Uncategorized

A manifesto for small teams doing important work

We are always under tight deadlines, because time is our most valuable asset.

If you make a promise, set a date. No date, no promise.

If you set a date, meet it.

If you can’t make a date, tell us early and often. Plan B well prepared is a better strategy than hope.

Clean up your own mess.

Clean up other people’s messes.

Overcommunicate.

Question premises and strategy.

Don’t question goodwill, effort or intent.

“I’ll know it when I see it,” is not a professional thing to say. Describing and discussing in the abstract is what we do.

Big projects are not nearly as important as scary commitments.

If what you’re working on right now doesn’t matter to the mission, help someone else with their work.

Make mistakes, own them, fix them, share the learning.

Cheap, reliable, public software might be boring, but it’s usually better. Because it’s cheap and reliable.

Yesterday’s hierarchy is not nearly as important as today’s project structure.

Lock in the things that must be locked in, leave the implementation loose until you figure out how it can get done.

Mostly, we do things that haven’t been done before, so don’t be surprised when you’re surprised.

Care more.

If an outsider can do it faster and cheaper than we can, don’t hesitate.

Always be seeking outside resources. A better rolodex is better, even if we don’t have rolodexes any more.

Talk to everyone as if they were your boss, your customer, the founder, your employee. It’s all the same.

It works because it’s personal.

Reblogged from: here

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Self-Realisation

For those unwilling to think deeply…

You might not be willing to devote the time and energy to understand how electricity actually works, or the mechanisms of your democracy, or the insights behind irrational decision making. More likely, you don’t want to expend the emotional labor to push through feeling dumb as you dig deep on your way to getting smart.

That’s always been an option. You can just use the tool without understanding it, copy the leader without realizing where she’s going, follow instructions without questioning them.

You can choose to be a cog in a machine you don’t understand.

If that’s working for you, no need to change it.

Reblogged from: here

Self-Realisation

Pattern recognition is not the same as pattern matching

Pattern recognition is a priceless skill that comes with practice, with the experience of noticing. Noticing what works, what you’ve seen before, what might not work.

Because pattern recognition is so valuable, some people have erroneously concluded that the way to succeed is to slavishly follow what’s come before. Pattern matching is for amateurs. It rarely leads to the creation of much that can stand the test of time.

The art is to see patterns, but to use them to do something new, something that rhymes.

Reblogged from: here

Self-Realisation

Decoding “who is it for?”

When you tell a story to someone who wants and needs to hear that story, eyes light up, pulses quicken, trust is built and action is taken.

Two examples:

Satya makes and sells hats. Beautiful, bespoke, handmade hats.

But we’re a hundred years past the time someone can say, “I make hats,” and be done with it.

Some of the questions the marketer needs to ask, questions that amplify the, “who’s it for?” mindset:

Are these hats for people who are already shopping for hats?

Are they a gift item for someone who is looking to please someone who is looking for something new? Proven? Cheaper than it looks? Rare?

Are they a shopping experience, a bespoke process that is exciting and filled with possibility, just for the person who values both the process and the hat?

Or, are these hats for women who appreciate beauty in any form, and who have already bought all the scarves they can handle? Or perhaps for people who want to buy what the people they admire are buying?

The marketer can change her story, but she can’t easily change the worldview of the person she seeks to sell to. It’s almost impossible to turn someone who doesn’t care about hats (in particular) into someone who cares a lot about hats.

This person the product is for: What do they believe? Who do they trust? What do they seek? What are they afraid of?

Satya is well on her way to decoding this puzzle.

Second example: Paul makes and sells amplifiers. To an outsider, these amps are ridiculously overbuilt, oversized and overpriced. To some hobbyists, though, they are magical, brilliantly engineered and priced at 90% less than what similar products cost. (!)

The questions, then, are about the story the potential customer tells himself:

Do I seek something corporate, mass produced, powerful, handmade, unique, rare, new, proven, high-value, high-priced, top-of-the-line, mysterious, invisible… Do I want to be able to tell myself a story about these every time I turn them on? Or tell a story to my friends? Ultimately, that story is about me, about my role in society and my vision of myself.

This goes way beyond specs and prices and the measurable. It’s about role models and feelings and emotions first, with the words added later, and the machinery (or the felt) added last.

In Paul’s case, he and his team have been direct and consistent in celebrating the nature of the design and the designer. They haven’t said to the world, “here it is, it’s for everyone,” instead, they’ve said, “this is our story, this is who built it and who it’s for, it might be for you if you’re the person that resonates with this sort of story.”

Most inventors and marketers start with what they have (the stuff) and try to work backward to the ‘who is it for’ question. It makes a lot more sense to go the other direction. Identify a set of fears, dreams and attitudes and then figure out what sort of story fits that lock in a way that delights the consumer. Then go build that.

Not just hats and amps. This thinking is also where Lululemon, Nike and AeroPress came from. Maybe your next project, too.

Reblogged from: here

Self-Realisation

Paying the smart phone tax

It might be costing you more than you think.

Urgent or important?: Your phone has been optimized to highlight the urgent. It buzzes and beeps. It sorts things. It brings everyone else’s urgent things right under your nose, reminding you about them until they become your urgent things. A full day on your phone is almost certainly a day where you buried the important in favor of the urgent.

The moment: The smart phone brings the world to us, in our pocket. But if the entire world is there, presenting its urgencies, it’s harder than ever to be here, right now, in this moment.

Brevity over density: Just about everything produced on a smart phone is done in a hurry, because there’s something urgent happening just a click away. As a result, we favor brevity. Brevity in what we consume (LOL) and brevity in what we produce (GTG). It’s not clear that brevity ought to be our goal in all things, or in how we spend hours of each day.

The filter bubble: Even more than on the web, the closed gardens of the smart phone world mean that we’re most likely to consume ideas that we already understand, from people we already agree with. Not a path to growth, certainly.

Off the hook: Because it’s so easy to hit ‘send’ and because there’s so much noise, we can easily relieve the tension of creation with a simple click. Easy in, easy out, easy delete.

Like most things that are taxed, smart phones are often worth it, creating connections and giving us information when we need it. Perhaps, though, turning our phones off for six hours a day would be a useful way to cornering us into creating work we can’t live without.

Reblogged from: here