What To Do When Things Break

In October we launched weekly internal scorecarding, a constructive by-product of that is it also identifies our business bug rate. Bug rate is the rate at which normal things break.

In a software company, these are easily fixed but early identification is key. The upside of it being software is you can often identify the breakage faster.

With our team, I’ve encouraged them to not fret about it.

Breaking things is a way of life. We just need to fix it fast, learn from it and get on with it.

The danger is in not doing so allows things to build up, rather than deal with the slight distraction by fixing it and return to what’s key.

A business is built on hundreds of these little bricks, ways of doing things, and processes. If you let too many crumble or deteriorate suddenly you have a wall falling down.

When I was a kid, I was playing with Legos with a friend. He wanted to have a competition to see who could build a house the fastest. So off we went, he built his walls straight up, Lego brick on top of Lego brick whereas I built mine interlocking to build a strong wall.

He of course won – but I said, that’s not something that’s going to last. It’s flimsy. That analogy rings true in building your company, you need to build it consistently, build it strong BUT build it rapidly when you need to.

In doing so, things will break, that’s ok, fix it fast, learn and get on with it.

The Counter Argument: Not worrying about it

Founders often struggle with the acknowledgement that something is broken but the fact that it’s working will do for now. It’s not a top 3 priority.

You know this is appropriate, when it’s not a top 3, it’s not (yet) impacting the survival of your business. At certain stages the life of a CEO is like a game of whack-a-mole at the arcade. Whatever big problem pops up you have to deal with that.

If you’re a team member and you see that this is a reality on a specific issue and you think that it’s more important than your CEO or leader is giving it, take the extra effort to either solve it yourself, or figure out a solution. They need your help to clear the 4,5,6.

If you’re a CEO, remember to delegate as much of this as you can, it’s your trusted team which will carry the momentum.

The Excellence Phase: Doing it right

In a time of rest, or calm, that’s the time to go back and re-optimize all processes. To find ways of being more efficient, this is when things that haven’t already been solved can be solved in a more scalable phase.

The problem here is, trying to solve too far ahead. In a startup solve for the problems you have today, as you don’t know if you’ll be around tomorrow. Anticipating problems is good but the opportunity cost of spending time solving a problem you don’t yet have vs ones you do is too expensive.

If you haven’t read Zero to One, give it a read. Your benchmark for improvement is 10 times. Whether that’s throughput, cost savings, each improvement you want to aim for at least 10 times improvement.

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Then rinse/repeat. This is the cycle of building, fix it fast, let it break, do it right.

February 25th, 2016

Original thought is sought now more than ever

There’s a lot of discussion around there being too much content, especially around Facebook, people are getting less readers than they had before.

There has always been too much content! It’s just that one channel Facebook has gotten better at getting more of it in. Even before the internet!

But there has never been too much good content.

There is always demand for original thought, perspectives, different views.

What if you only wrote about something you hadn’t seen anywhere.

Or shared things which no one is sharing…

 

February 16th, 2016

The only difference is what you do about it

Through the internet everyone has access to the same knowledge, opinions, facts, figures, trends.

The same access to mentors, teachings, podcasts, advice.

In an age of abundance and accessibility to improvement – action is as rare as ever.

Taking what you learn, acting on it, then refining and improving.

With all the worlds knowledge at everyones fingertips, the only real difference is what you do about it.

 

 

January 28th, 2016

You are always wrong [repost]

No matter your stance someone can always come up with a solid reason why you are wrong. It just depends how much others care about the topic.

Politics for example can get so convoluted as each candidate cares deeply – you can lose sight of what you’re trying to achieve.

So your aim should be to be less wrong than you were yesterday. Not worrying about being 100% right. You just need to be less wrong than those you compete with and less wrong than you were before.

..

Original post

January 26th, 2016

They're not building a car, they're building android for autos

Software is step by step getting involved in each part of our daily rituals, the last frontier in some respect is the time in our cars.

Podcasts have had massive growth, off the back of smartphone pairing, bringing new media in to cars.

TheDrive talks about how the Google Car is a hoax and they’re right, Googles building the android version.

The actual software which drives the cars is next, that’s why everyone has taken a keen interest. And the business model has potential too, imagine charging $50/year per car, that’s a $780m/year business in the US.

Update: That’s $780m/year in incremental revenues, with up to 253m cars on the road in the US, it’s potentially mindblowingly big.

 

January 6th, 2016

Churchill on persistence in the face of adversity

War is a game that is played with a smile. If you can’t smile, grin. If you can’t grin, keep out of the way till you can.

 

December 21st, 2015

I am Protopian

From Noah Brier:

I was reading Kevin Kelly’s Reddit IAmA from last year and I really liked his definition of “protopian”. In response to the question,

“As a radical techno-optimist, what do you think is something people believe technology can/will do that you think it can’t?”

Kelly answered,

“I am protopian, not utopian. I believe in progress, that things are getting better by a little bit. I don’t believe that we can eliminate problems without introducing new ones.”

December 18th, 2015

In pursuit of boredom

Right now, at this moment in time, there has never been more things competing for your time.

It’s a weird world, where at the end of the week, people are so drained they simply want to do nothing. Not from physical exhaustion but mentally drained, consumption absorption I call it. Some ‘dated’ studies suggest we read 54,000 words/day, or see/hear 100,000 words/day.

I daresay for a typical knowledge worker this is not uncommon.

What this means is the death of boredom. No matter where you are, with an internet connection you have access to entertainment.

But so, recently, thinking about this, I’ve been pursuing boredom. Where I’ve done everything I need to do and there is simply nothing to do and I’m stopping that habit to seek out something just because it’s there. An amazing feeling.

It’s in boredom, that we sit, we think, we come up with new ideas, we get creative, we get proactive!

And that is increasingly a rare skill. See if you can get bored in the next week! It’s a worthy pursuit.

 

November 28th, 2015

Free pizza at the gym

It’s the anti-gym gym, once a month Planet Fitness offer free pizza at the gym.

A friend of mine, who was a member, said it actually did entice them to go to the gym. Knowing he could have pizza afterwards.

And I guess that’s the idea at Planet Fitness, the market needs an entry level, for the casual gym user.

And pizza + gym, they’re too concepts which don’t meld together, they sit un-naturally in your mind. So you pay more attention.

And I like that.

Update: This post, synthesizes a discussion on Planet Fitness, how they use this and other tactics, to maximise gym economics, that is get as many members that don’t attend frequently as possible.

November 20th, 2015

My favourite books, for fellow entrepreneurs

Give how much I read, I thought I may as well share my curated favourites. This page is designed so you open a few tabs, then go through them, I have hooked up Amazon affiliate links, so if you grab anything, it helps me get a few more books 🙂 I hope you don’t mind.

If you’re not sure where to start, simply buy all the books in a section, why not? Investing in yourself is the best investment (and return) you can make, an extra $30-$50 will only return dividends.

My most recommended books

The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

This talks through the process of creating something from nothing, it just gives you that prod you need to keep at it. Another second read by Steven is Do the Work, also excellent.

Steal Like An Artist, by Austin Kleon

This encourages us all to collect and then curate ideas that interest US. You, being the key filter, it’s about the things you like, that inspire and motivate you. As these are what help provide the input to all the work we create.

The Dip, by Seth Godin

Tremendous read, it’s for the moments when you’re evaluating, should I continue or leave this project. Often I find, the projects that you care about the most, to then read this book are the ones that you should absolutely stick with. But buy it, give it a read now, then revisit as you need to.

 

For people on the start of a journey

For first time entrepreneurs

  • Built to Sell by John Warrillow A checklist of what makes a sellable business, co-incidentally they are also what makes a strong business. An important read even at the formation of a new enterprise, then every 18 months. I read it, and then used it as a checklist of things to improve on.
  • The E-Myth by Michael Gerber One of the most popular small business books, it helps founders adjust their mindset to building systems & processes, which create repeatable value – and steps them through how to do that step by step.
  • Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss An early favourite of mine, helps you focus on what’s most important, and maximise effectiveness.
  • Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business Without Losing Your Self Alan is the co-founder of Fast Company, over the years he’s picked up some interesting insights, a favourite of mine is “Crisis is opportunity hidden in disguise”. Worth a quick read.
  • Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur Similar to Rules of Thumb, this book by Derek Sivers, founder of CDBaby, authors of the infamous customer service email – shares some thoughts & ideas on how to think about your business.
  • 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch Timeless classic, identifying the 20% of causes which create 80% of the outcomes. I’ve done this time and time again. Where can I as a founder focus my time most effectively. What one or two things if I achieve those, the rest don’t really matter.

For downtime

For travelling

  • Vagabonding by Rolf Pott An inspiring read to help you get out the front door and travel more frequently. Some great tips on travelling cheaply but also to be more daring in your travel.
  • The Art of Nonconformity by Chris Guillebeau Hand in hand with vagabonding, Chris shares great tips for travelling, as well as sharing his journey on going independent. Lots of learnings all round.

For business stories

For leading 

For Culture

  • Rework by Jason Fried This is how millenials think, I hate using the term – but if you’re a founder/entrepreneur this is worth a read, if you’re wanting to adapt your culture to the emerging workforce a great place to start.
  • Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh A reminder of how the customer is king, practical tips for building a culture around that.
  • Maverick by Ricardo Semler The business book in early experiments in radical transparency and empowering staff to grow the business.

Best biographies

For business planning

On international business & entrepreneurship

Economics

On design

On investing

On change

Workbooks, some guided workbooks to help you achieving a specific goal or project

On business growth

Great stories

On creativity

On excellence

On marketing

On War Stories

Challenging Thinking

On startups

 

November 1st, 2015

Refreshing Twitter

Twitter is having a second go at it, with one of their co-founders Jack Dorsey returning to the helm.

Whilst you have the ability to follow Obama, Snowden, Lebron. The challenge has been, sorting through the tweets, to see, to have and participate in the conversations.

The refreshing thing about the platform is, it is about talking, about listening, whereas Facebook is about sharing. They can look the same, but the experience is different. Twitter is about the now, getting as close to having a real unfiltered conversation.

And now, is the last frontier of the internet, it is the ultimate shared expression – the now.  If they can just nail it, so that that experience is more accessible, we’ll see some exciting times ahead.

And in a broadcast internet, that’s what we need.

October 5th, 2015

My three most recommended books, for people making something from scratch

The three books I recommend the most, for those on the journey of making something from scratch, whether that be a career change, a startup, a personal project… these all fit the bill.

The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

This talks through the process of creating something from nothing, it just gives you that prod you need to keep at it. Another second read by Steven is Do the Work, also excellent.

Steal Like An Artist, by Austin Kleon

This encourages us all to collect and then curate ideas that interest US. You, being the key filter, it’s about the things you like, that inspire and motivate you. As these are what help provide the input to all the work we create.

The Dip, by Seth Godin

Tremendous read, it’s for the moments when you’re evaluating, should I continue or leave this project. Often I find, the projects that you care about the most, to then read this book are the ones that you should absolutely stick with. But buy it, give it a read now, then revisit as you need to.

September 8th, 2015

The mobile experience, is the inverse of desktop (kind of)

So, I swapped to Mac, around 5 years ago now, I’d held out on Windows for a while.

One thing, I noticed was, on a Mac your workflow was more horizontal.

You Command Tab between apps, and kind of revolve around them.

But when I was on Windows, it was more start + stop.

You minimize and open Windows.

But so, when you play with Windows Mobile, it is more like the Mac experience and ironically IOS is more like the Windows experience (start + stop).

It’s just an interesting thought, some of these formats work better at different parts of the lifecycle. As your users become more expert, you can evolve the experience, the challenge is keeping that sense of mastery whilst making it easy to start from scratch.

September 4th, 2015

Appliances drive electricity consumption

It’s the most basic of analogies, but, if you were power company, the growth of appliances, powered by electricity changed everything.

You went beyond lighting, to sitting in the background enabling households to increase their quality of living.

This rings true, for the App Store on top of the iPhone, Developers using AWS, Websites on the internet.

Give people the tools to build, to solve real problems for your existing customers and they will.

August 10th, 2015

I couldn't agree with Bill more

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 5.28.59 PM

That sense of patient urgency, whereby you are yourself, working steadfastly towards what’s required.

 

July 15th, 2015

What are you doing all the way down here? You could:
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