Negotiations: Focus on What You Don’t Know.

I remember one sentence from the many books I read while doing business in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia: Your relative power in a negotiation is your capacity to use resources to influence another’s circumstances. In 1962, Richard Emerson published Power-Dependence Relations. I found that Richard's focus on "In how many ways can I demonstrate my … Continue reading Negotiations: Focus on What You Don’t Know.

Bring me Problems.

The management-craze of "bring me solutions" has gone too far. I recently met with two spin-out teams of enterprises where the engineers and interim-CEO were scared to share any challenges or problems with corporate management because they were expected to be more "solutions-oriented." When I went back to one of the senior executives with a problem … Continue reading Bring me Problems.

Developer-centric Startups for Critical Applications

Most DevOps centric startups are focusing on the Dev, not the Ops. Many tools and startups start in Test & Dev (versus "production" or "in-revenue" applications). But really hard problems in DevOps are often connected to in-revenue, critical applications. These applications have real-time and high-availability requirements and "exactly-once" execution of commands. I have the privilege … Continue reading Developer-centric Startups for Critical Applications

HBR Whiteboard Session: 4 Things Successful Executives Do Differently.

Wow, just re-found this 5 minutes 56-second video with I had bookmarked. I usually hate these "Five Things Successful Executives Do" etc., but this one was a pretty good framework of four recurring patterns -- instead of "do your taxes yourself." or "smile more." or all the other nonsense you read on clickbait. This one has … Continue reading HBR Whiteboard Session: 4 Things Successful Executives Do Differently.

Discuss Your Offensive and Defensive Strategic Options With Your Board.

Startups are notoriously short on resources, especially when they are rapidly scaling. Scaling friction takes more tolls than anticipated. At these moments, startups become vulnerable to ecosystem changes: Not because they need to take immediate action, but because the perceived threat came as a surprise and your organization is frantically scrambling to understand your options … Continue reading Discuss Your Offensive and Defensive Strategic Options With Your Board.

The Most Important Executive Besides the CEO.

Up to a year ago, I would have said that the CTO is the most important person after the CEO for enterprise software startups. I'm a tech geek, so that's natural. Without a working prototype or technology, there is no high-tech startup, so for most high-tech startups engineering is pretty important, obviously. By now I … Continue reading The Most Important Executive Besides the CEO.

Scaling First Revenue: IT Infrastructure.

Enterprise IT Infrastructure has probably the most disciplined budgeting process and most rigorous procurement department. Not that they are always on target, but they have a very clear understanding of the different buckets, ROI, impact on operations, and necessary multi-vendor management. Enterprise IT infrastructure organizations know the percentage their enterprise wants to spend on IT … Continue reading Scaling First Revenue: IT Infrastructure.

Production, not Product, as Competitive Strength

Talk about burying the lead: "The competitive strength of Tesla is not going to be the car; it's going to be the factory," Musk said. Car manufacturers have known that for years (though some seemed to have forgotten about it) If you ever toured the factory floor of BMW in Munich, you know how … Continue reading Production, not Product, as Competitive Strength

Corporate Venture Capital Pitfalls.

I'll start to spend my money calling everybody honey And I'll wind up singing the blues I'll spend my whole paycheck on some old wreck And brother I can name you a few Willie Nelson sings in I Gotta Get Drunk. Surely he must have meant Corporate Venture Capital groups, or "CVCs" for short. Different corporations … Continue reading Corporate Venture Capital Pitfalls.