Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What I'm reading

Do we need 'industrial-strength' Agile computing?

Lack of focus on software architecture: Agile engagements tend to occur as "one-off software projects as opposed to building reusable code," he observes. While there has been plenty of talk in recent years about the "industrialization" of software, much of the work still tends to be artisan in nature.

I’ve had a recurring experience of Agile as non-strategic. Due to the highly collaborative, self-organizing approach, product teams tend to become self-referential. The ability to look forward and build against a longer term vision - absent explicit efforts - tends to get ignored. Agile just doesn't have this as a core construct.

How to get rich in tech, guaranteed.

If you want to get rich, your best bet on a risk-adjusted basis is to join a profitable and growing public company. Google for short. Make $200-500k all-in a year, work hard and move up a level every 3-5 years, sell options as they vest (in case you joined Enron), and retire at 60, rich. This plan works every time.

Reminds me of Siebel Systems. Tom used to talk in every quarterly all-hands about running a “cash positive, profitably business.” Which lead me to look this up.

How Siebel Systems Found Its Groove

Siebel’s advice on how to run a successful company was to “focus on profit.” And how do you do that? “Just figure out how much revenue comes in, and then spend less than that.”

When Siebel Systems was founded, Siebel said, “employees were given the option of taking their salary in cash or stock. They all chose stock.” Allowing employees to reap the benefits of their work was “my Marxist dream,” Siebel joked. The company’s employees owned 85% of the company when it went public in 1997. (Siebel owns the other 15%.)

A focus on shareholders is not the answer, Siebel said. Concentrate on fundamentals, such as: “Building a great company is about building great products;” and “Focus on satisfying your customers, becoming a market leader, and being known as a good corporate citizen and a good place to work.” Everything else follows.

“We are very focused on this idea of corporate culture,” Siebel said, noting that right from the beginning the team communicated a specific vision. “We have seen a lot of pathological corporate cultures (in Silicon Valley)” which have tended to develop as a secondary result of market success. Siebel, however, never bought into the idea of highflying executives with corporate jets or “employees dressed in jeans playing ball in the hallways and engaging in e-mail wars.”

My favorite line is about the “pathological corporate cultures.” Excellent.

‘Blank’s Rule’: To predict the future, 1/3 of your team needs to be crazy

Startup Best Practices 18 - Collaborating With Your Customer During Your Sales Process

Most SaaS sales processes have shifted from education to execution sales, so buyers understand their needs before speaking to an account executive. Sales teams employing co-customization start the sales process with their product, accelerating sales execution by showing rather than telling.

I’ve seen this a few times. SaaS sales reps have become “run and gun” but don’t really know how to manage a longer, bigger sales cycle. Obviously the way around as well - the classic enterprise reps can’t go fast and scrappy.

Using Vaporware To Validate A Product Idea And Generate Demand For Your Startup

The founders of Optimizely, Dan Siroker and Pete Koomen, used this same ideato determine the best idea to pursue after deciding to pivot from their education company, CarrotSticks. Dan and Pete sold two $1000 licenses to customers based on a landing page.

This seems great for concept testing or for “land” deals at the edge of the enterprise (or SMB). But for larger enterprise fit I don’t see this being good telemetry since there are so many people involved in every decision. What about $100,000 or $500,000 licenses?