The Light Around The Corner…

It was just a few days before the end of the quarter in September 2016. I was on the phone with a colleague discussing a large deal and the steps to close. We had just received frustrating news that the customer was challenging the terms of the SaaS licenses in the larger deal. The call was intense and we were not sure there was a way through the customers’ issues.

I was walking along rue de la Grande Chaumière in the 6th arrondissement in Paris, not far from my flat. The road was quiet, dark, and provided an ominous atmosphere, a dark tunnel to complement the call.

As I turned the corner on to Boulevard Montparnasse I was overcome with the beauty of the sun setting over Paris. The sky looked like it was on fire. But to me I saw an absolute beauty that awestruck me. It gave me a sense of optimism.

Later that week, after several very late nights of negotiation with the customer, we signed the large deal.

When we are in the darkest tunnels… remember there is light at the end, or around the corner.

Processed with Snapseed.

Boulevard Montparnasse, Paris

 

Defend the Vision

Without a vision, any direction is valid…

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 10.08.24 PMFor years I managed product direction, strategy, and delivery. I developed two simple rules to product management. Rule #2 for any product manager is to defend the vision. Rule #1 is to build the best product for the market opportunity (vision). Often rule #2 is more difficult to adhere to than rule #1.

Every day customers, partners, sellers, managers, and competitors add additional requirements to your product direction. This causes stress, anxiety, and churn… but only if you have no vision to evaluate each new request. For example, one customer will commit to a $500K deal this quarter if you add two arbitrary features. However, no other customer needs these features. If you agree you have an instant $500K in the bank, but to accept these two features you need to drop another feature that once released in the market will net you $20M. What do you do? When you are true to your vision, and your vision can be executed and brought to market in time (meaning not arriving late to the party to discover all the beer and snacks are gone), the answer is pretty simple: “No, we are not going to do these two features.” Continue reading

How do you manage results with incentives?

In the 1990s I worked for a one organization where bonuses were paid annually tied to annual financial indicators and whether or not I was a strong performer. The latter part of the evaluation was subjective based on how well I did as an individual contributor, manager, or team player. Being an annual bonus the evaluation was averaged out over the year and didn’t provide a sense of urgency for immediate change going into the next evaluation period.

In the early 2000s I found myself with a new employer. The bonus system was based on quarterly management by objectives (MBOs). The bonuses were measured and paid quarterly. They comprised individual task completion, company revenue and profit objectives, adoption of new business directions, and team objectives. They were black and white, recorded, exposed for everyone to see, and much less subjective. Continue reading

Opportunities – How do you make them?

My career in enterprise software got started thanks to an ex-girlfriend.

In my early twenties I wasn’t quite sure what path I would take, however, I knew I wanted to be in high tech. It was the early 90s and I was studying business at university. I had put myself through school thanks to years of working in a bike (pedal bikes) shop. It is at the bike shop that I learned the importance of customer service, differentiation in value, and commitment to delivery and quality. My bike shop years were formative. I did sales, accounting, inventory management, service, and any task needed to keep the business going. It was a passion, a career, and a family. I applied myself as if it were my own business. Despite the passion for bikes, I didn’t see a prosperous future. In 2nd year of university I bought a computer and started learning as much as possible about software, business applications, and about how to install, configure, and exploit the software. I clicked on every button, experimented with everything I could get my hands on… but the programming and coding side of software never interested me. At least it never stuck. Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: