Progress and Velocity and Value Creation


“Genius is finding the invisible link between things.”

Vladimir Nabokov


Value creation, in an emergent-focused business, is not causal, it is correlative. In other words, to create value in a conceptual thinking world one has to accept everything has to do with everything else. Business, and value creation, is a succession of events that link with each other (whether we want them to or not). You must see the invisible to control your destiny. And this is where AI helps. It can bring the invisible into the visible world – concepts, doing and progress.

It would be quite easy to begin thinking that a future business could be so focused on conceptual thinking that ‘doing’ and productivity have a diminished focused. That would be incorrect.

In fact, in a conceptual world it will be exceptional doing, through substantive productivity, that will drive progress.


“The bravest sight in the world is to see a great man struggling against adversity.”



“When you want to arrive at your goal more than you want to be doing what you’re doing, you become stressed.”

Eckhart Tolle


I am absolutely an unequivocal believer that business people overlook the power of focusing on exceptional doing and how it can actually drive progress and, uhm, even strategy.

I am absolutely an unequivocal believer that business people overlook the fact much of their vision & purpose platitudes are seen as bullshit and the key is the individuals as units of substantive productivity.

Sure. We talk about how strategy & vision is necessary to ensure a business can be successful. I will not argue that. But what about doing. Okay. What about exceptional doing.

Let me define ‘exceptional’ here because all businesses ‘do’ and their competitors also ‘do.’ And most ‘do’ with some overall purpose, most likely the purpose being “doing what we are supposed to do for my responsibility.”

Exceptional, in a Conceptual Age Organization, comes down to two terms:

  • Enlightened individuality
  • Substantive productivity.

Enlightened individuality.

Some people call this ‘finding purpose’ I do not. Some people call this “self management.” I do not. This is simply enabling a worker to know as much as they can in order to produce the best possible work (and outcomes). In other words, enlighten the individual to maximize their effectiveness.


“All you can really ask is for someone to do the best they possibly can.”


Enlighten is important because we ask a shitload of our working people without really empowering them to do the BEST shitload.

Sometimes we ask so much of our people it is amazing. And, yes, many people do not know what they are truly capable of until they are pushed to aim for something seemingly impossible.

I know I am a pretty demanding leader. I set an incredibly high bar for my team. But in the end all I ask is that they do their best. And if it isn’t enough, they we can say we didn’t succeed for lack of trying. And sometimes that’s as good as it gets. And sometimes that is when I have been proudest of people I have led. Ask the best of people and I believe most people will surprise you by doing a little better. Enlighten the people and their best doing becomes better. That is a fairly simple concept in my eyes.

That said.

In all the hype over purpose I wish leaders would maybe think of doing as actually about creating to destroy. Let’s maybe call this “iterative doing.” And that phrase may actually encapsulate what I call exceptional doing.

In this case ‘doing’ is not a stagnant state. It is a form or method of economic & organizational change and never can be stationary.

Maybe better said is that ‘doing’ is an evolutionary change agent. I say this because so many people talk about ‘doing’ as a ‘state’ yet that ‘state’ is ever changing in a blink of an eye. Far too often we describe an organization simply to describe it in a point of time <or viewing it in some past state>. If you accept that thought, and you accept that incorporating real substance into each doing action, well, that would imply every moment of doing not only feeds into an individual belief they are providing value but the organization itself will gain value thru each action.

Enlighten the individual and the organization progresses.

  • ** note: A moment on ‘doing.’ We are doing people, in other words, the majority of people like doing things because it offers up tangible proof of usefulness. That said. Business, in general, has abused this attitude by simply suggesting we should mindlessly do more (and check things off of lists and meet milestones and all that ‘here is some fake finish line and go do shit to make it to that finish line” stuff … just so I can show you a new finish line). This bad business attitude ignores we want to discover things and learn how to do things our own way. There really is a substantive side to “doing.” The simplest way to make that point is to remind everyone that typically when we are told we cannot do something, we invest the energy to actually do it. Let’s just say our ‘doing ethic’ is so strong because at the unconscious level, we equate work with a significant part of who we are and we believe that if we work hard and improve our professional standing, we become better people. Jobs, and working, are a significant part of our lives and even with any “work/life” balance discussion it would be silly to not admit we seek some meaning in our jobs. If our job feels meaningless, then “who we are” is meaningless as well.  If we feel inspired by our job, if we believe that we are doing something worthwhile in our work, that belief bolsters our sense of identity. We are a doing people so when we get asked to do things stripped of any substance after some time, we feel stripped. Maybe not meaningless but for sure “less than.” I will add that for the most part we are doer dreamers. In other words, we do because we dream. It seems to me that if we aren’t incorporating dreams into productivity, we are missing an opportunity for an enlightened individual productivity. Yes. As noted at the beginning, everything is connected with everything.

Substantive productivity.

Maybe surprisingly I am leaning on Gilbreth’s “scientific management” concept in terms of maximizing individual productivity, but I am turning it 180degrees and instead of efficiency I speak in terms of effectiveness.

For decades we have continuously stripped productivity of any meaning or meaningfulness. We stripped work down to something that became, well, work — and nothing else. Therefore, workers never felt fulfilled and often even felt empty despite doing so much daily.

Instead of stripping things to make an individual productivity as lean as possible I seek to inject substance in terms of ‘maximizing individual capabilities.” But I do so without speaking of some intangible ‘purpose’, but rather empowering individuals to believe what they do matters, how they do it matters and that they make substantive contributions to the greater organization & greater good.

I say this noting that the fundamental impulse, that sets and keeps the capitalist engine in motion, comes from the new consumers, goods, the new methods of production or transportation, the new markets, the new forms of industrial organization that capitalist enterprise creates.

Substantive productivity contributes, or is the fuel, to this progress.

Here is where I struggle a little with the whole Purpose focus <despite its good intentions>.

The future is a result of the decisions you make in the present and Purpose tends to work like a strategist <starts with a vision of the future and works backwards to the present – outside in>. Theoretically that is good, but substantive productivity should actually work inside out.

Strategy works out the step-by-step moves to accomplish the ultimate aims. This means productivity matters as part of “start by putting seeing and doing ahead of thinking.” Too often we look backwards for solution/formula to future problems and we would be much better off envisioning the solution within its context, different than past context, & ‘do’ a solution built for tomorrow versus the past. This demands emergent strategic thinking envisioning how concepts morph to meet probabilistic future states for which substance productive actually fulfills in the present <creates a self-fulfilling future in one sense>.

From a labor productivity standpoint this means ‘substantive’ is found more in encouraging a fulfilled present, maximize the present, so that purpose is self fulfilling and not fulfilling some objective.

In the end. Maximizing the present and substantive productivity versus using past thinking and stripped productivity. When I type it as simply as that, it appears obvious the former offers more forward-looking progress & fulfillment for those enabling that future state than the later.  Maybe it is as simple as that.

Productive Velocity

………….. finite projects each focused on Velocity spur productive Progress ……..


“Don’t confuse a flurry of activity for progress. That’s a magician’s trick.”


How often do we see a company doing lots and lots of shit yet we don’t really see any progress?

That’s a business in love with speed, not velocity.

That’s a business which justifies return off of ‘doing’, not substantive doing.


Velocity and speed are different things.

Speed is the distance traveled over time. I can run around in circles with a lot of speed and cover several miles that way, but I’m not getting anywhere. Velocity measures displacement. It’s direction-aware.

Farnam Street


Meaningful velocity is about a combination of ‘doing shit’ (progress type projects, not speed/stagnant projects) and “shit with meaningfulness”. It is this combination which not only embraces generating value, but also the velocity necessary to consistently elevate value above competition and the sales associated with doing so.

The enemy of velocity are the ‘to do’ lists are endless with lots checked-off, but never get shorter and the people who are working long hours but what is done never seems to create any meaningful progress.

This is speed while being stagnant. It’s like a hamster in a wheel. It’s not only unsatisfying for the people in the wheel, but the business itself doesn’t gain any satisfying results (although managers are usually quite creative in result presentations to make it seem like shit is moving everyone forward).

Velocity is always about decisions. What I mean by that is there is never any lacks of things to do in a business but some just aren’t worth doing.

Velocity projects fall into 2 slots:

  • value creation initiatives which increase velocity of value offered
  • velocity initiatives which increase the velocity of the organization itself & indirectly enhances value.

Velocity is, and has been, a great concept. The challenge is in a world in which everything gets simplified to a point of meaninglessness this concept has been screwed. Velocity, in general, gets screwed because it often gets confused with growth

I would suggest business, since the industrialization age, has always had an unhealthy relationship with growth – “if you are not growing, you are doing something wrong.” This attitude actually encourages a flatness to business growth (if not false growth) and does not encourage the true pursuit of potential & opportunity or even progress. Most importantly this attitude ignores the fact most growth actually needs to gestate, have some stillness, at some point before blossoming.

Velocity is not speed nor is it growth. If a business confuses it with speed it will simply jump onto a hamster wheel and eventually wear itself out (but feel like they are making progress all along the way to death). If a business confuses it with growth, they will mismanage it. In fact, if they manage it like growth (consistent, milestone driven, incentive laden), they will never achieve velocity (only growth) and most likely get frustrated and, well, wear itself out. The point is that if you, as a business, do not understand what velocity is don’t aim for it. It’s a waste of time.


Multiplicative versus additive.

  • ** note: this is not ‘scale’ (a term I dislike).

  • Every business desires scalability. The implication is “something done well, replicated, will create not only efficiencies, but expected exponential value output.” The issue is that scale gets discussed one way when reality is scale is something else.

In a future organization, coherence rules (not consistency). Therefore, leadership needs to understand that if one seeks velocity the collection of ideas, people, process & systems must be viewed through an opportunistic lens.

** note: an opportunistic organization must master impatience and uncover the secret to opportunistic velocity – festina lente.

  • Think small.

Businesses inherently like ‘big ideas’, scale, replication, consistency and construct. In other words, business loves evenness. Unfortunately for those interested in a Conceptual Age organization they will have to discard with all of those ‘likes.’ Velocity, more often than not, is found in fractals which release complexity expansiveness. I would suggest insights crack open velocity moments.

Velocity will almost demand a business go into the ‘insight business’ which means being able to discern between insights (not all insights are created equal), the ability to find insights (the linear fractals within complexity to unlock) and have the humility to NOT seek disruption, or disruptive ideas, as an objective but rather seek velocity. In my words, the business will go into the ‘return on choice’ (ROC) business.

  • Think opportunistically.

Business, no matter what we may wish for in the short-termerism debate will always be a combination of short term and long term as well as predetermined strategy & emergent strategy. It is silly to suggest one over the other. In fact, it is the combination which actually maximizes people in that some people thrive in an ‘finite game mentality’ and others thrive in an ‘infinite game mentality’ and to maximize potential (productivity, meaning & profit) you maximize both. That said. If a business embraces this philosophically they then begin to view velocity in an important way – opportunistic (finite) velocity leaps which could blossom into infinite-like structural value gains.

Technology plays a vital velocity role in several ways:

  • Assisting in identifying leverageable velocity insights
  • Augmenting the velocity opportunities (additive to efforts)
  • Exploiting the velocity opportunity (multiplicative efforts which tap into infinite aspects)

This is a multidimensional design issue.

Machine learning, generally speaking, is additive.

Deep learning, generally speaking, is the search engine between additive & multiplicative.

Quantum technology, generally speaking, exploits the multiplicative aspects. I will suggest that this is the epitome of human/technology co-dependency. Algorithms drive, humans direct (and then exchange places).

I will conclude on ‘opportunistic’ with the uncomfortable truth that opportunistic is tricky, sometimes not obvious and often uncovers itself in a one-degree difference as in from 211degrees to 212 degrees.” You can spend your time and life sitting around somewhere between 0 and 211 degrees.  And it doesn’t really matter if you are freezing your ass off at 3 degrees or be hotter than shit at 198 degrees — nothing is happening (other than you are uncomfortable or maybe fooling yourself into believing something is happening). Shit ain’t happening until you reach out and figure out a way of getting to 212. That, in a nutshell, is speed.

Then something truly happens. Life boils. Action happens. That, in a nutshell, is Velocity. A real change happens in that you have shifted from speed activity to velocity activity. All in one measly little degree.

In the end emergent and velocity are inextricably linked. Without emergent activity a business deals in increments, not velocity. With emergent activity a business taps into velocity opportunities where value creation scales.

Written by Bruce