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Mike Tarullo

Mike Tarullo

1 year ago

Even In a Crazy Market, Hire the Best People: The "First Ten" Rules

More on Leadership

Nir Zicherman

Nir Zicherman

1 year ago

The Great Organizational Conundrum

Only two of the following three options can be achieved: consistency, availability, and partition tolerance

A DALL-E 2 generated “photograph of a teddy bear who is frustrated because it can’t finish a jigsaw puzzle”

Someone told me that growing from 30 to 60 is the biggest adjustment for a team or business.

I remember thinking, That's random. Each company is unique. I've seen teams of all types confront the same issues during development periods. With new enterprises starting every year, we should be better at navigating growing difficulties.

As a team grows, its processes and systems break down, requiring reorganization or declining results. Why always? Why isn't there a perfect scaling model? Why hasn't that been found?

The Three Things Productive Organizations Must Have

Any company should be efficient and productive. Three items are needed:

First, it must verify that no two team members have conflicting information about the roadmap, strategy, or any input that could affect execution. Teamwork is required.

Second, it must ensure that everyone can receive the information they need from everyone else quickly, especially as teams become more specialized (an inevitability in a developing organization). It requires everyone's accessibility.

Third, it must ensure that the organization can operate efficiently even if a piece is unavailable. It's partition-tolerant.

From my experience with the many teams I've been on, invested in, or advised, achieving all three is nearly impossible. Why a perfect organization model cannot exist is clear after analysis.

The CAP Theorem: What is it?

Eric Brewer of Berkeley discovered the CAP Theorem, which argues that a distributed data storage should have three benefits. One can only have two at once.

The three benefits are consistency, availability, and partition tolerance, which implies that even if part of the system is offline, the remainder continues to work.

This notion is usually applied to computer science, but I've realized it's also true for human organizations. In a post-COVID world, many organizations are hiring non-co-located staff as they grow. CAP Theorem is more important than ever. Growing teams sometimes think they can develop ways to bypass this law, dooming themselves to a less-than-optimal team dynamic. They should adopt CAP to maximize productivity.

Path 1: Consistency and availability equal no tolerance for partitions

Let's imagine you want your team to always be in sync (i.e., for someone to be the source of truth for the latest information) and to be able to share information with each other. Only division into domains will do.

Numerous developing organizations do this, especially after the early stage (say, 30 people) when everyone may wear many hats and be aware of all the moving elements. After a certain point, it's tougher to keep generalists aligned than to divide them into specialized tasks.

In a specialized, segmented team, leaders optimize consistency and availability (i.e. every function is up-to-speed on the latest strategy, no one is out of sync, and everyone is able to unblock and inform everyone else).

Partition tolerance suffers. If any component of the organization breaks down (someone goes on vacation, quits, underperforms, or Gmail or Slack goes down), productivity stops. There's no way to give the team stability, availability, and smooth operation during a hiccup.

Path 2: Partition Tolerance and Availability = No Consistency

Some businesses avoid relying too heavily on any one person or sub-team by maximizing availability and partition tolerance (the organization continues to function as a whole even if particular components fail). Only redundancy can do that. Instead of specializing each member, the team spreads expertise so people can work in parallel. I switched from Path 1 to Path 2 because I realized too much reliance on one person is risky.

What happens after redundancy? Unreliable. The more people may run independently and in parallel, the less anyone can be the truth. Lack of alignment or updated information can lead to people executing slightly different strategies. So, resources are squandered on the wrong work.

Path 3: Partition and Consistency "Tolerance" equates to "absence"

The third, least-used path stresses partition tolerance and consistency (meaning answers are always correct and up-to-date). In this organizational style, it's most critical to maintain the system operating and keep everyone aligned. No one is allowed to read anything without an assurance that it's up-to-date (i.e. there’s no availability).

Always short-lived. In my experience, a business that prioritizes quality and scalability over speedy information transmission can get bogged down in heavy processes that hinder production. Large-scale, this is unsustainable.

Accepting CAP

When two puzzle pieces fit, the third won't. I've watched developing teams try to tackle these difficulties, only to find, as their ancestors did, that they can never be entirely solved. Idealized solutions fail in reality, causing lost effort, confusion, and lower production.

As teams develop and change, they should embrace CAP, acknowledge there is a limit to productivity in a scaling business, and choose the best two-out-of-three path.

Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

1 year ago

Provide a product roadmap that can withstand startup velocities

This is how to build a car while driving.

Building a high-growth startup is compared to building a car while it's speeding down the highway.

How to plan without going crazy? Or, without losing team, board, and investor buy-in?

I just delivered our company's product roadmap for the rest of the year. Complete. Thorough. Page-long. I'm optimistic about its chances of surviving as everything around us changes, from internal priorities to the global economy.

It's tricky. This isn't the first time I've created a startup roadmap. I didn't invent a document. It took time to deliver a document that will be relevant for months.

Goals matter.

Although they never change, goals are rarely understood.

This is the third in a series about a startup's unique roadmapping needs. Velocity is the intensity at which a startup must produce to survive.

A high-growth startup moves at breakneck speed, which I alluded to when I said priorities and economic factors can change daily or weekly.

At that speed, a startup's roadmap must be flexible, bend but not break, and be brief and to the point. I can't tell you how many startups and large companies develop a product roadmap every quarter and then tuck it away.

Big, wealthy companies can do this. It's suicide for a startup.

The drawer thing happens because startup product roadmaps are often valid for a short time. The roadmap is a random list of features prioritized by different company factions and unrelated to company goals.

It's not because the goals changed that a roadmap is shelved or ignored. Because the company's goals were never communicated or documented in the context of its product.

In the previous post, I discussed how to turn company goals into a product roadmap. In this post, I'll show you how to make a one-page startup roadmap.

In a future post, I'll show you how to follow this roadmap. This roadmap helps you track company goals, something a roadmap must do.

Be vague for growth, but direct for execution.

Here's my plan. The real one has more entries and more content in each.

You can open this as an image at 1920 pixels

Let's discuss smaller boxes.

Product developers and engineers know that the further out they predict, the more wrong they'll be. When developing the product roadmap, this rule is ignored. Then it bites us three, six, or nine months later when we haven't even started.

Why do we put everything in a product roadmap like a project plan?

Yes, I know. We use it when the product roadmap isn't goal-based.

A goal-based roadmap begins with a document that outlines each goal's idea, execution, growth, and refinement.

You can open this as an image at 960 pixels

Once the goals are broken down into epics, initiatives, projects, and programs, only the idea and execution phases should be modeled. Any goal growth or refinement items should be vague and loosely mapped.

Why? First, any idea or execution-phase goal will result in growth initiatives that are unimaginable today. Second, internal priorities and external factors will change, but the goals won't. Locking items into calendar slots reduces flexibility and forces deviation from the single source of truth.

No soothsayers. Predicting the future is pointless; just prepare.

A map is useless if you don't know where you're going.

As we speed down the road, the car and the road will change. Goals define the destination.

This quarter and next quarter's roadmap should be set. After that, you should track destination milestones, not how to get there.

When you do that, even the most critical investors will understand the roadmap and buy in. When you track progress at the end of the quarter and revise your roadmap, the destination won't change.

Florian Wahl

Florian Wahl

1 year ago

An Approach to Product Strategy

I've been pondering product strategy and how to articulate it. Frameworks helped guide our thinking.

If your teams aren't working together or there's no clear path to victory, your product strategy may not be well-articulated or communicated (if you have one).

Before diving into a product strategy's details, it's important to understand its role in the bigger picture — the pieces that move your organization forward.

the overall picture

A product strategy is crucial, in my opinion. It's part of a successful product or business. It's the showpiece.

The Big Picture: Vision, Product Strategy, Goals, Roadmap

To simplify, we'll discuss four main components:

  1. Vision

  2. Product Management

  3. Goals

  4. Roadmap

Vision

Your company's mission? Your company/product in 35 years? Which headlines?

The vision defines everything your organization will do in the long term. It shows how your company impacted the world. It's your organization's rallying cry.

An ambitious but realistic vision is needed.

Without a clear vision, your product strategy may be inconsistent.

Product Management

Our main subject. Product strategy connects everything. It fulfills the vision.

In Part 2, we'll discuss product strategy.

Goals

This component can be goals, objectives, key results, targets, milestones, or whatever goal-tracking framework works best for your organization.

These product strategy metrics will help your team prioritize strategies and roadmaps.

Your company's goals should be unified. This fuels success.

Roadmap

The roadmap is your product strategy's timeline. It provides a prioritized view of your team's upcoming deliverables.

A roadmap is time-bound and includes measurable goals for your company. Your team's steps and capabilities for executing product strategy.

If your team has trouble prioritizing or defining a roadmap, your product strategy or vision is likely unclear.

Formulation of a Product Strategy

Now that we've discussed where your product strategy fits in the big picture, let's look at a framework.

Product Strategy Framework: Challenges, Decided Approach, Actions

A product strategy should include challenges, an approach, and actions.

Challenges

First, analyze the problems/situations you're solving. It can be customer- or company-focused.

The analysis should explain the problems and why they're important. Try to simplify the situation and identify critical aspects.

Some questions:

  • What issues are we attempting to resolve?

  • What obstacles—internal or otherwise—are we attempting to overcome?

  • What is the opportunity, and why should we pursue it, in your opinion?

Decided Method

Second, describe your approach. This can be a set of company policies for handling the challenge. It's the overall approach to the first part's analysis.

The approach can be your company's bets, the solutions you've found, or how you'll solve the problems you've identified.

Again, these questions can help:

  • What is the value that we hope to offer to our clients?

  • Which market are we focusing on first?

  • What makes us stand out? Our benefit over rivals?

Actions

Third, identify actions that result from your approach. Second-part actions should be these.

Coordinate these actions. You may need to add products or features to your roadmap, acquire new capabilities through partnerships, or launch new marketing campaigns. Whatever fits your challenges and strategy.

Final questions:

  • What skills do we need to develop or obtain?

  • What is the chosen remedy? What are the main outputs?

  • What else ought to be added to our road map?

Put everything together

… and iterate!

Strategy isn't one-and-done. Changes occur. Economies change. Competitors emerge. Customer expectations change.

One unexpected event can make strategies obsolete quickly. Muscle it. Review, evaluate, and course-correct your strategies with your teams. Quarterly works. In a new or unstable industry, more often.

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MartinEdic

MartinEdic

1 year ago

Russia Through the Windows: It's Very Bad

And why we must keep arming Ukraine

Photo by Alexander Smagin on Unsplash

Russian expatriates write about horrific news from home.

Read this from Nadin Brzezinski. She's not a native English speaker, so there are grammar errors, but her tale smells true.

Terrible truth.

There's much more that reveals Russia's grim reality.

Non-leadership. Millions of missing supplies are presumably sold for profit, leaving untrained troops without food or gear. Missile attacks pause because they run out. Fake schemes to hold talks as a way of stalling while they scramble for solutions.

Street men were mobilized. Millions will be ground up to please a crazed despot. Fear, wrath, and hunger pull apart civilization.

It's the most dystopian story, but Ukraine is worse. Destruction of a society, country, and civilization. Only the invaders' corruption and incompetence save the Ukrainians.

Rochester, NY. My suburb had many Soviet-era Ukrainian refugees. Their kids were my classmates. Fifty years later, many are still my friends. I loved their food and culture. My town has 20,000 Ukrainians.

Grieving but determined. They don't quit. They won't quit. Russians are eternal enemies.

It's the Russian people's willingness to tolerate corruption, abuse, and stupidity by their leaders. They are paying. 65000 dead. Ruined economy. No freedom to speak. Americans do not appreciate that freedom as we should.

It lets me write/publish.

Russian friends are shocked. Many are here because their parents escaped Russian anti-semitism and authoritarian oppression. A Russian cultural legacy says a strongman's methods are admirable.

A legacy of a slavery history disguised as serfdom. Peasants and Princes.

Read Tolstoy. Then Anna Karenina. The main characters are princes and counts, whose leaders are incompetent idiots with wealth and power.

Peasants who die in their wars due to incompetence are nameless ciphers.

Sound familiar?

Katherine Kornei

Katherine Kornei

2 years ago

The InSight lander from NASA has recorded the greatest tremor ever felt on Mars.

The magnitude 5 earthquake was responsible for the discharge of energy that was 10 times greater than the previous record holder.

Any Martians who happen to be reading this should quickly learn how to duck and cover.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, reported that on May 4, the planet Mars was shaken by an earthquake of around magnitude 5, making it the greatest Marsquake ever detected to this point. The shaking persisted for more than six hours and unleashed more than ten times as much energy as the earthquake that had previously held the record for strongest.

The event was captured on record by the InSight lander, which is operated by the United States Space Agency and has been researching the innards of Mars ever since it touched down on the planet in 2018 (SN: 11/26/18). The epicenter of the earthquake was probably located in the vicinity of Cerberus Fossae, which is located more than 1,000 kilometers away from the lander.

The surface of Cerberus Fossae is notorious for being broken up and experiencing periodic rockfalls. According to geophysicist Philippe Lognonné, who is the lead investigator of the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, the seismometer that is onboard the InSight lander, it is reasonable to assume that the ground is moving in that area. "This is an old crater from a volcanic eruption."

Marsquakes, which are similar to earthquakes in that they give information about the interior structure of our planet, can be utilized to investigate what lies beneath the surface of Mars (SN: 7/22/21). And according to Lognonné, who works at the Institut de Physique du Globe in Paris, there is a great deal that can be gleaned from analyzing this massive earthquake. Because the quality of the signal is so high, we will be able to focus on the specifics.

Jerry Keszka

Jerry Keszka

1 year ago

10 Crazy Useful Free Websites No One Told You About But You Needed

The internet is a massive information resource. With so much stuff, it's easy to forget about useful websites. Here are five essential websites you may not have known about.

Image from Canva selected by the author. The author assumes responsibility for the copyright

1. Companies.tools

Companies.tools are what successful startups employ. This website offers a curated selection of design, research, coding, support, and feedback resources. Ct has the latest app development platform and greatest client feedback method.

2. Excel Formula Bot

Excel Formula Bot can help if you forget a formula. Formula Bot uses AI to convert text instructions into Excel formulas, so you don't have to remember them.

Just tell the Bot what to do, and it will do it. Excel Formula Bot can calculate sales tax and vacation days. When you're stuck, let the Bot help.

3.TypeLit

TypeLit helps you improve your typing abilities while reading great literature.

TypeLit.io lets you type any book or dozens of preset classics. TypeLit provides real-time feedback on accuracy and speed.

Goals and progress can be tracked. Why not improve your typing and learn great literature with TypeLit?

4. Calm Schedule

Finding a meeting time that works for everyone is difficult. Personal and business calendars might be difficult to coordinate.

Synchronize your two calendars to save time and avoid problems. You may avoid searching through many calendars for conflicts and keep your personal information secret. Having one source of truth for personal and work occasions will help you never miss another appointment.
https://calmcalendar.com/

5. myNoise

myNoise makes the outside world quieter. myNoise is the right noise for a noisy office or busy street.

If you can't locate the right noise, make it. MyNoise unlocks the world. Shut out distractions. Thank your ears.

6. Synthesia

Professional videos require directors, filmmakers, editors, and animators. Now, thanks to AI, you can generate high-quality videos without video editing experience.

AI avatars are crucial. You can design a personalized avatar using a web-based software like synthesia.io. Our avatars can lip-sync in over 60 languages, so you can make worldwide videos. There's an AI avatar for every video goal.

Not free. Amazing service, though.

7. Cleaning-up-images

Have you shot a wonderful photo just to notice something in the background? You may have a beautiful headshot but wish to erase an imperfection.

Cleanup.pictures removes undesirable objects from photos. Our algorithms will eliminate the selected object.

Cleanup.pictures can help you obtain the ideal shot every time. Next time you take images, let Cleanup.pictures fix any flaws.

8. PDF24 Tools

Editing a PDF can be a pain. Most of us don't know Adobe Acrobat's functionalities. Why buy something you'll rarely use? Better options exist.

PDF24 is an online PDF editor that's free and subscription-free. Rotate, merge, split, compress, and convert PDFs in your browser. PDF24 makes document signing easy.

Upload your document, sign it (or generate a digital signature), and download it. It's easy and free. PDF24 is a free alternative to pricey PDF editing software.

9. Class Central

Finding online classes is much easier. Class Central has classes from Harvard, Stanford, Coursera, Udemy, and Google, Amazon, etc. in one spot.

Whether you want to acquire a new skill or increase your knowledge, you'll find something. New courses bring variety.

10. Rome2rio

Foreign travel offers countless transport alternatives. How do you get from A to B? It’s easy!

Rome2rio will show you the best method to get there, including which mode of transport is ideal.

  • Plane

  • Car

  • Train

  • Bus

  • Ferry

  • Driving

  • Shared bikes

  • Walking

Do you know any free, useful websites?