An Enterprise of One: An Overview for New MG Taylor Network Members

September 30, 1996
Updated: March 17, 1997; May 22, 2000


  • We Live in a Time of Transition
  • An Enterprise of One
  • Special Situations You May Find Yourself In
  • Some More Compelling Reasons for Being an Enterprise of One
  • The Fine Print

Welcome again to the MG Taylor Corporation ValueWeb™ network!. By now you've worked a DesignShop® event or two and maybe have been involved in a special project. Or perhaps you've been employed by MG Taylor or a knOwhere store on a trial basis. You may even have a sponsor and talked with him or her several times, and have expressed an interest and aptitude for undertaking more work with MG Taylor. This document will help you understand the next steps and give you some guidelines for conducting business with MG Taylor in the future.

We Live in a Time of Transition

First a short preface. One of MG Taylor's tenets over the past 20 years has been the idea of the collision with the future. In this model, the rapid rate of change in the environment crosses and eclipses the rate at which traditional organizations can respond to change (see Stages of an Enterprise model). Once eclipsed, the traditional organization struggles, and unless it can turn around, collapses. To avoid collapse, these organizations must discover new options and new ways of work: philosophical, cultural, policy level and strategic. Navigation Centers™ and Management Centers are environments to support this discovery; DesignShop events are processes that facilitate the discovery; KnOwhere stores are vehicles to rapidly extend the capabilities of Management Center environments and DesignShop processes into the marketplace. The people who play the key roles in the discovery—linking the old organization to the new one in the evolutionary process are called Transition Managers. As a Knowledge Worker in the MG Taylor network, your primary mission is to learn to play the role of a Transition Manager.

New strategies and philosophies for handling the rate of change have been emerging at an increased pace over the past couple of decades. One collection of strategies can be labeled “The End of the Job,” to borrow the title of a series of articles run in Fortune magazine last year. Here's a portion of the collection:

  1. Employment is more volatile. The “guarantee” of lifetime employment that was the hallmark of the post World War II era is at an end. The volatility of markets and industries dictates a steady rate of layoffs and hirings as companies strive to keep their skill base requisite.
  2. Adaptability. Some organizations are paring down to a critical core and outsourcing all else. This has created a host of small office and home office consulting groups, and draws as well upon the capabilities of larger, specialized firms.
  3. Enterprises are rapidly changing size to adapt. Some enterprises are becoming smaller while others are expanding. Some are organizing themselves around project-oriented network models while others are consolidating and crystallizing their structures.
  4. People have the option of working remotely. Technology is making it possible to perform a number of tasks from remote locations instead of from centralized offices. People can now work and have access to tremendous amounts of information on the road or from home or other remote sites.
  5. Continued investment in technology is requisite for competitiveness. Many analysts and MIS directors have complained that there is no way to quantify technology's return on investment and therefore that the decade of spending on systems and upgrades has been useless. This is nonsense. Ask any company that has invested in technology to turn off their workstations and work for one month with typewriters and carbon paper instead. Of course technology can be under and mis-employed like any other resource. And it's not necessary to live on the “bleeding edge.” But to be ignorant of technology, or to devote limited time and thought to how it can improve operations is a mistake.
  6. People want off of the treadmill. Many people are working on “right-sizing” their lives; reducing debt and unnecessary consumption. They're discovering how to get as much or more out of life without relying on a plethora of things.
  7. People wish to reintegrate their lives. There's a desire to unite work and home life more closely but not many people have unlocked the secret yet. But some recent experiments in city and neighborhood planning are allowing people to recreate true communities where work, family, play, and education are more closely tied together.

This set of changes is forcing all of us to rethink our work and our lives.

An Enterprise of One

Most of the people in our network are independent, that is, they are in business for themselves or they are employed by another firm and do work for MG Taylor on the side. These individuals get paid on a fee basis by the week, day or hour. The rest of the people in our network are employees of either MG Taylor, a knOwhere store or Athenaeum International. Regardless of their arrangements, everyone in the network should think comprehensively about their life and their life's work. Each of us should take a whole systems approach to a lifetime of engagement in learning, employing what is learned, experiencing measures of failure and success from this employment, and folding this experience back into learning. In this way, we're subscribing to the philosophy of being an “Enterprise of One.”

Truly each of us comprises an enterprise of one. Even if a person works for the same firm for 30 years or more, what about the 20 years of life before that and the 30 years or more following? And what of integrating life's work instead of compartmentalizing it? Shall a person be content with segregating vocation, avocation, relaxation, family into tidy boxes that fragment his experience? The integration of all these elements severely challenges our age. Is such fragmentation merely a phenomenon of our times that we must learn to endure? Should we seek a retrograde solution from times past? Or is it possible to design solutions that are more requisite with the rate of change? MG Taylor does not claim a franchise on solutions but we are dedicated to the pursuit and demonstration of them.

What does it mean to be an Enterprise of One in our network? On the simplest level, if you're working for MG Taylor or a KnOwhere store or Athenaeum International on a fee basis, you're an independent contractor. You have established your own separate business, maintained records for this business, paid self-employment taxes, deducted expenses, and so on. In general, you provide your own tools to do the work, and while you work closely with a team on each project or event, you work largely unsupervised. MG Taylor Corporation or one of the KnOwhere stores are your clients.

Or you may work with other Knowledge Workers in a small boutique corporation, one of whose main objectives is to provide Knowledge Worker expertise to the MG Taylor network.

If you're an employee of MG Taylor or of a KnOwhere store or of Athenaeum International, the work you do for MG Taylor falls under your employment contract. But you're still an enterprise of one in that you still have your whole life to manage! And someday you may go independent. Maybe not soon—building an enterprise is something we all need to grow into.

But the concept of an enterprise of one is especially true for independent contractors who should not rely on MG Taylor as their sole source of income. For its own health, no business should rely too heavily on a very limited portfolio of clients.

Special Situations You May Find Yourself In

If you're just beginning your work with MG Taylor, you may still have a full time job with another company. MG Taylor does not recommend that you terminate your position with that company unless you are prepared to embark on your own enterprise. Until that time, you may use vacation time or perhaps leave without pay to participate in further events. Some employers, once they learn of the mission and purpose of MG Taylor are interested in having some of their employees participate as crew for DesignShops and bring that skill and knowledge back to the company.

If you choose to make the leap and become an Enterprise of One, you should develop a business plan. MG Taylor can help you do this if you like. Your business plan should also be incorporated into a plan that takes a whole systems look at your life.

Some More Compelling Reasons for Being an Enterprise of One

Like all companies, MG Taylor experiences cycles of demand for its work. Some of this is seasonal: summertime is usually a slow period for our type of business, for example. Some of it is also related to the stages that every enterprise goes through. As we evolve our products and services we enter and pass through the Entrepreneurial Button many times. Each passage is accompanied by the trauma of looping and the threat of overshoot and collapse. Periods of stability are punctuated by periods of instability. This situation is no different than for any other company.

In addition to DesignShops, you may be called upon to support workshops, work at a knOwhere store, or on special projects that arise from time to time. Most of these activities are from 6 to 8 days in duration although special projects can stretch out much longer. The process of selection is usually the same. Process Facilitators select crew for DesignShops and workshops; General Managers select crew for work at knOwhere stores; and Project Managers select crew for special projects.

There are four skill and development levels:

  1. Explorer. These are new Knowledge Workers who are working their first event.
  2. Apprentice. These are Knowledge Workers who have worked their first event and are in the process of learning all of the different roles involved in crewing a DesignShop or working the floor at KnOwhere.
  3. Journeyman. Once a Knowledge Worker has a working knowledge of all of the roles and can fill them, he or she becomes a Journeyman. In some cases, a Journeyman may not have a working knowledge of all of the roles but may be an expert in a selected role instead. Journeymen also have a working knowledge and understanding of implementing the Seven Domains for a client, and of the Modeling Language. Process Facilitators are Journeymen.
  4. Speaker. Speakers are Knowledge Workers who can facilitate a transition management relationship with a client over time using MG Taylor processes.

In a way, the network operates as a small market economy. It is incumbent upon each member to improve and innovate, develop a concentrated expertise and branch out into different skills.

The Fine Print

Tooling and Technology
When you do your first several events with MG Taylor you may not own a computer. Equipment is rented for most DesignShops. But if you want to look at becoming a long term contractor with MG Taylor, you'll need to purchase and use your own tools.

Computer Hardware
You may choose from any platform you wish. Our network includes practitioners and advocates of both Macintosh and Windows. Various facilities have different strengths and support capacities, so check on the set-up before arrival.

MG Taylor currently does not use contracts with its Knowledge Workers.

Non-compete rules
Even though we are not using contracts yet, we expect network members to behave ethically with respect to our clients. Frequently network members are offered permanent positions or consulting work with clients. We would like to be apprised of such situations when they occur. A member of our network should not use the opportunities afforded them to take work from a client at the expense of MG Taylor. If MG Taylor and a client sever a relationship, then a Knowledge Worker is free to pursue work with the client.

Knowledge Workers may not represent MG Taylor or use the DesignShop process or the Modeling Language with a client on their own unless they are licensed by MG Taylor to do so.

Intellectual Property
The System & Method designed and developed by MG Taylor is Patent Pending. In addtion, many terms surrounding Management Centers, DesignShops, and KnOwhere stores are trademarked. The models in the Modeling Language are all copyrighted. You may not reproduce them nor distribute them without permission.

Fiduciary Responsibility
If you've participated in one or several events by now you're aware of our rules concerning fiduciary responsibility. Everything that you hear during an event is confidential and belongs to the client. You may not pass this information on to others without the express consent of the client. As a crew member you will likely receive a documentation from each event for your own library. These documentations should be treated confidentially as well.

You should also be aware when supporting public companies that are traded on one of the public exchanges, that certain information you may obtain during a session could be defined as insider information, and trades you may make in the client's stock could be viewed as violating insider trading rules.

copyright 1996, MG Taylor Corporation. All rights reserved
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