The stock market is broken. Let’s fix it.

I had always had a funny feeling about the stock market, a kind of uncomfortableness sitting in my stomach whenever it was brought up.

The more I tried to understand, the more complicated it got, the more complicated it got, the more the core principles seemed to get diluted. The more the principles started getting diluted, I began to realise, the more it was people using complexity to hide the truth.

Finally after watching this, my mind was made up. The stock market is bad, it’s just people gambling with hard working people’s money and making a profit in the process. Somewhat like going to Las Vegas, giving all your money to a owner of a casino and watching him lose it all on his own roulette tables, then coming back and telling you how unlucky you were and better luck next time.

So it got me thinking. The principles of the stock market are maybe not all that bad – the counter argument people will make to the start of this post are that it has, with it’s reckless gambling, fuelled growth in areas and regions, that otherwise that would not have grown. While that’s partially true, the lack of transparency and fair process, negate the good it has done. It has also grown bad things, like the arms industry whilst destroying profitable everyday businesses due to market fluctuations and wild over speculation.

Without going into the huge topic of all the failings and consequences of the stock market, we can jump to the question, “What would a better stock-market look like?”

I think there are a few principles that should have been created to regulate this out of control monster.

  1. The process must remain simple, so EVERYONE can understand how it works.
  2. Holding of shares, should be a commitment to seeing a company grow, not a focus on short term profits. Shares should have a lease period, of minimum one year, five years, ten years or longer. (i.e. No high speed trading)
  3. Trading shares in between lease periods, disallowed – shares can only be sold back to the company, which has a duty to buy them back and can then sell them on again.
  4. For a company to float, it must decide, how much of the company, for what price it is willing to sell, and specify projections on what sort of return will be gotten from dividends over the period of the lease of the shares.
  5. No middle men, the transaction should be directly between the company and the individual. No fee’s, what you pay is what you get.
  6. Everyone gets to vote. If you own the shares, you own a part of the company. Embedded in the online process should be an interface designed to give the shareholders the voice they deserve.
  7. Companies finances must be transparent and real time to the share holders. We must protect against complexity through ‘clever’ accounting.

I don’t know whether this would work or not. I do know that somehow we have to start improving on this and this is as good a place to start as any. What would your principle’s of a fair stock market be?

Lessons on blame, most companies need to heed.

guillotine2

Human error is seen as the effect of systemic vulnerabilities deeper inside the organization.

It’s hard to look past the superficial, especially when your boss or company culture encourages you to find a scapegoat when something goes wrong.

Human nature often er’s on the side of a little sadism, we went through hundreds of years in the middle ages publicly torturing and executing people, so even your team might want to see someone punished for making a mistake. However, being a leader requires that you look beyond the short term, you’re in it for the duration and it’s up to you to set the example.

In the long term, excellent teams are built on trust, not on fear. So get rid of the blame, it’s just making things worse.

Inspired by : Learning from failure at etsy

A Lesson for BER and other burgeoning airport terminals.

By any measure, Terminal 3 at Beijing Capital Airport is impressive. Built in less than four years… it commenced full operations on March 26, 2008 without any notable problems

vs.

The next day, half way around the world, Heathrow Terminal 5 opened for business. At one-third the size of Beijing Terminal 3, the new London terminal had taken twice as long to build and cost twice as much…. hundreds of flights were canceled in the first few days of operation, and about 28,000 bags went missing the first weekend

What a great article by Mary Poppendieck, showing us some clear lessons from the Chinese teaching us about managing large complex construction projects and software projects.

I can’t recall how many times have I had to argue with senior managers about the value of deploying and testing on subsets of real people before big bang launches, but still with knowledge as starkly presented as this, I wonder how many projects will continue to fail due to rampant manager egotism and plain ignorance of these simple truths.

Quote on centralised power from Jacob Appelbaum

I finished reading CypherPunks – Freedom and the future of the internet while I was on holiday. I really like this notion they discuss of the nature of centralised power and architecture.

Architecture actually defines the political situation, so if you have a centralised architecture, even if the best people in the world are in charge of it, it attracts assholes and those assholes do things with their power that the original designers would not do.

It’s so true of any hierarchical organisation I’ve been in, if there is someone with absolute power, then they always get surrounded by assholes!

MapsOSMatic

Need to print out a big map to put on your wall of a remote location that you can’t easily buy online?

I recently needed to print a map of a small town in germany to fill up a wall and used this tool. You set the area you want, it takes the map data from open street maps, then if formats it into separate sheets and creates a pdf for you to download and print. The hardest part is cutting the pieces of paper and sticking them together. Apart from that it’s awesome!

Try it here : mapsomatic.

Also not a bad team building exercise, if you have a really big one to stick together…

Quote from Ablert Schweitzer

Success is not the key to happiness; happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.

It’s origin’s aren’t 100% confirmed, but I saw this quote on my recent travels and it struck a chord with me.

Sobering talk on the state of global affairs

I just finished watching this rather stark warning about coming change from Peter Senge, author of the fifth discipline, about globally distributed systems. In particular the changes to the global food system affecting climate change. It’s a long talk but worth watching to be informed about what we are doing to our planet.

The secret to building large organisations

I saw this quote about Javascript programming recently :

“The secret to building large apps is never build large apps. Break your applications into small pieces. Then, assemble those testable, bite-sized pieces into your big application” –
Justin Meyer, author JavaScriptMVC

It made me think the same is true of organisations, so to riff on the original:

“The secret to building large organisations is to never build large organisations. Create or break your organisation into small pieces. Then, teach those small bite-sized pieces to self organise into one large emergent agile whole.” – Simon Kenyon Shepard

Simple principles built on solid foundations.