Phil Wolff

Director, Ecosystem Governance Practice

Bellingham, Washington, USA


Phil is a co-founder of Wider Team Ltd.

Phil Wolff directs Wider Team’s Ecosystem Governance services. Phil’s skill and experience turns Wider’s strategy wayfinding into outcomes.

Phil contributes to Trust Over IP Foundation (ToIP), IEEE Standards Association, Sovrin Foundation, and Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF) standards projects and initiatives. He co-authored the 2022 Trust Over IP “Overcoming Human Harm Challenges in Digital Identity Ecosystems” paper. Phil presented on pervasive Identity of Medical Things complexity at the 2021 Identiverse.

Phil came to Wider Team from product management and project management roles, specializing in product retirement and other major pivots. Before Wider, Phil:

  • Co-led more than 100 OpenOakland mini-hackathons over two years, rapidly forming teams, designing digital apps, launching products, engaging users to solve civic problems. Phil’s talk on emergent leadership.
  • Co-designed the City of Oakland’s first privacy and data retention policy for its metrowide video surveillance network.
  • Led strategy for the Personal Data Ecosystem Consortium (PDEC), a trade association promoting personal control of personal data on behalf of member companies. Directed the DataPortability Project.
  • Covered Skype, realtime communications, and the next stages of collaboration for Skype Journal for nine years as a journalist, consultant and analyst.
  • Innovated new online/offline tactics on a US presidential campaign as a field organizer for 18 months. The tactics produced historic participation and voter turnout. 

Phil is an alum of:

  • Adecco S.A. (a global technology VP at the world’s largest staffing agency)
  • Bechtel National (where he helped win billion dollar contracts for things like removing nuclear matter from Siberian missile silos)
  • LSI Logic (bringing their enterprise IT to the Internet when they were a custom semiconductor company)
  • Compaq Computer Corporation (startup employee 56)
  • Government agencies like the United States Navy (operations research), the State of California (physics lab; petroleum engineering), and the City of Long Beach, California.

Phil is an award winning author. And a baritone. 

My impact is in understanding reality, framing choices for where to go and how to get there, and bringing partners along for the journey.

This shows up as three themes in my career and life.

The first is sensemaking, finding and applying patterns in data and story. This showed up in my work as a journalist covering emerging technologies and industries, and as an operations research analyst.

The second is wayfinding, helping teams and leaders craft direction and choose action.

The third is cohesion, helping people and institutions come together to pursue a common cause. I formed teams, forged alliances, enlisted volunteers my whole career.

I enjoy Wider Team’s work, helping heroes navigate complex, chaotic, high-stakes waters. But my satisfaction is in leaving clients with room to breathe and space to act.

Phil Wolff, 2022

Phil is a leader in strategy, startups, product management, strategic partnerships, and enterprise software. He worked in US healthcare and technology industries.

Phil’s posts

  • Wider Team had a verifiable 2022
    Our small band of strategy consultants gave back to our professional communities in 2022. Here’s the recap of our digital identity, ethics, manufacturing, and supply chain talks, papers, standards work, and workshops.
  • What if your identity ecosystem caused pollution? 
    A new paper describes harms rising from digital identity, and accountable responses for 2023. 
  • Identity of Things: verifiable credentials are safer for IoT systems
    Paper: “Capabilities-based access control for IoT devices using Verifiable Credentials”
  • Juicy Telemetry
    For good and bad reasons, the makers of wind turbines and cars and ship engines and weather sensors choose to hide data.
  • Why do you care about identity?
    I have always given a damn about digital identity. Hi. I’m Phil Wolff. And this is a personal note to start my 2022. I love that digital identity tries to answer deep philosophical questions. What does it mean to be human? How do we trust ourselves and each other? What is the reality we agree […]
  • Pervasive Identity
    Adam named all the animal species, according to some readings, about 5782 years ago. And the great David Kearns wrote about pervasive and ubiquitous identity back in 2013. Nine years later the explosive growth of ubicomp continues to spew sensing, thought, controls and talk into our buildings, cars, homes, medical devices, energy grids, and everything […]
  • Identity of Things Grand Challenges
    Wider Team helps our clients confront IoT grand challenges (our view based on field work). You know you’re challenged when… Grand Challenge Wider Brings: Your own IoT is becoming overwhelming. Your fleet is growing faster than you can know all the parties that make it work, touch your data, or threaten its integrity. Self knowledge […]
  • Recap: User Experience in SSI (IIW UX) July 2021
    I participated in the Internet Identity Workshop‘s first-time UX unconference. About 50 people attended. Folks wanted to work on everything from detailed decentralized identity interaction design, improving adoption, and overcoming expeience barriers. Before the workshop… The event’s prompt: What are the critical questions about UX and SSI you are hoping to discuss with peers at […]
  • Smarter IoT and Healthcare
    In our Identiverse 2021 talk, we said AI is making healthcare’s Identity of Things more complex. “Ever smarter devices create gaps between identity capabilities of the latest devices and older ones.” Let’s expand a little. Artificial Intelligence will be a lot more pervasive by 2030. There’s been a lot of work at bringing smarts into […]
  • IDoT Tempos: Cadence, Lifecycles, and the Long Now
    So, a few notes on the rising tempo gaps between things, makers, humans, & flocks: 1. Devices can be in service for decades. Buildings. Tractors. Prostheses. Solar panels. Devices are often not supported through their whole lives, as their makers a. retire them as products or b. close as an enterprise, abandoning the devices. 2. […]
  • Six months goes fast: December’s Predictions
    End-of-year predictions are fun. But the last six months were as surprising as the six before. How did we do?
  • “We need to talk…” UX for Identity of Things conversations
    ▶⏸⏯⏭⏪⏹⏺⏮⏩◀ Play, Pause, Step Back, Jump Ahead. Our iconography for linear navigation was lifted from olde technology, the VCR, which borrowed it from audio cassette players like the Sony Walkman that recycled commands from larger reel to reel audio tape machines. We need a new iconography for identity interaction. Which interactions? What are the identity […]
  • Wider’s High Assurance Digital Identity Maturity Model
    High Assurance Digital Identity for #IoT (and #IoMT) doesn’t just happen. You have to build distinctive competence within your enterprise and without. This is our first draft.
  • High Assurance Digital Identity in Healthcare
    We know we need High Assurance Digital Identity. But we don’t know what this is, exactly. However, to realize the full potential of Internet of Things (IoT) investment we must approach the Identity of Things (IDoT) differently than what we are accustomed to for the identity of persons. We believe the true value of IoT […]
  • Quick and Dirty Maturity Modeling
    Would you like to be better? To be great with your Identity of Things? Wider Team talked with experts and friends about this for the last year. We grouped kinds of competencies and capabilities. And we’ve even seen some “walk before you run” dependencies. So, maturity models, right?   Specifics about our model are another post. […]
  • 5 explosive takeaways from Wider Team’s first Identiverse talk
    I’m horrible at linkbait blog post titles. Sorry. We’re introducing five big ideas in 20 minutes or so at Identiverse this month. Our talk is called “Identity and the Healthcare IoT Complexity Bomb.” We’re introducing corporate identity pros to the intersection of two other worlds: IoT and Healthcare. You’ll be able to explain: “Maturity in […]
  • Wasting your IoT Data?
    HADI (High Assurance Digital Identity) impair the ability of healthcare and pharmaceutical research to: establish provenance of data, secure data handoffs across systems and organizations, tie data to a patient, and orchestrate data from multiple devices in an encounter into a common view.
  • call for comment on NIST draft: Establishing Confidence in IoT Device Security: How do we get there?
    Last week’s NIST cybersecurity white paper came across our desk and we’re reading up. Establishing Confidence in IoT Device Security: How do we get there? The abstract model from Figure 1 is useful for organizing work from the vantage of stakeholders. Aspects: functional, business, human, timing, data, boundaries, composition, lifecycles, and communication. Concerns: safety, privacy, […]
  • #ResistIoT: IoT as a medium for surveillance
    The internet of things is the most human of digital identity technologies. Unlike cloud technologies, we touch, hear, smell, and see things. They are real like kittens and roads. Damian Glover wrote yesterday about institutional blockers to IoT. Our interviews revealed personal resistance to IoT adoption, too. Cultural blockers of IoT are classic fears in […]
  • IIW topics that excite us
    We talked about this week’s Internet Identity Workshop (#32!) on one of our team calls. What sessions would make us jump out of our seat? Our short list. Rugged identity for IoT. Nearly all identity systems break with power outages, network interruptions, really long latency, really low bandwidth, and device tampering. HADI maturity models. How […]
  • 2021’s first Vienna Digital Identity Meetup
    Identity Wallets – The Vienna Digital Identity Meetup #19 from Michael Shea on Vimeo. We thought Identity Wallets (the place where your personal DIDs and Verifiable Credentials (VCs) are stored) were the topic for our 19th Vienna Digital Identity Meetup* on 25 January. It was much more. We had two presenters: Riley Hughes, CEO from Trinsic […]
  • Dark Things
    Things you own or use that can’t talk using your current identity layer. They are dark to you the way dark matter is massive but invisible. You might notice them, but indirectly. We were talking identity debt. Our interviewees talked-around dark things. Gear that can’t identify themselves or your other systems well enough to be […]