or are told they should do which is really refreshing and always makes me think.

If you’d like an even more radical perspective on what business could be, I also recommend Ari’s Top 5 by Ari Weinzweig, co-founder of the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses.

And if you’d like to create your own, more rounded perspective on business and it’s place in the world, I recommend the Wolf Tool from Bev Costoya.

Discipline makes Daring possible.


This week, I am mostly going to recommend…

This week, I am mostly going to recommend…

Blogs and books to read, people to follow, ideas to think about, actions to take.

My first recommendation this week is a blog “Funding the Future” by Professor Richard Murphy.

One of todays posts is chilling, which is why I am recommending it.

Richard pulls no punches:

“The threat created by climate change is now bigger than that which was created by Covid.

It is bigger than the threat created by the global financial crisis in 2008.

It is also likely that the threat is now at least as big as that created by the Second World War because as many people as then are now at risk from democidal governments.”


I don’t always agree with him, but his posts always make me think about how things could be different.

The first step to changing things is to talk about how they are, how they could be, and how we could help them change in a direction that works for all of us.

The more of us that do that, the better, because we need to move fast.



“Do you really need 10 cake slices?  Let’s get them down to one or two, shall we?”

One of the first things a professional de-clutterer will do is get rid of ‘duplicates’.

This is a strictly utilitarian view, that says one cake-slice is much like another, and ignores all the possible reasons why you might end up with 10 of them.

You might have received one as a gift, or inherited one from a parent or friend. You might have had to rush out and buy new because you couldn’t put your hand on one just when you needed it. You might have just liked the look of it.

Or you might simply be satisfying that very human urge for repetition with variation that encourages us to build collections.

All that makes choosing ‘the one’ that’s going to stay, emotional and just a bit stressful, especially if you’re made to feel judged by your inability to maintain a minimal lifestyle.

Which might be one reason I dislike de-cluttering TV programmes so much.

As you grow your small business, working out what your clients really want, and finding new ways to delight them, you acquire business processes like I acquire cake-slices.

You inherit them from your previous workplace, or maybe even the previous owner. A new employee gifts you a shiny new one.  You cobble a new one together in a rush, because you can’t quite put your hand on the one you did earlier when you need it.

Or, as happens when we’re in the thick of it, it’s simply easier to focus on the differences between cases rather than the similarities.

Luckily, business processes aren’t like cake slices. We don’t have to choose.

We can combine the best features of all of them to create one beautiful and super-useful process, with all the emotion built in, and still with room enough to deal with a new kind of cake.

That means that when I work with clients, I can start by assuming we’re going to keep everything, and work on capturing and streamlining the most salient version – the one that happens most, or is the most difficult to hand over, or the most complicated.

Usually, by the time we’ve worked through that, the owner has realised that they don’t need all the others. This new process covers all the options.

We check to make sure of course. And if, on further inspection, it turns out we do need another version, we put that in place, reusing as much of the newly designed process as we can.

No stress. No agonising over what to keep and what to throw away. No being made to feel like you are in the wrong.

Just the relief of knowing that all that clutter is now out of your head, and out of the business too.  Making it a calmer, clearer place to work for everyone, with added room for innovation.

Discipline makes Daring possible.

I’m Kirsten Gibbs, Boss Disappearer, and I can help you write your Customer Experience Score , to make your business easier to run, easier to grow and easier to build into a legacy you’ll be proud of.

Ask me how.

Making payment part of the experience

Making payment part of the experience

It’s a cliché that small businesses like me don’t like to ask for payment.   That we somehow feel guilty about asking to be paid for the value we deliver – perhaps because we don’t altogether believe in that value ourselves.

The upshot is that either we invoice late, even erratically, or we seek to make the payment aspect invisible to the client, by using a service like GoCardless for example.

But what if there was a better way?

What if you could make payment truly part of the customer experience?  In the way it often is for retail.

What if you could use every invoice to remind your client of how far they’ve come on the journey they enrolled on with you?  Of how much they’ve achieved as a result of working with you?  Of all the ideas and actions you’ve generated together?

To enable them to relive all the reasons they chose you, and the benefits they’ve gained as a result?

That might be a far from unpleasant experience for the client.

Of course to keep invoicing, you’d have to keep delivering value.

But that’s not a bad discipline to put yourself under.

After all, Discipline makes Daring possible.


There is no such thing as Admin

There is no such thing as Admin

If I ruled the world, there would be no such thing as admin.


No doing the job, and then recording that you’ve done the job.

No doing the job, then trying to remember how long it took you.

No working out how far you are through doing a job.

No going looking for the things I need to do the job.  They would simply appear when I need them as a result of another job, done by me or someone else.

No raising invoices for a job done, days or even weeks after it was done. Getting paid is an intrinsic part of doing the job.  It can also take place in parallel.

No starting a job without finishing it.  Or at least leaving it in a clearly defined and safe state.


There would be reporting.  It just wouldn’t be me doing it.   Doing the job would produce this information as a side-effect.  No need to create extra ‘work about work’ to do that.

There would be feedback too.  From the system to me, that tells me where I am and how I’m doing.   From other humans to me and from me to other humans about how we could make doing the job easier, faster, cheaper, more effective – for the benefit of the people we serve.


Let software do all the admin.  Leave the difficult, unpredictable, interesting bits of doing the job to me please.   I’m better at them than any machine.


My world is not so hard to achieve.  It’s possible right now.


All you have to do is think differently about what a job is.

Ask me how.


Discipline makes Daring possible.

Revisiting the past

Revisiting the past

Today seemed like a good day to revisit this blog post, inspired four and a half years ago, by Seth Godin:

“In the last fifty years, thanks to Deming and Crosby and others, we’ve gotten significantly better at creating perfect outputs that don’t rely on heroism and luck. Design a better system, you’ll get better outputs.

I’m grateful every day for the nearly invisible perfect things that I count on… but, and I feel spoiled to say this, I take the perfect for granted.

I’m way more interested, and spend far more time and money on the imperfect things, the things that might not work, the ideas and services and products that dance around the edges.”

I agree. Over time, the perfection of processes has freed ever more of us up to spend ever more time on the interesting, edgy things – telling stories instead of fetching water, making art instead of travelling for days on end, discovering new things instead of cooking, connecting with and trusting strangers instead of only dealing with people we already know.

But I also disagree with Seth’s implication that you can only have one or the other, perfect process or interesting edge, invisible clockwork or flesh and blood.

For me the fascinating challenge is to how to combine both.

How do you put enough process in place to make sure that what should be invisible stays invisible, without restricting the free exploration that discovers new edges?

How do you ensure that clockwork-like perfection supports and enables flesh and blood to dance around the edges, making things more human, more emotional, more daring?

If a process framework is like a musical score, how do you make it more jazz than classical?

I didn’t have a perfect answer, then, and I don’t now, but I am getting closer.

  • It’s about defining a floor (even better, a springboard), ‘the least that should happen’, along with strict guardrails – your Unbreakable Promises, that constrain possible actions to what fits with your Promise of Value.
  • It’s about defining ‘what’, not ‘how’.
  • It’s about maps, not GPS tracking.
  • It’s about embracing uncertainty for its potential upside, while making sure any downside won’t kill you.
  • It’s about automating drudgery, to free humans to be human, and play.

Above all, its about giving human beings the context, the tools and the authority to think for themselves and take the consequences, good as well as bad.

It’s about freedom.  Freedom that recognises every other’s right to the same.

Discipline makes Daring possible

Ask me how.