Gaming the Incentives

Humans are fantastic at finding holes in incentive systems. Give incentives to retail employees to push an add-on product – and they’ll find a way to do so without increasing your bottom line profits. Incentivize efficient behavior for testers – finding bugs! – and they’ll open millions of stupid, mindless little defects that waste your […]

Interviewing – Challenge Your Assumptions

We’ve all been there. This guy comes in to interview, and three minutes into it you get this feeling. He’s all words and no action. He’s an arrogant bastard. He’s an architecture astronaut. The interview goes on and on, and with every new topic, you find more and more reasons around why your initial sense […]

Platform as a Cop Out

It’s fascinating how the Microsoft glory isn’t letting people sleep well at night. Most entrepreneurs I talk to these days understand that the way to create a lasting advantage is to create a platform – something that entrenches you way better than an application. Quoting Mr. Ballmer of Microsoft, “Developers! DEVELOPERS!! DEVELOPERS!!!” The reason, of […]

What is the single most hurtful way I can interpret this?

Psychology and human relationships are so undervalued in our brainiac, meritocracy culture of technologists. Particularly in software, where there’s a lot of people with vast amounts of intellectual horsepower – and a lot of passion – conflicts arise. Many talented engineers are quite introverted – and socially challenged at the same time; this creates a […]

What are Product Managers for, anyway?

I’ve written about the core pillars that drive technologists. In this article, I’d like to drill in on the discipline that’s perhaps least understood – product managers, or PM’s. Technologists have one fundamental weakness. Like all engineers, they like creating worlds from scratch. They liked disassembling toys when they were kids, and putting them back […]

Manufactured Happiness and Stockholm Syndrome

A very curious effect happens to people in bad situations. They tend to rationalize that the world around them is actually not bad at all. Moreover, they will honestly, authentically believe that they’re better off because of the adverse position they’re in. There’s a fascinating TED talk about this concept of “manufactured happiness”: a true […]

Take the Job Where You’re Really Wanted

I’ve been making this exact mistake for the vast majority of my life. Reading the job description, coming to an interview, listening to what the interviewer wants, and then carefully reciting the story about their dream candidate – me, that is – in a way that makes them feel like I really am the manifestation […]

Avoid The Sea of Mediocrity

I recently wrote about motivational issues associated with large teams. In this post, I’d like to explore organizational aspects of this issue. Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, is known for a curious approach to solving problems in the product teams. If he sees a team that’s struggling,  he pulls a person from this team […]

What Are People Paying for This Today?

So, your brilliant idea is shaping up, and you’re ready to go all steam ahead – get some funding, quit your day job, and move into your mom’s garage. One key question you kept asking yourself was “what is the potential of this business?” Your typical market sizing goes like this: “20 million target customers; […]

A niche that’s bigger than a green field

I don’t believe in Facebook. No, let’s try it again – I don’t believe in YOU being able to create another Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not you – I can’t make one either. And it’s not because we’re dumb – it’s because facebook solves no particular problem at all. Nobody had a need […]