The Antimatter Why

The Antimatter Why

Some folks seem to have joined the conversation about the Antimatter Principle in the middle, as it were. So, for those who may have missed the start, I thought it might help to recap.

Start With Why

Simon Sinek advises us to “start with why”. I can get down with that.

Why the Antimatter Principle?

The Antimatter Principle serves to nurture an environment where folks love to do good things together.

This could be a workplace – or some other setting where folks come together to get things done. I note with sadness that almost every workplace I see, this kind of environment does not exist. Workplaces are almost universally depressing, frustrating and ineffective places for people to work well with their brains, and in which to do good things together.

Note that I’m not arguing that the Antimatter Principle will necessarily make people happier in their work, or improve their lives. It may well have this side-effect, which would make me delighted, but its origins and immediate top- and bottom-line purpose is to nurture an environment where folks love to do good work together – an environment where people get more done, faster, and at less cost than in typical workplaces today. Its strangeness may be down to the fact that it’s not your typical zero-sum strategy. Everybody wins.

If you know of other means to achieve the purpose, the why, stated here, I’d love to hear.

– Bob


  1. 1) The Antimatter Principle == “take care of folks’ needs”
    2) The purpose of The Antimatter Principle is “to nurture an environment where folks love to do good things together.”

    Does my interpretation align with your intent? If so, then where do we go next together?

    Even though the words don’t align exactly, I think the purpose of “agile” and similar organizational ideas (Ackoff/Deming/MacGregor/Argyris) is pretty much the same (that’s why management guru Steve Denning has been advocating for agile outside of the software industry, in business, in general). But the agilistas have taken the next step. They’ve enumerated a menu of concrete coding and management practices to select from. Should you perhaps do the same, or are you done?

    • Almost.
      1) “Attend to folks’ needs.” (Not synonymous with “taking care of”, or with “meeting”).
      2) Ok

      Agile was and is an impromptu attempt by developers to attend to developers’ needs, first and foremost. With a relatively cursory nod to customers and managers. Steve Denning knows next to nothing about Agile.

      A key point in the application of the Antimatter Principle is that selection and use of e.g. concrete coding and management practices (and even coding and management themselves) is contingent on the needs of the folks involved, in the context of those folks’ time and place. Put another way, people who are loving doing good things together will find the tools and techniques, methods and practices, that suit them.

      – Bob

  2. Perhaps writing a book on the Antimatter principle may help you flesh out your thoughts in more detail and satisfy my need to understand and perhaps embrace your idea(s). If you do, I promise to buy it. I’ll also sign up to be a commenter and/or feedback source during its development if you’d like. Even if its simply aggregating all the blog posts you’ve written on the topic, may be worth a shot?

    • I remain conflicted about the idea of books in general, and me writing one, in particular. Thanks for the suggestion and encouragement. I’ll give your suggestion some further consideration.

      BTW You can select an aggregation of all posts on e.g. the Antimatter Principle simply by clicking on the tag/keyword in the left hand column (below the date) of any post. Or use the URL

      And by appending “?order=asc” to the search term in the URL, see posts in as-they-were-published date order. i.e.

      – Bob

      • Thx for the direction. It seems like I’ve been pushing for more meat/substance and you’ve been pushing back. Just my opinion, but it also seems like you’ve been spinning in place at the same level of abstraction, repeating the essentially the same mantra, for quite some time. I have no idea if anyone else agrees with me, and it probably doesn’t matter.

      • I’d be delighted if you could suggest some other aspects / levels / perspectives that you’d like me to write about. Would you be willing to do that?

        – Bob

      • I think I have already hinted at my need for more substance several times previously (an accompanying list of tools/practices/methods and/or behaviors) that can perhaps bring the antimatter principle vividly to life in the minds of average Joe’s like me). As you can hopefully see, I am, and have been, stuck. It’s your message, they’re your thoughts.

  3. Ged Byrne said:

    Feeding this back into yesterday’s Manfesto:

    We are discovering that by attending to folks needs
    and helping others do the same we can create an
    environment where people can do good work together

    Does that sound right?

    • I’d hesitate to say “right”, but I feel positive about your proposal. Thanks 🙂

      I do have a reservation about its possible lack of gravitas, but in any case would you be willing to let me use it, or a derivative thereof?

      – Bob

      • Ged Byrne said:

        That would give me great pleasure 🙂

      • Ged Byrne said:

        Should ‘do good work together’ be ‘all find personal fulfillment’?

      • Ged Byrne said:

        “By attending to folks needs we will find fulfillment.”

        The golden rule?

      • Re: “All find personal fulfilment”.

        A fair question.. And one that harks back nearly twenty years, for me, to Familiar and its ethos / purpose. I’m thinking the choice (of focus) depends on whose perspective(s) we’re catering to.

        I suspect much explaining would be in order before certain stakeholding communities could come to understand how they might get their own needs better met by encouraging other folks to “find fulfilment”. Maybe that would be a good thing, in any case.

        – Bob

      • Re: The golden rule.

        I’d say “(in a collaborative knowledge-work context…) by attending to all folks’ needs, we’re all that much more likely to each get our own individual needs met.”

        – Bob

  4. Ged Byrne said:

    If this is about working this brings us to a more fundamental question: Do folk need to work?

    Does the individual have an intrinsic need to work?

    Does society need individuals to work? All of them?

    It seems that work is moving from being a demand lead activity to supply lead activity.

    With automation less people are needed to do the work. So what do we do with all the surplus labour?

    Market economies reduce value whenever supply exceeds demand. Should we be devaluing folk?

    Your Antimatter Principle seems a good place to start when thinking about the answers.

    • Ah. Now you’ve opened up a whole other can of worms. 🙂

      Although these are issues that have been tickling the back of my mind for at least several years.

      First off, what do people mean by “work”? I find different people can have wildly different definitions of the word.

      I’m more of the “do nothing that isn’t play” persuasion, myself. That fits right in with the Antimatter Principle and the idea that people are far more productive when they’re playing (exercising autonomy, doing what they think best, seeking mastery, driven by a shared purpose – which contextualises “best”) than when they’re “working” (directed by others).

      And the more macro-economic implications are not lost on me, either.

      – Bob

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