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CyberKnights exist for a twofold purpose. We exist to serve our Customers, and we exist to serve our Knights. We believe that we cannot do one well without doing the other well.
In today’s world, there is often an insistence on more rigorous quality control systems, more thorough schooling, extensive advertising, and a looming cloud of advisers, underwriters and lawyers. We believe that this focus completely ruins more valuable but less measurable factors like insight, intuition, morale and genuine satisfaction.
There is also a growing body of evidence to suggest that these methods simply do not work in the first place. As the touch of a human hand can crush a delicate butterfly or contaminate and ruin the latest, greatest processor chip, so the clumsy touch of a production-line education process can crush genius, the touch of ISO-9002 forms can crush insight, the touch of intrusive legal considerations can crush genuine service, the touch of a committee can shatter initiative.
We are in the process of designing a business which is personal and flexible enough to expose these valuable properties where they will do the most good, and yet large and powerful enough as a whole to provide the continuity and kinds of services expected in extensive and complex projects.
A CyberKnights customer can expect prompt and flexible service. CyberKnights works hard to avoid difficult licencing conditions, to save resources and direct the bulk of them towards providing precisely what each Customer specifically needs. CyberKnights leans hard on open, standard, secure and reliable methods for achieving these ends.
Many businesses work hard to make their customers entirely dependent upon them, a process known as “locking in” which is anathema to CyberKnights. The focus on open standards leaves the Customer’s system at any instant in a position to apply a variety of solutions to any given problem, and in a position to replace CyberKnights with almost any support company, should they so choose.
Individual Knights are expected not to be interchangeable like so many indistinguishable clones, but to be bright enough to fill another Knight’s shoes at short notice under any reasonable circumstances. Adherence to open, standard common practices helps this considerably.
CyberKnights plans to retain customers because those customers are deeply satisfied with CyberKnights’ work and policies rather than because the customer has no real alternative, and to continue gaining customers through enthusiastic word-of-mouth referrals.
The ethics of CyberKnights is not based around the thoughtless, destructive political, commercial and religious zealotry of the Crusades, but around the surface-informal European knighthood which plied its trade honourably in groups or as individuals before a similarly honourable mercenary culture arose – and only much later to decay into pomp and commercialism and be corrupted as so many excellent systems in this world eventually are.
To these Knights, their reputation and their own satisfaction with their performance were far more important than maximising income, comfort or tenure. The idea was to become so competent at what you did that anyone would leap to hire you.
The fundamental business process is very much along the “all for one, one for all” lines, with individual Knights generally able to either apply themselves steadily, or stretch themselves with new challenges as best suits their temperament. The system is not planned to be cradle-to-grave security, and in fact requires you to participate as an independent consultant rather than an employee, but it is designed to detour past many of the rough spots in the road of life.
For those who would be Knights but lack the expertise, there will be tasks that require intelligence but not necessarily experience – where a front-line Knight would be overkill – on which to cut your teeth as a Squire.
Customers also benefit from Squires fulfilling routine needs in that less demanding operations are completed at a lower cost, and yet a full Knight is promptly available to deal with exceptions and unforeseen circumstances.
From both sides of the transaction, there is always scope for individuality. Large companies often deal with “product” and don’t really care whether it is boomerangs, bananas or buildings that they’re selling. Their products are designed to suit the average customer. The average customer is a tall, thin line in the middle of a big, wide bell curve. Most customers – and most service people – are not on that thin line. The typical product doesn’t fit perfectly, and like clothes on a rack in a supermarket, isn’t designed to be tailored.
Ours is designed to handle tailoring — trivial or significant.
CyberKnights works (where possible) works with products which have full source code available, and which are designed around open standards. This makes it possible, and even relatively easy to tailor these products for your particular situation. Because they adhere to standards, these products are also amenable to interoperation with other similar classes of products. If you played with Lego or Meccano as a child, you’ll find yourself right at home with the concept.
We also tend to favour GPLed software, both because that is often the price for the right to change software, and because in extending this software we make the whole software pie bigger for everyone including ourselves. Without the GPL, there would not be enough available source code to provide a “critical mass” to make the practice of software tailoring from components as widely feasible and incredibly valuable as it is.
CyberKnights follows a policy of strict neutrality with regard to personal preferences. We are happy with both customers and Knights from all walks of life, all racial and cultural backgrounds.
As far as people goinfo, an aboriginal, a young girl, a deafened person, wheelchair-bound, blonde, Atheist, Baptist, ugly, British or whatever combination causes prejudice elsewhere is ideally treated in exactly the same way as a tall, strikingly (in some eyes) handsome male epitome of Aryan perfection who is a leader in the local Brethren (or whatever) congregation.
The basic principle is that if a personal attribute doesn’t clash with a Knight’s ability to do jobs and work with people assigned to them, it doesn’t matter to us. Likewise, we’re happy to work around Ramadan, avoid installing during Shabbat, hang a (non-conductive, non-shedding) dream-catcher or crystal on a customer’s equipment, etc, as appropriate and sometimes as requested.
We assume that both Knights and customers share this kind of attitude, but do not force anyone to accept it.
Staff and customers include Caucasians, Africans, Asians, Amerindians, Inuit, Jewish, Soviets, Polski (various other Europeans, go ahead and name it) of all sizes, genders, shades, hairstyles, builds, religions (Atheists, Islamics, Judaists, Christians, Agnostics, and NewAgers included) and so on. We have not had any real problems with these combinations (and more), and don’t expect any.
There is something a little bit surreal about sitting in a meeting of the Jamaica Linux Users Group (JaLUG), in a cafe beside a waterfall — with Linus, Ted, Eric and other luminaries in the front of the room and an attentive audience filling the rest of the space — while a veteran local IBM executive stands up and describes the adoption of Linux by the company’s customers with adjectives like “huge”. — Doc Searles
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