The eternal quest for productivity

I’ve been a long time productivity geek, I think it comes from all the programming I’ve done. When you spend a long time programming computers it becomes natural to try and program yourself. I’ve experimented with Trello, Asana, paper, inbox 0, getting things done, spreadsheets, accountability buddies, religious time tracking and am always looking for ways to improve.

Sometimes I would finish my day feeling like I had nailed it. My thinking was clear, I had focused on the most important things and there was a stream of completed tasks floating in my wake. I would exercise, spend time with friends and make smart eating choices.

Other days I would feel like I had achieved nothing. My whole day would feel unfocused, meandering from task to task. Like when you open facebook to look up a message and awaken hours later with a dozen tabs open watching honest trailers.

Most days were somewhere in between, but in the last year I’ve noticed the number of good days increasing. It began in July 2017 when my partner Natalie and I started discussing life goals and decided to create a spreadsheet to track them. We added some colours for different types of goals and started a process of checking in each week to see how we were doing.

We started experimenting with multiple time frames, adding in processes each of us had used in the past and creating new ones as we went. The system is called Life Pilot and it worked so well over the year that we’ve just started sharing it with others.

Here are some of the things that worked for us.


Photo by The Poodle Gang on Unsplash

Just like it’s easier to go to the gym if you have an exercise buddy, I found it tons easier to focus by having a goal setting buddy. Before we started this system we would talk about goals and give each other some encouragement. But it was so much more effective when we started writing them down and having a set time each week to review our progress.

In our spreadsheet we have a column where we mark a goal as green (hit), yellow (progressed), red (missed). It’s very easy to glance and see whether I am on track or not.

So one component of accountability was having a co-pilot, another was writing things down and tracking progress. If you know a colour-coded-spreadsheet-loving goal-setting buddy, great! But everyone can write things down and track their progress.


Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

One of the best decisions we made was to limit the number of goals we were allowed to set to 3. The original inspiration was from Rowan Simpson’s Top 3 app.

Try this: write down all the things you want to get done tomorrow, circle the 3 most important ones, focus on them and ignore the rest.

The act of deciding on the most important 3 initially felt quite painful, but the biggest surprise was how hard it was to get those 3 things done and not get distracted.

This practice taught me that often what I chose to work on in the short term wasn’t aligned with what I wanted to achieve in the long term. I would also continuously overestimate what was possible in a day and then beat myself up for not meeting my unrealistic expectations.

By doing this over and over again I’ve found my ability to estimate what I can actually achieve has improved. I have also learned how to be more strategic with my time.

While 3 goals doesn’t sound like much they add up quickly. Over 4 weeks I’ll have 3 monthly goals, 12 weekly goals and 60 daily goals to choose from. When considering something I want to achieve this makes me think about whether I make it a daily, monthly or weekly goal.

Limiting myself to only 3 goals in a given time frame has been one of my favourite practices of the Life Pilot system.


Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

One of the first things we did was to start categorising our goals – is this for business, health, lifestyle, personal growth etc. We gave each category a colour and this made it obvious what we were choosing to prioritise.

Like many people I had a goal to get fitter (too much programming and pizza). Early on I saw a week full of the colours for business, impact and wealth with nothing focusing on health. It was obvious that my short term choices weren’t lining up with my long term aspirations, and this made it a lot easier for me to sustainably prioritise exercise and nutrition.

I’ve also gained insight into the rhythms of my productivity. I think the computers have given me a mental model of myself which is more mechanical than biological. My energy, attention and motivation can vary dramatically and they often follow patterns. I’ve had a bad habit for some time of working until I have nothing left, crashing for a few days and then slowly ramping back to a decent level of energy.

Earlier this month Natalie and I had both put in a big week but were just short of our weekly goals. We loaded up our Saturday with some more work goals and promptly wasted the morning not achieving very much before binge watching away the afternoon. Upon reflection it was obvious we should have prioritised recharging instead of working.


Photo by Faye Cornish on Unsplash

Last month we shared our system with 35 people in our first cohort and it was a fantastic experience. One of my biggest learnings was that it doesn’t matter how many goals a person hits. What matters is what they learn about themselves.

Every week Natalie and I sit down and review our progress. We look for patterns, we dig into underlying causes. Why is it that the same daily goal lingered over four days like a bad smell? Why did I commit to more than I could do and so on.

One fascinating thing I learned about myself was how childish I can be. If I feel forced to do something due to external factors rather than choosing to do it myself I often feel resentful and procrastinate horribly before starting. This even extended to things I committed to a long time ago and feeling resentful to my past self. Learning how to hack my brain and give myself choice in constrained environments was a pretty effective strategy to overcoming some quite bad habits.

Another pattern I’ve seen is to set the same amount of goals in a week when I have less capacity. When I was sick or taking time off for a conference I still tried to do the same amount of work that I would do in a full week.

I’ve found that frequent reflection gives rise to continuous improvement and it is wonderful to see people new to the system harvesting powerful insights about themselves.

Common Patterns

When we first started our goal tracking spreadsheet it felt a bit geeky. Like something not many people would want to do and we were a bit weird for loving it so much. We spoke to our friends and family about what we were doing and surprisingly a lot of people were keen to learn more.

This prompted us to send out a survey to learn more about people’s interest in life planning and goal setting. We were thrilled to receive over 200 responses (which you can add to here) and it was fascinating to spot some common patterns.

A lot of people found that lining up their short term goals with their long term aspirations was a challenge. Feeling distracted by unimportant tasks was common.

Over 80% of people felt overwhelmed by their todos at least once per week. The most common way people kept tabs on their daily goals was using a paper todo list the second most common was memory followed by software.

Lots of people have tried various systems, the hardest thing is sticking with something. Many people want a system that holds them accountable, is easy to get started with and most importantly, easy to stick with.

Life Pilot

So we’ve taking our somewhat geeky colour coded spreadsheet and turned it into an accessible system to help people set and achieve goals.

It works best when two people pair up and tackle it together but we’ve had plenty of people get value from the system flying solo.

It’s early days still, we ran one cohort of 35 people through the system in July and are running a second one in August. Come and explore the system with us!

The eternal quest for productivity



Having a culture of individual feedback is an important part of growing awesome teams, yet for many teams I work with giving feedback is in the category of “something we want to get better at”. Speedbacking is a simple process to help people practice and nurture a culture of honest feedback.

I designed this process to help students at Dev Academy and have found it crucial to creating a high performance learning environment. I’ve run it with dozens of groups of 8 – 20 people and find it a crucial culture building tool, as well as good skills development in its own right.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Here’s how I host a Speedbacking session:

Setup (people) :

  • A group of 8 – 20 people
  • Usually the session is just promoted as ‘Feedback’ or sometimes ‘Speedbacking, getting better at feedback together’
  • The more the people have worked together the better but limited team experience works too. This could be long time team mates, students who have been studying together for a few weeks, or retreat participants who have gotten to know each other over a few days.
  • Each person will need some paper and something to write with
  • You will need a time keeping device

Setup (space):

  • Ideally I would start the group in a circle but it’s fine to start with a presentation layout and have everyone facing you
  • You want to have chairs that are easy to rearrange in to two rows with no tables or desks in the way


The main points that I hit to set the tone

* Feedback is a skill. The more you do it, the better you get. Today is a practice session to help us explore that skill while hopefully giving and receiving some useful feedback on the way

* In a few minutes you are going to give and receive feedback to everyone else in this room. You may be wishing you were somewhere else right now, and I can assure you that is a very common reaction. That’s one reason why we often don’t give or receive enough feedback, we have barriers where it seems easier to avoid it. I can also assure you that by the end of the session you will very likely feel differently than you do now. I find participates reactions vary from “that was much better than I expected” to “that was really awesome”.

* Before we jump in to the practice session, let’s go through some key ideas

Key Ideas

If we are short on time then I run through these pretty quickly, otherwise I like to leave space for questions and discussions as we go through the ideas.

Feedback is a skill, it takes practice

If I were to ask you to list your top 20 skills right now, do you think giving feedback would be on the list? What about receiving feedback? While it isn’t common for us to perceive them as skills they absolutely are. Especially receiving feedback, it takes skill to filter out your feedbackers biases, it takes skill to distract your ego to hear challenging feedback, it takes skill to ignore feedback that may be true but isn’t useful right now. The more you practice them and the more consciously you practice them, the better you will get.

[example of the worst feedback you ever gave / received] I often tell a story about one of my business partners who asked me for some feedback on working with him. I thought really hard about it and then mentioned that I hadn’t seen him actively keeping Xero (our accounting software) up to date or using it to generate many reports and he might want to upskill on financial management and using numbers to drive the business. He gently reminded me that he had an economics degree, was very comfortable with financial management and the only reason he hadn’t been updating Xero was because the business was so small he could keep it all in his head. I’d completely forgotten about his financial background! The worst feedback I’ve given, ever.

It’s ok to give feedback that’s off the mark, it’s ok to receive feedback that doesn’t feel right. Giving good feedback is a skill and we’re just practicing here.

Actionable, Specific, Kind

The best way to give good feedback is to make it Actionable, Specific and Kind. (I will often write these words up on a board).

Actionable : Feedback that you can do something about. You’re too short for the basketball team isn’t good feedback.

[Optional question to group: “what are some examples of feedback that is or isn’t actionable?”]

Specific : “The game you played was great” isn’t good feedback, it might make the feedbackee feel better but it won’t help them get better.

[Optional question to group: “what are some examples of feedback that is or isn’t specific?”]

Kind: The purpose of giving feedback is to help the feedbackee, it is an act of generosity. “Here is a list of 10 actionable and specific ways that you suck” isn’t a good approach to feedback.

[Optional question to group: “what are some examples of feedback that is or isn’t kind?”]

[Optional question 2: “what is the difference between kind and nice?”]

Here is where I would give some examples of different feedback and ask the group what they think about them.

Another good thing about ASK is that it is a reminder to checkin with someone before giving them feedback. “I have some feedback about the session you just ran, would you like to hear it”, and being completely ok if the answer is “not right now”. Remember that it takes energy to process feedback well and sometimes “surprise feedback” it isn’t setting your feedbackee for success. Ask first.

Photo by Robert Baker on Unsplash

Feedback difficulty levels

I find it useful to think of giving and receiving feedback as a game that you can play on multiple difficulty levels. When giving someone feedback in the category “here is something you are great at that you may not be aware of” you are playing at an easier skill level than “here is something I think you can get better at” which is easier than “here is something you did that hurt or disappointed me”.

When playing on harder difficulty levels realise you are getting in to it is a good idea to think carefully about the feedback before hand and realise you are getting in to difficult conversation territory which is another skill entirely.

Continuous Improvement

The reason we give feedback is to help people around us get better every day. It is an act of generosity and service that takes practice and skill. We don’t give feedback to make ourselves feel better, to demonstrate our ability or to make someone else do what we want. Sometimes giving public feedback in a group setting can be a good way to help lots of people learn faster, sometimes it is easier to give or receive feedback in private.


Step 1: prep

  1. Write up everyone’s name on a white board.
  2. Give the group 1 minute per person to come up with a piece of feedback for everybody on the list. So if there are 15 people give the group 15 minutes of prep.
    1. Mention that it can be hard to think of good feedback for people and that’s why we are practicing
    2. If you can’t think of any feedback you can share something you appreciate about that person
    3. Or you can share your experience of an interaction you recently had. “I don’t know if I have any feedback for you but my experience of the session you ran was…”
  3. Give them a few minutes notice before the time is up

Step 2: speedback

  1. Arrange all the chairs into two lines facing each other. I usually have to encourage people to move the chairs closer to the person opposite them.
    1. You will have 1 minute to give feedback to the person opposite you and then 1 minute for them give you feedback.
    2. When you’re time is up I’ll raise my hand, if you ever see anyone’s hand in the air, raise your hand and stop talking (my favourite social process for bringing a group to silence
    3. Everyone on this side (gesture to one row of chairs) go first.
    4. Time for 60 seconds and then switch pairs
    5. Time for 60 seconds and then first rotation
  2. First Rotation
    1. Get everyone to stand up
    2. If you have odd numbers then ask everyone to move to the chair to their left
    3. If there are even numbers ask one person to stay seated (they will stay in that chair for the whole process) and then ask everyone to move into the unoccupied chair to their left
  3. Repeat
    1. The rest of the session turns into a timekeeping game of ‘Everyone on the left feedback’, 60 seconds, hand up, ‘Switching’, 60 seconds, hand up, ‘Rotate’
    2. After 4 or 5 sessions I find it is good to give people a minute or two to digest and take any notes they wish to
    3. Keep going until everyone has speed backed with everyone else, or your time is up

Step 3: reflection

People are usually buzzing after the speedbacking round and I like to finish off with a circle. Give everyone 2-3 minutes to reflect on the session, make any notes they wish to and then rearrange the group into a circle.

There are two questions I finish with depending on the time remaining a) a tweet of advice to yourself (short version) b) any reflections on the process and a short summary of the feedback you want to action (long version)

I would love to hear your stories

This process is published as part of The Peer Garden learning community, feel free to take the ideas and do what you like with them.


Learning Together at The Peer Garden

I have had the good fortune to spend the past four years curating an intensive full-
immersion learning environment at Enspiral Dev Academy. It has taught me a lot about learning (protip: there is nothing like teaching to make you a better student).

Here are three specific lessons that have shaped the design of The Peer Garden.

Commitment Deviceṡ

We all experience a gap between what we could/should do and what we actually do. It’s very easy to form the intention to achieve something, it’s much harder to actually achieve it. Just saying I will ‘try harder’ or relying on significant amounts of will power often isn’t the best strategy.

A simple way to help someone put in more effort is to use a commitment device.

For example, instead of going for a run alone at 6am tomorrow morning, make a deal with a friend that you will meet them at the park at 6 am and go running together. That way when you wake up at 5.45 am and have the overwhelming desire to throw your alarm clock against the wall and roll over it will be met by the stronger desire to not let your friend down and look bad.

Dev Academy is full of commitment devices – students quit their jobs, spend a large amount of money and put all of their energy into a simple strategy. Learn enough about programming so that someone will offer them a job and pay them to continue their learning. They are also surrounded by other students who have made big sacrifices to study with us, and if they aren’t up to speed they will be letting their colleagues down.

Those commitment devices are one of the big reasons our students learn so much in a short space of time.

In The Peer Garden one main commitment device is the ‘pay by publishing’ model. If you don’t publish something you are politely asked to leave and rejoin later. We could have made the community completely open, but I believe we would have been much less effective as a learning community.

Another great commitment device is deadlines. I can confidently say I wouldn’t be writing this article now if the ‘pay by publishing’ deadline wasn’t closing in a few hours. But it would be kind of lame to launch a learning community and not publish a piece myself in the first round so here we are.

Which leads me to a third commitment device. Positive peer pressure. If all I had to do in the peer garden was lodge an article in secret and no one ever knew if I had done it or not then it would change my motivation levels. The fact that it is a public loomio proposal and it’s very obvious who did or didn’t publish something increases the likelihood I’ll actually get it done.

So one way to hack your brain is to put yourself into situations with deadlines where you won’t look good if you don’t meet them.


An old martial arts teacher once told me that you will learn fastest when you surround yourself with people who are

  1. ahead of you that you are learning from,
  2. at your level who you learn with,
  3. following after you that you teach.

I have definitely seen this work in practice at Dev Academy. There is nothing like trying to explain something you have just learned to solidify your knowledge, or being able to celebrate/sympathise with your peers over a shared experience, or get advice from someone who has just mastered the thing you want to learn.

That’s the whole reason The Peer Garden is a learning community that welcomes people at all levels. Because when you are exploring a multidisciplinary topic such as ‘the intersection of ethical business, self management, global solutions and technology’ then you will have a different relationship to people based on the topic. The person you teach the origins and principles of Teal organising to might turn around and show you how to master Loomio.

Self Direction

There are two broad streams of learning at Dev Academy: exercises and projects.

Exercises are quite structured, they have lectures on certain topics, clear directions and are designed with very clear learning outcomes.

Projects are much looser, they are along the lines of ‘build anything you want with what we have learned so far’.

The two learning streams both have their place but one thing I have observed in projects is that they don’t work if I give students the topic. ‘build an facebook for dogs with what we have learned so far’. The times I have provided the topic students are less motivated, put in less time and learn less.

In my opinion, it is much better when people choose what they are going to dive into and then learn the things they need to achieve their objectives. That’s another reason why the peer garden has a broad topic at it’s centre and the invitation is to ‘publish anything you want, wherever you want’.

So, if you want to learn something, I highly encourage you to make good use of commitment devices, find a community to learn with and tie your learning to an objective that you want to achieve.

You’re also welcome to come and join us in The Peer Garden if you want to see first hand how this learning experiment will unfold.




Learning Together at The Peer Garden

Some learnings on resolving conflict on Loomio

I can’t imagine Enspiral working without Loomio. It’s not just a core part of our technical stack, it is a cornerstone of our social architecture and shapes how we deal with powerful human forces of belonging, trust and power.

On Loomio we are trying to make decisions about issues which a large number of different people care deeply about. Online. With asynchronous text.

I’m sure people from the future (or their emissaries) will laugh at us from their virtual reality playgrounds. Or they won’t even laugh, they will just smile and wonder at our naive fumbling as we try and evolve better ways of working together.

Either way, most of the conflict I’ve seen at Enspiral has surfaced on Loomio threads. It arises in other forums as well but I’ve found that Loomio can act like a magnet or a sieve which attracts and surfaces bad feelings in the community.


Over the years I’ve developed some informal practices for dealing with conflict on Loomio which might be useful for others.

Escalate the bandwidth

If you do only one thing do this. It’s my workhorse for resolving conflict.

Whenever misunderstanding or conflict arise escalate the bandwidth of the channel. If you’re on Loomio (asynchronous text) move to chat (synchronous text), chat to a voice call, voice call to video call, video call to in person meeting.

I first heard of this from an open source contributor dealing with disagreements online (@searls I think) and if I had to pick just one tool it would be this one.

Support Individuals

The thing about conflict on Loomio is that it is a symptom not a cause. When conflict emerges it is because individuals have needs which aren’t being met. Maybe they aren’t feeling trusted or trusting, maybe they have been triggered by something, maybe they feel like their belonging or livelihood is threatened.

One thing I have seen Enspiral do reasonably well is swarm individuals with support when they are involved in conflict online. It’s more of an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff strategy and the cost of the distributed emotional labour on the community is high (and disproportionately distributed).

Sometimes ambulances are really useful, especially when you’ve fallen off a cliff and this is why community size matters. People in small high trust groups can care for each other much better than large loose ones.

In an effort to provide more support to individuals we have recently expanded the peer to peer stewarding system that the Loomio team use to the core Enspiral membership of ~40 people.

Strong Teams

In the catalyst team Rich has been observing that the people who do the best in Enspiral are usually in one or more ‘affinity groups’ which have a name, a purpose, a consistent membership and a regular rhythm. This could be a venture like Loomio or a working group like the board. I agree and this is one reason the catalysts are investing our energy in helping to form working groups in the network.

Strong Teams
Image Credit – Vaibhav Sharan

Strong Communities

The root causes of conflict will never be resolved through an online forum. The right tools are human methods like one on one conversations, retreats, circles, listening and sharing stories together.

A robust rhythm of “support and grow the humans and the community” is essential to use Loomio in a high trust community in my opinion. Enspiral was born of the deep intersection between human methods and digital tools – we are here today due to the facilitators just as much as the programmers.

Collaboration is a skill

People often have strong opinions that differ from each other but it takes skill and practice to navigate those differences in an online forum.

We aren’t born knowing how to ride a bike, tie our shoes or make complex decisions in decentralised groups online. Using Loomio well as either a participant or facilitator is a skill and should be treated as such.

We need to learn to listen, to approach difference with curiosity, to express ourselves authentically and leave room for disagreement. We need to practice starting from a position of kindness and care for ourselves, for others and for the community as a whole. It doesn’t just happen, but when it does it is magic.

One strategy for acquiring skill is to just jump in and learn by doing which is what we’ve had to do. Find practices that work in related contexts and adapt them, try them out and see what works. It’s expensive and you’ll get a few bumps and bruises on the way, the trick is to approach Loomio as a skill and intentionally try to get better at using it.

Another strategy is to find people who have the skill and learn from them. The stories and guides on the Loomio blog are a great place to start. You can contact the Loomio team if you want to engage the growing pool of Loomio facilitators and consultants.

Neither strategy will work by itself and as an old martial arts teacher said to me the way to learn the fastest is to have someone you are teaching, someone you are learning along side, and someone you are learning from.

Martial Arts

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Some learnings on resolving conflict on Loomio

Reflections from Enspiral’s early days

I just stumbled across this post that I wrote in November 2010, nearly a year after Enspiral was born and it brought back a lot of memories. How odd it is that everything happened as it did, if I had read the script in advance I would never have believed it.

Why I started Enspiral

Last year I was trundling along quite happily minding my own business. I’d spend a couple of days a week contracting and the rest of the time I’d volunteer with charities like Intersect350 and Regeneration. I would meet lots of inspiring people who were working on creating a vibrant future and tackling some of the big problems we face in the world. I even had a no laptop in bed rule for a while, talk about work life balance!

Then I had this idea – so many people I met were incredibly skilled but lacking the time and resources to work on the projects that they were most needed on. Maybe I could help them get high paid contracting work so they would have the same flexibility I did to do the work that the world is crying out for. I had a fair amount of business experience and was quite comfortable with accounting, sales, recruiting and management so I could take away the pain of running their own freelancing business. Simple.

So in December I started talking to everyone I knew saying things like ‘I help people who want to change the world get high paid contracting work and take away some of the pain and risk of being a freelancer’. BAM – work life balance became work is my life, which is fine (for now).

In an eye blink it’s nearly a year later and we’ve got 30 something people on the books – it’s hard to get an accurate head count but 32 people have written an invoice through the company to date. Half a dozen people rely on Enspiral for their main source of income, another dozen as their principle secondary income – or something like that. Small numbers in the scheme of things but it feels like a good start. We’ll have a much better idea once the new website is finished, one of the reasons it’s taking so long is we’re building a lot of features to help allocate and track projects and availability. It won’t be very visible from the outside but it will make life a lot easier for everyone working in the company.

There are a couple of emerging trends that have influenced my thinking around the company substantially.

One  is the rise of the ‘more than profit’ business model. This company does not exist to maximize profits (even over the long term). We exist to resource people and organisations who are trying to fix the broken systems in our civilization. While financial strength is essential the demands our shareholders (me) place on the company are not measured in dollars. I believe this type of business is fundamentally more competitive than a purely for profit business and that you will see more of them in the future – especially in service based industries with minimal capital costs. It is also more efficient than a not for profit where resources are so scarce and business models are often attached as an after thought instead of being hard wired into the organisation.

Another is the growing awareness of how important purpose and meaning are in our work lives. Far too many people work in arrangements that resemble being bribed to undergo something unpleasant. How many people do you know who love their work? How many would keep showing up if they won lotto? Helping someone create the job of their dreams has many facets but I can’t imagine how hard it would be recruiting for a role that didn’t have a compelling underlying purpose at it’s core.

I never would have predicted being where we are today but this venture is without a doubt the most exciting thing I have ever done. Not because of where we’ve been (which is all a bit of a blur and not particularly interesting) but because of what we can become, time will be the judge of that though.

At that time our website looked like this (the internet archive messed up the twitter stream on the right)


The new website I mentioned was a few months away and would look like this


it was still 5 months before our first retreat


Our office looked like this (earlier photo from when we had the record of 7 people working in there at once. Yes, one person was sitting on the floor in the corner as we only had 6 chairs)


and we had just signed a lease on a big expensive place on Allen st which a few years later looked like this

Allen street office

The last sentence of the post still feels pretty accurate to how I see things now, it’s nice feeling somewhat consistent with past me.

I never would have predicted being where we are today but this venture is without a doubt the most exciting thing I have ever done. Not because of where we’ve been (which is all a bit of a blur and not particularly interesting) but because of what we can become, time will be the judge of that though.

Reflections from Enspiral’s early days

Hacking capitalism with capped returns

This post is an exploration of the idea of capped returns which we’ve been talking about and experimenting with in some of our Enspiral businesses for the past few years.

Loomio has just completed the first significant capped return investment with external investors using redeemable preference shares and Enspiral Dev Academy is in the process of following suit.

It has a relatively long preamble so feel free to jump straight to the details of capped returns.

The problem: Money is eating the world

I love business. It has been a driving force for progress and the source of much to be grateful for. But our current model of capitalism is voracious and knows no bounds.

Capitalism was useful for a time but it is now maladapted to our current environment and we need a better system.

The current economy must grow to survive

The gravitational pull of our financial system is toward growth. Success is not defined by making profits, but by growing the size of those profits over time.

Imagine you run an investment fund, looking after people’s retirement savings. You naturally want to do the best you can for your clients and and earn bonuses. Say you have two investment opportunities – one which is profitable but static and one which is profitable and growing. If both are equally risky, which do you choose?

Now imagine you are running a publicly traded company which is profitable but steady, and there is someone who wants your job and has a plan to grow the company’s profits. Who do you think the directors and shareholders will choose?

This is a very simplistic view of a complex system, but it highlights one of the maxims of our business world: failure to grow is failure, full stop. At the level of an individual company or investor this makes a lot of sense, but at a systemic level it is an awful idea.

Weevils, Cancer and Tyrants

These metaphors may seem overly harsh but I think they highlight some of the core reasons why our current financial systems aren’t working for us.

When you can’t see the barrel for the flour

If you put a few weevils in a barrel of flour and seal the lid they will eat, shit, and reproduce. The population will grow exponentially until the flour is gone, and all that will be left is a barrel of dead weevils and crap. This is the logical conclusion of exponential growth in a closed system.


This isn’t because weevils are evil or have a bad design – it’s just that they evolved in a different context, where there is always another barrel of flour to find and no attempt is made to maintain a steady population in the same place. In the wild, by the time the weevil’s ancestors return to the original barrel other organisms have had time to turn the shit back into flour.

Similarly, our financial system evolved in a different context to the world today. As a framework it is only a few hundred years old.  It was the 1800s when the modern corporate form started to resolve. The human presence on the planet was much sparser and we were so deep in the flour we couldn’t see the barrel.

It isn’t surprising that the system normalised limitless growth.

Going Rogue, the natural way

One characteristic of the natural world is that while organisms often compete with each other they nearly always act in ways which support the health of the whole. Those natural experiments which were detrimental to the whole were mostly selected out as evolution stumbled upon a realisation that became encoded into our collective genetic intelligence, “Oops, crashed the ecosystem. Better not do that again“.

When you’re working on a timeline of billions of years that’s a fine strategy. But for a small bunch of humans running experiments over centuries, a considered approach might be more appropriate. Luckily, we can learn a lot from these natural experiments and I think the story of cancer is instructive.

A multicellular organism is a carefully choreographed dance between trillions of cells (roughly 1 trillion cells per kilogram in a human). Cells grow, reproduce and die.

When the DNA of a cell gets messed up, it can go rogue and start doing its own thing. In certain configurations of rogueness we call this cancer. It sucks.

Cancerous cells

There are a few patterns in cancer pathophysiology which are enlightening for the current topic:

  • Cells which mutate to reproduce much faster than normal and start outpacing other cells in the organism
  • Cells which start reproducing when the body doesn’t tell them to (self sustaining growth signals)
  • Cells which ignore anti-growth signals
  • Cells which ignore the signal to die (apoptosis signalling pathway) and effectively become immortal
  • Cells which grow where they aren’t meant to (metastasis)

This rebellion-like scenario becomes an undesirable survival of the fittest, where the driving forces of evolution work against the body’s design and enforcement of order. Wikipedia: Cancer
(emphasis mine)

A common trend in all these scenarios is that the cell’s health is at odds with the health of the whole organism. There are a few take-aways for an analysis of our financial system:

  • When companies are hooked on growth they will take individual action that is harmful for society as a whole.
  • The system of capitalism has been incredibly successful and as a system it is growing and improving faster than other systems in our society, particularly our political ones.

When killing the tyrant isn’t an option

There is a big difference between capitalism and cancer though: it is not just a few rogue businesses causing problems that we can try to remove. The whole system behaves like cancer and, while harmful, serves an incredibly useful function in society with many positive side effects.

In this way our financial system is more like a tyrannical general who does something useful like protecting the population, but enslaves the population in the process. Being enslaved kind of sucks, but just killing the tyrant isn’t much of an option.

The traditional approach to manage this dynamic has been to put constraints around business activity through regulation and to balance commerce with government. Instead of just a tyrant, we also have a queen who keeps the general in check and occupied on useful things.

Balance of power

In our world the queen’s power has been waning as the general’s rises. Over time, the constraints on business have been removed in the quest for bigger armies, wealth, and power. Instead of the general serving the population, it sometimes feels like the population exists to serve the general. That’s messed up.

In short,  business has become so good at growing that it has deeply corrupted our governments and media. It has weakened the critical constraints on growth, and our planet is starting to look like a barrel of flour full of weevils, headed for collapse.

The Solution: steady state economics

There are two paths in front of us – option A is to transition to a steady state system where the amount of total growth is (at least) balanced by the amount of total contraction. Option B is to collapse, when a system which can only function by growing hits the limits of a finite planet.

Option B lacks appeal so let’s not dwell on that too much. Let’s explore option A.

Here are some design constraints I’ve been exploring for possible solutions to help migrate to a steady state economic system.

  • No (initial) dramatic regulation changes – our political systems are too deeply captured
  • Cheap to start and experiment with
  • Easy to copy and improve
  • Provide better options for investors and businesses than the current system (else why would they switch)
  • Serve the commons – the current system can’t co-opt the good bits of the idea and keep working at odds with the health of the whole

Those constraints are kind of daunting, but I have found them useful to focus my thinking. In particular there has been a lot of work done by people looking at the fundamentals of our monetary system as the root cause of growth addiction. I think the theory is sound but the experiments or proposed solutions I’ve seen always fail one of the constraints.

The ideas below are not a comprehensive solution by any means, I think they show promise and are worth sharing as early stage prototypes needing a lot more work.

The Idea: capped returns

It’s pretty simple – Whenever investors or entrepreneurs receive equity in a business the total returns on the equity are capped. The returns should be fair but they do not result in a perpetual claim on the profits of the venture.

The implementation is pretty simple as well. Whenever a company issues shares, it writes a matching call option where it is required to repurchase the shares at an agreed upon price.

Sounds like crazy talk, right? Why would anyone do this kind of deal, and why would it matter if they did?

What happens when all the shares are repurchased?

A big party!

In this model a company has two types of shares – financial shares which yield returns until they are repurchased, and governance shares which only have voting rights and do not expire. This is pretty simple to set up in a company constitution.

When the financial shares are gone all that is left are the governance shares and now 100% of the profits from the venture are available for the organisation’s social mission. These profits are controlled by the (governance) shareholders through the company directors.

Without the financiers’ boot on their necks, the directors are now free to be much more creative with how they spend profits. They could invest in making their company the best possible place to work, or fund ambitious social impact projects, or invest significantly in the commons.

The company still needs strong governance and checks and balances to prevent things like inflated salaries or inefficient operations, but these are solvable through mechanisms other than owners optimising for profit.

How is this better for investors?

Capped returns aren’t better for all deals or investors, but they will be for some.

If you are trying to maximise financial returns, then a perpetual claim on profits is better than a capped return. You would only take the capped return if no other options were available.

This investment structure will open up deals for businesses which weren’t fundable before — good businesses with great financial prospects that could generate healthy returns but would never raise traditional equity.

Some of these businesses are launching in developing economies where liquidity options such as an Initial Public Offering or acquisition aren’t possible. Others are early stage ventures which aren’t shiny enough to return a Venture Capital fund in one go, so miss out on angel funding.

Others are impact driven businesses with no interest in being acquired or maximising the dividends they pay to shareholders. They exist to change the world through achieving their social mission.

Capped return investments can also dramatically change the risk profile of investing in an early stage business by agreeing on payment terms that are a share of revenue and look more like a capped royalty than traditional equity.

In short, these types of deals can be better for investors by opening up deal flows that were inaccessible before, and by changing the risk profile of early stage ventures. For investors who want to keep the social mission at the fore or invest in the commons, it is a much better model.

Why would an entrepreneur care?

Starting a company is not a rational act. It is an act of unreasonable conviction and passion, a belief that you can see something that few other people can, and that your vision is true. The art of entrepreneurship is balancing this unreasonable conviction with the humility to listen to the world and adapt accordingly.

Founders are deeply attached to the businesses they create. Many realise that they aren’t the people to lead the business over its whole lifecycle but they still care about what happens after they step away. They care about the people, the customers, and the mission.

Capped returns are a way of preserving that which is most dear while still accessing capital and receiving fair compensation for the sacrifice and value creation of launching a successful business.

Financial incentives matter, but with adequate access to capital to fund the next venture it really doesn’t matter if an entrepreneur makes 1 million or 100 million.

Enspiral first retreat

When I first started Enspiral I made a clear decision to give the whole thing away – to generate opportunities instead of money. It worked. I am now flooded with opportunities, and in a similar financial position to when I started. I’m very glad that I structured things that way, but as an entrepreneur it isn’t the sort of deal I would do over and over again.

When setting up Dev Academy my co-founder and I agreed on capped returns for ourselves and our investors. Time will tell how it plays out, but from my point of view it feels like a good balance between giving everything away and fair compensation.

How does this link back to steady state economics?

The biggest problem with our current system is that the growth path of successful companies very often end up with an IPO or acquisition by a listed company. No matter where they start, companies tend to end up in a profit maximising system with incentives to externalise as many costs as they can onto society. In this model, a few win while society loses.

The shares in those public companies never expire. They transition from being a vehicle for fair compensation to investors and entrepreneurs to becoming licenses to extract wealth from society that are sold to the highest bidder. There are dividends being paid out today on shares in companies where every person who took the risks and put in the capital to start it up has been dead for 100 years. The returns have become divorced from their original connection to meaningful inputs to the business.

If capped returns became the norm of business then the growth path of a successful enterprise would be to pay back its founders and investors early on in its lifecycle (first decade or two). Then there would be a big celebration as the business became a freehold impact venture with a binding mandate to serve wider society.

There would still be motivations to grow, but they would be far less than our current system. We would increase the net amount of energy going towards the commons and positive social impact.

We could make a decent dent in financial inequality, as investors would need to work harder to find new deals for their upcycled capital instead of passively living off ‘financial extraction licenses’. This post on the founding story of Ford has more thoughts on the relationship between perpetual returns and inequality.

Reaching Scale

**Warning, speculative thinking ahead**

Building a small ecosystem of capped returns is all well and good, but it won’t make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. This idea has the most potential for impact if it becomes the new norm and displaces indefinite returns significantly – maybe entirely.

To do this, it would need to move from niche ecosystem to wide spread movement, similar to the alliances around climate change and other major social movements.

It would be easy to create a mechanism where a company’s constitution mandates that its surplus is either spent on the social mission or reinvested in capped return vehicles, similar to how the GPL locks IP into the public sphere. This would create an ecosystem of capital legally bound to a capped returns social impact model – a self-reinforcing engine of positive change.

Add in a commitment to transparency, like Buffer’s transparency dashboard, some basic workplace democracy, and a simple brand like Fairtrade, and you have the basis of a low-cost network uniting investors, entrepreneurs, staff, and consumers to out co-operate traditional business.

Combined with a sustained political movement to plug the costs externalised by businesses (a long battle in its own right), this would create a playing field where the capped returns business ecosystem has a the following sustainable advantages:

  • cheaper capital – capped returns fundamentally lowers the value of capital which means that it is a better deal for businesses needing investment. The compounding capital in the ‘once in, never out’ ecosystem can handle the supply side and make capitalism more efficient.
  • a stronger social contract – because the ecosystem is contributing to the health of the whole rather than destroying it

It would also be possible to play with other dynamics such as procurement policies weighted towards capped returns suppliers, or IP which is put into the commons but only accessible to companies in the capped returns ecosystem. Combined, all of these could create an economic ecosystem which is more effective and efficient than the current one. The good thing about business is that when you are better, you usually win.

At its core, reaching scale would be about building a broad-based movement around the immorality of an extractive economy, and demonstrating a viable alternative that people could participate in. The new economy could out compete the current one and would eventually displace ‘anti-social enterprise’.

The Inspiration

I first bumped into parts of this idea in 2012, in a blog post on revenue share royalties as an investment model in developing economies (which I’ve never been able to find again, please share if you can).

This prompted me to start hacking on some internal experiments with Enspiral folks which I called Fairy Gold. Since then this approach has influenced how I’ve been structuring deals, particularly Dev Academy.

In 2013, there were some panels at SOCAP talking about Demand Dividends, which are royalty-based financing with a cap. I also bumped into Luni from fledge who was doing capped returns as part of his impact accelerator. made a splash in early 2015 when they launched a fund with capped returns (conditional on the founders not selling out), and I’d encourage you to checkout Bryce Robert’s thinking on the topic, which is quite different to mine: here, herehere and here.

Sacred Economics and the New Capitalist Manifesto have been pretty influential in my thinking and I highly recommend them.

What Next?

There are a lot of “ifs” in this post, and the idea needs refining and experimentation. The lifecycles we are talking about are relatively long, and it would take many people from different backgrounds collaborating over decades to see if this could work.

But the opportunity is huge. Our economy is one of the most powerful systems in human society, and it is currently causing a lot of damage. If we can shift the fundamentals of our economic system from extractive to generative, it would be difficult to overstate the impact we’d have on our world.

I am up for more experiments. The only deals I’m considering anymore are ones where the returns are capped. I would love to collaborate with anyone else who is exploring this space.


Hacking capitalism with capped returns

Loomio lessons – 90 day planning

Recently we had Richard Bartlett from the Loomio team pay a visit to Dev Academy and share some of the lessons they have learned around their 90 day planning cycle. The price of the workshop was a blog post and like Lannisters and Dev Academy graduates a developer always pays their debts.


it’s all about context

A lot of the context is held implicitly in the team and the quarterly planning cycle is an opportunity for the team to add to this context and create shared understanding. The 90 day plan is developed in the wider context of the teams direction which is articulated as purposestrategy and priorities.

Purpose (decades): your long term vision. For Loomio it is to
create a world where it’s easy for anyone to participate in decisions that affect them.”

Strategy (3 years): what are your strategic objectives over the next few years?
This is in flux at Loomio and a new iteration is currently being formulated. You can get a gist of it through these slides.

Priorities (3 months): the targets that the 90 day cycle sets.
The last priorities for the cycle that ended in June were

  • Capital: deliver US$250k in philanthropic funding by June 30
  • Revenue: generate US$2.5k in monthly recurring revenue for use of Loomio
  • Release: develop new interface to the point where all users can switch to it by May 15

Richard made the comment that the numbers in their targets were somewhat arbitrary and that regardless of whether they missed them, hit them or overshot them the value was in the focus it gave. For each new idea or task there was a very clear litmus test of is this a priority.


3 weeks before the end of the quarter the team starts gathering data and and sharing it with the members. There are two main inputs into the planning session: a survey and reports.

Team Survey

This was last quarters survey and it particular reflects the particular dynamics of team Loomio where roles can dramatically change each quarter.

The retreat cycle of Loomio is retreat, offsite, retreat, offsite – with the retreats being 3 days in summer and winter and the offsites being one day. Richard commented that the survey felt more useful for the offsite cycles as the extra time in the retreat created more space for creating shared context.

Another noticing about the survey is that it was a useful tool for some people to switch out of day to day mode and start thinking about the big picture instead of jumping straight in the deep end of strategic planning.


Overlapping the survey process there is also a culture of writing reports to share with the team.

The coordinators write a collective report focused on the priorities for the last quarter specifically addressing what did we do and what did we learn.

Individuals in the group also write up longer form reflections on the work they did and any opinions they have about future directions.

retreats and Off sites

The Loomio planning process culminates in their quarterly gatherings. Lots of work goes on here but one of the key outcomes is the skeleton of a plan for the next 90 days along with coordinators tasked with implementing that plan.

We have a strong retreat and facilitation culture at Enspiral and Loomio is a team with a high density of strong facilitators so this part of the process is under constant experimentation. This winter retreat marks their 7th retreat together and retreat cultural tech is a topic for several blog posts.


The Loomio team have gone through four iterations of their 90 day planning process and I am looking on with envy from an Enspiral Dev Academy point of view. We have just enough time to put together a 90 day plan for this cycle, though the boat has nearly sailed.

While the planning adds value to a single venture I think the real opportunity is when multiple ventures sync up with their context sharing. Add in some digital connecting during the retreat process from lots of teams reaching out of their bubbles and it would change the collaboration landscape at Enspiral dramatically.

For more information about Team Loomio be sure to checkout their blog and wiki.

Loomio lessons – 90 day planning

Why I train programmers – Take 2

Some Enspiral folks were a little less than whelmed at my previous post about why I train programmers. And here I was thinking it all made perfect sense.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 01.46.52 pm

Fortunately we are in computer land where undo and redo are in full effect so I will take another stab at it.


teaching is deeply rewarding

We focus quite a lot on rich working relationships at Enspiral and it is often as much about the people as it is the work. But when I’m teaching at Dev Academy the people are the work and it takes things to a whole new level.

Our teaching team gets to obsess about a small group of people for 9 weeks. What do they understand? What do they not? Where is their learning edge? How can we tweak things?

I get to watch as people go from the basics of programming to teaching themselves technologies I have only heard of. But more importantly they learn to lead, to give and receive feedback, to handle difficult conversations and all the human things that make such a difference.

It is hard to describe what it is like to watch students grow so rapidly, all I can say is if you get an opportunity to teach, take it.

It makes me a better programmer

Our main job as instructors is to help our students fall in love with programming. When I can do that everything else takes care of itself. And the only way to do that is to connect with what I love about programming.

Since I’ve started teaching I have spent a lot more time programming for fun. It turns out that when I connect with what I love about programming it makes me want to do it more, which makes me get better – queue virtuous cycle.

It’s a highly leveraged way to make an impact

The students from our first cohort alone will build far more cool tech during their careers than I ever will in mine and in one week we will be graduating our 9th cohort.

A teaching team of three can train about a hundred students a year so in a full year of teaching I can support about 30 people to enter the field. Teaching all the time is a bit much for me but if train I 10 programmers a year for the next decade the impact starts to add up.

We are also considering launching a trial bootcamp for Enspiral Founders Academy which is super exciting. The Enspiral community launched about 15 ventures in the last 5 years and I want to see if the Enspiral Academy community can 10x that over the next 5, I reckon we’ve got a shot.

it is a stellar way to grow a community

One big lesson I have learned from my time at Enspiral is about the power of community. There is substantial value created by having a high trust group of people who are interdependent and spend time working on projects together.

With Enspiral I used commercial contracts as an excuse for people to build relationships with each and this worked pretty well. But learning together is also a great excuse and is a fair bit faster. I am extremely excited about the community that is growing around Dev Academy, especially once we start adding some entrepreneurs into the mix.

This is just the beginning

I think I always feel like I am just at the beginning of something which probably says more about me than anything else. But true to form this does feel like just the beginning of our journey with Enspiral Academy. The programming bootcamp is reasonably stable and providing a foundation for the business and the next six months is about playing with some scaffolding to see what might grow up along side it.

Why I train programmers – Take 2

Why I spend my time training programmers

I was recently in Gisborne talking to folks about IT education and came up with one of the clearest explanations about why Enspiral is focusing on training programmers and launched Dev Academy.


It’s all about the economics

I found that it’s pretty easy to run this presentation with only a whiteboard, you just need to remember a few numbers.

How much money do you think New Zealand made last year?

It was about 60 billion dollars, $60,000,000,000 NZD. Less than some countries, more than most (we were number 57 in the world or 36th per capita).

How much do you think Facebook made last year?

It was about 17.5 billion NZD (12.46b USD). Nearly a third of all of New Zealand’s exports.

What about Google? That would be 92 billion NZD or a New Zealand and a half.

Apple? Just 257 billion NZD – four New Zealands.

How big do you think the global IT sector is worth?

Gartner reckons it is about 5.32 trillion (3.8 trillion USD) in 2015. That’s about 80 New Zealands.

IDC estimated that it will be about 7 trillion (5 trillion USD) by 2020. That’s nearly 2 trillion NZD of new business in the next five years. Another estimate from IDC picks that there will be 1.8 trillion NZD growth from just the Internet of Things sector.

If companies from New Zealand earned just a little piece of that it would change the life of everyone in this country. It’s definitely not easy and lots of countries are trying to do the same thing but it is absolutely something we can do.

Whether I was speaking with high school students, experienced business folks, community members or social activists this economic story worked pretty well at getting peoples attention and prompting folks to ask more about this “programming thing”.

I would then go on to emphasise that programmers are only a small part of the puzzle of launching a successful IT business and that lots of other skills were needed.

Why I spend my time training programmers

Self determined salaries

We have recently finalised a round of self determined salaries at Dev Academy and it was one of the most effective and powerful experiments in self management that I’ve experienced. 
freedom_2_by_sevCANNImage Credit

The Problem

The default setting in most organisations is that salaries are private and negotiated directly between an employee and a manager. The information asymmetry helps funnel power up the pyramid and this also results in people who are good at negotiating getting a better deal than those who aren’t.

Ever since first reading Maverick I have been struck with the idea of staff having the ability to set their own salaries. Stumbling across the The Morningstar Self Management Institute in the early days of Enspiral and reading about their work in the space locked in my commitment to self determined remuneration.

This was really easy when we were just a collective of contractors and everyone would set their own billable rates – if customers were happy to pay that rate then it must be good enough. Even when negotiating rates for internal work it was along the lines of “What do you think is fair? Well let’s do that then”.

But fast forward to the end of 2014, Dev Academy had just turned one and when I reflected on our remuneration process it was obvious we had unconsciously slipped back into old habits. Rohan (my co-founder) and I had agreed upon compensation levels with each new hire as they joined the company and traditional power structures and information asymmetries were starting to emerge.

This was yet another reminder for me that self-management processes need clear definitions and constant reinforcement.

For example, while everyone in the company was onboard with the idea of financial transparency we hadn’t put energy into making our remuneration data easily accessible so the only way for a new person joining the team to find out how much everyone was being paid was to ask each person individually or trawl through our xero account. As you can imagine this didn’t happen too much.

So we fixed things.

our Process

Getting started

The first step was writing up a document [extract below] outlining the thinking behind self directed salaries and passing a Loomio decision to try it out. We established a remuneration team to facilitate the process and act as an initial point of contact to help point people in the right direction.

Individual round

We each filled out a remuneration template and the REM team updated a central spreadsheet while acting as a sounding board when asked. For folks who needed extra support someone from the REM team would sit down and work through the details with them.


We collated the salary data and normalised it for time (e.g. how much would this person be paid if they worked full time for a year). This helped us compare apples with apples and made it easier to tackle the heart of the problem which was how much should we pay this person compared to everyone else.

This data formed the heart of an anonymous survey which we sent to everyone in the company with two questions for each person.

a) What do you think of this salary: too high, too low, just right or no opinion?
b) Comments?

We shared the responses with everyone the day before our weekly meeting the next day went through a facilitated session to collectively process the information. This took a fairly simple form of

  • Setting the tone for the session and emphasising the delicacy and importance of this work.
  • Going around the circle with each person talking through their thinking behind their suggested salary and their thoughts and feelings about the anonymous feedback.
    • The feedback for that person was projected on the wall before their checkin to provide a shared context
    • The person opposite in the circle was responsible for looping back what they had heard to shake out any initial clarifications
    • After the looping the circle was open for comments and responses from the whole group

This was an amazing session that helped clarify our understandings of each others roles and was a valuable part of building our culture.

Lock it in

After the “digesting feedback” session we had a few days for people to reflect further and then had a cut off point at the close of business on friday to lock in the compensation levels.

The main points of this were

  1. You were free to ignore or incorporate the feedback from the previous session as you liked.
  2. There was no one who would approve your salary, what you asked for is what you got.
  3. If there were any disagreements on monday it would be handled through our
    conflict resolution. (There weren’t any)

Those final two points where Salaries are approved by default and exceptions are managed by a peer initiating a conflict resolution process are the real magic in the system. It is stepping beyond a company where you have a lot of influence to a company which you actively control.

It’s all about the culture

I have tried lots of experiments over the years to help people realise a sense of ownership and empowerment and this was definitely one of the most powerful. At the end of the day setting salaries is pretty common sense stuff and when you give people all the information they will make common sense decisions.

It definitely requires a strong sense of trust amongst your team and a willingness to give and receive challenging feedback. But if your team isn’t up for that then helping them get into a position where they are should be your top priority.

[Extract from the initial document outlining the process]


Self Determination individuals set their own pay which colleagues provide feedback on but the ultimate remuneration decisions rest with the individual. Significant differences of opinion are resolved by our conflict resolution process.

Transparency – all compensation packages are visible to everyone in the company in a simple and accessible format.

Risk Adjusted – if a staff member puts some of their compensation at risk by deferring payments and accepting Fairy Gold instead of cash then they receive a fair compensation for that risk.

Intrinsic Motivation – we eschew individual performance bonuses and rely upon people’s intrinsic motivations to do a good job. Any performance bonuses are paid out across the whole company.

Adjustable – Individuals are free to adjust their remuneration at their discretion (e.g. if the type or amount of work they do changes) but are required to update their individual agreement at least once per year.

Trust & Integrity – are at the heart of Dev Academy but especially present in the work of setting compensation levels. We assume that each person is striving for the fairest outcome they can envision for themselves and their colleagues.

Self determined salaries