browser wars fixin’ to heat up again

September 2, 2008 at 6:35 pm | Posted in Technology Trends | 3 Comments
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A while back I posted about some frustrations I had around web technology being useful, but not taking that next step to easy productivity. Along those lines, I really like what I’m seeing here from Mozilla. As I watched the video, I immediately identified with several of those pains. Cool stuff that I think will be a big hit on its own, and then a great framework on which others can build

And after this came an accidental early release of Google’s new browser in the works.

be ready to walk alone

August 14, 2008 at 7:33 am | Posted in Business, Professional Development | 2 Comments
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Having friends and a support network is great. The benefits are too many to list in simple blog post. But today I was thinking about the opposite situation. The times when you simply need to be prepared to walk alone.

I’ve often heard folks get very disappointed when nobody “has their back” during a controversial decision or discussion. Just recently, I sent out an email in response to something from our CEO. He initially sent it to about 20 people. I responded to the entire list with my thoughts, and five people supported me. Privately. That is, they responded to me directly with things like, “Way to go, big man!” or “I couldn’t agree more” but nobody posted that to the group. Within a day, I had the exact same thing happen to me again.

My first thoughts on them not backing me publicly were probably pretty typical, but then I realized, hey, it’s OK. In fact, it’s an opportunity. Along with the 1,304,102 other cliche’s coaches use is the one that says “Great accomplishments never come without great adversity.” It is risky to walk alone sometimes, but like most things, that risk can bring great reward — or great failure. Either way, if your convictions are strong, sometimes you can’t worry about who’s willing to do step out there with you.

when the boss parachutes in

August 6, 2008 at 7:35 am | Posted in Business, Professional Development | Leave a comment
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Here is something that I both do, and hate, depending on which side of the org chart I happen to be on at the time: the parachute mission. I haven’t been involved with the details of a product for several months and then suddenly, for any number of reasons, I want to use it so I download it and dive in. I immediately have about 500 things I would like to see done differently and I can hear the collective sigh of my team from around the globe. Everyone from developers to PM’s to marketing folks are likely muttering, “here we go again.” Why do I think that? Because I often have that same initial reaction when our CEO packs his chute and descends into something I’m working on!

Here is a great one that you may have already seen by Bill Gates. I’ve tried over the last year especially to not let my first reaction be defensive. I try to look at as if it was direct user feedback, but a user who is not in our typical profile. I find that more often than not, there is something really valuable in the parachute mission.

found a problem? fix it.

July 30, 2008 at 12:07 pm | Posted in Professional Development | 2 Comments
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Was listening to an interview with Michael Dell the other day (can’t find the link now) where he was asked about the best advice he had ever received since starting his business in high school.  He said that it was from a college professor who told him, “When you find a problem, fix it right away.”

Sounds pretty simple.  Almost too simple.  But I know from personal experience how difficult it can be.  Recently I’ve had a couple of situations in my personal and professional life that caused me to wonder how things might have been differently had I acted to fix the problems I found immediately.  Of course, there’s no way to know for sure, but all things considered, I think I will win more than I lose by following the advice.

It’s not always easy though, because sometimes fixing problems have ramifications.  Sometimes serious ones.  Fixing a broken door handle and fixing a situation where, say, you know that a friend is being dishonest at work, come with very different sets of baggage.  That’s what makes the choices hard.

In coaching, I fell prey to delayed action many times.  Maybe I liked a kid and didn’t want to yank him from a starting role.  Maybe I didn’t want to hear the gripes of a parent.  Maybe I didn’t want to fight the red tape of the school administration.  There were plenty of things that delayed what I knew deep down to be right.  I’ve recently had to remind myself that they rarely, if ever, end well — in coaching, business, or life.  Take ’em on as early as possible.

shot of humility

July 25, 2008 at 2:37 pm | Posted in Professional Development | 4 Comments
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I love it when people who have never been in sales hear about how much some reps make and decide, “That’s crazy! They make all that money when someone else does all the work! They don’t build the product, they don’t do support, they don’t even demo the product… they just buy lunches, get blind drunk at parties, and collect fat commission checks.”

A word to those who feel that way. Try it for a while.

I’ve been a bit under the weather, but dragged myself out earlier this week to do a sales call with a rep. We get there a few minutes early and wait. and wait. and wait. Finally, through a long series of efforts, the rep contacts one of the underling DBA’s who was supposed to be in the meeting. The guy says, “You want what I’m supposed to tell you, or the truth?”

My rep says, “Oh, how about both.” The DBA responds, “well, he either had a family emergency or he took his team to go see the new Batman movie. I’ll let you pick.” Nice. Reps go through this kind of crap all the time. They usually clear this kind of debris for most of us “business folks” to attend meetings. But on that day, I guess the customer’s didn’t care what “big wig” was coming, what with the Joker on the loose and all. Holy take-you-down-a-few-notches, Batman! It was a good reminder that some things are just wrong to do to people. Period. At least pick up the phone and call. Or shoot up the bat signal. Or something!

if a tree CHANGES in the forest…?

July 24, 2008 at 5:46 pm | Posted in Business, Professional Development | Leave a comment
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we’ve all heard the question: “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?” Today I was in a discussion with a colleague around some strategic changes we made that reminded me of that old question. (OK, the analogy is going to be a stretch, but it did remind me of it, and it’s a catchy title.) We knew during our planning that the changes made at the start of the year would make year-over-year comparisons pointless on a particular set of metrics — but we all get used to seeing data in patterns and love those tried and true metrics. Especially executives.

Predictably, our metric is down YoY (as planned) but we were challenged: “if the metric is down, you must be doing something worse.” My colleague is frustrated and tired of trying to educate, and reeducate, everyone on the fact that the YoY metrics are NOT going to be meaningful, and oh by the way, that trusted metric might be, in fact, down a lot MORE had we not made a change. And there’s the rub.

Proving what something *would* have done (for better or worse) had a change not been made is an impossible task because it’s too easy to throw one hypothetical after another to either support or refute any reason for the change. How should we prepare for that? What challenges should we be prepared to answer? Sounds like a few good topics for future posts.

another good primer on cloud databases

July 22, 2008 at 3:45 pm | Posted in Technology Trends | Leave a comment
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If you’re interested, another good resource, this one by Tony Bain.

another saas challenge – traditional sales models

July 15, 2008 at 6:57 pm | Posted in Business, Technology Trends | Leave a comment
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It may seem like it, but I’m really not picking on saas. Rather, I’m just trying to wrap my head around it from all angles, and in particular, in how one would “transition” to it from more traditional business models. Here I talked about the challenge of how customers think about their budgets. Another challenge comes up in terms of traditional sales model, as talked about here by Rod Drury, the New Zealand dynamo. It’s short, and worth a quick read if you are curious about what a company faces moving to saas offerings.

give me internet or give me death (or at least no job)

July 14, 2008 at 7:38 am | Posted in Technology Trends | 1 Comment
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About a year ago, my cousin who is a junior in college, wasn’t returning my emails. I got frustrated and sent her a text message. Within a minute, I had a response. After further dialog (we did actually “talk”) I found that email was “so 90’s” and that to keep up with her, I would need to social network. This led to a discussion at work where I predicted that this generation will not tolerate what we currently call “collaboration” in today’s workforce.

Fast forward to today. Had a conversation with a customer who had a really sharp intern they wanted to hire. Kid politely says, “no thanks.” They ask him why and he said, “Everything’s great, but I can’t facebook.” This led the guy to poll his audience at a major college where he talks to Freshman classes about choosing a major. (he’s trying to spawn interest in IT). It was a class of about 450.

Question: How many of you have email accounts? Everyone.

Question: How many use their email accounts for social communication. Nobody.

Question: How many of you would turn down a job offer if you didn’t have free access to the Internet? Half.

The times, they are a changin’.

excellent cloud database article

July 9, 2008 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Technology Trends | 2 Comments
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Several have asked me for more information on the general concept of cloud databases and their impact on the database market. I would highly recommend this article written by a colleague of mine, Guy Harrison, who is one of the brightest minds in the database and development industry from a practical perspective. Meaning, Guy has the rare ability to distinguish theoretical hopefuls from probable actuals. As such, this article gives a nice, grounded view of all this talk about cloud databases. It’s part 1 of 2, so when the 2nd part comes out, I’ll let you know.

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