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Re: [holistichelping] Minciu Sodas fractal pay scales

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  • Mark Roest
    Hi all, For those who don t know him, Peter Burgess spent decades doing accountancy in Africa and elsewhere, and wrote a book called Profit in Africa . He has
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 13, 2008
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      Hi all,

      For those who don't know him, Peter Burgess spent decades doing accountancy in Africa and elsewhere, and wrote a book called "Profit in Africa". He has been on the path of efficiency and effectiveness in aid to others for a very long time. His work would be valuable to anyone who needs to deal with these issues.

      Peter, some of the people I cc'd here are working on, or working to make happen, fairly large-scale projects, for which the methodology you are giving a taste of may have a role. Could you give us a little more specific description (e.g. something like a white paper) of how it would work in documenting and supporting accountability in a pilot project or roll-out, and for people working on bringing equity to their own community?

      Is it entirely a digital product or service? How do (or will) people work with it?

      What is your timeline for going live? Are you planning on the equivalent of alpha and beta tests, and will you need test projects? What scale are you hoping for, in what kind of timeframe?

      Did you start with a philosophy of compensation that you could describe to us, or did you start with a hypothesis for testing -- and can you share it?



      On Sun, Jul 13, 2008 at 11:04 AM, Peter Burgess <peterbNYC@...> wrote:

      Dear Colleagues
      The subject of remuneration is, in my view, very important ... and usually very badly argued. It also usually arises because of something that appears inequitable ... and is usually discussed around specific individuals. In my view the subject does deserve a lot more thought and dialog, and not around specific people.
      Most people get paid by an organization that has the money to pay them ... and uses their effort and talent to make money ... and in some modern organizations, a huge amount of money. Sadly ... in much of the modern global economy making a lot of money does not have much to do with doing a lot of good. In fact, though there is increased talk of things like Corporate Social Responsibilty (CSR) these things are rapidly discarded if they get in the way of making real money.
      One of the big measures of success is simply how much money one makes ... how much money one has. It is an almost universal measure ... but not a very good one. Is the idea that "the person with the most toys at the end wins" really what we should be thinking about?
      As many of you know I am working on a framework of metrics that we call Community Accountancy ... we are trying to go further than the money measures because life, surely, is more than just about money things. This is, however, accountancy ... with much of the rigor associated with business accountancy.
      I am very clear that money sustainability is of critical importance. People have to have the money flows so that the bill flows can be paid and not create a catastrophe for the individual and family.
      I do not see why people that are working on good things ... things that deliver social value ... should have to take a vow of poverty. If that is what it takes, I would argue that this is an example of system dysfunctionality that needs to be addressed. 
      As a practical matter there is a huge opportunity for philanthropy to be much better used so that it does very much more of social good, and does it productively rather than merely in a way that looks good ... Community Accountancy is aiming to make it possible for Philanthropy to be driven by the concept of PR for productivity rather than PR for public relations. That is what happens with baseball ... why not do more or less the same thing with socio-economic performance. 
      One of the components of Community Accountancy is the whole issue of remuneration ... a mapping of what jobs pay what money ... what organizations pay what, where and to whom (class of people). Many are aware that things are pretty distorted in this area with some people doing a lot of value and getting paid very little ... and others getting paid obscenely huge amounts. These data are potentially very useful ... and I am sure they will tell us something, but what I do not know.
      Privacy and confidentiality are important ... these data are not about who ... the individual person ... but about places ... and organizations ... and job functions ... and the pattern that emerges. The data and the analysis does NOT link back to specific people.
      To the extent that anyone would like to help with any of this type of information, I would welcome the dataflows. As the patterns emerge ... they will be made public without compromising the privacy and confidentiality issue.
      A related piece of this module is a framework of job types ... what is the job (activity) and what is the reason for the job (what value outcome). We are now building this table as well.
      Peter Burgess
      The Transparency and Accountability Network: Tr-Ac-Net in New York
      Community Accountancy
      Integrated Malaria Management Consortium (IMMC)
      917 432 1191 or 212 772 6918 peterbnyc@...
      Peter Burgess
      On Sun, Jul 13, 2008 at 12:06 PM, <ms@...> wrote:

      How do you justify a pay scale that pays you five times the pay received
      by those who actually do the work?  I am curious.  Really.  Hasn't anyone
      else asked you about this?  I'm sure you have a good explanation.


      Tom Wayburn, Houston, Texas


      Tom, Thank you for writing.

      Ten years ago, when I started, I was hoping that I could earn the same as
      everybody else at Minciu Sodas.  But it became apparent that I was
      investing much more than anybody else could be expected to invest.
      Raimundas Vaitkevicius told me, "Andrius, first you must earn - and then
      everybody else will be able to earn."

      I can say, ten years later, that hundreds of people have done very well at
      Minciu Sodas.  You and hundreds of people have, I think, received a "free
      service" that often isn't available elsewhere, and certainly not for
      purchase.  I have set this up so that we are all contributing to a commons
      in the Public Domain and so we are yielding an asset that I think
      justifies my investment, but also is available for others, even those who
      have not yet invested.

      Tom, you have written 240 letters to our laboratory, a huge number, and so
      have dozens of other people.  Yet I have written almost 10,000 letters
      which is about one-third of the 30,000 letters that we have written. So it
      is easy to forget and underestimate my contribution.

      In any work in our economy, the hardest part is finding the client.  More
      than half the energy is spent on that.  And I have structured our lab's
      work so that we meet our participants half way and they are, first of all,
      working for themselves.  They are getting money for what they might do for
      free.  So it's understandable if that's not very much money.

      Yet I do need to make sure that I can provide for myself.  And $25,000 a
      year is actually not providing for myself considering that I have to make
      12x$1,400=$16,800 for loan payments to my credit cards.

      But I do believe that we can achieve the most impressive results if we
      give a small piece of work to everybody, so that hundreds and thousands of
      people might participate.  In this way, when I received $24,000 for
      MyFoodStory, I made sure to give about half for our teams, benefiting some
      one hundred people, even though I could have kept all of the money for
      myself.  Similarly, in my proposal for Stephen Wolfram, I would keep 25%
      of the money for myself, and distribute 75% for our team.  Note that I am
      taking full responsibility for the project, that it is my investment that
      is key to making it possible, that I am taking the risk to find the
      client, and then think again how all that work is going to the poor.

      Also, consider that I am not asking others to work at a lower rate than
      me.  I am asking them to work on smaller pieces, so that we could include
      as many people as possible.  But certainly, Tom, I would be very happy if
      you might give me $200 or $1,000 or $5,000 worth of work.  Indeed, that is
      the next step that I am proposing for Stephen Wolfram, that he fund a
      $2,000 project (of which I would get $1,000) and then a $15,000 project
      (of which I would get $5,000).  So I am asking for the same work that I am
      ready to give other people.  And if I did receive $25,000 of $100,000,
      then yet I may very well be doing one-quarter of the work, alongside a
      much greater share of the responsibility, risk, investment, and for me the
      least pleasant work of finding a client.  If somebody could provide us a
      client, then I wouldn't care what percentage they took, whether it was 25%
      or 50% or more, certainly if they are taking the responsibility.

      Even if I did earn a lot of money, I hope that my generosity and my
      ability to use money well would make that good for all people.  Gandhi was
      in favor of there being rich people, with the understanding that they are
      stewards of personal wealth that serves all.

      Dozens of poor people have earned vital income from our laboratory.  They
      have a keen interest in my financial success.  Tom, I wish that the
      well-to-do did as well.

      I ask for your help that I and others might have paid work.


      Andrius Kulikauskas
      Minciu Sodas
      +1 (312) 618-3345



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