Category Archives: Change

“What the hell is going on?”

Ah. Remember that line? The Donald?

I have this desperate, innate desire to feel that everything is under control.

My control.

I desperately want to feel like I have my finger on the pulse of the world. Nobody’s going to come along and upset my apple cart. God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world, yadda, yadda. (My world, at least.)

I desperately want to feel like I know what’s going on.

Desire is the wrong word. More like, a guttural, animalistic urge.

And when this urge is unsatisfied for long enough, when there’s too much change that I hadn’t foreseen, my instinctive reaction is, What the hell is going on?

You have this same urge.

The Idiot in you says, Somebody DO something. Continue reading

To live or die? Hmmmm.

Do you want to live or die?

Think carefully before you answer.

Don’t be silly. Of course I want to live.


Do you want to live in the real world? Or the one you think is real?

The two are rarely the same. (Though there might be a good measure of commonality.)

I just got off the phone with a recruiter. He wanted me to work full-time for a client of his, who was a long drive away. (I didn’t. I might if I was desperate, but I’m not.) Continue reading

No easy answers

Very interesting post from Tim Ferriss. He’s up in arms over the Washington DC local council‘s decision to protect the local (and purportedly corrupt) taxi services from upstart startup (pun intended) competition. And he’s calling for people to hound the council politicians, until the decision is overturned.

The idea being: Competition is always healthy, and any initiative that stifles it in the name of protecting fat-cat monopolies is inherently evil.

Not being American, I won’t be taking the action Tim Ferris requests. I do think he is right to feel angry. Whenever the powerful few collude to protect their privileged position at the expense of the hungry many, we are right to feel angry.

Look for this kind of story to occur more frequently over the coming years.

As the revenues of governments and many traditional business flatline (or decline), the temptation will be strong for them to collaborate, legally or otherwise, against anyone threatening further erosion of those revenues. Continue reading

The Chinese aren’t coming, they’re here

The NY Times recently published an article that should give everyone in the western world pause for thought. It documents the story of why Apple make the iPhone in China, not the USA.

The key points:

  • The Chinese factory that won the bid to produce the iPhone’s glass screen were building a factory, hiring engineers, and building worker housing, before they even knew if they’d won the work.
  • China is producing appropriately-qualified engineers (note, not necessarily highly-qualified engineers) at a scale the US (and I suspect, the whole western world) cannot match.
  • Those engineers (and workers in general) are lean, eager and controllable. They are willing to work crazy hours and be manipulated to a degree that western workers will not. (We would have done so 100 years ago, maybe even 30 years ago in some places, but not any more.)
  • Apple (and I suspect, most large multinational companies) feel no obligation to solve anyone’s economic woes except their own. They feel no obligation to hire people from their own town, country, ethnic group, race, or tribe. (Should they? I’m not sure.)
  • They do feel an obligation to be faithful to their own purposes. (Which might be as simple as producing the best possible piece of art that moonlights as a smartphone.)

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The New Customers are after more than your money

Who’s the customer in any transaction?

Early on in life, I somehow got the impression that the customer must always be the one holding the money.

That’s was true in a world that was short on cash and opportunities, but long on time and attention span.

But in so much of the world now, the reverse is true. (That’s not to say that we all have plenty of cash, and no time. But we generally have plenty of options for acquiring more cash quickly with the time they have available.)

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England rugby, totem poles and Change

What do you do when the people at the top of the totem pole repeatedly show complete disregard for the well-being of the pole?

The best current example is the England national rugby scene, where the off-field management are more preoccupied with boardroom power struggles and scapegoat-finding than with on-field success.

A decade ago,  my employer decided to reorganize the engineering department. Immediately the senior management switched their focus to playing political musical chairs, each of them desperate to maintain, or even enhance, their position of power.

Work at the coalface, as we called it, suffered from their lack of attention. However, there wasn’t a significant change in the attrition rate, or any other rate, for that matter. Indeed, product kept going out the door on schedule. (Which left us wondering how many of these highly-paid managers were really necessary. But that’s another post.)

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To change or not to change

A couple of days ago, a freelance colleague asked me if I know any freelance engineers who are currently out of work.

I don’t. (A year ago, I knew a few that were out of work. None today, in the UK at any rate.)

He replied to the same effect, then added that a recruiter friend of his had over a thousand openings for permanent-staff engineers that he simply couldn’t fill.

From a purely selfish standpoint, this is good news. I’m on the winning side of that equation. I’m as busy as a freelancer could wish to be, and I regularly have to disappoint recruiters calling in search of a solution to their particular problem.

It isn’t good news, of course. This is a big problem. The economies of the western world are struggling to grow, governments are (seemingly futilely) trying to balance their budgets, skilled and unskilled people are out of work.

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Here’s an interesting quote. In the July 2011 issue of Freelancing Matters, Julia Meyer (CEO, Ariadne Capital) says, “I don’t know a single person under 30 who wants to work for someone else.”

This does not bode well for traditional mindset companies that need to backfill their retiring baby-boomers.

I’m finding the same thing. Most of the teenagers I know are aiming for careers as freelance something-or-other. The last thing on their minds is a traditional career in accounting, law, medicine, science, engineering, etc.

Old-school HR managers have still not clued in.

To ensure the future, old traditional-culture corporations will have to take one of two options:

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This is your captain speaking. We can expect some turbulence soon, folks . . . .

Baby-boomers retiring at 65.

Or 60, if they possibly can.

Wanting to live to 95 in the same manner to which they have become accustomed.

On full pension, with plenty of health care.

With lots of “young” people taking care of them.

The generation that inconvenienced their seniors, and brought about so much change.

Now seeking to avoid inconvenience and suppress change.

Continue reading