Alan Cyment

You won’t believe how much time Alan Cyment spent at business school!

Last week I publish the first part of my interview with Alan Cyment, and this post cover the second part of the interview. In this second part Alan introduces me to an exercise called a Pro-Action Cafe, talks about his current work translating Tobias Meyer’s book, re-writing his CSPO course, and self-organizing conference.

And, you’ll want to stay to the end to hear how much time he spent at business school!

Transcript

Alan: I recently took a three day workshop here, in Buenos Aires,
very interesting, it’s called the “Art of Hosting”. It’s a term that puts
together different ways of doing the conferences, they call it the “Art of
Conversation.”Interviewer: Right.Alan: Open space world cafe, which I don’t like that much. And I try,
I recently tried… here, listen because this is going to help us both.

Interviewer: Okay.

Alan: They showed us something called “Pro Action Cafe.” Have you
tried it?

Interviewer: Pro Action Cafe?

Alan: It’s a mixture between open space and world cafe, and this is
where our worlds meet.

Interviewer: No no, this is interesting, how do you run a pro action
cafe? What’s the difference between?

Alan: Its, I think it was created for entrepreneurs but I’ve been
using it to wrap up all my CSM courses now, and I’ve been using it inside
companies. It goes like this, it opens up in a circle just like open space,
but what you’re asking is not for sessions. You’re asking for
entrepreneurs, you’re asking for projects. So at the end of my CSM courses,
especially if it’s in company, I ran one a couple of days ago. Very
intertesting. Three companies in Uruguay got together to organize a CSM
course, so it was like six, six, and eight people.

What I asked them, you count the number of people you’ve got, you
divide them by four, and that’s the amount of, and this is the big
difference with open space, this is the maximum amount of sessions you can
have. I had 20 people there? We only had space for five sessions, so you
put only five sheets of paper in the center of the circle, and the people
who go there, what they have to tell is, they have to describe, a project,
in the case of the CSM is, a project that would… I actually changed the
name instead of “Pro Action Cafe” I put “Pro [inaudible 0:51:42] Cafe.”

So, you had to tell us about what sizable change you wanted to make
in your organization. Sizable shift, inspired by what we have talked about
in these few days, actual scrum or something around it. People briefly
explained just like in open space, then the entrepreneurs become the hosts
of a world cafe, in the middle of the pro action cafe you’ve got a world
cafe, but it’s different. It’s oriented to the entrepreneurs, they’re going
to be the hosts, you have the table cloth with the paper, just like you
have with the world cafe. You have people sign up for tables before the
three rounds, and they cannot go to the same table twice, and you can only
have, this the one I learned, you can only have three extra people at a
table, so you have a total of four. So, the three questions in the pro
action cafe are always more or less the same. The first one is “What’s the
profound meaning of your venture, what’s behind your willing to promote
this change?”

Your guests at the table what they have to do is, they have to help
you understand it, and as usual doodle on the paper. Then you have the
second round, the second round is, “What have you got, and what are you
lacking? Where are you standing right now in terms of possibilities?” Then
the third round is, “Whats the best next step you can take?”

Interviewer: That’s important that last one.

Alan: Yeah, and so, then the world cafe finishes, and you finish the
whole pro action cafe, its similar to open space, you gather all of the
people in a circle, but the only ones who are going to talk are the
entrepreneurs. They have to say two things. They have to thank the guests.
It’s better if they thank more particularly, “Kane, what you told me in the
second round make me change the focus of my project, it was really
important what you told me, now I’m going somewhere else,” or whatever.

So you thank people, then you commit to the group, to the next
action, and you tell them how you’re going to inform them what you results
were; that you actually managed to do it, to try it, and you succeeded or
you failed, or whatever. That’s where you finish it. It has a lot of power,
a lot of power.

Interviewer: I like it.

Alan: Very powerful.

Interviewer: I like the commitment at the end as well, the commitment
about what you’re going to do.

Alan: Yes.

Interviewer: That’s one of the difficulties that I have with open
space, is that, not always but often, they end on a very weak note, so you
don’t know if there’s going to be any purpose or not, you don’t know if
things are going to change or not.

Alan: Yeah.

Interviewer: So, I find that very frustrating. This might be a nice
solution to that.

Alan: Yeah, I think, open space, sometimes, there’s always a dial
with limits when you want to tune self organization.I think that depending
on the commitment and discipline of the group, you need to add a couple of
rules to open space in order to make it have an impact.

When I’m facilitating open spaces these days, I usually tell groups,
it’s not enough, but at least during the five finishing minutes of their
sessions, they need to create a tweetable outcome of what they discussed,
so it’s either 140 words, or pictures, or a video or something. That’s one
step, but I think it’s better because if it’s a conference then it’s too
wide, but if it’s inside a company, then maybe you can put the theme
subject can be like “How can we work better?” So you have to leave every
session with a proposal. I like adding the small limits, it’s similar to
pro action cafe. I mean pro action cafe is brilliant, it’s mostly for
initiatives. It’s not for discussing subjects or whatever.

Interviewer: Yeah, vague topics.

Alan: Yeah, yeah. I’m going to get some tea.

Interviewer: Interesting, I wasn’t expecting to learn about pro action
cafes, but, it’s been a nice outcome, I’m going to have to look that up.

Alan: Oh yeah.

Interviewer: Take advantage of that.

Alan: Not that much material online sadly, but we have to promote it.
It’s very, very good.

Interviewer: Yeah, I certainly like that a lot better than an open
space, because as I said I think it looks a lot more… you know, the
outcome’s more tangible, than for a…

Alan: Oh yeah, way more. Absolutely.

Interviewer: Do you mind if I sort of try and go from there? Is that
okay? So you’ve talked about pretty much all of your journey throughout, up
to being a scrum trainer. What are you working on now? What are some of the
things that you’re doing now? What do you find interesting at the moment?

Alan: Couple of things, main thing I’m doing right now, is I’m doing
a translation of Tobias’ book.

Interviewer: Oh nice.

Alan: “The People’s Scrum” but it’s very interesting because Toby
told me that he didn’t want me to do a translation, he wanted it to be
something more.

Interviewer: That is so Tobias.

Alan: Yeah. I came up with the term “linguistic variation” like a
musical variation. So far I’ve been translating, somehow freely, so I try
to convey the meaning, but I do some changes. Especially, I add adjectives,
stuff like that, I like putting way more adjectives. I’m also planning, but
I haven’t done it yet, to add like a commentary to each essay, like; I
agree with this, I disagree with this, I think this is great, I think this
is not that amazing. Also, Toby told me that he would like me to add some
essays of myself so that we are coauthors of the Spanish version.

Interviewer: Cool.

Alan: That’s my main focus today. I’m also running courses, I’m
running mostly CSM and PO courses. I started very late in my CST career to
run PO courses, I think the failure I told you about before hit me so
strong, that I always thought that I was not ready for it. I need to learn
more, I need to learn more.

I had a weird interruption in my scrum career, when I decided to
quit, last year. I had planned that for a long time, to go for a full time
MBA in Spain. We moved to Spain with my wife, and I said I’m not coming
back to the scrum world. This first idea that change every year, I wanted
to make a sudden or big change in my work life, I needed to change
industry, I need to change everything.

Interviewer: Wow.

Alan: But it was too artificial, it wasn’t organic at all, and I felt
so out of place at business school, which every single family member,
friend, and colleague had told me for the past decade. Because for some
reason, for 2002, I visited my sister, she was doing a master’s degree in
Columbia, and she told me about what an MBA was, and I said I need that.

I got obsessed with it, and I quit it but when I when I was there, I
said OK I might come back to the scrum world. I said I want to learn way
more about PO stuff, so I started; Europe is small so I started traveling
to visit other CSPO courses, email the trainer and ask them, I think I want
to Gabby Benefield’s course. The main one that I went to was Jeff Patton’s.

Interviewer: Yeah, yeah. Great course.

Alan: I went to CSPO course in Moonage. It really shook me; I said
“This is something that I really need to focus on.”

I had been reading a lot about the Cerna stuff and customer
development and I said I want to focus here. I didn’t want to do a PO
course that didn’t have a statement to make. Because my CSM course has a
big statement, a big push for the, what did I call it? Actually I got the
term from Toby I think, “The Spirit of Scrum.” The spirit behind the law.
My PO course was going to be discovery not delivery, well, discovery over
delivery.

Interviewer: Right, Okay. So, discovery of what the business is.

Alan: Yeah, well, actually I took the terms from Jeff Patton; he says
that if PO’s task has two main tasks, delivery and discovery. We do a tiny
little bit of discovery at the beginning and then we go all for delivery.

Interviewer: Yeah. Absolutely.

Alan: We turn on the engine of this train and no one’s going to
change the goal. This focus on learning about the market all the time, and
being. I love the idea of intellectual humility that is needed to
understand and do scrum. I think in order to be a PO, you need to be
amazingly humble, intellectually, so that you can acknowledge that you will
never understand the market, so you can only do experiments with it.

I’ve been focusing on that, I’ve been preparing and running CSPO
courses, and trying with the Inception Deck from Thoughtworks. Doing PO
stuff, and product development stuff, I’m really interested in that, and I
have this weird idea, you told me, is my face getting too dark? The sun is
rising.

Interviewer: It is getting very dark, you getting difficult to see.

Alan: I’m moving; let’s see if it gets better this way.

Interviewer: That’s already a lot better.

Alan: Okay.

Interviewer: Ah, very nice. Perfect. You’ve got some CD’s and books
behind you, I think.

Alan: Actually, these are board games.

Interviewer: Very nice, Scrabble.

Alan: Yeah, Scrabble on top, [inaudible 1:05:10, and a puzzle. Oh, I
want to show you something that I sometimes take to some… it’s very
delicate, so that’s why I don’t take it to every single course and coaching
engagement, but when I get a client that’s always criticizing everything, I
give them this glass that my wife gave to me. It’s, I’m sure it’s when I
read, but it says “Half empty” and “Half full” and when you pour water or a
liquid in it, it starts filling from here up. It’s very instant, the
message gets delivered, like this. So I’ve got this crazy idea, that I
really want to try, when I was in Costa Rica, one of the main things that I
enjoyed was all these conversations with the PO, defining features, I
really enjoy the product thing.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Alan: Especially, Latin America, Argentina, maybe for lack of
investment or whatever, there’s a lot of focus on the software world in
this being services.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Alan: Used to be off shoring, but now the currency exchange rate has
changed and we are way more expensive, but it’s still services. So no
products here and I find that boring. I always think, the world of software
can be seen from two perspectives, the project perspective, and the product
perspective. And the other perspective is going to be a slave of the other
perspective afterwards.

So you either see the world of projects that may have a product
behind, or the other way around. I think that the project view, which is
way more prevalent in our region, is short termed, is way less prone to
collaboration, and the main thing, the main difference, is I think its way
harder if you’re in the project mindset to be passionate about what you do.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Alan: Actually, Jeff Patton’s CSPO course is called “Passionate PO
Ownership,” he doesn’t actually mention this explicitly, but I always think
a project manager could be passionate about his Gantt chart, maybe. But, I
don’t think there’s any possibility, anyone in the team might ever be
passionate about the Gantt chart, but, people on the team will get
passionate about product features, about the product, about users.

Interviewer: Yeah. Especially if they can see it, if they can see it at
the end of the sprint, I mean, that’s a very powerful motivating factor.

Alan: Yeah, but, if what they see are features that are actually in
the end of the day, what they are, are just tasks that are going to be
ticked in a Gantt chart, the feature is slave, it’s something that’s a
consequence, but I mean the main goal here is to tick…

Interviewer: The box.

Alan: Yeah, tick the box. So, it’s very hard to become passionate
about it, and I became really obsessed with this notion. I remember in
Costa Rica, I had great weekends. I always took busses to different
beaches, and trails and stuff, but I remember that for the first time in my
life, when I was in Costa Rica, it was Sunday evening, and I would have
liked to have stayed at the beach, but I really wanted… I was eager for
Monday morning to arrive. I said, whoa, this is the first time that this
has ever happened to me.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Alan: That’s when I thought, scrum is the art of loving Mondays.

Interviewer: That’s a great phrase, “Scrum is the Art of loving
Mondays.”

Alan: Yeah, actually, it used to be the tagline of my blog. Then I
stopped writing it, but, actually the blog was called “Luna De” which is
“Mondays” in Italian. “The Art of loving Mondays,” it’s playing with
things, and experimenting, and the end goal is for everyone to love
Mondays, your clients, and the team. OK, where was I going? So, I was
obsessed with all of the building products, our lack of capacity, financial
or risk taking ability, or whatever, and we’re not developing that many
products. What I thought was, to try this model, actually, I thought it for
the first time, for unemployed developers, but the thing is, there are no
unemployed developers, it’s a sparse population.

Interviewer: Yeah, good point.

Alan: I have met all these service companies, that have a lot of gaps
in their assignments, they have people that are idle, because they don’t
have a project, so until a new project arrives, they aren’t sure what to
give them. They develop internal systems, they do refactoring or automate,
many things, but they might need to stop at one time, because a new project
can arrive. Only big companies, I think have enough idle time so that, you
got critical mass of idle time so that you build a good product. It’s hard
to actually build something, so what I thought was, why don’t we join
forces? Between a lot of companies that have little spare time, and maybe
freelancers that have a little spare time, and unemployed people.

Basically, my idea is to come up with development that similar to
open source, but its commercial, so you develop a product, and you sell it,
and you have like collaborative capitalism iterations, a cadence of
collaborative capitalism. I need to try this, each part, each service
company, and each individual, each one that’s putting effort into this,
lines of code, tests, or tweets, or whatever, needs to vote anonymously,
how they would divide up 100 points between the other people, the other
individuals. Then you sum up, get the average and do the splitting.
Basically the thing is embracing subjectivity, embracing the fact that it’s
absolutely impossible to measure each one’s contribution and productivity.
So, because it’s impossible, what we’re going to do is subjectively and
collaboratively, so, this way a lot of service companies could start
developing a lot of product in their spare time and they could develop cool
products and also start collaborating with other companies. That’s an idea
that I’ve been working on, but I still haven’t had the time to actually put
it up.

Interviewer: It’s an interesting idea. So, basically you would work
with a number of different parties to build a collaborative product. Who
would be the product owner in this particular role?

Alan: That’s a good question. I think the product owner should be a
constant permanent role, someone who would need to invest, not full time,
but I think the product owner is the first one to appear in the scene. I’ve
got one example or one project that I would like to start with. There’s one
more thing that I’m working on, well a couple of things, you tell me when
that’s enough.

Interviewer: No, no. This is interesting. I’m intrigued. I like this.
This is a really interesting idea, there are a lot of issues that I can
see, I mean, different parties will want to deliver a different product, so
how do you manage that? How do you manage that dynamic?

Alan: Well, its stakeholders that want to do different things, it’s
the PO as facilitator, and the PO is predetermined. I love that definition,
the book is, well, I don’t have it over here; the facilitator is a person
from a neutral point of view helps a group of people make a non trivial
decision. So it’s tough.

Interviewer: Yeah. Absolutely.

Alan: I’ve been experimenting with this open space, it’s basically
open space, but I realize that at least here, in order to do an open space,
we needed the approval of a University so that it can give us space, No, we
have exams, we can’t do it, we don’t have the money to rent a space, and I
said, “Okay that’s pointless, why don’t we just do it outdoors, or in
parks.” I came up with the phrase “Agile is in the air.” I started doing
open spaces in parks.

Interviewer: Up in the air.

Alan: Yeah, if it rains that day, it hasn’t yet, but, we can rent a
football field, you know you rent them by the hour, and we do the open
space there. It’s been great so far, we haven’t been able to gather too
many people yet, and we’ve done many. We’ve done it on Saturday, week days,
near downtown, actually some guys in Spain and Columbia, and Uruguay,
they’re trying the idea. What I’d like to do is, I’d like to have a
website, like Agileisintheair.org, and the main thing is you see all the
agile’s in the airs.

The thing is, if you want to sign up for it, you want to go, the
price for the entrance, for me organizing it is nothing, it’s just putting
a date and a place, also its sort of, it’s like a backlog of needs. Things
that need to be done, or, it’s your actions, may times its things that we
need for the actual open space. For instance, it would be great, we will
need to do once, if we would collaboratively prepare the food, so that we
don’t have to hire. Because the open spaces that I have been to have always
had this traditional conference mentality behind it. With organizers and an
assistance, and paying an entrance, and there’s food available, and there
are breaks. That’s not self organization we’ve got to get rid of all of
that. I picture this, you’ve got this list and it says “tomato, lettuce,
bread, knives” so when you sign up for “Agiles in the Air” you commit to
bringing one of those, so no one else is going to bring bread, so if the
day of Agiles in the air, Al doesn’t show up, we don’t have bread.

Interviewer: That’s great.

Alan: That will have a price to pay.

Interviewer: Yeah, absolutely.

Alan: During one of these Agiles in the Airs, one that was around
games, I think I presented a session or a discussion topic was
gameification of scrum, over agility. I came up with this game that I
really want to develop, when I first started in Costa Rica, this is very
basic, I wanted everyone to do TDD for instance, and they hated the notion,
and they started saying “No, it’s not for us, it’s not for this domain, and
it’s not for this language.” So, I got very angry, and I became very
insistent and things got worse. I remember a guy, Martin Sadiez, which I
respect a lot, told me, in the user form, that something so basic but they
will never adopt it if they don’t see the need for it.

Interviewer: Very true.

Alan: I decided I coined the phrase “stealth zealot”; I was the
stealth zealot. Actually, trying to translate it, if we have a second, I
want to look up this word in the dictionary. It was actually a Taliban…
like zealot, it was a scrum…

Interviewer: Fanatic?

Alan: Yeah, the crouching zealot. The crouching fanatic, so that’s
it, the initial point, I just love this thing, but I’m going to be
crouching, because if I come running to you telling you this is the best,
you’re going to reject me.

Interviewer: Right.

Alan: So, I’m going to be crouching, and then what I realized is,
this is just exactly the same as with the product, the process should be
organic, just like what I had seen in Ken Beck’s book, this is a tree. I
started, especially with CSM courses, telling people that I like the
approach of what I call “organic scrum” which is that scrum is only
retrospective, and a change agent and everything is going to grow from
there. I call it PDF, Pain during Facilitation, so maybe a little bit
product owners, and a little bit of daily meetings, until it grows to a
full blown scrum. So I wanted to gameify that, so I came up with this idea
of talking with people there, an agile orchard, so you get like a website,
like a social network, where every team has their orchard, and you get
different plants, different trees. You’ve got the self organizing tree, and
the software quality tree, and blah blah blah, and the strategic planning
tree, continuous improvement tree. Maybe, you have like an assessment, I’m
not sure how to do it, maybe you can see you plants, or maybe you start
like that, and in every retrospective you answer some questions, and you
see how your plants start growing.

Interviewer: So you try and grow the trees.

Alan: Yeah, you have different trees, you have a big healthy tree in
software quality but your plant in, I don’t know, self organization, or
commitment, or whatever is tiny, and what the most interesting thing is, if
you don’t water your tree, if you don’t access the system, every one or two
weeks, you trees begin to dry up, begin to die. It’s like a Tamagotchi,
like a scrum Tamagotchi, and thus teams will start visualizing that it’s a
fallacy to pretend that their process is going to stay the same if they
don’t touch it. I want to try out this product with the model that I told
you before; I would like to be the product owner of that development.

Interviewer: What do you envision will be the outcome? A software tool?

Alan: Yeah, it’s a website where every team has like a Facebook wall,
you have your orchard, and you can visualize rankings, teams with the
healthier gardens, orchards, are teams with left, and I came up with this
business model where the website is free, but it’s public. If you don’t
want to see how awful your teams are, you pay for the enter price.

Interviewer: That’s cunning. That’s a very clever approach to pricing.

Alan: So there’s some business model as well. After finishing
Tobias’, well our, book let’s say. I think I’m going to focus on that. Try
to focus on actually delivering that. Presenting this idea in as many
places as possible and seeing who would join this open source for money
idea but I need to come up with word for, give it a try.

Interviewer: Rather than saying open source for money, perhaps you can
say collaboration, commercial collaboration, or something like that.

Alan: Yeah, I thought about collaborative capitalism.

Interviewer: Yeah, collaborative capitalism.

Alan: When I say open source for money, so that people understand the
dynamics, of the actual collaboration of it, but the spirit is way
different.

Interviewer: The problem with the words, open source, is that there are
so many different connotations to it.

Alan: Yeah.

Interviewer: It comes with a lot of baggage, and that’s a good thing
and a bad thing at the same time.

Alan: Or collaborative product development or something like that.
So, those are the things today.

Interviewer: Cool, interesting, and so, what does the future hold for
you? I mean, it sounds like you’re really moving towards producing
products, and you’re trying to, correct me if I’m mistaken, but it sounds
like you’re pulling away from the scrum community? Would that be a fair
thing to say? Or the training community perhaps.

Alan: No, no no no. I didn’t mention that much, but I love tweaking
the course and I’ve been doing way more coaching, during these past years,
I almost didn’t do much coaching at all, I traveled a lot. I decided to
quit traveling, mostly for health reasons, and so I focus way more on
coaching. Right now, I’m working with two clients, and I’m looking forward
to working with more.

Interviewer: Cool.

Alan: Actually, maybe I didn’t mention it because coaching is like
doing sports; you have to do it to at least stay healthy.

Interviewer: Yeah, absolutely.

Alan: That’s ongoing, then maybe, in here in Argentina, expanding and
forming a team of coaches and trainers maybe, that might be interesting.
I’m still planning my life after the cancellation of the MBA. Actually, I
found a master degree here that I find tempting now, because I thought I
was never going to do a master after quitting over there, but its part
time, it’s in Buenos Aeries, it way more abstract and theoretical than an
MBA, it’s called “Organizational Studies” so I might want to give it a try
next year.

Interviewer: What is the attraction with doing an MBA, and the reason I
ask that is that it seems so very different from the type of person that
you are.

Alan: That’s what everybody said, and they were right! You mean the
initial attraction?

Interviewer: No, I mean even still… because to me…

Alan: No, no I don’t want to do it any longer.

Interviewer: Oh, all right, yep yep. To me you seem like you’re very
focused on self organization, on cultivating people, on doing things in a
very natural organic way, for lack of a better term, and MBA strikes me as
being the opposite of all of that.

Alan: Yeah, for reasons I’m still trying to understand, I became
obsessed with doing one. Buenos Aeries has the highest Psycho-

Interviewer: Psychoanalyst?

Alan: Psychoanalyst to [inaudible 1:29:31] in the world, so I’ve been
to a psychoanalyst for over 14, 15 years and I’m still struggling with
this, so I don’t know why the hell I did it. But I don’t think I will do
it. This is more of starting organizations. I’m really interested, I ran a
CSM course two weeks ago for a fabulous, I think it’s a company, I think
you can call it a company. They are a cooperative, you have many
cooperatives in Argentina, but they usually form after the original company
goes bankrupt. The employees rescue it, so that they don’t go bankrupt. But
these guys formed the software development cooperative from scratch, ten
years ago, they are 140, and one person is one vote, they democratically
elect their managers.

Interviewer: Wow.

Alan: That is very cool, and I think that is the future. I mean,
after working with them, every time I go to another company, I see them
with different person, I think, why are these employees staying here? Why
don’t they just form a cooperative, because the first capitalism, while you
needed the means of production, the guy with the capital had the machines,
so I cannot go and make my own company, but in here the capital is the
employees mind’s, their brains. So, why don’t you just take their
computers…

Interviewer: Do their own thing, yeah.

Alan: Yeah! Computers are almost free, so you can develop anywhere,
so every software company should be in one way or another, a cooperative.
It’s something that I would like to, if I get into this master for
instance, I would like to…

Interviewer: Understand.

Alan: Understand better, I want to start working with these guys, see
what the deeper connections between cooperative companies and scrum are. I
think if you pull the pedal, the accelerator, if you start going faster and
faster with your scrum car, at one point or the other, you should reach the
moment where you ask yourself why aren’t we a cooperative, and I think that
might be something (inaudible). I saw this very clear here, with this
company, it was frightening.

Interviewer: Doesn’t the fact that there’s a product owner role, who
has arguably the most influence in a scrum team, doesn’t that go in
contradiction to a cooperative?

Alan: If you see the product owner as colleague who has a different
responsibility, then I don’t see a contradiction, he’s just one colleague
who has a strategic view, we are the team and have a tactical view, and
that’s all, but if you’re not the best at doing that, then we can switch
rolls. I’m not saying, I don’t think cooperatives that split equally the
earnings are always the best, actually I don’t like that. These guys for
instance, the challenge is getting to the fair distribution.

Interviewer: Not only fair, but seem to be fair as well.

Alan: Yeah, fair and perceived as fair.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Alan: These guys have a table, so depending on the row, the salary
that they’ve got, its open its transparent, they came up with another rule
that’s interesting, that no one can earn 4 times that other person, that’s
very interesting, and then every year they democratically vote, all the
income earnings, whether they’re going to distribute it, or reinvest it. So
they vote on that, and if they vote to redistribute it, they redistribute
it using this table with an algorithm that takes into account the years in
the company. They have voted for instance, their director, which is like a
manager earns maybe 4 times more than a junior developer. I really want to
experiment with this algorithm that I told you about, everybody decides how
to split earnings from money or income among the rest.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Alan: And then you do the average. I’ve thought about scaling this
algorithm the recursive way, and teams decide how to split all the income
of the company between other teams.

Interviewer: But how will they know? I mean, unless you understand what
they do and in many large companies, you won’t do, you won’t understand the
context, how will you know whether they should get more or less?

Alan: I think this is a great incentive, so that there is better
communication.

Interviewer: Yeah, good point.

Alan: This enforce, to actually force, I’m thinking this for these
guys were 140. Maybe you need more recursiveness in a bigger company, but
it’s like scrum scrums, I would need to get the sweet spot, but individuals
can understand what the others do and the others contributions, so that
they do a fair distribution. Then inside the team they divide it among
themselves doing this algorithm that should be fairer. I want to start
trying this with a tiny percentage of income, maybe you can do this with,
and how do we split 1% of the income? Let’s give it a try, and how would
the vote result? If there is too much friction, but yeah that’s one thing I
would like to work on, actually I would like to have a structure like that
if I actually form my company of consultants which I’m not sure, some
mixture around that.

Interviewer: Why aren’t’ you sure? Because it seems like that’s
naturally where you go anyway, I mean, you said right at the start that you
wanted to form a company.

Alan: Yeah, I know. I’m very adverse to risk.

Interviewer: So, it’s a personal, I don’t know…

Alan: Decision. Yeah. I’m moving forward towards that, but I do it
cautiously.

Interviewer: That’s understandable.

Alan: Actually I remember when I tried to understand, or convince
myself, of why I was going for that MBA, what I said to myself and I said
to others is, I want to be taught how to embrace risk personally.

Interviewer: There are other ways to do that though, and it seems like
you have done them a lot already, a lot of the experimentation that you’re
doing, can be viewed as taking on risk.

Alan: It was definitely the wrong place to go for me; actually I
spent four days at business school.

Interviewer: Well congratulations on just understanding that it wasn’t
for you and then bailing after 4 days.

Alan: I’m really happy, yeah, it had a lot of consequences but we are
just about to move back to our original apartment more than a year after I
quit it, because we had rented somewhere else, so all of the rebuilding
part is tough.

Interviewer: But it sounds like it was the right decision.

Alan: It was absolutely the right decision, absolutely. It cleared my
mind and heart as well.

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