Monday, February 02, 2004

Quick response to messages since 27th January

Dear all,

Apologies for lack of response in the last week, but life has taken a dramatic turn, so I haven't had the time or energy to keep up with this. I will respond quickly with some thoughts, and hopefully find more time to study and think further this week:

Bill is, of course, right in his view that "It is now clear that management is unresponsive to promotion. It does not want to hear about the benefits of objective governance and the logical brilliance of your compliance software.". I described it for internal consumption, but am perfectly well aware that the concept is so alien to the BAU crowd that it sounds like gibberish to them.

Their reaction is no surprise - Henry Ford's competitors felt exactly the same way about mass production on moving production lines, and paying decent wages to the staff working on them. However, in every market, once these methods were adopted, the advantages were so huge that everyone else had no choice but to follow, or go bust.

I believe that the combination of cheap computing and telecoms power, intelligence amplification and the approach I described is as radical a change to working practices as Henry Ford's was. Meanwhile, we need to make a living by offering something a lot less threatening, while watching out for the first-movers who will buy into the bigger picture.

I believe that there are markets for "compliance machines". One of these is likely to be for organisations who want a machine which can monitor the compliance of their trading partners, so that they get early warning of dodgy activity, and can therefore avoid getting dragged into a chain of failure which eventually implicates them. Bill suggested that one a while ago, but there are probably others we haven't thought of, and which other participants might be aware of.

We need to plan a short-term hit, leveraging Bill's visit to the UK to open up opportunities, but we mustn't forget the scale of the longer term picture.

Our team in Trowbridge is about to switch over to trading through a new company, and our plan is to build it from the ground up on the new principles I described on 27th January. If you are starting a new venture, why would you want to do it any other way? :-)

I liked Richard's structure diagram. I take it that BNAU is another way to express the need to offer a "Trojan horse", as I described above? We must ensure we don't look like Greeks bearing gifts (or, come to that, Geeks bearing gifts!).

In response to Richard's comments about Hutton, I would add that this is a perfect example of an apparently faultlessly executed judicial process which came out with completely the wrong answer. Interestingly, the majority of the public can see through this, and consider it to be a whitewash on behalf of the government. People trust the government less now than they did before, and trust the BBC just as much as they did before. Blair's government thought they had got off scot-free last week, but they haven't.

Now the focus is rapidly shifting to the real issue which the Hutton Enquiry diverted attention from. The time has come for Bush & Blair to blame their intelligence services for the whole Iraqi shambles! It will be interesting to see if the intelligence services can put up a decent defence or not.

As for Bill's comments about the FSA, I am sorry to say they come as no surprise at all.

On a slightly different subject, I had lunch with a friend yesterday who is a doctor in general practice (Bill, you met Janet Slack last time you visited the UK). She was somewhat amazed to discover a full-page obituary of Harold Shipman in the British Medical Journal. This shows that the only way a GP can get a proper obituary in the BMJ is to kill several hundred of his patients.

What is perfectly clear is that Shipman has had a very dramatic impact on the compliance procedures for GPs, and that this simply imposes even more of a bureaucratic burden on GPs than before. So, during our seven minute consultations with our GPs, we can look forward to even more of their time being spent staring at a computer screen, and ignoring the person in front of them.

Meanwhile, the rip-off merchants who write the software systems for GPs (which are abysmally poorly designed and very expensive), will be able to charge lots of money for making them even harder to use than they are now.