innovations rarely have but one parent

Most of the innovations of the digital age were done collaboratively.

Walter Isaacson, The Innovators. Chapter 1, 1m 0s


I’m Always Recruiting

Some people get into management because they want to have more influence on the way things are made, or what is made. I do have more influence now than I did before. But if that’s what you’re after then you might be sad when you get there.

Management is all about people. You have to find replacements for the ones that leave. You have to take good care of the ones that stay. Sometimes you have to end a relationship that isn’t working out. People are our competitive advantage.

People change jobs these days. It’s natural.

Finding a good candidate that really fits takes a long time. If you’re going to be successful at finding a good fit when you need one then you have to always be recruiting.

Even when your team is fully staffed, you better be recruiting.

Continue reading I’m Always Recruiting

Lessons from Yahoo News’ Failures

Chris Lehmann’s Purple Reign gives an inside view into the demise of the Yahoo News machine.  Weighing in at nearly 9 thousand words it might take you a while to get through it.  I’ve snipped out some of my favorite passages from my own perspective. The original article is a much better read than my uneven summary.

Beg, Borrow, Steal

Lehmann relates how one of his reporters acted to get his job done without overdue concern to corporate support:

My reporting team did important and groundbreaking work on … the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill—our reporter moved down to New Orleans from New York, on his own dime, to cover it.

Often we have to get things done without all the support we would like–without all the resources we think we need. I like this example of dedication from this reporter who moved to the site of a big story to cover it.

Continue reading Lessons from Yahoo News’ Failures

Branding is a mistrusted craft

You need to see the value that other roles provide. Some developers routinely downplay the intelligence and importance of other roles (like marketing). If you are guilty, try to learn respect for their craft.

[The client], meanwhile, confessed he’d previously dismissed branding as “some kind of trickery,” but that since starting work with Ideo, he had begun “to appreciate it as its own craft” — a clarifying process, and a tool for doing good. 

Death, Redesigned. Jon Mooallem



http2 is coming

Web Components are a huge step forward, but will pressure developers to make more small files.   This performs poorly.  Luckily HTTP 2 will help fix that. Now, Akamai is teasing us with their HTTP 2 demo. Read up and prepare. You’re going to need to use these new technologies soon just to keep up.

results only exist on the outside

The single most important thing to remember about any enterprise is that results exist only on the outside. The result of a business is a satisfied customer. The result of a hospital is a healed patient. The result of a school is a student who has learned something and puts it to use 10 years later. Inside an enterprise there are only costs. 

Peter F. Drucker, Management (Revised Edition),  Chapter 3, 14:02

Overcome Optimistic Time

Because I recently delivered a lecture at Utah Valley University titled “Overcoming Optimism” I’m tickled by Seth Godin’s quick post on optimistic time.

Giving optimistic estimates can seriously handicap a web developer.  The people getting your estimates use them as a yardstick for judging your competence. Often they don’t have any better yardstick for judging your ability than how well you make your own deadlines.

It’s hard for you to be good enough to make up for consistently missing your own estimated delivery dates.

Rule of thumb: Treat every estimated date as a commitment. Give yourself plenty of time to be wrong.

How can you become good at this? Pay attention to your track record. Actually take notes on the estimates you give and how they turn out. Ask yourself some questions and adjust your estimating behavior:

  • How many of your estimates are you hitting?
    • Less than 80%: you probably need to give bigger estimates.
    • 100%: you should consider whether you are being aggressive enough.
  • How frantic are you toward the end of a schedule?
    • Never in any rush: probably not aggressive enough.
    • Hair on fire every time: give yourself more time.
    • “What deadline?” Ouch! You need to care about deadlines.

Cheap Usability Testing on a Mac

Try out SilverBack 2.0 for recording user testing sessions. Get the screen recorded with clicks plus a view of the user as they muddle their way through your murderous web site.  They are working on a 3.0. They started mentioning it about a year ago but the release is a long time coming. But the old 2.0 is FREE and ready to download (see the bottom of the page).

Don’t Forget This Workaround:

Now, there’s a reason it’s free.  Most new Mac laptops won’t work with it out of the box. Some problem with the iSight camera. But, if you also install the demo of iGlasses then that tweaks your system in a way that makes the camera work with SilverBack 2.0.

High quality user testing tools for no money.  What’s your next excuse? Time? Bah!