Jeff Bezos in his annual shareholder letter:
Failure comes part and parcel with invention. It’s not optional. We understand that and believe in failing early and iterating until we get it right. When this process works, it means our failures are relatively small in size (most experiments can start small), and when we hit on something that is really working for customers, we double-down on it with hopes to turn it into an even bigger success. However, it’s not always as clean as that. Inventing is messy, and over time, it’s certain that we’ll fail at some big bets too.
“You need a team at the top where high contention is demanded and rewarded.
You need to reward and promote the mavericks or else the organization will lose its creative edge.
You try to create tension inside because the outside challenge is so great.”
– Harvard Business School professor Bill George on Harvard Business Review
I believe in this “Chief Dissent Officer” figure. Trends, markets, change so fast that someone needs to be in charge of putting every step into a global perspective. Have the guts to say “no”.
Keep focus where it needs to be. Move with intention in every step. A thousand “no’s” for every “yes”.
Megan McArdle on the tendency of companies, especially large ones, to choose not to hear dissenting opinions — or worse, to silence them:
Why did they try to shoot the messenger instead of listening to the message? One answer is that’s what organizations do—especially dysfunctional organizations. As a young IT consultant, I sat through more than one meeting where we, or someone, tried to stop a client from doing something obviously crazy. Usually, the result was that the client did something crazy, and that someone went looking for another job.
Doctor No, that grating in-house critic, can be your most valuable employee—if you can make yourself listen. That’s surprisingly hard to do. Organizations exist for the purpose of doing stuff. That’s what their staff is hired to do. The guy who says maybe we shouldn’t do that stuff—or the stuff we’re doing isn’t working—is not very popular. There’s a large body of literature on dissenters, and it mostly tells you what you already know if you’ve ever been to a project meeting: Nobody likes a Negative Nancy.
Which is too bad. I’ve argued before that every company should be forced to have such an employee — and ideally one who is very high-ranking.
McArdle goes on:
You don’t want to let the perennial Voice of Doom kill every project. But if you listen carefully to the Voice of Doom, you’ll find he’s giving you something extremely useful: a list of almost everything that can possibly go wrong with your plan. Think of the VOD as your defensive coordinator, identifying all the holes you need to plug, and backup plans you need to have in place, before you launch. Instead of ostracizing your Doctor Nos and asking them to kindly shut up, why not give them a designated role on the team, telling you what’s likely to go wrong, and then pointing out when it is?
Exactly. There is no downside to hearing the negative view. But there is potential upside. And there is plenty of downside in not hearing it.
“Caring about the product means that it can be priced at a point which consumers care to pay.”
Horace Dediu, on why Apple’s prices have just dropped 10% since 2007 while the rest of the PC industry has collapsed.
It always pays off when you really care. Things Well Done.
Derek Thompson, for “The Atlantic”:
…one of the byproducts of the Internet has been the shift from scarcity to abundance for the consumer. Google News, Twitter, and Facebook aren’t local newspapers: They’re global portals to the local newspapers of every city in the world. Amazon, the everything store, is so vast, it makes mid-twentieth-century Sears look like a late-19th century corner grocery. This revolution introduces a new challenge for both people and the companies serving them: What do you offer the customer who has access to everything?
I find it interesting that the answer to this dilemma lies within algorithms, the mathematical formula to describe who you are.
Facebook knows who you know and what you like.
Amazon knows what you buy.
Twitter knows what people or interests you follow.
Google knows what you search for.
They all are looking for the holy grail, a perfect algorithm to present the perfect content to each user. They just differ in how to monetize that content. It all boils down to number crunching. Data crunching.
Big Data crunching.
This is the power of keeping engineering and lean IT at the heart of corporate strategy.
Back to the basics.
Laser focused employees. Nothing but customer obsession and the pursuit of perfection in their minds.
Mobile, and I would throw cloud and XaaS in too, have made this possible.
“WhatsApp reached an unprecedented level of operational efficiency, but there are similarities among the three most efficient companies (Whatsapp, Instagram and Snapchat); mobile has enabled lightweight scaling.”
MG Siegler’s quote of the week. As usually, spot on.
Emphasis is mine.
Windows 7 launched on October 22, 2009. In October 2010, Microsoft revealed that it had sold over 240 million Windows 7 licenses in the operating system’s first year, and in January 2011 that number grew to 300 million at the 15-month mark.
Windows 8 launched on October 26, 2012. In February 2014, Microsoft revealed that it had sold over 200 million Windows 8 licenses in the operating system’s 15 months. No matter how you slice it, that’s not good news for the company.
No, it’s not.
Nick Butler for Financial Times:
"The fascination of the Internet is that it allows innovation to sweep through apparently rigid existing market structures in a matter of months.”
Fascinating view of the kind of disruption that massive scale can bring to almost any sector. There is no rule that the drive of tens of millions of users cannot challenge.
Google Energy or Amazon Power make sense in their own respective business models.
- Huge scale? Check.
- Razor-thin margins? Bring it on!
- Lots of room for improvement at the user service level? You bet.
Commoditized goods or services, delivered in a new, meaningful, disruptive way. That is what these guys are
good excellent at.
This is what Internet of Everything means.
The competition really heats up next year as services expand and prices drop.
“I believe that cloud brokers who combine technology, consulting and financial buying power represent a new and exciting business model in the cloud." - Sharon Wagner, CEO of Cloudyn.
I totally agree with him on this one.
It is not a matter of “if”. It is a matter of “when” and “where” to go Cloud with your business needs. Some will be kept in house. Some will be taken outside. And some will be certainly shifted back and forth dynamically.
Internal IT shops must transform into this kind of broker if they want to keep being relevant. The pressure from the giants out there is just too much not to move.
Facebook buys WhatsApp. A million people move to Telegram. You don’t know any of them. Welcome to the Dark Rural Homesteader Internet.