What Value Do People Have In The Digital Business?

What Value Do People Have In The Digital Business?

Did you see this recent article on TechCruch regarding the question: “Is technology is going to kill or create jobs?”

Is this a relevant question for the Digital business? For your Digital business? Where in the spectrum of kill or create do your own assumptions and predictions lie?

“There are trillions of dollars to be made in raising the value of people, which are, perhaps, our world’s most under-utilized resource.”

~ David Nordfos

Aside: Do you see people purely in terms of the value they bring to your business? Or maybe you believe people have some intrinsic value as fellow human beings, too? Have you considered how where you stand on this question might affect your attempts to make your Digital business awesomely effective?

Do you agree that people’s potential is being handled poorly – in business in general? Does this apply to the Digital business? And if so, does it matter?

Do you have any plans for your business to “tailor work to fit individual strengths”?

To recruit people on the basis of growing mutually-beneficial people-centred relationships, rather than transactional, task-centred ones?

To ask employees whose jobs may be replaced by Digital technology “how much value is there in our relationship?” and “what is the best value we can create together in this company, given our existing relationship?”

“It’s really not about the technology. It’s about our attitude toward people.”

~ David Nordfos

– Bob

Further Reading

What Is Value? ~ Think Different blog post

How Does Knowledge Contribute to Effectiveness?

How Does Knowledge Contribute to Effectiveness?

In his groundbreaking book “The Fifth Discipline”, Peter Senge wrote about “the Learning Organisation”. In this book he explored the role that learning – acquiring and applying knowledge – as an organisation plays in achieving business results.

What Do You Believe?

What do you believe? Does knowledge contribute to effectiveness? Is it possible to cultivate an awesomely effective Digital business without folks knowing about the works of a wide range of authors, specialists, and thinkers across a range of topics? And which topics have some relevance?

Unconscious Incompetence

If we accept that knowledge can contribute to the awesomely effective Digital business, what knowledge might be useful? If you’re new to Digital business, how would you find out what knowledge might be particularly useful to you? How might you and your organisation go about prioritising what knowledge to take on board first?


And when you’ve thought on that, and begun to grasp the range of topics that have some relevance to you, which sources of knowledge will you explore?

What things would you choose to put on your list? If your Digital business is not yet awesomely effective, how would you even know about what things to include?

Would any of the following appear on your list, and why (or why not)?

  • Bill Deming – especially his 95/5 ruleSystem of Profound Knowledge and Deming’s 14 Points)
  • Russell L Ackoff – especially his diatribes on the near-universal fallacy of breaking things down into parts and managing those parts separately.
  • Eliyahu M Goldratt and his Theory Of Constraints – the value of a singular focus at all times.
  • Marshall Rosenberg and Nonviolent Communication as a means to promote awesomely effective – and productive – and joyful – human relationships within and across Digital businesses.
  • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – the psychology of eustress and immersion.
  • Martin Seligman – Positive Psychology.
  • Mark McKergow – Solutions Focus principles and techniques.
  • Carl Rogers – Client-Centered Therapy and the role of Unconditional Positive Regard.
  • David Rock – neuroscience as applied to e.g. Digital business.
  • Allen C Ward on approaches to Lean Product Development.
  • Don Reinertsen’s tour de force exposition of the Laws of Product Development, and especially the role of Flow.
  • Jim Benson’s Personal Kanban – “Make things visible; Limit WIP”.
  • John Seddon and the role of (shared) normative experience in the learning process.
  • The Marshall Model and what lies at the root of all awesomely effective Digital businesses.
  • The Antimatter Principle – how to make fertile soil in which the awesomely effective Digital business can best grow and emerge.
  • FlowChain – one exemplary way to organise towards delivering optimal flow of needs or value.
  • Torbjörn Gyllebring and the application of Conway’s Law (and reverse Conway) to e.g. Digital business.
  • Tom Gilb’s Evo method, and especially the contribution that quantification can bring to awesomely effective Digital business “HOW awesome is that?”.
  • Martin Lindstrom’s study on why people buy stuff and how to use that knowledge to create more compelling products cf Emotioneering.
  • Peter Drucker and his writings on e.g. “Knowledge work”.
  • Douglas McGregor and how what we believe about people and work places limits on how effective our business can ever be.

And does just knowing about these this things make your Digital business awesomely effective? Or are some further steps necessary to take advantage of this knowledge and make it useful to your business?

– Bob


It’s No Waldorf Salad

It’s No Waldorf Salad

I was halfway through this post before I realised I was on the wrong track entirely. I was writing about how to combine my various areas of interest and study – FlowChain, Rightshifting, the Marshall Model, the Antimatter Principle, Emotioneering, Covalence, and so on – when I suddenly realised.

Combining things, or “putting things together”, like Meccano, Lego, an Airfix construction kit or a Waldorf salad – is an entirely mechanical metaphor. And awesomely effective Digital businesses are NOT “put together” from a selection of parts. As the amazing John Gall was wont to say:

“A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved [emerged] from a simple system that worked.”

~ John Gall

So, instead of thinking about “engineering” or “assembling” our awesomely effective Digital business, maybe we can adopt a more sympathetic metaphor? Like, for example, the cultivation of a single flower. In the case of a single flower, we have little to no control over its parts. We don’t get to assemble it, from a selection of possible petals, stamen, leaves, stalks, etc.. Rather, we have to provide a fertile environment for the seed. And nurture it whilst the plant emerges, more or less unbidden, according to its own “self-organisation” and in response to its environment.

So, I’ll try to stop thinking in terms of “building” awesomely effective Digital businesses, and instead use the frame of e.g. the plantsman, the breeder or the communitarian.


Likewise, awesomely effective Digital businesses emerge, more or less unbidden, from chaos, and via the marvel of self-organisation. It may stroke our sensibilities to believe we can assemble our awesomely effective Digital business from parts, like a Waldorf salad. But that’s just hubris and self-delusion.

So the idea of “putting together” or assembling my various ideas and researches into a coherent whole is the wrong frame. For me, at least. I’d rather consider the questions:

“If a digital business evolves, over time, to become awesomely effective, would there be a place for FlowChain, Rightshifting, the Marshall Model, the Antimatter Principle, Emotioneering, Covalence, and so on? And if these elements did indeed form aspects of the emerging whole, how might they interact and complement each other? How might they serve the awesomely effective Digital business?”

The answer to these questions WAS going to be the topic of this post. Or rather, in line with the format of this particular blog, more specific questions inviting you to explore with me the above questions. But now having set the frame, I’ll write THAT post next time.

– Bob

Further Reading

Systemantics ~ John Gall
Dancing With Shiva ~ Harrison Owen (TEDx Video)

Why Digital Business?

Why Digital Business?

Having set the scene to some extent with my previous post “What is a Digital Business?“, how about we explore some of the reasons for becoming a “Digital Business”?


What’s really important to your business, at the moment?

  • Revenue growth?
  • Profits levels?
  • Getting ahead of, or at least, not falling behind your competitors?
  • Increasing your customer base?
  • Reducing costs?
  • Improving the customer experience?
  • Improving your ability to change with the times?
  • Expanding into new markets?
  • Acquiring funding?
  • Something else?

Whatever your list of priorities, how is becoming a Digital Business going to help address these priorities?

Have you considered the opinions of the great and good concerning how becoming a Digital Business is going to be good for you? Have you seen how much has been and is being written on the subject, on the web and elsewhere? Maybe you have your own ideas on the whole subject?

Objectives and Intentions

Have you mapped out some notional objectives yet, even just on the back of an envelope or some such? Might quantifying those objectives help clarify the situation for yourself and others involved? Does your  business already have the capability to make these strategic decisions? Is acquiring such a capability a necessary prerequisite to approaching the whole question of becoming a Digital Business in a thought-through fashion? Indeed, is becoming a Digital Business something you even want approach intentionally?

Next Up

What would you like to explore next time? I have in mind the question of transformations, but maybe you have other issues more top-of-mind?

– Bob


What is a Digital Business?

What is a Digital Business?

Have you heard of the terms “Digital Business” or “Digital Business Transformation”? Is your business thinking about or embarked upon a move towards becoming “Digital”?

What do these terms even mean?

This is the first post of a new blog dedicated to the Digital business.

In this and future posts I shall be asking questions which might help folks explore the issues involved in becoming a Digital business.

Why questions? Why not answers?

Well, how long have you been involved in business? If it’s any length of time at all, then you’ll probably know much already about running a business.

So I don’t want to insult your intelligence or experience by providing you with hand-waving, unsubstantiated opinions or canned, general answers.

Maybe we can explore, together, just what is means to become a “Digital business” – and how you might go about making that happen for your company.

The Prime Question

What sets a Digital business apart from its more traditional and well-known counterparts? Is it the pervasive use of technology? Or something else?

The Work of the Digital Business

Would you be willing to consider the nature of the work that gets done inside Digital businesses? Is it typically routine and repetitive, or more creative and innovative? To what extent and in which particulars does it differ from the kind of work that companies are familiar with? For example, do people in Digital businesses work more with their pink muscles (brawn), or their grey muscles (brains)?

Does this have any implications for a Digital business and the way you might go about e.g. structuring, running, organising it? Might it have implications for e.g. business strategy?

How far-reaching are these implications?

A Suitable Mindset

Did you hear the opinion of Lou Gerstner, voiced when he was CEO of IBM:

“I always viewed culture as one of those things you talked about, like marketing and advertising. It was one of the tools that a manager had at his or her disposal when you think about an enterprise. The thing I have learned at IBM is that culture is everything.”

I wonder how much you agree with this, and what “culture” means for you, in this regard?

And if culture – or, as I prefer to call it “organisational mindset” – is everything, are there things we can do to use that to the advantage of our Digital business? What kind of organisational mindsets serve our digital business best – and what mindsets might serve to thwart our intentions and efforts in becoming “Digital”?

– Bob