Occupy Work

I don’t get this #occupy stuff. Maybe that’s an indication that I’m old. Maybe it means I’m selfish. It could be a sign that I have a lot of competing priorities and they don’t leave me a lot of time. But most of all, it’s because I don’t get it. Really. Should we be pissed off that parasites on the system always seem to walk away with millions of dollars for little added value? Yes. Could we be frustrated with a US governance model that spends more time bickering than getting anything done, while squandering trillions of dollars. Absolutely. But in my best NY accent: “Whaddya gonna do?” I plan to remain intentionally tone deaf regarding all this stuff. Again, maybe that makes me selfish. Maybe I’m more interested in my own comfort and lifestyle than the tens of millions of folks who are screwed by the system. But here is the difference: I have worked for everything I’ve achieved. Everything. Sure I graduated from an Ivy League engineering college. But I got in based on my achievements in high school with very little parental guidance or oversight. My Mom was too busy trying to put food on the table, working in a crappy retail pharmacy, to push me to do my homework. And at the end of the day, my education helped me get my first job. That’s it. Sure I could get pissed off that dumb guys I grew up with joined the right investment banks at the right time and make 7 figures a year now. I could get angry that kids right out of mediocre engineering programs (but with decent connections) end up at one of the Silicon Valley start-ups and win the Google lottery, pulling millions out as cogs in the wheel. Does that mean we should “Occupy Sand Hill Road” and get pissed at how high-tech financiers engineer value from the (at times) unholy alliance between big IT, storied entrepreneurs, and the puppet master VCs that seem to pull all the strings? What’s the use of that? I choose to get up and (as Chris Nickerson says) “do work.” The only thing I can control is how hard I work. I can’t control what anyone else does. I can’t control market swings. I can’t control whether the light of good fortune shines on me at some point. I can (and do) control what I do. And that’s how I’ll rail against the system. I’m totally on board with Larry Walsh’s thoughts on innovation and entrepreneurship. Larry’s quote here is exactly right: “I’m protesting today. I’m calling it “Occupy Work.” I pledge to sit at my desk, service my clients, be productive and innovative, and contribute to the economy. Oh, and I will do it with humility.” He makes a number of great points. Clearly the system(s) need reform. But what is the value of sitting in a park? How is that aiding the collective? How does taking a shot of pepper spray (however appalling) bring light to the issues the protesters want to discuss? It turns the story from corruption and greed to brutality. Obviously we all need to act in a dignified manner (especially law enforcement), but it seems the core message of fighting greed is lost. I saw an old friend last week, and we did get philosophical for a short time. He asked me whether I was scared for the world my children were growing up in. I answered with a resounding no. I still believe that I live in a country where hard work will be recognized. I believe that my kids can become whatever they want, and with enough effort can achieve their dreams. Lots of folks overcome long odds every day to prosper through the force of their own will, regardless of their circumstances. I’m teaching the kids to be self-sufficient and not hope a big company will support and provide for them. Pensions are not guaranteed by a bankruptcy court. Nor is healthcare coverage. I believe in entrepreneurship. I believe in creating your own opportunities, not waiting for someone to give something to you. I believe in the capitalist system and although clearly imperfect, it’s the best thing out there. Maybe I’m naive. Maybe I’m stupid. But I still believe that as long as I focus on what I need to get done every day, things will work out in the end. So rather than spending my time in a pup tent in some public park, like Larry I will occupy work. We all have choice about what we do on a daily basis. The folks Occupying whatever seem to think their approach will result in positive change. Maybe they are right. But either way, I figure the only great equalizer in a capitalist system is hard work. And on this week of Thanksgiving in the US, I’m thankful that I live in an area where I can control my own destiny, which is what I plan to do. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. If you celebrate, enjoy the holiday and be safe. Share:

Read Post

Totally Transparent Research is the embodiment of how we work at Securosis. It’s our core operating philosophy, our research policy, and a specific process. We initially developed it to help maintain objectivity while producing licensed research, but its benefits extend to all aspects of our business.

Going beyond Open Source Research, and a far cry from the traditional syndicated research model, we think it’s the best way to produce independent, objective, quality research.

Here’s how it works:

  • Content is developed ‘live’ on the blog. Primary research is generally released in pieces, as a series of posts, so we can digest and integrate feedback, making the end results much stronger than traditional “ivory tower” research.
  • Comments are enabled for posts. All comments are kept except for spam, personal insults of a clearly inflammatory nature, and completely off-topic content that distracts from the discussion. We welcome comments critical of the work, even if somewhat insulting to the authors. Really.
  • Anyone can comment, and no registration is required. Vendors or consultants with a relevant product or offering must properly identify themselves. While their comments won’t be deleted, the writer/moderator will “call out”, identify, and possibly ridicule vendors who fail to do so.
  • Vendors considering licensing the content are welcome to provide feedback, but it must be posted in the comments - just like everyone else. There is no back channel influence on the research findings or posts.
    Analysts must reply to comments and defend the research position, or agree to modify the content.
  • At the end of the post series, the analyst compiles the posts into a paper, presentation, or other delivery vehicle. Public comments/input factors into the research, where appropriate.
  • If the research is distributed as a paper, significant commenters/contributors are acknowledged in the opening of the report. If they did not post their real names, handles used for comments are listed. Commenters do not retain any rights to the report, but their contributions will be recognized.
  • All primary research will be released under a Creative Commons license. The current license is Non-Commercial, Attribution. The analyst, at their discretion, may add a Derivative Works or Share Alike condition.
  • Securosis primary research does not discuss specific vendors or specific products/offerings, unless used to provide context, contrast or to make a point (which is very very rare).
    Although quotes from published primary research (and published primary research only) may be used in press releases, said quotes may never mention a specific vendor, even if the vendor is mentioned in the source report. Securosis must approve any quote to appear in any vendor marketing collateral.
  • Final primary research will be posted on the blog with open comments.
  • Research will be updated periodically to reflect market realities, based on the discretion of the primary analyst. Updated research will be dated and given a version number.
    For research that cannot be developed using this model, such as complex principles or models that are unsuited for a series of blog posts, the content will be chunked up and posted at or before release of the paper to solicit public feedback, and provide an open venue for comments and criticisms.
  • In rare cases Securosis may write papers outside of the primary research agenda, but only if the end result can be non-biased and valuable to the user community to supplement industry-wide efforts or advances. A “Radically Transparent Research” process will be followed in developing these papers, where absolutely all materials are public at all stages of development, including communications (email, call notes).
    Only the free primary research released on our site can be licensed. We will not accept licensing fees on research we charge users to access.
  • All licensed research will be clearly labeled with the licensees. No licensed research will be released without indicating the sources of licensing fees. Again, there will be no back channel influence. We’re open and transparent about our revenue sources.

In essence, we develop all of our research out in the open, and not only seek public comments, but keep those comments indefinitely as a record of the research creation process. If you believe we are biased or not doing our homework, you can call us out on it and it will be there in the record. Our philosophy involves cracking open the research process, and using our readers to eliminate bias and enhance the quality of the work.

On the back end, here’s how we handle this approach with licensees:

  • Licensees may propose paper topics. The topic may be accepted if it is consistent with the Securosis research agenda and goals, but only if it can be covered without bias and will be valuable to the end user community.
  • Analysts produce research according to their own research agendas, and may offer licensing under the same objectivity requirements.
  • The potential licensee will be provided an outline of our research positions and the potential research product so they can determine if it is likely to meet their objectives.
  • Once the licensee agrees, development of the primary research content begins, following the Totally Transparent Research process as outlined above. At this point, there is no money exchanged.
  • Upon completion of the paper, the licensee will receive a release candidate to determine whether the final result still meets their needs.
  • If the content does not meet their needs, the licensee is not required to pay, and the research will be released without licensing or with alternate licensees.
  • Licensees may host and reuse the content for the length of the license (typically one year). This includes placing the content behind a registration process, posting on white paper networks, or translation into other languages. The research will always be hosted at Securosis for free without registration.

Here is the language we currently place in our research project agreements:

Content will be created independently of LICENSEE with no obligations for payment. Once content is complete, LICENSEE will have a 3 day review period to determine if the content meets corporate objectives. If the content is unsuitable, LICENSEE will not be obligated for any payment and Securosis is free to distribute the whitepaper without branding or with alternate licensees, and will not complete any associated webcasts for the declining LICENSEE. Content licensing, webcasts and payment are contingent on the content being acceptable to LICENSEE. This maintains objectivity while limiting the risk to LICENSEE. Securosis maintains all rights to the content and to include Securosis branding in addition to any licensee branding.

Even this process itself is open to criticism. If you have questions or comments, you can email us or comment on the blog.