The Point is To Do What is Desired, Not What is Requested

As a software creator I have learned many lessons over the years. The one I learned early on from my mentors and practice daily, is to do what is desired, not simply what is requested. This means understanding what the customer, your boss, the company is after and making sure you deliver that. This is how you delight and deliver results that are valued repeatedly. This requires curiosity, understanding, empathy, flexibility and execution. Many people blame lack of time, people or money. The resource a “rosh gadol” person has is resourcefulness.

Ultimately, fulfilling the other person’s desire is what they expect and when they don’t get what they desire there’s no value created. The explicit instruction they give can help, but completing the instruction is just a step on a journey, not the desired location.

I was reading Joel on Software’s post on “rosh gadol” and thought, this describes exactly the expectations I have of outstanding software creators and other professionals. You instantly recognize a “rosh gadol” person when you work with one. This is how you become sought after, whether you are a business or individual professional.

Tamir Nitzan explains, “For instance, someone might be told to clean the barrel of their rifle. A “rosh katan” will strictly clean the barrel, perhaps leaving it useless because the trigger mechanism has sand in it, whereas a “rosh gadol” will clean the entire rifle and lubricate it so it’s ready for use and doesn’t rust. Another example: you tell a soldier to “go notify so-and-so that we will be ready for inspection at 1600”. By 1700 you’re curious, so you ask him “did you notify?”. His answer might be “well I called his office and left a message”. A “rosh gadol” would likely say: “I called his office but got his voice mail, so I left a message. I called back an hour later but still got voice mail, so I called his cell phone and left a message there too. I tried him again an hour after that and he assured me he will be here by 1600. I called him again 20 minutes ago and he said he was on his way but stuck in traffic” (a real “rosh gadol” would have notified his C.O. of all this without being asked of course).

Employing AI

I plan on writing two blog posts in the coming days.

  1. Hiring My First AI Resource/Employee
  2. Managing a team of AI Resources/Employees

These are not about employing people, but employing AI agents for different business responsibilities. This is an area that I think will grow more relevant as our digital assistants get smarter and more manageable.

First, we employee individual assistants, like Cortana on Windows. I use this assistant to add appointments to my calendar or check the whether. I also use Buffer to schedule tweets for my business. Buffer will let me manually schedule a time or “pick the best time” to send my tweet, based on its own intelligence.

I use MailChimp to send email newsletters for my business. It has similar smarts to Buffer and can tell me the quality of the individuals I am emailing, compared to their interactions with other newsletters also sent through the service.

Now that I’m relying on these AI agents, it’s time for me to raise this abstraction layer up a level and apply intention to managing them individually and as a team. Ultimately, I don’t want my AI agents to be silos of activity, but I want Cortana to interact with Buffer and MailChimp and coordinate Twitter and MailChimp activity. I want these services to monitor my Google Analytics to know when one of the tweets or email newsletters is increasing traffic to my site beyond the original newsletter links being clicked. How can I generate a positive feedback loop?

How We Really Experience Work Emotionally

There’s different ways we experience meetings. One default way, if you don’t do anything else, is you leave with a set of emotions about what happened at the meeting. More so than a checklist of desired outcomes, how-to instruction and explanations of why, in 30 days you will only have the memory of how you felt about the meeting, not a true analytical understanding of what the substance was.

Many businesses operate on fluff, instead of on shared data. I’m not just talking about business intelligence, spreadsheets or that kind of data. I’m also talking about everyday data that we should be responsible for generating, like notes, meeting minutes, audio or video recordings and more. You do not want to operate your business on emotional memories.

The reason this is important to understand is because there are tools and disciplines available to better understand past meetings. Some technologies that are available are video or audio recorders, written notes and minutes and diagrams. Without the discipline of writing down what happens at a meeting, you will have no way to validate or invalidate the substance of the decisions. That means there can be no feedback loop in to better decision making at future meetings.

Instead, you will have executives, engineers, managers and others each individually remembering how they felt at the time of the meeting.

The executive might be feeling, “We’re on schedule.”

The engineer might be feeling, “There are two contradictory objectives that will cause a problem when I implement what is being asked of me.”

The manager might be feeling, “There are more problems and unrealistic expectations than I know how to objectively manage, so I will retreat from interacting with the team about problems and only focus on solutions. I don’t feel like hearing about one more problem.”

The feeling the executive has a memory of does not include a list of specific components, their interactions and exactly what is on schedule. Is the technical deliverable on schedule? Is the value proposition delivery on schedule?

The feeling the engineer has a memory of does not include the list of specific contradictions.

The feeling the manager has a memory of does not want to understand problems, so they will feel better. This means focusing on solutions, maybe working on making things better, but has abdicated the decision making of knowing what things to work on is more important than only optimizing the current work.

A productive learning organization should build a system whereby these people operating it do not just rely on these emotional memories, but have tangible data constantly available at their fingertips to work on. That data can be notes, document shares and multimedia recordings.

What Kind of Software Business are You In?

Strategy is about making choices between what to do and what not to do. Richard Rummelt says good strategy is a “coherent response to – and approach for overcoming – the obstacles to progress.” How do you define progress?

Some people use activity as a synonym for progress. However, progress is knowing the result and working towards it. If you substitute a result for a different result and say that you will resume working toward the original result after completing the substitute result, then you are no longer making progress on the original result. Substituting vaporware for programming the real thing to meet a deadline is no longer making progress on the original result.

Activity measures inputs, but results are the measure of outputs. Progress is measured by completed outputs. Software is invisible. Software is executed as code made by programmers, but its purpose fulfilled when used by the customer for the results it provides the business.

Software can be sold as something to help realize a solution, in which the intellectual property characteristic of software might be second priority to realizing the solution for the end customer. In this case, the seller might not be a software intellectual property company, but more of a systems integrator building custom “glue code” between other software companies systems to realize a specific implemented solution for a single customer. These kinds of software companies use skilled personnel and their time to achieve the output of individual solutions. Because these companies do not produce intellectual property that can propagate in a way that’s decoupled from their personnel’s interaction, then this software business is managing a personnel system to reach customer implementation milestones. This kind of software company leverages code to be used in the most specific of ways to the customer.

Software can also be sold as intellectual property, letting external system integrators leverage the intellectual property to realize a solution. These kinds of software companies make different decisions. They prioritize for distributing their intellectual property in a way that is decoupled from their personnel’s time. The skilled personnel and their time in these companies is spent on creating and honing the intellectual property so it will have a balanced set of characteristics. These characteristics are distribution, maintainability across multiple customers and environments and leveraging code to be used in the most high value scenarios.

Progress in one of these businesses means something different than progress in the other type of business. Both types of companies act in the same world. The difference is in how they approach the world and the marketplace. Both kinds of companies might use software modules, but how they use them is different.

If your business is the tight systems integrator for other software products, then you will need to manage more people to scale. Creating line of business applications for large customers, by integrating other peoples intellectual property will mean that it will be considered a waste to focus energy on the distribution characteristics of your software. This is because it is assumed this solution is so tightly coupled and paid for by the large business, that it will not be distributed to any other business. This type of business does not benefit from the type of $0 incremental unit cost characteristic of software intellectual companies.

If your business is the intellectual property creator, then you will need to manage people and make sure they are producing software with a different set of characteristics. Distribution technology is important because in software business you must distribute inexpensively and in a guaranteed installation process to realize the main benefit for being a software distributor. That benefit is that each additional unit sold is near zero cost to distribute. Producing the software is the main cost and selling/distributing it to just one more customer is near $0 cost. That means software gets cheaper the more customers you sell to.

Make an Impact With These Powerful Insights

This video is a great interview with T. Harv Eked for people between 24 and 35. I have listened to Tony Robbins and Robert Kiyosaki before, but this video was the first time I heard of this guy.

Powerful quotes from the interview:

  • “If you want to be rich, why don’t you just do what rich people do?”
  • “What do rich people do?” … “Learn it. I studied rich business people.”
  • “I want to tell you the seven principles I found that all rich people have in common. Don’t tell me. Do it. See if they work.”
  • “I was sure if I bet on the right race car (sold the right product) that I would get rich. I just had to find the right product. That was a mistake. That principle is wrong.”
  • “It’s not about the car, it’s about the driver of the car.”
  • “Being rich is a result.”
  • “You are the only root to your success.”
  • “Your mind has got to be right. Your character has to be right. Your habits have to be right.”
  • “If you are a success, then everything you touch will be a success. Work on you.”
  • “It wasn’t about the business. It wasn’t about the business. It was about me.”
  • “First comes thought. Then comes action. Then comes results.”
  • “Get rid of every thought that does not support success now.”
  • “If you’re focusing on money, you’re too late.”
  • “Where do you get money? From other people.”
  • “People will give you there money if you help them. You are going to solve a problem for them.”
  • “An entrepreneur is a person that solves problems for people at a profit.”
  • “No body pays you be a success.”
  • “Your job is to find a problem you can truly help people with. Not BS.”
  • “Find your passion and your ability.”
  • “You should believe these things not because it’s true, but because it’s helpful.”

Open Source Freechise

I was reading this Brick and Makers website and came across the term “freechise”. It is used as a term to describe an open source franchise business model. This particular website might be poorly worded in parts, but the concept of a freechise is interesting.

Some of the things that can be open sourced about a business are:

  • Logo – The open source franchise can have a logo and allow a small subset of the graphic to be specific to the individual operator.
  • Policies and Procedures – The policies and procedures manuals can be distributed via a repository like Github and forked or outright re-used by each franchise operator.
  • Software – The software that underpins the business can be open sourced, letting others freely use and contribute to its development.

Commercial franchises have strict rules that have to be followed or you can lose your franchise. For example, there is a certain standard that you must adhere to if you want to keep your McDonalds franchise. How should these types of controls work in an open source environment? The franchise is a brand and consumers expect the same quality and product from each franchise owner. When you go to one McDonalds, you expect the Big Mac to taste exactly like the Big Mac you had in a different city. It is not clear to me yet how this is enforced in an open source franchise.

What Insight Underpins Your Business

What insight underpins your business? Eric Schmidt says breakout products need a technical insight which is, “[a] new way of applying technology or design that either drives down the cost or increases the functions and usability of a product by a significant factor.” Google now simplifies this description even further with its 10x mantra, where they are looking at ways to make the product 10x cheaper or 10x more powerful. With technology and the context of the world today, if you are downplaying the need for a technical insight to help customers 10x more then you are far from realizing the potential of what your business could be doing for customers.

Are non-technical insights also needed? Yes. You can have business model insights or non-technological operational insights, but digitizing your business and technical insights will help enable execution of those other insights. For example, Netflix business model is supported by its technical insights to provide content you want to see on any device.