Tags ,

Where Do You Work

A response to a recent newsletter. Specifically one where I explored Work Location. (You might want to click in and have a read to get the context.)

Sometimes people have a lot to say, but they don’t join into the dialogue - nor even make comments. I get it. I really do. Another post from an anonymous reader, this time answering something I wrote in a newsletter and again - reproduced with permission from the original writer.

Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash...

Now, this is a subject that really gets to me!!

I have long argued that the biggest conflict in the world today is that between global and tribal politics. I have met anthropologists who maintain that the human-animal is basically tribal - pre-programmed by history, if not genetics, 'to want to belong'. They argue that this is at the root of all sorts of things we see today - including racism/xenophobia at the most serious level and, more prosaically, things like fashion fads, football fans, pop group mania, etc., at the daily level. However, there is, in my eyes at least, clear evidence of emerging subsets of humans who want to throw all that away in favour of seeing the world, and our species, holistically.

One rather crude indicator of this - a frequent topic in my Operations and Supply Chain Management consultancy and teaching - is the tension between global companies (not of all which are the spawn of the devil, planet-destroying, secret cabal members, but simply businesses whose raw materials, skill-base and customers cannot be defined by random, historical, “lines on the ground") and national Governments, most obviously over issues like differing tax regimes (and where it’s paid) and customs (import/export) processes.

Extend this to the individual with the option of working at very long distance from 'the office', and we see similar issues. Some 6 years ago, I did a piece of work for a Greek client, itself funded by the EU, whose direct customers were mainly from the new Eastern EU member states. HMRC was out of the traps like a top greyhound: within days I was in receipt of paperwork explaining what I needed to do to make sure that my work was taxed (and subject to National Insurance) 'here in the UK' (despite me NOT actually being in the UK), rather than in Greece. I presume the argument would be that we are a UK-registered company, I am a UK citizen and the education/experience that enabled me to win the contract were gained in the UK, some of it at University, at the taxpayer's expense. That’s fair enough. However, many of the people who would say “quite right too” are EXACTLY the same people who complain when a US company, say, elects not to be taxed in the UK on earnings made here. Yet, those companies are employing UK people, who pay (quiet a lot) of tax, when you take NI, VAT, duty etc., into account as well as direct PAYE, they are renting or buying UK property, and paying local tax on it, they are consuming UK products and services that create more jobs and tax, etc. If they moved all their operations out of the UK, would we win or lose? It’s not such an easy calculation as the 'red top fury' suggests.

So, back to your individual, living where (s)he wants to live but working for a company 'back home', or, in the extreme, in the economy that places the highest monetary value on her/his skills. Would (s)he pay tax in the country of residence, the country of origin, the country employment, or several of these? Would the value of the residence (shopping local tax, etc.) be offset against the value of direct employment taxation in deciding policy?

Or is this another nail in the coffin of nationalistic division?

Tags , ,

Message From A Musician

As a reader of this blog and newsletter or as a listener of my podcast - you know that I am a keen supporter of the broad category of 'creative professional' - and specifically 'musician'. What follows are not my words, but those of a musician that wrote to me recently. Reproduced with their permission and names and venues changed/anonymized to 'protect the vulnerable'.

I just got my first real paying gig since March 17 for Saturday December 26th. Meanwhile, due to an uptick in local COVID cases the county has announced that restaurants are to remain open, but no one allowed at the bar for the next 2 weeks.

By my calculation from today (Dec. 10), that takes us to December 25th. So, December 26th we will be back to normal?

Photo by Marscella Ling on Unsplash

After 9 months of ‘COVID communications with the owners of a local ‘hostelry’ - and having played there every Friday for over fourteen years, I have now experienced a full u-turn, so instead of returning to my Friday Afternoon slot - which they said “would be there for me whenever I was ready to return”, they have instead told me I will be “on call”, if they need a last minute substitute as ‘their schedule is booked full’.

I told them actually no …. no I won’t.

Beyond that, they are no longer paying what they used to - and that was never a lot to begin with!

The business (music AND the hostelry) has never been stacked with integrity, but this has to be a new low. Maybe to match the pay rates of the stand-ins?

Meanwhile on the other side of town, my Tuesday night gig (again over 14 years) has been taken over by a guy playing bass with a karaoke backing machine … in return for ‘a burger and a beer’ !!

The musician said “he did not want to steal my night” … funny - because he did. He could have said no. I guess the burger temptation was too great.

He was offered the gig by the owner because his belief was that I wouldn’t work for free. (Correct!).

I grew up in a Union town. I remember what those kinds of people were called.

I get it. I really do. I know the venues are struggling with finance like us all - musicians included - but if they can’t afford musicians - why bring them on at all?

If your business model is to offer live music - shouldn’t you pay for it?

And sure - I can hear the gallery calling down - you’ll make it up in tips.

With luck - but in reality - no.

So take a share of the profits of extra beer sold …. yeah - good luck with that! When THEY are doing well, YOU are on a fixed (low) fee - "make it up in tips". But now they are down … well, you know how it goes.

As you know I’ve made my living as a full time musician and creative all of my life, so sad to reflect on COVID lessons;

  • loyalty - out of the window
  • promises - not worth the paper they are written on
  • dogs - they will eat dogs

Don’t get me wrong, the competition is just getting ramped up. The number of musicians - in this area seems to be growing by the day - and I am pretty sure that the number of hostelries are reducing. (One of the biggest just 10 miles away has announced that it is closing for GOOD. )

Not sure how this is going to play out - but I stand with my belief that a business should only offer what it can afford - and the race to the bottom of price is not a race I am going to join in.

When I order Lobster, I don’t expect to eat it and then renegotiate the price - but that seems to be the life of the live performer.

Still - one door closes, another opens - I wonder what happens when two doors close!

People First
Tags ,

A New Model For Business

Wouldn't you know that one of the first real blog posts to go live on the newly revamped People First Blog is really not my work at all - but rather that of 'People First Friend and Member' ... Jeff Mowatt.

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

So what does business that puts people first actually mean in practice?

People-Centered Economic Development derives from a paper for the steering group for the Committee to (Re)Elect the President, describing a business model which operates for social benefit rather than maximising shareholder returns.

In the core argument which critiqued the fractional reserve banking system the paper asserted:

"Economics, and indeed human civilization, can only be measured and calibrated in terms of human beings. Everything in economics has to be adjusted for people, first, and abandoning the illusory numerical analyses that inevitably put numbers ahead of people, capitalism ahead of democracy, and degradation ahead of compassion."

"Each of us who have a choice can choose what we want to do to help or not. It is free-will, our choice, as human beings."

Jeff Mowatt

Read the whole article here ....

More about Jeff Mowatt, Director, People-Centered Economic Development UK.

Tags , ,

Three Scenarios for Rolling Back Surveillance Capitalism

Johannes Ernst
Tags , , ,

How Many Different Ways Is This Wrong?

A friend of mine sent this link to me. I was incensed. (I think he knew I would be). In turn, I sent this link into an Internet Identity community I belong to and asked : "How many different ways is this wrong?"

Amazon To Pay Consumers For Their Shopping Data

Photo by Free To Use Sounds on Unsplash

People First Podcast Guest Tim Walters was quick to reply (the link takes you to the podcast - the show has not yet gone live).

The great and sadly late European Data Protection Supervisor, Giovanni Buttarelli, said it all in 2014:

"There might well be a market for personal data, just like there is, tragically, a market for live human organs, but that does not mean that we can or should give that market the blessing of legislation. One cannot monetise and subject a fundamental right to a simple commercial transaction, even if it is the individual concerned by the data who is a party to the transaction."

If I thought it was worth $10 a month, I'd go to a shopping district and gather discarded receipts to scan for Amazon. After all, "That data will be used anonymously, the company says." But . . . if it is genuinely used anonymously, why doesn't Amazon just collect and study discarded receipts themselves? They could certainly find a way to do it at far more scale -- not to mention, actually anonymously -- than a cumbersome mailed-pictures-of-paper-receipts-for-Amazon-credit scheme. (S&H Green Stamps, anyone?)

The company says it deletes any sensitive information such as prescriptions from drug store receipts and allows panellists to delete their own information whenever they want." Oh, not so anonymous after all.

Tim Walters / Giovanni Buttarelli

What do you think?

Tags , , , , ,

The People First Community

Community mind you ... not Network - is a yet to be developed space/application that will serve to provide a fabric that wraps so many people, organizations, books, papers, applications etc. My observation is that in any initiative you find parallel organizations that seem to relate and compete and yet essentially are discussing the same topic. Think 'not-for-profits' fighting each other for the same funding to solve the same problem.

People First is not the only organization in this space - so in one sense we are another node on the network. No argument. BUT. What will do is provide a network map of anybody and everybody related to and working with the challenges we are identifying.

Example of a Dynamically Generated Interactive Network Map

No need to click through by the way - nothing there - yet - move along. It for the moment remains the vision.

DigLife and Generative Identity

Once such organization, lead by Philip Sheldrake is The DigLife Collective - of which yours truly is a founder member. Their observation says it all;


DigLife Collective

DigLife has in turn recently spawned another initiative that explores Generative Identity. It's new thinking that I wanted to capture now. It's an important message. To me the first time that I am aware of the world of technology that in talking about identity, they are not just talking about the 'ID' - but also starting to think of the 'entity' of Identity.

For those keeping track, you will recall that it is a significant stone in the People First canon.

ID and Entity are the two sides of Identity
From The Generative Identity Site

Whenever we contemplate human dignity and well-being, social inclusion and equity, economics, education, democratic process, peace and justice, whenever we contemplate many of the sustainable development goals and corresponding targets, we inevitably contemplate the question of human identity in the digital age.

Anyone who has worked on projects in areas such as these will vouch that questions of identity are integral to their research, their analyses, and their designs.

The term generative identity is used to refer to research and thinking and designs that prioritise psychological, sociological, and ecological health in their approach to digital identity. The interdisciplinary working group on generative identity exists to encourage such work and, by corollary, to highlight the innate dangers of approaches to digital identity that do not qualify as generative.

Funny, just today, I published the weekly newsletter referencing a quote from Douglas Adams. There must be something in the ether. Over on the DigLife site, I found this image of dolphins.

Dolphins By Courtnie Tosana
People First
Tags , , ,


CX in the age of privacy and trust, part 3: Can we rebuild trust?

Tim Walters

Fits nicely into something I read recently from Union Square Ventures .... Trust is offence (trust gaps create opportunities for startups) as well as defence (trust is a moat).

Tags ,

There’s A Gap

Over here I share a lot of Gaping Void's work. Hugh Macleod more often than not nails it. But this one needed a comment.

Boom! That’s the way it works, for anyone in the innovation or creative business. History decides what is 'art', history decides what is 'important' ...

Meanwhile, you’re just doing your job, you’re just showing up, trying to be a pro, you’re just trying to be a grownup, you’re just trying to get paid.

Hugh Mcleod - Gaping Void

Whilst I don’t disagree that 'history' decides what is important - Hugh of all people knows that 'history' is not neutral. An example would be that 'History' for the longest time did not recognize art that came from (say) Africa, because we 'superior' Westerners were writing off thousands and thousands of years of 'art' - because it didn't fit into our Western sensibilities and so classified the art into Natural History Museums.

Tags , , , ,

The Gig Economy is Dopey

The following post comes courtesy of John T. Maloney, who sent me an email reply to one of my newsletters and it just was too good not to share. Thankyou John. Nicely delivered.

The 'gig economy' is dopey. Always had a problem w/the term.

For me, a gig is a trident tip spear used for gigging. Period.

Growing up in rural and coastal Connecticut, from April to November, gigging was a principal pastime. We'd go after anything gigable, but mostly bullfrogs and flounder. It was very effective. 

Tags , , , , ,

Innovation Silicon Valley Style

People First is delighted to share work that is relevant to our initiatives. Geoffrey Moore is an author, speaker and management strategy advisor. His work has influenced the careers of many of us at People First and we are excited he granted us permission to share this particular article.

There is a cottage industry in conducting executive tours of Silicon Valley, and now increasingly San Francisco SOMA, to expose teams from other parts of the planet to what is admittedly a uniquely successful culture of innovation and wealth creation. I’m all for it up to a point. Where I part company from the herd is with the notion that global corporations have a chance in hell of playing the same game. They don’t. Here’s why.

To quote a hopefully soon-to-be would-be candidate for president, Silicon Valley’s version of the innovation game is rigged! That is, it is specifically designed around a venture capital oriented ecosystem that is uniquely aligned to support investments in disruptive innovation. The limited partners who fund VCs want their money put into these high-risk, high-reward endeavours. The VCs that parcel out that money interview entrepreneurs to pick the best ideas, plans, and teams to prosecute a disruptive innovation. The ecosystem of service providers needed to support these fledgling enterprises is deeply experienced in navigating the economic gyrations brought on by the Technology Adoption Life Cycle. And when any individual joins one of these companies, he or she knows their sole mission in life is to bring the targeted disruptive innovation to scale as fast as possible, come hell or high water, Devil take the hindmost. Now, I ask you, where else in the world could you expect to find this kind of alignment?

Most companies in most economies in most places live by sustaining innovation, not disruption. Successful investments are typically medium-to-low risk with medium-to-high rewards. They do not involve going through a bet-the-company J-curve, that deep and harrowing financial trough from which only a fraction of traveler’s return. Financiers from traditional economies do not want the companies they invest in to take this route—they want steadier ROIs from more proven paths. The executive teams who run these companies developed their considerable expertise prosecuting opportunities of just this sort. The workforce’s who report in to them are not prepared to work crazy-long hours in pursuit of some visionary dream, nor do they want them to. They want them to show up, be present, do real work, and then go home and spend time with their families, loved ones, and significant others. That’s what economic stability is all about.

So, when a disruptive innovation does cross the chasm and breaches the defenses of one of their mainstream marketplaces, it should come to no one’s surprise that it is not being led by any currently successful established competitor. Frankly, such organizations all have better fish to fry. BUT, once a disruption has breached the mainstream market’s defenses and taken hold, then the game is dramatically changed. The old way is now under existential threat, the established ecosystem is no longer economically viable, and customers are looking to their traditional vendors to see if they can and will adopt the new playbook.

Now, the good news here is that customers do not like to switch vendors. This means, if you and your ecosystem of partners can stand down from your old positions of power and take up the new modus operandi, then your prospects of defending your turf are actually quite good. You don’t have to introduce a disruptive new business model of your own to do this, but you do have to catch up—and smartly too! This means you have to incorporate enough of the new technology to modernize your operating model, to blunt the appeal of the disruptor by stealing a bit of their thunder. That is, your goal is not to differentiate in order to win new customers—that’s the disruptor’s playbook. They want the customers you have. Your goal instead is to neutralize the opposition’s appeal in order to keep your existing customers loyal to you. Differentiation and neutralization call for two very different playbooks. Silicon Valley is the master of the first. You need the second.

For that, you should look outside the Valley to a company like Microsoft, one that has spent the entire arc of its history protecting the extraordinary customer base it was gifted by the near-universal adoption of the IBM PC. Without exception its most successful products were born out of neutralization, not differentiation. That is, Windows neutralized the Macintosh OS, Windows NT neutralized Novell, Office neutralized WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, and Persuasion, Outlook neutralized cc:Mail, SQL Server neutralized IBM DB2 and Oracle, and Internet Explorer neutralized Netscape Navigator. In every case, Microsoft was quick to clone just to get something vaguely competitive into the market asap, and then worked relentlessly first to bring its product up to speed and eventually to surpass the original disruptor. And all along the way, it leveraged its existing market position to bundle early offerings in for free, monetizing them downstream either on their own or by virtue of them sustaining the price premium of the suites they had been incorporated into.

By contrast, Silicon Valley companies that have found themselves under a comparable attack have often tried a different tack. They have sought to out-innovate the innovator, to leapfrog the freakin’ toad that just leapfrogged them! Yahoo wanted to out-innovate Google with social search. Sun and HP wanted to out-innovate Intel with Spark and PA-RISC. eBay wanted to out-innovate Amazon by buying Skype. But when the barbarians are at the gates, there is no time to invent a new weapon or experiment with an unproven one—you have to co-opt the one they are using against you.

So, yes, please do come to Silicon Valley and take away whatever lessons you can incorporate successfully into your current enterprise. Everyone needs to differentiate eventually. But you might extend your trip up to Redmond to learn a trick or two from the folks up there as well.

That’s what I think. What do you think?