Of the quite few global teams I had the privilege to lead, I’ll most fondly look back at two product groups: the sometimes insane experiments to invent non-telecom revenue streams for Skype (remember SkypePrime, SkypeFind, Skypecasts, anyone?) and the highly controversial design revamp of our flagship Windows and Mac clients in 2008. The latter created borderline civil unrest among loyal users, yet took the measurable user engagement metrics and share of video calling minutes through the roof. Disruption — of even itself — has been at Skype’s core since it was born.
He also talks of the role of Skype in continuing to shape Estonia’s public technology and innovation mindset – also explored in more detail in this video from his time at Stanford, The Future That Should Be Here Now:
He’ll be missed this side of the Atlantic – but I’m increasingly of the view that the world, whether thanks to Skype or thanks to our changing perceptions of distance, remains a very small place indeed. His influence and sense of humour won’t have any problems spanning the distance.
Ideas should be handled like a vital commodity. They are critically important but if we’re consuming any form of human resource such as creativity and ingenuity in order to create and validate those ideas and consider a spectrum of alternatives, then we’re creating more work than we need to create and that’s wasteful.
The literal interpretation suggests that we should constrict the flow of ideas in order to relieve the demands on our time and energy; there’s a more subtle reading which Andy captures in the segregation of nice from good:
We confuse good ideas with what are just ‘nice’ ideas. Nice ideas are things we like in that low-commitment, fuzzy kind of way, as they whizz past us and onto the pages of trend blogs.
Which brings us back to validation – the challenge isn’t that we have too many ideas, or that ideas are a burden from the moment of conception. Just that ideas which hang around too long attract ‘disproportionate value’, as Andy puts it. And when Mike says that ‘one person’s idea can often be just another thing the rest of the team is forced to deal with’, he’s absolutely right. An idea in this context is essentially a hypothesis, and this is the sort of thing Eric Ries talks about in The Lean Startup when he argues that we should be asking should it be built? rather than can it be built?
Is the answer to this simply to speed up the validation process? To eliminate the possibility that an idea or hypothesis will stay around long enough to become inventory? Potentially, yes – particularly at the early stages of client work at Made by Many, we typically generate hundreds of ideas, but rapidly shred them down to a handful of realistic candidates for customer development.
But even this process isn’t insulated from new input – and for good reason. And, in a world where a live customer development process is trivially easy to set up, it’s impossible to free ourselves entirely from continual new input; new ideas emerge from customer communities through the social web, for example, as well as from product owners (in the broad sense), and both in incredible volumes.
Still, this notion of the lingering hypothesis is an interesting one, and merits more thought. If we can match the pace of validation to the velocity of idea generation or input, can we eliminate inventory? A just-in-time validator, perhaps? Minimal time to validation feels like a good thing.
How do you transport cranes from Shanghai to London? By boat, obviously.
There are five of them, up to 138m tall, built by ZPMC in Shanghai. They’re in the UK as part of the DP World London Gateway project, on the site of the former Shell Haven refinery at Stanford-le-Hope which closed in 1999 (map).
The project is aimed ostensibly at reducing the distance cargo has to travel by road or rail once reaching the UK by reducing the reliance on Felixstowe. Thames Pics has some more photos of their arrival and there’s a video report on BBC News.
We sent 178 packages to 89 people, in 49 US states. Each person was sent 2 packages; one sealed with ATHEIST-branded packing tape, the other with neutral tape.
ATHEIST-branded packages took an average of 3 days longer to reach their recipients, and were 10 times more likely to get lost in transit. Whether this was a result of mishandling by USPS or US Customs is unclear. There’s some worthwhile discussion in the comments – and a reassurance from the Atheist team:
I think the study is imperfect, and we do want to replicate it, but respected statisticians and academics who we’ve run this study past believe that our conclusion of a ‘likelihood’ of personal prejudice impacting delivery times is robust, and it will be submitted for peer review, alongside the more expansive replication we hope to make.
Intriguing more than depressing – I’ve struggled to find any other examples of similar studies, but would be fascinated to see more. Drop me a line if you come across anything relevant.
As the animation moves forwards in 10-minute intervals during the typical weekday, the balance between touch-ins and touch-outs is shown by a colour scale. Red indicates the great majority of taps are touch-ins, and green indicates mainly touch-outs. White is the ‘neutral’ colour, indicating that roughly as many people are entering the network as leaving it, at that period in time.
The patterns revealed by Professor Batty and Dr Kang’s study show how complex such city centres actually are – London contained no single centre, but instead has around 10 ‘polycentres’ that interlink in complex patterns.
They identify eight such polycentres:
Western Stations: The area around Paddington station
West End: An area bordered by Marylebone Road/Euston Road to the north, Tottenham Court Road and Charing Cross Road to the east, Shaftesbury Avenue and Piccadilly to the south, and Bond Street and Baker Street to the west
Northern Stations: The area around Euston, St Pancras and Kings Cross stations
City: The City of London, plus the area around Old Street station, and extending south of the Thames to the area around London Bridge station
Docklands: The area around Canary Wharf and Canada Square
Mid-Town: The area around High Holborn and Covent Garden, bounded by Chancery Lane to the east and Leicester Square to the west
Parliament: The area around the Palace of Westminster and Trafalgar Square
Government: The area around Victoria and St James’s Park
Museums: The area around Exhibition Road and South Kensington tube station
West London: The area around Hammersmith tube station
Key disciplines at Made by Many: business strategy, product design and software development.
At Made by Many, we work at the intersection of business strategy, product design and software development. Strategists, like everyone else here, play an important role in all three of these disciplines.
As a strategist, your time is divided between existing and potential clients. The balance fluctuates over time, and you have to be equally comfortable with both.
For our current clients, you analyse, qualify, interpret and communicate their business (and political) objectives, both internally at Made by Many and externally within the client organisation. You identify new business models and work with clients to optimise existing ones. You also design, adapt and improve processes to ensure that Made by Many’s work is efficient and effective, and work with the management team to plan workstreams, structure project teams and build client relationships.
You also take responsibility for winning new business and the entirety of the process behind this. You seek out and develop relationships with potential clients, articulate and discuss Made by Many’s capabilities, and build and present proposals in consultation with the management team and our design and technology leadership.
People at Made by Many come from a huge range of backgrounds, and we imagine that this role might be a good fit for someone who has worked in service design, a technology startup, in an editorial or management role in media, or in venture capital or private equity in the technology sector – but we certainly don’t have any strong preconceptions on this front.
What’s more important is that you have a good understanding of the dynamics of business drivers, customer needs and technology opportunities. You’ll understand the lean startup world and agile development processes, as well as being able to fulfil the roles described above. You need to be a confident and capable communicator, equally at home in long-form text or presenting a vivid visual description of a service idea.
Some direct design and development knowledge and experience is beneficial – you’ll spend much of your time working in a team with designers and developers throughout client engagements, and so need to be both comfortable with and capable of contributing to this sort of environment.
If this sounds like the sort of place you’d like to work, please apply using this form. As always, we don’t deal with recruiters.