Fred Brooks wrote “No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering” in 1987, 12 years after his “Mythical Man Month.” Both offer realistic perspectives on programming in particular and knowledge work in general.
An interview with Jerry Weinberg where we explore the applicability of his Fieldstone Method for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, the implications of Stewart Brand’s “How Buildings Learn” for Weinberg’s dry stone fence metaphor for creation, and managing a crisis as marker for an end of an illusion.
Gerald Weinberg wrote “Weinberg on Writing: the Fieldstone Method” to share many techniques he had perfected in writing more than 40 books and 400 technical articles. The method is very applicable to the exploration of a new market to find problem-solution fit and ultimately product-market fit.
One of our long time clients, Legal OnRamp, has been acquired by Elevate Services. A visionary company has been acquired by a market leader. I had met the CEO, Paul Lippe, when he was General Counsel at Synopsys and ran into him at a Churchill Club dinner in late 2005 as he was starting what became Legal OnRamp.
Timothy Gallwey’s “Inner Game of Tennis” came out in 1974 and sparked a revolution in coaching and how athletes should approach improving their performance. There are several lessons that entrepreneurs can use in improving their personal performance and coaching others.
Two long quotations, one from Henri Frederic Amiel in his Journal and the second from Benjamin Franklin’s “Letter To Ezra Stiles, 09 March 1790,” that explore duty and religion. A client recently lamented they had yet to find “the end of the rainbow, much less a pot of gold” and I was reminded of quote by Edwin Land, “the bottom line is in Heaven.” These two quotes reinforce that perspective.
Do Your Duty, Come What May
What is to become of us when everything leaves us—health, joy, affections, the freshness of sensation, memory, capacity for work—when the sun seems to us to have lost its warmth, and life is stripped of all its charm? What is to become of us without hope? Must we either harden or forget? There is but one answer—keep close to duty. Never mind the future, if only you have peace of conscience, if you feel yourself reconciled, and in harmony with the order of things. Be what you ought to be; the rest is God’s affair. It is for him to know what is best, to take care of his own glory, to ensure the happiness of what depends on him, whether by another life or by annihilation. And supposing that there were no good and holy God, nothing but universal being, the law of the all, an ideal without hypostasis or reality, duty would still be the key of the enigma, the pole-star of a wandering humanity.
Do your duty, come what may.
A peaceful conscience and harmony with the order of things are easy to say and hard to achieve, but certainly worth striving for. I look at a successful business as generating value for customers, which requires you to have empathy for their needs and to identify those you can fulfill with distinction and at a profit that pays for innovation and future improvements to meet competitor’s actions.
“You desire to know something of my religion. It is the first time I have been questioned upon it. But I cannot take your curiosity amiss, and shall endeavor in a few words to gratify it. Here is my creed. I believe in one God, the creator of the universe. That he governs by his providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them.
As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think his system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble. I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequences, as probably it has, of making his doctrines more respected and more observed; especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any peculiar marks of his displeasure.”
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
Letter To Ezra Stiles, 09 March 1790
in The Works of Benjamin Franklin, 1904 (Chapter 12) John Bigelow editor
In the middle of a thunderstorm or an earthquake or lying sick in bed with a serious illness it can be hard to believe in a providential universe. Certainly at low points on the entrepreneurial roller coaster you can lose your sense of purpose and of a place in the universe. I like this answer by Franklin where “doing good” to others is his focus over needless study of issues he expects “soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble.” He wrote it March 9, 1790 and was dead five weeks later in April of the same year.
Like many activities we engage in, business is an opportunity to do good for others. Not a hugely popular sentiment in Silicon Valley but true nonetheless.
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Here are two explainer videos Verdafero has produced: the first is intended for REIT executives, the second for general managers of hotels. They condense key symptoms for a customer need or problem and the impact of Verdafero on the bottom line.
Excerpts with commentary on Bill Watterson’s 1990 Kenyon College address: “Some Thoughts on the Real World By One Who Glimpsed it and Fled.”
Be clear with customers about what is on your product roadmap. We recently did some win/loss interviews for a client to collect stories on why a customer purchased–and why a prospect failed to purchase. When we asked one customer about the quality of their support we got an answer that was initially a little surprising: “We like them because they always come back with an answer even if that answer is no. Other vendors will either talk about a feature being ‘under consideration’ or ‘on the long term roadmap’ or ‘we are still evaluating how best to implement it’ but you tell us no. We may not like the answer and we may sometimes argue but it’s much more honest and useful than most of the feature request answers we get from other vendors.”
I was reminded of that when I got an email today from someone at Peet’s trying to obfuscate the fact that they had discontinued a number of their teas.
PATCA had a thought provoking dinner meeting tonight on “Time Management: An Hour Saved is an Hour to Earn Revenue.” Here is my recap.
Verdafero adds predictive analytics to enable commercial property owners to forecast utilities costs for individual buildings or a portfolio.
Kenopsia is a neologism coined by John Koenig for “the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet” like the “bare ruined choirs” of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73. What follows is one of my “Spiritual Sundays” posts. It’s a meditation on loss and impermanence.
SKMurphy March/April 2016 Newsletter
This blog post summarizes our March/April 2016 newsletter, you can subscribe to the monthly SKMurphy newsletter using the form at the right
Before you can close a deal you need the phone to ring–you need leads. This issue we look at lead generation.
Special Offer if you are in Silicon Valley: you should consider our April 23 workshop on “Getting More Customers” in Sunnyvale; register at https://getting-more-customers-on-april-23-2016.eventbrite.com Early Bird ends April 9.
Recently, we worked with a startup on team building as they wrangled with the rapid growth of their business. They needed bring on new team members and wanted them to be productive and effective as quickly as possible. Working with the leadership team we reviewed Bruce Tuckman’s four stages of team development.
IVALA‘s canine echocardiography simulator let’s you view a CT canine heart in any plane using your keyboard or the sensors from within your mobile phone. This is part of IVALA’s 3D Veterinary Learning Lab and their mission to “harness the power of the latest in 3D visualization technology to build confidence in clinical understanding and practice.”
Trying to take on established competitors using their same business model and value proposition is called “attacking a walled city.” It’s important to understand what your customer is actually paying for and find some way to offer a different value proposition.