About Ken Thompson - see also: Curriculum Vitae
Where were you born?
Belfast, Northern Ireland May 1958
What did your father and mother do?
My father worked in an estate agents office and my mother stayed at home to look after me and my sister
What kind of school did you go to?
My first school (Ulidia primary) is no longer a school but a resource and sports facility.
My primary school was passionate about soccer which greatly influenced me.
At the age of 11 I went to grammar school (MCB - Methodist College Belfast). This school was passionate about learning and rugby (about which I was not!)
What was your passion as a youngster?
I was quite small but compensated by being quite skilful.
After school I played soccer in the street until it got dark
What did you read at the time?
I read Superman comics! Reading books at this age had too many connections with schoolwork to captivate me
What movies did you like?
Action movies and science fiction - James Bond and Doctor Who!
What music did you enjoy?
When I was a teenager I liked pop and rock but as I got older I grew to like folk and ballads.
I like artists like Bob Dylan and Neil Young and Johnny Cash
University? Where, when, how long?
Queens University of Belfast - 1976-1979 - 1st class honours joint physics and applied mathematics
Your Professional Life?
Initially an IT programmer but always moving closer and closer towards business side of IT and change management but always with a technical interest
Where did you work, what did you do?
I have collected the complete set of jobs for an IT professional!!
IT Hardware Manufacturer (ICL) - an assembler programmer
IT Software House (Whiterakes Computers) - developing communications software in Unix and C using the Kermit protocol
Major IT User Organisation (Reuters) - IT Manager for all admin systems in UK and Scandinavia
IT Applied Research Organisation (The Institute of Software Engineering) - Director and Researcher - introduced the CMM (Capability Maturity Model ) to the UK in 1989 and wrote a book on CASE (Computer Aided Software Engineering Tools). Participated in and chaired groups ininternational standards bodies for software tool data integration
IT Consultancy (VISION) - Managing Director - responsible for growing the organisation from 20 - 60 staff. Created centre of excellence in software engineering, data conversion, year 2000 and SME eBusiness. Introduced Virtual Enterprise Network concept to UK in Yorkshire. Seconded to NI Government economic development agency for 3 years.
Why did you choose that path?
I get bored easily and I love learning new things.
Particularly taking a research idea, extracting the essence of it and trying to build a business round it.
I chose collaboration because I think it is the most important skill for any individual or organisation in the networked economy and because its currently done so badly!
If teams could do it by themselves they would already have done so!
Your personal achievements?
1. First Class honours degree
2. 12 years unbroken profits at VISION in the weakest economy in Europe at the time - Northern Ireland
3. Private Pilots License with IMC and Micro-lite ratings
4. 4 great children
5. Learning to snowboard over the age of 40!
Where are you headed?
I want to build a new discipline "bioteaming"
I want to use this approach to make teams more effective for organisations and more satisfying for team members.
I want to develop the processes, tools and practitioners.
I will be successful if it becomes recognised as the new way to do teams and technology
Who is next to you?
In my previous role I had 60 permanent employees - much of my working day seemed to be in "career development conversations".
I don't want employees any more - I want partners - people like Ernersto and Robin who work with me on areas of mutual passion and win-win
Where are you leaving now?
Learning how to collaborate myself - walk the talk - co-invention is hard - its easier to do it yourself but it wont amount to much
What are your points of reference?
Be an example to my children of enterprise and taking responsibility for your own lives.
Careers (eg teaching and law) will be a "minority sport" in the future - got to find other ways to do what you want to do and earn a living at the same time.
My eldest old son has sold own his internet based soccer forums business a few years back - for a lump sum, plus 10 hours per week employed (for ever) plus 10% of proceeds of the new venture.
That's a fantastic start !
Somebody once said if you find your passion and a way to make money from it then you will never work again (in the traditional sense of work)
I love pilot projects - just in time product prototyping is what really excites me!
What do you think is your life mission?
To create businesses which live on beyond me and make more than profits
To keep on learning and experimenting
To help others onto the entrepreneurship road
To make teams more alive
Where do you live now?
Belfast - I used to live in London - open to living anywhere in the world in the future - but got to make a difference to East Belfast first