A Self-Defeating Statement Last week, Facebook posted an essay on their company blog titled: “Hard Questions: Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us?” The statement confronts this blunt prompt, admitting that social media can be harmful, and then exploring uses that research indicates are more positive. Here’s the relevant summary of their survey:…
The glowing haze won’t cover things up forever. It’s been a tough year for the tech startup capital of the world. One marred by scandals, flame-outs, and pissy, defensive postures by its royal court. I get the sense that a common thought is “what happened?!”. Why all the scrutiny, why now?Because you’re not a punk upstart anymore, slick.…
In 2009, entrepreneurs from all over the world joined in on a grassroots movement taking place that led to the Lean Startup. The reason the Lean Startup was so successful is that it triggered on a fundamental shift in how customers demand and consume products, which transformed the way we build and deliver products.
It’s always been about customer pull
Looking back at the last century of product development…
1950s — Lean Manufacturing — Reduce Waste
The early 20th century marked the industrialization era where everyday products, from razors to cars, were increasingly being mass-produced in factories. Driven by severe resource constraints after the war, many industries started adopting just-in-time manufacturing. Taiichi Ohno doubled down on these ideas, and developed the Toyota Production System, which eventually became Lean Manufacturing. Efficiency (or reducing waste) was the name of the game and unfair advantages came from being able to produce the most number of units at the lowest cost.
1970s — Waterfall — Staged
As we moved into software/digital products, our first approach was to adopt the same processes we used for building physical products to digital products. As design changes were prohibitively expensive to introduce in the middle of the production cycle, products were built using a sequential or Waterfall approach — with distinct stages for requirements gathering, design, implementation, verification, and maintenance. Planning was the name of the game and unfair advantages came from being able to execute “the plan” — on time and within budget.
1990s — Agile — Iterative
With the proliferation of personal computers (PCs), the long cycle times of a Waterfall product development process (measured in years) could no longer keep up with the pace of customer demand. It was quite typical for requirements to change in the middle of the production cycle and a new lighter-weight process was needed. Around this time, a number of different iterative product development methodologies, like Scrum and XP, starting popping up — proposing that products be built incrementally and incorporate customer feedback at periodic intervals during the product development cycle. These alternate methodologies were subsequently codified under the umbrella of Agile (in the now-famous Snowbird meeting in Utah in early 2001). Iteration was the name of the game and unfair advantages came from being able to manage the risk of changing requirements.
I was called into a meeting with a team here in the office a couple weeks ago because they told me they had a “question” about the estimations that they were doing. As we started talking, it became immediately apparent what the problem was, they were getting into arguments about whether their estimates were “too…
It’s always a risk writing about a deal before it is official: CNBC reported a month ago that Disney was in talks to acquire many of 21st Century Fox’s assets, including its eponymous movie studio, TV production company, cable channels, and international assets (but not the Fox broadcast network, Fox News, FS1 — Fox’s sports…
Why Failing Can Be Hard
If we like it or not, failure is an essential innovation ingredient. It’s impossible to successfully innovate without taking informed risks and making mistakes. YouTube, for example, failed as a video-dating site and succeeded by pivoting to video-sharing site; and Google Glass failed as a consumer product and was recently re-launched as a B2B product. As these examples show, you are bound to make mistakes whenever you try something new: You may discover that some of your ideas and assumptions are wrong or that you have executed them wrongly. As individuals and businesses, we should therefore appreciate failure—product success would otherwise be impossible to achieve. But deep in our hearts, many of us dread failure. Why is that?
A few months ago, someone asked me for advice about potentially leaving one company to go work for another. He was curious what factors he should consider before making the decision.
He’d already vetted the role, the company, and the offer itself — all important aspects to consider. But I told him, in my opinion, the most crucial thing to vet is the CEO.
If you’re about to join a new company, you must figure out:
“Do I believe in the CEO?”