Categories
Business Knowing

An Epistemology of Love for Businesses and Organizations

[Notes, Quotes, Links for a talk]

Work as Knowing

Work can be a mode of contact with reality. Often, it is a brutal and humbling mode. I have written extensively on the value of skilled physical work as knowing, but am now beginning to articulate how this works in my present line of work within organizational management.

For a brief introduction to my general epistemological reflections, see this essay or my dissertation.

Leading up and down the chain of command

This is a multifaceted topic but I will approach it from two epistemological angles, who knows what and how do we make use of that knowledge at an organizational level.

Make decisions easy for busy people. You will rise fast in your career if busy people like working with you. Here’s a tip: when you have a problem to solve, come prepared with a suggested next step. If you have a question, phrase it in a way they can answer yes/no. If there are multiple options, lay them out and ask them to pick one. Try to avoid expansive, open-ended questions.

David Perell

Of Software, Secretaries, and Doing Things

The Double MVP as described by Sahil Lavingia

MVP as a software term Minimum Viable Product

MVP as Manual Viable Process

Do Things that Don’t Scale by Paul Graham

[You] are your software. When you only have a small number of users, you can sometimes get away with doing by hand things that you plan to automate later. This lets you launch faster, and when you do finally automate yourself out of the loop, you’ll know exactly what to build because you’ll have muscle memory from doing it yourself.

…the way Stripe delivered “instant” merchant accounts to its first users was that the founders manually signed them up for traditional merchant accounts behind the scenes.

… It would be a little frightening to be solving users’ problems in a way that wasn’t yet automatic, but less frightening than the far more common case of having something automatic that doesn’t yet solve anyone’s problems.

Paul Graham, Do Things That Don’t Scale

Loving to Know

Categories
Business

Of Software and Secretaries: Lessons for New Organizations

I have been helping with a number of startups. 

  • Kingdom Channels
    • Began as bookkeeper and learned QBO by reverse engineering.
    • Identified the need for a fuller CRM and set up Kindful for donation and contact management. 
    • Identified the need and led the adoption of Microsoft Teams and SharePoint for systematizing our file storage and communication.
    • Identified needs for a more robust database for relating to staff, trainees, and churches. Oversaw design and implementation of a new database in sync with Kindful and custom apps built through the Microsoft Power Platform.
  • Anabaptist Perspectives
  • Local businesses
  • Wellspring Mennonite Church
    • Treasurer duties
    • Church website

Get software for your needs.

Software, especially software as a service, feels expensive. Staff time is expensive. (And volunteer time is equally precious.) Software that will do what you need it to do is important. Cobbled together solutions are a real liability and changing software solutions later can be a real pain. My story with Anabaptist Perspectives exemplifies that pain. 

On accounting we went from a simple spreadsheet, to personal finance software, to Aplos as combined accounting and donor software, to Quickbooks and separate donor software, still using Gusto for payroll. 

We have processed online donations through Paypal buttons, Donorbox, Aplos, CiviCrm, and GiveWP.

Some transitions are necessary as needs change, some come from initial ignorance of true needs, but other times software changes happen because we don’t want to spend the money on software as soon as we should and limp along too long.

Simplify, streamline, and build in procedures

What do you need to know? How easily can you know it? Does everyone know where something belongs? Does everyone know how something should be documented? A sprawling mess comes easily to an organization, especially one with multiple part timers and volunteers.

File organization, versioning, and record keeping, might not be the most exciting topics for entrepreneurs. But some creative discipline in all things data organizing can save enormous headaches.

Define procedures and administrative responsibilities for everyone 

Most procedures and data organization require everyone to use it. Nobody is exempt from putting their work and records in the official system.

Maintain adequate secretarial support 

Computers have changed a lot of things. Everyone can type, which makes dictating letters to secretaries unnecessary. Myriads of other tasks have been made easier by technology. But an organization still needs people to close the loops and keeps things flowing. Even with software, procedures, and holding everyone accountable, there is secretarial work to be done.

As one of my colleagues said, however good your system is, “It is always easier to use no system.” His point was that, we can’t just build systems we have to train users, and for more complicated processes, we may need one person in charge of the system and managing the checklists.

Multiple mindsets are needed for secretarial and operational purposes. Even if someone could do both, it is hard to be tuned into both at one time. Secretarial and administrative matters require their own dose of wisdom and the filling of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 6). Happy is the organization that recognizes this early. 

Categories
Business

Work as Good Service

Our daily work should be good service to others. This applies just as much to paid work in a factory or business as it does to a mother taking care of her children. Good service through our work is not limited to teachers or firefighters or to so-called service sector jobs.

Good

Our work accomplishes something genuinely good.

Integrity

We believe in the value of what we do and represent it fairly to others.

Service

Our work benefits others intentionally and on purpose, not merely because that is the most convenient way to get them to pay us.

Humility and Respect

We treat bosses, co-workers, and customers well, and will sometimes defer to their ideas of what is good.

For a little more detail, view these lecture slides from a Professional Responsibility course I taught at UT-Knoxville.