Tag Archives: Technology

How to reward your engineers

As a product manager, I take great pride in my work and getting the job done.  But let me be honest; I do not write the software products I manage.  My engineers do, and they do an awesome job of it.

These engineers do not directly report to me but I am one of their leaders.  I craft the stories they work on to deliver features to market that our customers love and pay us lots of money for.  Without them, I would not have a product to sell nor, a job to pay my bills.  So how do I show my appreciation?

Well, it starts with two very simple words.

Thank you.  

Pretty simple, I know, but it is powerful. James Kouzes‘ book The Leadership Challenge explains in detail how powerful these words can be, as I have stated before.

Often times, verbal appreciation is not enough.  I find I need to do more, simply because I cannot express how thankful I and the company are for the teams’ contribution.  My teams work hard for me and for our customers.  They pull all-nighters fixing important issues that jeopardize customers’ environments.  They sustain long days and nights, including weekends, to get a major feature or new product out.  Throughout it all, they put up with my incessant questions, minor changes in scope and constant feedback, validation and product acceptance processes.  They do, in fact, deserve more.

Pretty regularly, I take small groups of my teams out for lunch, coffee or dinner.  Sometimes we celebrate a particular milestone or accomplishment.  But often times, I am just spending time with the guys, getting to know them and to break some bread together.  I try to pick up the check more often than not, irrespective of whether the company will reimburse me for the team outing.  Part of the successful working relationship I have with my team, and the reason they are willing to work as hard as they do, is because we have a personal relationship founded in more than just “my function requires me to work with you Mr. Product Manager”.  We trust one another, and believe that we have each other’s back.

Some milestones warrant more than a meal.  For those really big feats that move the needle for the company, the words “go big” come to mind.  In the past, I have thrown a party in one instance, and taken the team go-carting in another.  The important part of these activities was to focus on having fun.  We laugh about the insanity of the last few weeks and months in getting our release out the door over food and drink.  At the race track, we had a great time competing with one another for bragging rights on who had the fastest course time.

Maybe it is obvious, but why should I bother rewarding my engineers?  For one, good behavior and actions deserve good things.  From a business perspective, there are compelling reasons to recognize and reward a job well done.  Spending company time and money on employee appreciation nets so many things.  It fosters healthier team dynamics, creating trust and respect.  It energizes employees to work harder knowing that their work means something to someone that they know and can talk to.  Finally, it has other soft benefits including promoting company loyalty and greater overall employee satisfaction.  I strongly recommend all product managers take the time to appreciate their teams’ efforts in building the product they manage.


DevOps in Business – Cloud or Not

“While functional responsibilities will remain specialized, innovation, implementation, and value realization must be shared between the business and IT.” And IT will need to continuously reduce its spending on “keeping the lights on” to free up resources and mindshare for innovation and problem solving.

Good article over at HBR – Yes, Managing IT is your Job

Makes a good case for tooling and automation in IT so that IT can closely align with business now and in perpetuity.  The article does not clearly call out that this model is, essentially, DevOps, nor does it delineate between traditional IT, including virtualization technologies, or Cloud.  However, it’s still a good read.

En Garde!

Good luck Mr. Balmer, good luck sir.


PUCCKA – A Sales Methodology

This post is a catalog of Mark Suster‘s posts on a sales methodologies.

What is PUCCKA?

P – Pain

U – Unique Selling Proposition

C – Compelling Event

C – Champion

K – Key Players

A – Aligned Purchasing Process

Pretty awesome!

Bullish on Google Glass

I’ve been playing with Google Glass for the better part of a month now and it is really really cool technology.  I think the real beauty of the technology is the simplicity.  You want to take a picture, you just say ‘Ok Glass, Take a picture’.  And it takes a picture.  Crazy right?

The thing with Google Glass is that it doesn’t change my reality when I wear the device.  Instead, it augments it.  I’m able to be in the moment and take part in reality.  But when I need something, Google is there to answer my every need.  With Google Now, I’m spoon fed relevant contextual information (yes, I’m an iOS guy, so before Glass, I didn’t have any experience with Google Now).  With the voice commands, I remain hands-free from technology but get the benefits of using technology.  With bluetooth sync to my phone, I get updates from people trying to contact me via email, text message or phone.  It’s brilliant.

Perhaps the really cool part about Glass though is the possibilities it presents.  Consider the tablet 10 years ago.  What was Apple thinking with the iPad?  Well, who can live without a tablet now?  Much like healthcare were the early adopters of tablets 10 years ago, they again are showing us the way with Google Glass.  Check out this really great read.

Chrome Bet

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The title says it all.  I’m really hoping Google get’s it right with Chrome.  They’re building an OS that can permeate your life – from mobile with phones, tablets and laptops to work spaces with Chromebox, and Chrome browser with all the interesting features to your how you consume media with Nexus Q.

Each of these, with respect to the Google intellectual property and capabilities (not speaking about Android here), could use some maturation.  Google’s clearly trying to redefine how the internet and our devices interact together to make our lives more convenient and entertaining.  There’s always room for improvement though.  Let’s look at some of the devices I have.

Nexus 7 Tablet

Let me just say, this is one device that is really friggin’ awesome.  Form factor, it’s great.  Screen and processing power, pretty awesome.  Battery life…well, I’m charging once a day with regular use, so not too shabby.

But I’d really love a kickstand.  I can’t count how many times I’ve tried already to prop this think up in my lap, on the table, on the bed, etc with whatever I have around me.  I’ll need to get a case now to fill this gap, which I was really avoiding because the form factor is the key reason I have so much use for this device.  It literally fits in my back pocket! (err, be careful when you sit down).

I wish there was an SD slot so I could add to the storage on the device.  So much easier to push and pull images/videos and such to and from the device (and thereby to the internet with all my apps).

I want a micro HDMI port.  The Q is helpful in getting stuff from my tablet on my tv.  But, I want flexibility to clone my screen on a tv, or through a projector when I’m traveling or visiting friends.  Asus does this already.


I don’t want Display ports.  I want HDMI.  I’m using this with my TV.  I don’t care about using it as a proper computer.  I want to get out of this what you’ll see below I can’t get out of my Q.

I also don’t want to have to buy my HDMI cable, Displayport to HDMI adapter, wireless Keyboard and wireless mouse separately.  They are should not be cost-prohibitive to include day 1.  The manual alludes to Samsung providing them in future iterations.  I’m still waiting for all this gear so I haven’t been able to play with this extensively yet but I’m liking the 4GB of RAM and the processing power (initially anyway).  Seems like this one is very close.

Nexus Q

God I don’t want to be limited to Youtube and Google Play.  I want to play anything I can on my Android device (which is what must use to control the Q), including Netflix, streamed video in Chrome browser from a variety of web sources (Vimeo, lectures posted on a website, etc), and music from Spotify, Saavn, etc to name a few.

I also want a generic remote mode for my Android device when I’m controlling my Q.  The Q and Android device (phone or tablet) do a great job of sharing media such that Q loads the content directly from the internet instead of proxy-ing through the Android controller.  But, it has no remote control capability of its own…which is fine.  But I shouldn’t have to unlock my Android device, go back to Google Play (or Youtube) to pause my media.  Instead, I want a low power consumption app that I can quickly access on any Android device connected to my Q (not just the device that originally sent the media to Q) that can perform such actions as Pause, Start, FF, RW and Volume Up / Down.  I mean, let’s not get too ’80s.  Minus the cord, this is exactly the feature set I’m talking about:

I think this one has a ways to go.  My bet though is that all of this stuff can be resolved through software, so I’m really hoping my current Q will be able to do all of this in future iterations.  Having to buy a new Q device to get some of this stuff will really make me think twice about using this platform in my living room.

Power of Free

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Recently I had the opportunity to attend a few different technology conferences.  While I enjoyed all of them immensely, I can’t help but note how far some companies will go to push their technology adoption.

I attended Citrix’s Synergy, Microsoft TechEd and Google I/O this year and each of them showcased a variety of very cool and interesting technology (in most cases, hardware and software) in the various keynotes.

Simple Google searches will point you to those specific announcements.

However, there’s nothing more powerful than seeing some pretty amazing demos and product offerings in a keynote and then getting the actual technology in your hands for free.  At Google I/O, I was able to walk away with a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Google Nexus Q, Google Nexus 7, and Samsung Chromebox.

Many people immediately started charging these devices day 1.  With some of my prior commitments, I had to wait until I got home from the conference before I could bust out the toys and go to town.  I charged all the devices the first night I got back and started playing with them first thing in the morning.

It’s a shame the Samsung Galaxy Nexus doesn’t come with a micro sim to regular sim adapter or else my screen-cracked iPhone 4S would be history and I would be fully android/chrome.

The Galaxy 7 is amazing.  Fast, auto-updated, variety of apps, Chrome syncing, ahh, the list goes on.  It’s about the size of my Amazon Kindle but a bit heavier.  However, I don’t notice it much and have already got some of favorite apps on it along with Chrome Sync.  Now I can play first hand with the latest stuff from Jelly Bean on my G7.

The Nexus Q and Chromebook are next on my list to play with.  I can’t wait.  Google did it right.  They got their tech in my hands so that they can convert me.  I already heard from others at the conference who said they were sold on Android and Chrome by just watching the keynotes.  Having the tech and using it immediately cements that decision.

Bravo Google.