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Equal compensation as an efficiency and productivity competitive advantage

or, "How i became a communist for business purposes"

An e-mail titled "Income, unbilled work, and expenses" is where i turned, while writing it.

My initial position had been that the source of money for Agaric is client work. Therefore, we only get paid for client work. We want to do other things and we will, but if you don't track it and bill it, you don't get paid.

I would like to stress that we are all intending to be worker-owners (although it would be good to look at everything we're doing from the perspective of a contractor-- would you want to contract with Agaric?) From the perspective of worker-owners, all the money Agaric earns is going to go to us or be spent by us. We are deciding how we choose to put this money to use, not how good a deal we get as workers-- or as owners. We are both. More money paid for internal work means less money paid for revenue-generating work.

If we do a proper job of compensating non-client work, contractors will get a better pass-through rate than principals. Which is fine, i think. We're a self-governed collective, deciding our own resource allocation and incentives.

So from overall income, what if we take 10% for contributing to drupal, 20% for contributing to the world, 20% (estimated) for overhead?

Leapfrog would fall under both drupal and world contributing. And actually while starting up the overhead will certainly be higher. Which i think does bring us back to planning a manageable amount of free hours in the beginning, or rather, a somewhat low hourly internal rate in the beginning?

When we get health insurance, we're looking at getting 40 percent of our billable work.

* Can internal work be paid strictly by the hour? (Neither higher-level, salaried employees nor traditional small business owners do this, to my knowledge.

* Do we go full-out communist from each according to ability, to each according to need? I'm quite serious about this if only for the sake of efficiency— never bothering with figuring out an hourly rate. Money comes in, it's divided equally after expenses, and we all concentrate on doing the best work we can do.

I am pretty worried about what happens when one sees something that could be improved about the operation of the data.agaric web site and the first thing one has to do is figure out how to get paid for this time, fill out metaphorical forms in triplicate.

Forget about all that. Everyone gets paid equally, not by the hour, but period. Concentrate on doing great work.

Aside: I'm learning disabled (slow, literally) and have ADHD. You do not want to be in any kind of commercial entity with me where i can work uncapped for an hourly wage of any amount.

i'm putting this all in radical terms. Partly that's me and partly that's because it will be radical if we do it right. But really, it's not very radical. It's just putting us all on salary.

there's no question about how much you are going to get this month— you are going to get an equal salary sufficient to meet your living expenses, and quarterly you receive an equal share of everything above that which the collective brings in, less expenses (and anything we need to take out to build toward, say, a six month minimum reserve for everyone, $90,000).

Given the goal of keeping that on hand in the bank, everyone buys in at $18,000. If someone happens to have that laying around, awesome. For most of us, that means buying in over time.

The way this works at the other collectives we've talked to is if you leave, you get this back.

Some additional points:
* We still want to track our time. But now it's how do we improve our efficiency and how do we improve our estimates, not how do we determine our paycheck.
* My main concern and reason for the equal-sharing approach isn't funding projects like Visions Unite, actually. Major volunteer projects that don't have full buy in from the collective may be at least partially worked on as "time off". It's how we distribute resources for regular client work
* I don't want to be coming up with a policy for compensating blog posts and removing spam from our site and helping people in IRC and attending meetups and writing proposals and planning new services. I want us to discuss each week and each month, what are we going to do to be awesome (and bring in sufficient money while doing so). We balance different kinds of work and we address unproductive use of time but we do so directly, not by means some sort of reward policy.
* So the goal is about 20 billable hours per week, per person. If one person is dedicated full time to a non-billable project then yes, others need to pick up five extra hours a week. But our incentives are aligned and not haggled over: get the non-billable project done, get it funded, monetize spinoffs from it, whichever. But someone working for free so that the rest of us don't care what they are doing is not a good approach either.
* I clearly don't know how to use bullet points.

For creative professionals like ourselves, work is something done for an audience. If we don't ship, it really isn't work. An equal split of aligns the (relatively unimportant) financial incentives with this; budgeting for internal work does not do so as well, and takes a lot more time.

Searched words: 
equality, pay, profit-sharing


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