My Best Teaching Is One-on-One


Of course, I team teach and do special lessons, etc.


But my best work in the classroom is after the lesson is over --
going one-on-one,
helping individual students with their assignments.


It's kind of like with computer programs, walking the client through hands-on.
The job isn't really done until the customer is using the program.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Optimizing all the value out of your bottom line


I have a bunch of projects I could push forward if I had money. Last time I looked at Kickstarter, I would need a US credit card to try to get them funded there. I've looked at some of the other crowdfunding sites, and I don't really care for the models they use.

It's not just money I need. Publicity on Kickstarter or somewhere similar could help me reach people who might be interesting in working with me on those projects.

It's the connections I develop while getting the money the dull way that is the real value. The portfolio I develop is also useful, but it's the human relationships and the value that people have for each other, the value we generate when we work together that is the real value. Not money.

Money is cheap.


If money is what you want, I hear it's not hard to get. (And I think I have reason to believe it.) But when you go that way, you get money without meaning.

Money saves no one. I could suppose I could win a big lottery, but then I would have to spend a lot of time every day for several months just getting the money put away where the combination of US and Japanese taxes wouldn't have me owing more than I won.

Sure, that would eventually settle down, and I would be able to focus on my projects. And, for all that I could get to work, I still wouldn't have that network of like-minded people to help. Maybe I could get such a network if I had money. But there is the other possibility of just getting people who want the money clogging up my networks.

People who just want money also clog up companies, make them (appear to be) inefficient.

Companies big and small have focused on optimizing their processes, to build their bottom line. But what do they measure that bottom line in?


How often it is that a company gets a big hit on a product and then refocuses itself around the money the hit product brings in.

Focuses on the product, in theory, but more on the money. Gotta build that bottom line.

Then they optimize the company around the bottom line -- around the product, first, but around the money most of all.

And then the product begins to lose popularity. And the company finds it has money and no meaning. And no way to survive.

And then the company goes running to the government and cries,
Make a law that requires people to use our product!!!!

'Cause we were stupid and now we don't know anything but the product that people don't buy any more!!!

Copyright! Patent! Something has to work!!!!

We don't know how to make meaning any more!!!
If only companies could really see that this is what they are saying when the run crying to the government. Then they might not optimize all the meaning out of their operations so that they have to be saved from themselves.

Well, let's back up and look at the optimization process. How does that optimization work? How does it rob the company of meaning?

Well, there are two broad facets to the optimization. Two kinds of deadwood that companies like to optimize out of their organizations. Two kinds of employees that don't appear to contribute to the bottom line.

You know the one kind, no one remembers how he got hired. He never does anything. Every time you see him, he's surfing the web. Or talking at the water cooler. Or sleeping on company time.

He comes in late, leaves early. Ask him to do something, and it's a crap-shoot whether what he does, if anything, will be useful. In fact, sometimes when you involve him in your project, he does something that so much gets in the way that you'd have preferred that he had done nothing.

Clearly deadwood. Should be fired.

Well, you have to realize that, when you put that guy on the street, unless he finds something to motivate him, he goes on welfare. Then what the company is no longer paying out in wages, it is now paying in taxes.

(One problem with using inflation -- public debt -- as a way to hide future taxes, we don't see an immediate tax burden in putting such employees on the street.)

Then there's the other type. Faded stars. Still useful. Maybe they were involved in the hit product that is the company's (current) bread-and-butter. But they seem to have lost their way. Anyway, they are going a different direction from the rest of the company. They come in when they want, do what they want, what they contribute to projects is usually hard enough to work with that you wish they had done nothing.

Clearly deadwood. Should be given the opportunity to work elsewhere.

The problem is, intellectual property is a mirage. What the mirage hides is intellectual capital. Intellectual capital is in the brains of the faded stars. Maybe it's kinder to let them go elsewhere, but when you do so, a big chunk of the company's intellectual capital goes with them. And it's that intellectual capital that the company is going to need when the hit product begins to fail.

Let me tell you a secret: These two guys are one-and-the-same. You just didn't know enough about him when I described him to you the first time.

The problem is in your vision. In fact, you should go look in the mirror when you criticize the deadwood at your company, because one of these days, the deadwood is going to be you.

It's necessary to fire people or let them move on sometimes, but we should be careful about our reasons. It's even necessary to let go of entire companies.

But if our bottom line is money, the filter is going to be set to discard all meaning and all value. And it's no surprise when the company fails with its hit product. And no surprise when the surrounding society seems to have trouble maintaining enough value to survive as companies burn brightly and then burn out.

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