A couple weeks ago I posted in my blog The Venture Technologist that I HATE music and programming competitions.
LET ME ADD TO THE LIST
I also hate
Now, I’m not going to point out particular contests, you can search for them yourself. I’m just going to nicely talk about why they are so LAME and if you participate, well, no one is fooled.
I was asked a couple years ago to help improve the standing of a company I worked with in the “Best Companies” category. Since the voting was only a couple months away, I decided to search out people in other companies to find out ‘how they did it’. I was horrified. I was advised to start an ongoing internal marketing campaign to convince people to help ‘juice’ the surveys for best results. Since I was under time-constraints and the thought of running a marketing campaign repulsed me, I simply asked everyone in my staff of 1,500 to ‘be nice’ when they participated in the survey. Well, it worked good enough to raise our standing, but we still were outgunned by a company who is expert at this type of thing. (Yes, I’m wimping out by not naming names. If you want me to spill my guts you’ll have to buy me a Scotch or two).
OK, CIO’s, your turn. Here’s how you nominate yourself, no swimsuit required, thank goodness.
“Give us examples of how your nominee has substantially helped his or her company. How has this person used IT in innovative ways to create competitive advantage, optimize business processes…. and on and on.” Nice words, but AS A COMPETITION? PULEEZE.
They usually categorize based on age, experience, company size, community work, all good reasons to celebrate success. But,
LET THE MARKET DECIDE!!
The true metric on the performance of a CIO is the success of the company. If a CIO is truly at the ‘big table’ and plugged into the business, then the success of the business is reflected in the success of the CIO. These ‘contests’ may sell magazines, but they’re really not useful when attracting good employees or selling product. They’re just too self-serving to me. What’s next? The world’s greatest CFO? Wait, there’s competitions for that, too.
Yes, be the best CIO you can be – BE BULLISH! Don’t take stuff from anybody and push your company forward. As a technologist, you have the power to propel your company to new heights, and if you’re not getting the support you need to do it, LEAVE and find a company progressive enough to recognize the value you bring to the boardroom.
Now, where’s my trophy?!?
Too bad that they don’t understand me, their target customer.
I invest in three things: Music, Chocolate and Technology. Of course music and chocolate are the best investments in the world, it’s almost impossible to measure their value.
OK, let’s talk tech companies. How should you invest?
Should you go blue-chip, high-growth, startup, IPO, or what? What financial numbers do you crunch, what thought-leaders (ugh) do you listen to? I think of tech-investors like I do gamblers. Everyone thinks they’re good at it and everyone’s a winner. Until you get them to talk.
So what’s my secret? No secret.
DISCLAIMER: I don’t pretend to have any more insight than anybody else trying to make a buck, but here’s how I go about evaluating a technology company. It has NOTHING to do with numbers or company strategy. It has to do with technology people.
PROGRAMMERS DON’T LIE!!!
They will tell you the truth, many times a little more bluntly than you’d like, but you will find out what’s really going on inside their company. Are they aligned with the strategic goals and leadership. Do the Technologists influence major decisions? Do they agree with the marketing message. Do they like their sales-people? And… are they engaged with their customers? If not, watch out.
With startup investments and M&A work, I insist on talking to the CTO and/or development staff. I have passed on more than a couple simply because I discovered that the technical staff was unhappy or uninformed on what was happy at the C-level. I also know of some companies where it’s obvious that technology skills are considered commodity, expendable and replaceable. These companies are doomed. Technology folks have great influence on success, revenues and valuation of a company, especially in the long run. Get to know them and you’ll know whether or not to invest.
IMHO, if you have engaged, empowered, proficient, prolific programmers, you have a powerful company worth my investment dollar. And this strategy scales from start-up company to mega-corporation.
Happy investing! Take it from a programmer who NEVER lies!
It’s been said that if you dream of tornadoes you’re reacting to chaos and uncertainty in your life. Well, tornadoes are chaotic and uncertain, but they’re also stunning and a natural force.
I’ve dealt with a lot of change in my life and career, but nothing ever surprises me. That’s because I live my life on the philosophy that change is always occurring and we need to prepare and embrace change.
But what does this have to do with change? Everything I’ve listed above changes, at least once a year. So, how do you plan a strategy based on change?
Here’s how: Plan for change, which means don’t over-plan. Create some basic guidelines and best-practices as guiding principles. Build a strong foundation on people and technology. Define your Services and define ROI for each service. Invest in an Enterprise Architecture (I’ll discuss this in subsequent blogs). Subscribe to Lean Development principles.
Finally, be passionate, be inspired and, most importantly: BE BULLISH!
That’s why, when confronted with change, I say “let’s get on with it”. Why delay, why stress, why over-think situations. Move on, over, up, whatever, change is neither good or bad, it’s predictable and inevitable.
I’ve ALWAYS hated music competitions.
Battle of the Bands, Van Cliburn Piano Competition, American Idol, The Voice, the list goes on-and-on.
So yes, I will not be watching the Grammy Awards next Sunday. I believe that music should be celebrated and everyone that participates, from Adele to your niece in kindergarten, should be considered winners. Now, I do not mind when award shows celebrate success in the marketplace, based on true ratings or the numbers of viewers and listeners. This is fair and the marketplace is truly the place that should be considered in career success. It’s just all this subjective nonsense based on judges who make the competition all about themselves.
I am currently reading the book ‘Romance on Three Legs’, a book about Glenn Gould and his pursuit of the perfect piano. What really draws me to Gould is his passion, his eccentricities and the fact that he was a pretty decent guy. He also detested music competitions, even though he pretty much had to participate. He also won his fair share, not surprisingly since he may be the worlds best piano player to live.
Glenn Gould was a perfectionist who let his talent and his craft speak for himself, and he was rewarded with market success and the ability to pursue his talent even deeper. He didn’t need a blog and he didn’t need to worry about his “brand”. He just played.
Since I equate music and programming equally, I’m equally annoyed when I see programmer competitions, hack-a-thons, and start-up pitches that are little more than a beauty contest. I have to admit that I participate in these, but mostly as a mentor, where my job is to encourage and inspire. Again, the true place for competition is in the marketplace or, when you’re pitching an idea, to run through a rigorous process, well understood, that can evaluate the business opportunity. It’s not that I hate the idea of people getting together to collaborate on ideas and technology, or even to evaluate the outcome. I just hate the perception that occurs on selecting winners and losers. It’s Monday, I’m cranky.
Leave that to customers to decide.