I've been doing some work with some other people of late. For the most part it's going well. Occasionally I do see something that annoys me though. It's a bit of an old cliché but this is my blog and I'll cliché if I want to.


There's a quote in Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett that goes like this:
... it is possible, after a while, to develop certain dangerous habits of thought.  One is that, while all important enterprises need careful organization, it is the organization that needs organizing, rather than the enterprise.  And the other is that tranquility is always a good thing.

I was rather pleased that several of us working together managed to make a sale. Not only that but we sold something that was gathering dust on a shelf. Currently sales are fairly low but that's kind of a good thing given availability of manufacturing capacity (yay, pandemic). Part of this sale was customising the product for the customer - which we decided to charge extra for. The customer also now wants to buy two of our other products. We'll see if he follows through on those but even if he doesn't, it's a win.

The thing being that one of the team who handles lots of the admin discouraged me from offering a custom job. I certainly wouldn't offer custom work on a large scale but the idea that we'd rather turn down a sale during a slow period just because it's marginally more hassle? To me that is really indicative of someone who has spent their career isolated from risk. I'm a bit weird in that I basically haven't had that. I've spent the majority of my working life trying to get people to buy my products. If money doesn't come in, I don't get paid.

I'm also reminded of the flip side of this. A while back a friend of mine didn't feel he'd done enough work for the amount of money he made (I can't recall whether it was reselling models on eBay or commission artwork or what). He'd spent his entire life insulated from the same risk. Show up for work and the result is money in the bank.

Both of these examples are issues with cause and effect. Work hard and pay will follow. It's a common cultural value but as Blackadder would have it:
You see, there was a tiny flaw in the plan... ...it was bollocks.

Sometimes hard work is required, sometimes it isn't. Often it's more a matter of timing, or publicity, or any number of other things.

This stuff matters because if the enterprise is to stay afloat this must be central to decision making. It would be nice if we could show up, make things, and know that the end result would be a predictable amount of money. Vast armies of consultants are paid to find ways to bring this closer to reality than it naturally is. Our first example thinks that he will always be paid regardless of the fate of the organisation and the second example feels uncomfortable when faced with the reality that sometimes having the right product at the right time results in money with minimal work.

Personally I'm mostly concerned with figuring out which bits of work tend to result in the biggest sustainable payout and where it's safe to take risks. I've not figured it out yet.