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We have made the decision to work remotely for an entire year, to focus on our work and societal safety, removing our team’s uncertainty about what is next. We are very lucky to work in software, an industry that isn’t negatively impacted by working from home.
We filled 2 key roles via FaceTime without interviews. We got right to work. This moment has killed pretense and artifice. We wanted to see and experience their minds at work, in realtime, and not in a contrived way. We will not go back to the rigamarole, song and dance interview routine.
The tech team's productivity is even with our pre-covid productivity. We were at 15% remote so we are starting to think of going 50-60% remote-- why spend millions on expensive real estate? But even if we achieve increased remote work, people will want to come in from time-to-time so we have a Hotelling problem. People want to know if a desk or room has been cleaned since last use.
Clients can't focus for more than 90 minutes in remote design thinking sessions. We have to be way more clever and explicit with our prompt design and watch for muting. We have to work a lot harder to moderate and document. The silver lining is getting to know people in more human ways.
There are no U.S. standards for consumer masks and there is a need for education. People don't understand the difference between masks that protect users and those that protect others. China has a consumer mask standard.
30% of our company was already remote before COVID started. We are hosting remote chats with other companies to gather further insights for our remote work practices. We wrote our remote design guide and moved all interviews and onboarding to Zoom in the first week of Shelter in Place.
"If you aren’t focused on developing and promoting your diverse talent base, rest assured other companies will do it for you by poaching your talent."
"China isn’t having a ‘VC’s are inflating startup values’ moment like we are. Their private, and public, capital is flowing heavily into some consequential new companies in AI robotics, biotechnology, and retail services that make the Bay look a little anemic on core tech. And they’re getting first pick out of Berkeley, Stanford, MIT."
"One of the key success metrics for a true technologist is that your tech meets your scale in a good and appropriate marriage. There are lots of interesting problems but not all create value. Building a solution that is more efficient and elegant and which makes scale easy creates exponential value."
"The war for talent is asymmetrical and favors the talent. Big companies can’t evolve fast enough to attract, small companies don’t scale reliably enough to retain. That’s the view from London, Berlin, New York and Beijing in 2020. And in the foreseeable future."
"The ongoing work focuses on developing design maturity within organizations. By creating the right form of design metrics, that are not product or people metrics, teams can successfully measure progress of internal product design teams."
"This generation of technology practitioners is the next generation manager and in no other industry does that cause a problem. Imagine a Rust programmer in 20 years managing a PhD in quantum computing without a clue about what that person is doing. There will be a lack of understanding, an asymmetry unless those managers re-skill to know what they are managing—I must understand quantum computing!"
"CTO and CPO roles continue to blend. There is a trend of either bringing in strong stand-alone product roles or empowering product under the CTO function."
"We are reaching an inflection point. It's interesting to understand the gravity of data and what that means for the roles of Big Tech. The degree to which they're able to understand the users on their platform and what that means for the future of innovation and also what innovations are forthcoming. Is there a base strata or is there a new technology around the corner we haven’t seen yet?"
It's the free, open govt's flattening the curve in Asia, not the authoritarian states. Also in our portfolio, the less hierarchical, more democratic, the more innovative responses and resilience. This trend is an argument that decentralization will continue.
Just as Google shows us what people are really doing (Search) vs. what they say they are doing (Facebook), artiface has gone out the window with covid leadership. Most of the day is managing family resource time. Bring your whole self to work used to be a hollow phrase but now there is a genuine culture of acceptance.
Finding talent globally was already a thing pre-COVID 19. Is the tech industry going to be like the Fashion industry with “Tech” houses in a few big cities? Or will it become something like home building, more diverse and everywhere?
We immediately rewrote our vision, values, and methods with two team members in mind, a pregnant mom and a non-US citizen I start each meeting restating our new values: Take care of yourself first. Only what is left over goes to work. We work when we have capacity.
One topic that’s already emerging is mental health in the time of WFH and new remote work. It’s pretty clear it’s not for everyone. It could be outstanding factors playing into it as well but it’s coming up on our teams.
If you aren’t focused on developing and promoting your diverse talent base, rest assured other companies will do it for you by poaching your talent.
When assessing the emotional health of a team member, evaluate their support ecosystem.
Post-covid, we are doing a more emotional kind of design with a very high level of ambiguity around our relationships with our customers.
Today's technologist is tomorrow's manager. In no other industry is that a problem. Imagine a Rust programmer in 20 years managing a PhD in quantum computing without a clue about what that person is doing. There will be a lack of understanding, an asymmetry ,unless those managers re-skill.
Board seat searches require a deep trust and close relationships that Executive Recruitment can’t facilitate.
There are different metrics people look to for success. Product-market-fit and Brand-market-fit are as important to me as Cultural fit. Also Leadership psychology. Do they have emotional and design intelligence?
I no longer say I am a designer because I feel I am underselling myself. I have worked for Venture Capitalists. At my last startup, I designed one of the most respected technological breakthroughs in the last 10 years. I advise the CEO and Board but don’t have a seat at the table. I need to start wearing the clothes of who I need to be
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard ‘We’re not a command and control organization!’ in the same meeting where a mandate was created that everyone in the org had to comply with and report on.
Customer Experience went from being not a thing at all to being the only thing that CTO’s and CFO’s use to justify investment in technical innovation R&D in China. That should tell you something about the evolutionary speed of China’s internet companies.
The ongoing work is for organizational design maturity, to create the right form of design metrics that are not product or people metrics, that don't double report existing company metrics, but which demonstrably and tactically measure success of the internal product design team.
Competitive advantage doesn’t come from what you know, it comes from who you know.
Executive Recruiters and Searches are not about the value you add or the capabilities you bring but what you have already done. I want to do something I haven’t already done.
The war for talent is asymmetrical and favors the talent. Big companies can’t evolve fast enough to attract, small companies don’t scale reliably enough to retain. That’s the view from London, Berlin, New York and Beijing in 2020. And in the foreseeable future.
The weight of the Brand is now carried by the CEO not the CMO.
Corn Ferry put me on the bench. I need an agent and advisor working for me, not a firm calling when they need me.
Your job as a leader is to help every single employee do their best work.
I keep telling my enterprise recruiter clients that people want careers (strategy, representation, impact, career path) not jobs.
First companies failed because of poor tech and culture. Now the focus is continuous adoption and tech re-contextualizationco's realize they can’t deliver w/o the talent or tech, product, and design orgs that hang together. The next wave will be when all co's are fundamentally tech co's. The the 4th industrial revolution will arrive, with AI, ML, Brain interfaces, and XR. The price of performance will be a critical factor.
China's valuations aren't inflated. Their private,and public capital is flowing heavily into some consequential new companies in AI robotics, biotechnology, and retail services that make the Bay look a little anemic on core tech. And they’re getting first pick of Berkeley, Stanford, MIT grads.
A key success metric for a true technologist is that your tech meets your scale in a good and appropriate marriage. There are lots of interesting problems but not all create value. Building a solution that is more efficient and elegant, and which makes scale easy creates exponential value.
CTO and CPO roles continue to blend. There is a trend of either bringing in strong stand-alone product roles or empowering product under the CTO function.
We had a bunch of training coming up we canceled due shelter in place. My hunch is that they could have made it work over Zoom with some more thought. Emergent trend I’m seeing: Coaches and career counselors offering free, group drop-in Zoom. Training that was once in person will pivot to Zoom/online only in future.
Let’s not forget the Agile Manifesto, which prefers individuals and interactions over processes and tools. True agile development is pragmatic, not ‘by the book.’ Do what works best for your team, but make sure you’re testing and adapting regularly.
Every company has a growth imperative -- new people, new competencies, acquisitions, any number of things tomorrow they don’t have today. To innovate means they must have a strong POV about where they will be disrupted and a strategy to sustain a culture of continuously doing new stuff.