Notes for September 15th 2023

  • I linked to an article about the 4-day workweek movement in my tabs this week. And the link came from a post on Mastodon. Which was followed by a flurry of notes about how this is a bad idea. Customers don't work 4-day work weeks! The business will fall over! All this, despite the article specifically calling out the opposite.
    • Moreover, the lack of creative thinking here is mad. People seem to think that everyone else will take the same 4-day workweek routine. And if they do, that's great! We need to slow down as a society because we're stressing ourselves into early graves. We're afraid of AI all while we lose our own humanity.
    • What's most fascinating is the fear of a 4-day workweek doesn't seem to be relieved by flipping the script and focusing on the 3-day weekend.
  • Apple had their annual iPhone event, launching the new iPhone 15 and Apple Watch variants (including the Ultra 2). So say I am whelmed would be accurate. It wasn't disappointing or anything, it just also wasn't a big splash. Tim Cook started the show announcing that they would focus on two products. Which felt like they were going to open the door to a "one more thing..." section, which never came.
    • All that said, I'm really into the new Watch Ultra 2. I think replacing my plethora of watches plus my Whoop 4.0 with a single Ultra 2 as a daily driver feels ok. The phone I'm less convinced by, but my wife wants my current 14 Pro since a toddler got involved in smashing her phone.
  • Walter Isaacson released a Musk-themed book. And as usual, it's candid and filled with quotable moments. What's interesting is just how hap-hazard Musk seems to be in his approach, yet, in effect, he keeps getting away with it. He has his mad band of diehard fans, for sure. But surely it's not a career-defining position to work in a Musk company while he runs around doing whatever he wants, to the detriment of anyone nearby.
  • In an interesting turn of events, it looks like I'll be taking on a larger role at $job. Which is very exciting and intimidating at the same time. It's nothing new; I've done global roles with far more scope/remit/people before, but there's a lot of work to be done. Exciting work, but hard work. With hard decisions to be made within, too.
  • In $job we're a defacto solution for small business and startups (especially digital native companies). We've done well making inroads with our people to target and build for enterprises. But we kinda forgot about mid-market. Or at least, didn't deliberately look at building for them. I think that's something we'll do now, which is a very comfortable place for me given $previous_company. But it'll take a big lift to get everything to retool, to some extent.
  • I commented to a colleague that there's no end state. You're always moving the goalposts. Sure, a sprint might end or a project might ship. But you're never really done. With anything. Kids, work, etc.
  • I'm reading a new book on leadership and then read about how Jensen Huang runs nVidia. And it's genuinely brilliant.
    • He has 40 direct reports and doesn't waste time with lots of 1:1s. Every decision happens in a group setting. I may try to ape this.
    • He doesn't do status updates. This is something I've been coaching out of my team; they love spending time on 1:1s talking about what happened, is happening, and why the needle moved. I don't care. I trust that this happens because we hired such great people. Especially annoying is when a status update comes to me and I can't help in any way.
    • No big-swinging planning cycles. In $job we're still learning how to do planning cycles properly. But keeping plans shorter-term, mostly 1-year out is good. Having a goal for projects is important. Tracking towards it, knowing it's a moving goalpost is fine.
  • $job is aiming towards growth in 2024. Not a stunning statement, I know. But I'm struck that so many folks have only worked in "the good times." Never built from scratch or seen struggles in an organisation. Even though ours is small-mid sized, it can sometimes operate as a much bigger ship. A lot of that is cultural nuance, some of which stems from hiring from FAANGs. I'm reminded of the Tim Cook story where he told his sales leaders at Apple while he was COO that they need to drive x% growth the following ear, but without additional headcount. We're going through a similar time. At $former_job, we did this a bunch; try to maximise efficient growth without adding lots of headcount.
    • In my world, PreSales engineering/architecture, this manifests as rough-looking ratios to sales headcount, which stretch. You can either over-work the team and drive attrition rates, or get smart and have folks focus on meaningful work. At $job, that will mean focusing on user adoption and activation on accounts. I've a strong strategic backing from being "in the room" before, which is helpful. But I'm pretty strong-willed in how this will work and how absolutely great it will be.
    • One big consideration is hiring smart people and giving them the space to flex and be smart. I'm always the dumbest one in the room. But that's ok, my job is to allow the team to be a force-multiplier in the business.
  • Congrats to the tech journos for quickly pivoting their clickbait from “Apple is doomed without USB-C” to “how dare Apple introduce a new cable.”