Does the name Haphazard Business seem less abstract than two weeks ago? The haphazard response to the Covid-19 epidemic around the world provides a stark reminder how quickly situations can change and the importance of being open and nimble when faced with sudden disruption.

Photo: Changing The Lightbulb | Four White House staffers huddle together pre-President Trump’s press briefing announcing paramount importance in observing social distancing. (Screenshot from YouTube, 27March2020, by John McKiernan)

What’s in a name?

The name Haphazard Business took several months to decide upon. It was essential to convey the precarious nature of all plans; no matter how well laid out they may be on paper. Planning is very important in creating any business or pursuing an idea, however it is also equally important to create contingency throughout, and be ready to abandon previously hard held views.

On setting out on this journey to create a hub, few understood why I chose this name, it made no sense as it is not selling anything and is abstract. Yet today, with the Coronavirus keeping more than half the World’s population on lockdown, does Haphazard Business seem less abstract?

Changing Tack

The Washington Post in mid-March ran a headline combining ‘haphazard’ and ‘helter-skelter’ when describing the White House early response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Helter-skelter is not in the Haphazard Business Glossary, although soon to be added, and refers as much to the rollercoaster ride we are all embarking upon as to the more recongnised meaning; “in disorderly haste or confusion.” (Google)

Jared Kushner’s ‘haphazard and helter-skelter’ coronavirus response revealed by The Washington Post (Raw Story)

Kushner entered into a crisis management process that, despite the triumphant and self-congratulatory tone of public briefings, was as haphazard and helter-skelter as the chaotic early days of Trump’s presidency — turning into something of a family-and-friends pandemic response operation.

The administration’s struggle to mitigate the coronavirus outbreak has been marked by infighting and blame-shifting, misinformation and missteps, and a slow recognition of the danger. Warring factions have wrestled for control internally and for approval from a president who has been preoccupied with the beating his image is taking.

Washington Post

Although the businessman within President Donald Trump has been pivoting wildly in the last few days of March 2020, as the full scale of the crisis and the impact on the US has become apparent, it was by all measures a slow response. His unwillingness to listen to the professional advice being offered may prove his downfall. His fixed mindset refused to acknowledge wider factors beyond his own experience, and can be a lesson everyone can learn from.

Post Covid-19 World

At time of writing, no one knows how this global crisis will play out. What is fairly clear already is that individuals, communities, business and the global economy are going to stumble out of this into a new World. The Kaleidoscope has been shaken dramatically, and business as usual cannot resume.

Haphazard Business was not a prophesy of impending crisis, it was and remains a blog to demonstrate the need for flexibility and to encourage expanding the nuance within an idea or project being pursued; the importance of being open, adaptable and accepting of change and challenge. Creative collaboration trumps the lone scientist (pun intended), as Walter Isaacson points out masterfully in his book The Innovators.

Going Forward

It might be difficult today to believe, as the death toll mounts, that we will come out the other side of this pandemic. It is imperative that those in a position of power, wealth and stability, as well as the visionaries, now step up to the plate with urgency and begin to shape the post Covid-19 World into something that is more equitable and empathetic than our recent past.

I have already set in motion the speeding up of my plans and these will be revealed over coming blog posts. Please feel free to comment below.

John M


Brigham, Bob. 14 March 2020, Jared Kushner’s ‘haphazard and helter-skelter’ coronavirus response revealed by The Washington Post, Raw Story, Washington, Online. https://www.rawstory.com/2020/03/jared-kushners-haphazard-and-helter-skelter-coronavirus-response-revealed-by-the-washington-post/

Washington Post, 14 March 2020, Infighting, missteps and a son-in-law hungry for action: Inside the Trump administration’s troubled coronavirus response, The Washington Post, Washington. Online.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/infighting-missteps-and-a-son-in-law-hungry-for-action-inside-the-trump-administrations-troubled-coronavirus-response/2020/03/14/530c28b4-6559-11ea-b3fc-7841686c5c57_story.html?arc404=true


The first Haphazard innovation hub will open in January 2020, following ten months of assessing various locations, attending numerous events and conducting intensive research on the likely future impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

Innovation Hub

Stonecutters Space in Great Yarmouth will be the inaugural Haphazard Business innovation hub, completing the first part of this blog journey, which sought to understand how the concept of creating a hub meanders from an abstract idea to becoming reality.

The Platform-7 Methodology

The hub will employ methods developed during the Platform-7* art interventions over the previous decade. The space will begin life very slowly, almost imperceptibly, with gradual repairs and change as a representation of how the 4IR^ is sneaking up on the vast majority of UK residents, almost unnoticed. ^ Read ‘What is 4IR?‘ here.

Introducing 4IR

The hub will be an intriguing 4IR introduction, and the potential it may offer business, government, charities and individuals in a town like Great Yarmouth. Visitors will be introduced to a dizzying array of new technologies and possibilities; Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), semantic technologies, Nanotechnology, Virtual Reality (VR), robotics and much more will feature.

Opportunities Galore

The 4IR offers enormous opportunities for businesses and other organisations to develop new and innovative profitable enterprise, reducing drudgery and improving efficiency and wellbeing within the workplace.

There is also potential for individuals to quite literally change their life and/or circumstances through a welter of applications that offer everything from self-education to personal mobility.

Haphazard Business Journey To Date

Haphazard Business is a journey in understanding how ideas become reality. The idea of creating a hub has been on my mind for more than 10 years. Having worked in some dynamic businesses and created several businesses myself, I have always been fascinated how haphazard running a business can actually be, regardless of planning and preparation. Near enough all businesses go through periods of haphazardness, as does life itself.

This blog will continue plotting the journey of the hub and future developments as they happen. At some point in the future it may prove useful to someone, somewhere.


Platform-7 is a loose network of artists, technicians, academics, researchers and makers who come together for art interventions in public spaces discussing topics of social significance. Although The Stonecutters Space will be a commercial business endeavour, the hub will draw particularly from Moonbow Margate (2011) and Waste Agency (2014-15) in developing the innovation hub.

John M

Comments and suggestion welcome below.


As we head towards opening Britain’s first 4IR public hub portal, it is probably a good time to reflect on what 4IR – The Fourth Industrial Revolution – may actually mean.

The phrase Fourth Industrial Revolution was first introduced by Klaus Schwab, the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, in a 2015 article in Foreign Affairs (Wikipedia).

“We are at the beginning of a revolution that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and relate to one another” (Klaus Schwab)

The impact of the next industrial revolution is likely to be seismic, affecting every person on the planet to some degree. There are opportunities and challenges, offering both advancement and risk. No one really knows how this will all play out, and we may struggle to consider the future fully if we rely solely on history from previous Industrial Revolutions’ for context.

“This Fourth Industrial Revolution is, however, fundamentally different. It is characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.” (ibid)

The 4IR is much more than just a new smart app on the phone, medical innovation or identifying photo locations, it will create fundamental change over the next 20 years, from building and urban design to the way we learn, communicate and travel.

The Haphazard Business 4IR portal will address some of the key themes of this coming age, with live events, symposiums and demonstrations, and will offer for sale some of the more novel breakthroughs.

Subscribe to Haphazard.Business by pressing Follow button below. Comments welcome.


Schwab, Klaus. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, World Economic Forum, 2017. Online.


In this Royal Society paper, the authors argue that, while there is no shortage of sound ethical principles in robotics and AI, there is little evidence that those principles have yet translated into practice, i.e. effective and transparent ethical governance. Ethical practice starts with the individual, and emerging professional codes of ethical conduct. As a starting point for discussion they propose five pillars of good ethical governance.

Ethical governance is essential to building trust in robotics and artificial intelligence systems

Alan F. T. Winfield and Marina Jirotka
Published: 15 October 2018 https://doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2018.0085

– Publish an ethical code of conduct, so that everyone in the organization understands what is expected of them. This should sit alongside a ‘whistleblower’ mechanism which allows employees to be able to raise ethical concerns (or ‘responsible disclosure’), if necessary in confidence via an ombudsperson, without fear of displeasing a manager.
– Provide ethics and RI training for everyone, without exception. Ethics and responsible innovation, like quality, is not something that can be implemented as an add-on; simply appointing an ethics manager, for instance, while not a bad idea, is not enough.
– Practice responsible innovation, including the engagement of wider stakeholders within a framework of anticipatory governance (using for instance the AREA framework [19,23,26]). Within that framework, undertake ethical risk assessments of all new products, and act upon the findings of those assessments. A toolkit, or method, for ethical risk assessment of robots and robotic systems exists in British Standard BS 8611 [18], and new process standards, such as IEEE P7000 Model process for addressing ethical concerns during system design, are in draft.
– Be transparent about ethical governance. Of course, robots and AIs must be transparent too, but here we mean transparency of process, not product. It is not enough for an organization to claim to be ethical; it must also show how it is ethical. This could mean an organization publishing its ethical code of conduct, membership of its ethics board if it has one (and its terms of reference), and ideally case studies showing how it has conducted ethical risk assessments alongside wider processes of anticipatory governance—these might be part of an annual transparency report.
– Really value ethical governance. Even if an organization has the four processes above in place, it—and especially its senior managers—also needs to be sincere about ethical governance; that ethical governance is one of its core values and just not a smokescreen for what it really values (like maximizing shareholder returns).

To read the full article https://doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2018.0085

© 2018 The Authors.

The Royal Society’s fundamental purpose, reflected in its founding Charters of the 1660s, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.

Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.


The Coded Gaze is the term used by technologist and poet, Joy Buolamwini to cleverly describe, in a fascinating 8-min TED talk, the bias that exists within many machine algorithms and risks this poses to society. (1min read) 

This post follows on from an earlier Haphazard blog article, Dismantling Discrimination within Ai-enabled machines.

Joy, aka Poet of Code*, has launched the Algorithmic Justice League for people who wish to challenge biases within machine code, which is built on the tenets;

  • Who Codes Matters
  • How We Code Matters
  • Why We Code Matters

*Joy Buolamwini is a poet of code who uses art and research to illuminate the social implications of artificial intelligence. She founded the Algorithmic Justice League to fight the coded gaze – harmful bias in artificial intelligence. At the MIT Media Lab, she pioneered techniques that are now leading to increased transparency in the use of facial analysis technology globally. https://www.poetofcode.com//

This post is linked to Dismantling Discrimination

John M

Image: Coded Gaze Facial Recognition | Centre on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law

Please feel free to comment below, negative or positive, and join the discussion.


Start-ups are creating a large proportion of new jobs, which is why global cities are vying to attract nimble young companies. Yet, these same cities are creating barriers for those wishing to set up business and this provides opportunity for smaller towns to become MicroHubs. (5min read)

Job Creation

It is claimed that start-up businesses are now the top engine of job creation and economic growth in the world, and not only in Silicon Valley. (World Economic Forum) Although numbers can be disputed** it is clear that new companies, particularly in tech, are creating jobs and there is increasing demand from employees to work in the start-up sector.


New York, London, Paris are all making grand claims about numbers of new companies setting up in their cities, however for young companies to grow requires good people on salaries that allows for a sustainable lifestyle. The sustainable part of the equation is becoming increasingly difficult due to the sheer expense of just being in a city like London, never mind living there. In previous decades, people moving to the suburbs and taking the train or tube into the centre to work overcame this problem. An annual train ticket to travel 19miles from Dartford to Central London is now more than £5,500, with 2-3% average annual increases, making this option less and less viable. In addition, even suburban house prices, rented or freehold are becoming unsustainable for many workers. 


Tech start-ups are different to most previous industry start-ups in that there is no intrinsic reason to be located in a specific place. Coal mining had to be where there were coal seams whereas tech can generally work anywhere there is connection to the Internet. This is of course a bit blunt, there are factors why tech companies cluster in certain locations like London but the business model can be much more fluid than say manufacturing production for example.

This presents an opportunity for more deprived towns and villages that are presently struggling to develop a unique selling point (USP) strategy and attract inward investment. By understanding what assets already exists in the area, a local authority could pivot the many levers of government investment and procurement to focus on attracting specific strands of the start-up sector. Locations where property is relatively low cost and have a small number of positive aspects, natural park, nice pubs, welcoming population, a beach or good transport connections, can all be reconfigured to appeal to start-up businesses and their employees.

Rethinking Town Centres. Ipswich | John McKiernan

Analogy: Rethinking the MicroHubs

Cities will always have the size, wealth and connection over small deprived towns but if we change the analogy maybe this can be considered in a different way. Imagine cities as global car companies and deprived towns as Formula 1 racing teams, always scraping around for money.

Where has much of the engine innovation come from in car manufacturing over the last 30 years? Answer: F1.

And who builds the sexier cars and what is more exciting to watch? No answer required!

Get in touch to discuss further, and for more on Global City Hubs read the World Economic Forum’s assessment below…


Continue reading “TOWNS AS MICROHUBS”


Discovering a small retail park with a host of excellent independent businesses in rural England, creating a perfect commercial hub, was a particularly fine surprise (2min read)

The Barn at Assington was an unexpected surprise, in the middle of a small Suffolk village. Created by a local man named Trevor, who owned the land and the adjacent caravan park, The Barn At Assington boasts a farm shop, cafe/restaurant, hairdressers, dog groomers, florist, interior designer, even an aquatic centre. Considering many small towns are struggling to hold on to shops selling even basics commodities, to find a village, population 402 (Wikipedia), with an independent retail park is remarkable.

Business Model

Once again, it appears an individual has taken upon himself to invest in this small village, bringing a vocal point, jobs and visitors. Built almost a decade ago, the buildings are of good quality and design with a layout that invites visitors to explore. How such a venture could make a large enough return on investment (RoI) for Trevor, never mind for a company with a large shareholder base that need to pay dividends, compared to many other investment opportunities is difficult to fathom. The chances are that profit was not the driving factor in developing the land and creating shops for independents, rather than the larger established retail chains.

The Barn at Assington | Image https://www.assingtonbarn.co.uk


As with Gillian Hardwood – see Creating a Successful Hub, Roger De Haan in Folkestone – blog post to follow, Richard Garrett – see Leiston and Sizewell blog post, are/were all hubpreneurs*, individuals who make places where others are willing to congregate and successfully collaborate. Trevor, who I have not interviewed, seems to be investing in more than just a business for commercial return. He is creating a hub and meeting place in his local area, where people from different backgrounds, ages and interests and all requiring different services and provisions come together and mingle.

Unfortunately, it was a Sunday morning and I was on route to a gathering so unable to spend time to learn more about The Barn at Assington. What I did find in my short time there was a welcoming, interesting and inspiring commercial hub providing a opportunities and possibilities for many people.

John M

  • Hubpreneur is a made up name for people creating dynamic spaces or clusters than can be described as a hub

Header Image The Suffolk Guide


This is presently a self-funded project. Any donations warmly received.



I had the idea of creating a new type of Innovation Hub for many years. Haphazard Business is my journey to realise that idea.

Creating Something Different

Although there are many excellent Creative and Innovation Hubs, the Hub I am considering is more a hybrid of what already exists, with a few extra bits that may seem unusual and possibly a little ambitious in scale.

The art interventions of the last decade, coupled with my previous decade building a coffee bar chain with performance spaces, which followed the previous decade spent in advertising, will all inform the design of this new space. 

How ideas permeate, and being allowed to morph, will be crucial to the success of this new Hub.  


Monitoring, mentoring and measuring, coupled with awareness of the very latest technologies and research from across academia, not just business and engineering, will be paramount.

The idea here is to have a very accessible space, not specific to any particular age or interest group, or educational attainment.  It will be a safe space, unhurried, which will allow ideas to flourish, be shared, offering a range of perspectives that will merge, diverge and reform.  

In the mind’s eye, I see a host of micro businesses, not unlike the early High Street, clustering together creating a magnet effect, attracting new ideas and interested parties, from which unexpected fruits emerge.

This of course is the Idea, how it becomes real is the focus of Haphazard Business.


Guest Post: Creating A Successful Hub

Image: Leather Lane Market | Photo John McKiernan


An art intervention is an intensive creative response in a public space, normally over an extended period, exploring a theme, object or crisis.  

Often political in nature, interventions use abstract art and performance as a form of public engagement to research and better understand the subject of interest.

Platform-7 Events

Since 2008, through the moniker of Platform-7, I have been curating large-scale art interventions exploring how people reach their view on conflict, war, displacement, regeneration, technology, environment and the economy.  

For Haphazard Business, I will call on this research and learning to try and unpick the Haphazard journey of taking an idea and making it real. 

Safe Space

Platform-7 interventions worked because people felt comfortable enough not to feel they were being attacked for their viewpoint or lack of understanding.  

Haphazard Business will apply the same methods and rules to this website, where the majority of the intervention will play-out. 

Provocations are to stimulate thought, consideration and discussion.  I will moderate all comments and guest posts, although I do not expect to agree with all what is written.  Accepted comments and guest posts should not be treated as endorsements.  

This website is intended to develop a better understanding of how ideas come about and why some become real and others disappear. 

The longer term goal is to create a Innovation Hub, maybe in an old shopping centre, and apply the learning from this project and all previous interventions. 

I hope you will contribute, John

Image: Up The Line (2009) | Photo Lisa Testori


Every idea has an individual author. 

We all have ideas, all the time! Some flash then are gone. Some gain momentum before fading. On occasions, one pops into the mind and sticks. It develops and leads to something real.  

Idea Factors

What factors bring about an idea in the first place? What needs to happen for an idea to become reality?

An intention of this blog is to encourage people to consider themselves the author of their ideas. By seeing themselves as an author might offer an understanding of how the idea formed? It will allow for reflection on the thoughts and stimulations leading up to an idea forming.

Travelling Intervention

The travelling intervention part of this project intends to be a kind of “living metaphor”. It will seek out interesting people to discuss how their ideas formed and morphed. It will shine a light on the shift from having an idea to making it a reality. And is it the same process for creating a product as an artwork, a service or a business model?

AND… already we have a problem – is having a thought the same as having an idea? Time to delve in…

John M

Photo: Moonset by John McKiernan ©2021 | All rights Reserved 2022