In this Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Phil Abernathy about his work helping organizations focus on employee happiness to drive customer happiness and shareholder return and the Bureaucracy Mass Index as a tool to identify where companies are bloated and ineffective. He also spoke about what’s needed for real transformation.
Great practical advice on building happier teams and a tool to measure bureaucracy in an organization.
A Brief History of the Metaverse: DIY Metaverse
Tony and Mark – supported by a global community of technologists, enthusiasts, and dreamers – brought 3D to the brand-new Web with VRML. This episode features Owen Rowley, Neil Redding, Linda Jacobson, Brian Behlendorf, John McCrea, Coco Conn — and Neal Stephenson.
With all the talk (and investment) in the metaverse, it is frustrating sometimes that people forget that the technology industry has been thinking and working on this for decades. Tony and Mark were instrumental in creating VRML, and I appreciate them documenting some of the history, but I was a bit disappointed that they omitted some of the other folks that were involved in the beginning.
CALLING BULLSHIT – Spotify: Starving Artists?
Stated purpose: to unlock the potential of human creativity—by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.
Spotify is the most popular streaming service in the world, with 188 million people paying for premium subscriptions and hundreds of millions more listening for free on the ad supported tier. Which is why it has been called the world’s best place to get noticed as a musician. But getting noticed and making a living are two different things. In this episode we decide if Spotify is more about “Honesty” or “Little Lies?”. Listen in to find out.
One of our board members at Anaconda turned me onto this podcast. It’s about purpose-driven companies that don’t live up to their professed goals. This episode focuses on Spotify but also talks about the broader streaming music economy.
A16z Podcast – Creators, Creativity, and Technology with Bob Iger
A wide-ranging conversation with Bob Iger on the interplay between technology, content, and distribution; as well as Bob’s journey — and that of various creators! — especially as the industry evolved from TV and cable to the advent of the internet/ web 1.0 to 2.0 to briefly touching on web3 and other emerging technologies. As well as topics top of mind for all company and community builders: from build vs. buy and the innovator’s dilemma, to managing creativity, decentralization, remote work, and much more.
I didn’t expect to like this podcast as much as I did. I appreciated it not only for his takes on leading teams of creative people but also for his business acumen and for getting more details about creative people I admire and their work.
20VC – 20 Product: Marty Cagan on The Four Questions of Great Product Management, Product Lessons from Marc Andreessen, Ben Horowitz and eBay’s Pierre Omidyar & The Difference Between Truly Great Product Teams and the Rest
Marty Cagan is one of the OGs of Product and Product Management as the Founder of Silicon Valley Product Group. Before founding SVPG, Marty served as an executive responsible for defining and building products for some of the most successful companies in the world, including Hewlett-Packard, Netscape Communications, and eBay. He worked directly alongside Marc Andreesen and Ben Horowitz at Netscape and Pierre Omidyar at eBay.
I was not a fan of Cagan’s book Inspired. I called it “Ayn Rand for Product Managers.” I worked with some product managers who were all huge fans of it, and the result was not great for working with engineering.
In the time since, I have appreciated what Cagan said in his blog, which was a lot more focused on Lean-style product development and cross-functional collaborative teams. This podcast was further evidence for me that I need to re-evaluate how I see Cagan. I appreciated his perspective.
Planet Money – Episode 576: When Women Stopped Coding
Mark Zuckerberg. Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. Most of the big names in technology are men.
But a lot of computing pioneers, the ones who programmed the first digital computers, were women. And for decades, the number of women in computer science was growing.
But in 1984, something changed. The number of women in computer science flattened, and then plunged.
Today on the show, what was going on in 1984 that made so many women give up on computer science? We unravel a modern mystery in the U.S. labor force.
This podcast was oddly personal for me. It talks about how advertising and culture perpetuated a vision of computers as being for boys, discouraging women from entering the computing field. This was the time that I became fascinated by computers. I remember the ads, tv shows, and movies they discuss, and when I entered college for Computer Science my class was 70 men and 2 women. They also talk about my alma mater Carnegie Mellon and the steps that they have taken to address this imbalance.
It is amazing how quickly culture changed computing from being a female-dominated field to being a male one and then how long it has taken us to try and bring it back into some sort of equilibrium.
In the last post, I shared the books that I found worth recommending that I read in 2022. The next post shares podcasts that I found valuable. In this (longer) post, I will share links to the blog posts from 2022 that I think are recommendation worthy. I’ve broken it into sections based on content.
Learn about the How HashiCorp Works project and why there are links to internal HashiCorp materials in this article. Our…
I like the movement in making how companies work transparent. It is useful to read as a leader and a great recruiting tool for those companies. I always wonder how much reality matches the shared documents. If you know you will share with the public, you are likely to be a bit more aspirational than actual, but it is still useful to read.
Medium sees more employee exits after CEO publishes ‘culture memo’ – TechCrunch
The sign that Netflix’s culture had irreversibly started to…
The genius of Netflix as an employer was that it has always been very upfront about who it is and how it works, with the understanding that anyone taking a job there knows what they are getting into. This works great until the culture starts to change, so this isn’t about an individual employee being unhappy. It will be interesting to see how Netflix navigates this (or doesn’t).
Culture as a Product: How HubSpot Built its Famed Startup Culture
Around Boston and beyond, HubSpot is known for its strong entrepreneurial culture . The company has received many awards over the years and was recently named…
Hubspot is an interesting company. Having read Disrupted (https://www.amazon.com/Disrupted-Dan-Lyons/dp/0316306096) I am a bit skeptical of how they talk about themselves, but of course, one always should be. That said, even if the public face of companies’ cultures is more aspirational than real, there is still something to be learned. I didn’t decide that the 37 Signals books were worthless because when under stress, the company didn’t live the values they proclaimed.
Bolt Loaned Employees Thousands to Buy Stock—Then Laid Them Off
The challenge of startup options is that employees rarely are allowed to sell them. When a startup has been around a long time, and startup options are starting to expire, but employees have had the liquidity event necessary to have ready cash to exercise their options, what are they to do? A company I was in also considered a loan program for employees but decided it was potentially problematic. Bolt learned that lesson the hard way, and their former employees are worse off for it.
A big 32-hour workweek test is underway. Supporters think it could help productivity
This article was originally written for LeadDev . In tech, we talk a lot about failing fast: implementing small, incremental…
I talk a lot about failure, failing fast, etc… This article is an actual case study in how to recover when your team has a big failure. I always like real-life stories instead of vague opinion pieces.
Career Development: What It Really Means to be a Manager, Director, or VP
It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of big-company HR practices. I’m more of the First Break all the Rules type. Despite my general skepticism of many standard…
There are tons of posts and books about being a line manager. There are substantially less about levels beyond that. I’m always looking for informative articles or books about more senior leadership levels. This was a decent one.
Tech’s Talent Wars Have Come Back to Bite It
by Erin Griffith
What Tech People Should Learn From This Era of Excess
There is a euphemism in rocketry often heard at SpaceX – Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly. A catastrophic explosion, in other words. Until now, it was not…
The speed of Elon’s decline from “genius who can see a better future and bring it about” to “asshole snake oil salesman with a narcissistic personality disorder” was sudden by any measure. How do we keep people like this from ruining our favorite apps/sites? By keeping ownership and infrastructure distributed…
Remote Work/Return to the office
For the last couple of years, the push and pull of remote vs hybrid vs back-in-the-office has been a major story in the work press. I’ve already made my decision that I’m going to keep working remote and will choose companies that allow me to do that, but in all of this discussion I’m also looking to understand how other companies are approaching things.
Why workers are calling BS on leaders about returning to the office
This may be losing some of its value as it ages, but speaking as an all-remote company CTO, if you don’t listen to your employees about how they want to work, I’ll be happy to take them off your hands.
The Future of Work Isn’t Fancy Tech. It’s Remote Work and Smarter Management
The remote/office debate is dying down any time soon. There is more pressure on returning to offices now, but there is also more resistance. Given the layoffs, employees may not feel empowered to resist the call to return to the office, so maybe that will gain ground.
The Worst Part of Working From Home Is Now Haunting Reopened Offices
How to get started with async GitLab believes that…
The secret to successful remote work (especially if the team is spread across time zones) is moving to be asynchronous first. The companies that have been distributed for long periods and have scaled have embraced this, but it is harder than it seems, and many companies struggle. Even those that have always been distributed. This GitLab guide is very helpful.
I spent much of 2022 learning more about WebAssembly as we launched PyScript at Anaconda. I think that it has some amazing potential and is one of the most important technologies of the last few years.
This article explains the concepts behind how WebAssembly works including its goals, the problems it solves, and how it runs inside the web…
If you are in technology, you need to understand WebAssembly and how it can be used. It can potentially be more transformative than many of the technologies we depend on for software development today.
A short history of Flash & the forgotten Flash Website movement (when websites were “the new emerging artform”)
This post is a transcript of a talk I gave at UCSC. Thank you for inviting me! I’m sharing it here because It’s a GOOD summary of the history of a technology…
If you were active on the web in the 90s and early 2000s, you will remember the explosion of massively creative web experiences propelled by the Macromedia/Adobe technology Flash. While you can still create those kinds of experiences using modern web technologies, it now requires a level of coding expertise that puts the programmers in the driver’s seat instead of the artist/designer and requires a team instead of a single creative person.
The genius of Flash was that it made complex interactivity and visuals easy for many artists to create, and the result was beautiful chaos. The web is just a bit more boring for the death of Flash.
Spotify’s grand plan to monetize its open source Backstage project via premium plugins
Backstage was created when I was at Spotify. Even in its earliest days, it solved many problems for us in a massively micro-service architecture. It’s cool to see how it has developed over the years, and it was also cool to see that Spotify had open-sourced it. I think it is interesting that Spotify is doing this experiment, but also disappointed because I know of at least one company formed by ex-Spotifiers that were trying to build companies on top of Backstage.
Google: The Model Your Site Was Built On Is No Longer Feasible
Hours before Elon Musk closed his deal to buy Twitter, he published an open letter to advertisers. Musk knew that big companies, in particular, were anxious about…
“Free speech” and an advertising-based revenue model are incompatible.
When blockchain emerged, I spent some effort to really understand it. Then I realized that it was a technology searching for a use case fueling a tulip-like baseless speculative market. When Web3 started to emerge, I delayed judgment until I could understand it better. While I believe that there are people who believe that it can fuel a world where creators have more ways to be paid for their work and other such lofty goals, the practicality of it is that very little of those schemes require the blockchain, and most of the people in the space are just trying to make a quick buck before the tulip market collapses.
Many good takes: eating popcorn, and watching the crypto bros burn down their empire.
5 key lessons after a week on Mastodon
by Sandra Gutierrez G.
I’ve been on Mastodon since 2017, but my usage really increased since the acquisition of Twitter. There have been a lot of stories talking about how people are abandoning Mastodon, but even if it doesn’t become what Twitter was, it is still a vibrant community.
There’s No Fixing Meta’s Metaverse, Scrap It, Start Over
I spent 6 years working on the metaverse at Microsoft during the 90s. While the technology has drastically improved, the reason we didn’t get the metaverse back then is that no one could figure out something to do in the metaverse except shoot each other or have sex with each other. All the folks working on metaverse now have learned nothing from the multiple generations of attempts that preceded them. There is still a smug belief that “if you build it, they will come.” The problem is that there is still nothing to do once they show up.
If these problems are intrinsically linked to consolidated tech giants like Meta, Google, and Amazon, why not embrace technologies that decentralize power? This has become a key issue for Brewster Kahle, the 61-year-old founder of the Internet Archive…
Having participated in various forums and working groups for decentralized web stuff over the last few decades, I’m consistently excited by the possibilities and enthusiasm of the folks who work towards those goals and disappointed by their naivete about what people are willing to put up with and how commercial entities are incentivized to coopt and pollute the technologies that do gain some momentum.
Your organization should run its own Mastodon server
All the agility has been sucked out of agile projects Doing agile is not the same as being agile Agile projects have become bloated, lazy waterfall projects…
One of my biggest pet peeves is people deciding that a bad experience they had with a poorly implemented framework or process must mean that that framework or process is clearly bad and that anyone who had a good experience is lying. So many of the “I was involved in a poorly run agile project and so agile must all be a lie” or “my company tried to do the Spotify model, and it didn’t work; therefore, it must not work at Spotify either” type posts just show the ignorance of their authors and nothing else. While I was worried this article was just another one of those, the author is concerned more about poor agile processes and not agile itself. He even gives some good advice. So worth a read.
Mozrt, a Deep Learning Recommendation System Empowering Walmart Store Associates with a Personalized Learning Experience
It needs to be said again, perhaps this time more strongly. Your Blog is The Engine of Community . Dammit. Blog More You are not blogging enough.…
Scott Hanselman thinks developers should be blogging more, and when they do blog, it should be on their own platforms. And he’s right.
I’ve been involved in music as a musician, radio DJ, label owner, and streaming software creator since I was 15. I was delighted to rejoin the music industry in December when I took on the role of CTO at DistroKid.
With 100K tracks uploaded a day, a longtail music cull is coming – Hypebot
by Music Business
Lucian Grainge doesn’t like that people aren’t listening to Universal Artists as much, so he’s putting pressure on the streaming services to remove content he doesn’t think is good. The problem is deciding what content is good and what content is bad. Streamers already remove fraudulent content. So, who decides if your band shouldn’t be on Spotify because you might take a stream away from Justin Bieber (who himself was discovered because he uploaded his songs to YouTube). Gatekeepers are all about protecting their interests at the cost of innovation and getting others a shot.
Why Amazon VP Steve Boom just made the entire music catalog free with Prime
It’s never been clear how much Amazon cares about music streaming as a business. It’s always been an also-ran in the streaming wars that only has listeners because it is an add-on to Prime and is the default service with Alexa. Amazon hasn’t invested much in the service, but maybe that is changing now…
I’d like to share some of the things related to technology, leadership, or management that I found particularly instructive. There was plenty of other good stuff, but these were the ones that stood out.
After making a concerted effort to write more in 2021, my blogging in 2022 fell off a cliff. I hope to be better this year, but while I wasn’t writing as much, I was still reading, watching, and listening. I’d like to share some of the things related to technology, leadership, or management that I found particularly instructive. There was plenty of other good stuff, but these were the ones that stood out. These are not affiliate links. I don’t get any kickback for recommending them.
You probably didn’t need me to recommend this book to you, because it is one of the classics of technology leadership. In fact, this isn’t the first time I’ve read it. I hadn’t read it for many years, and picking it up again, I was surprised at how relevant and valuable it still is. If you haven’t read it, it is a very easy read.
The Art of Community: Seven Principles for Belonging
This book isn’t specific to technology; it is about building inclusive communities of any type. It is valuable for people leaders in that it talks about the necessary parts of belonging to any group. It is focused more on communities of choice instead of work communities, but the insights are the same. As someone who has also spent a lot of time building online communities, it is extremely relevant for that as well.
This isn’t a leadership or management book, but it is a book about living intentionally, and I found it valuable on multiple levels. As it was a New York Times bestseller, you didn’t need me to recommend it to you either, but I will say that I personally appreciate the author and his message.
The Business of Belonging: How to Make Community your Competitive Advantage
This book is about building online communities for companies. It has overlap with the Art of Community book, but it is much more practical and meant for people who do this for a living. I found it a bit introductory, but it had some good ways of articulating specific points that I will reuse. If you are new to this space, it is a great introduction.
The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter
Another classic of management that I had read before but reread as I prepared for my new role at DistroKid. Once again, it had been a long time since I had read it, and I was struck by how practical and true its advice was. I realized that when onboarding to previous roles, the companies where I started off the best were when I followed its advice deliberately or intuitively.
Lead Together: The Bold, Brave, Intentional Path to Scaling Your Business
This is either a book you will read and find yourself nodding along with, or a book that you will read and throw down in disgust after the first couple of chapters. It is a semi-practical guide about how to be more inclusive in your leadership. For those who have read Fredrick Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations and are trying to figure out how to move their company towards Teal, this book will be useful. For those who are tired of being in a top-down organization or are constantly accused of being a micro-manager, this book is worth toughing out even if you don’t agree with all of their suggestions because it will give you choices and ideas that will help you grow as a leader.