One of my favorite books for product management and development is Rework by the folks at 37Signals. Here are some of my key takeaways that I always try to remember:
- Quick wins: Get something done (even if it is really small), and move on to the next thing
- Simplify, simplify: Keep solutions simple, don’t try to account for every potential issue that might arise
- Long lists don’t get done: Long lists make you feel guilty and they never get done. Break one long to do list into a bunch of smaller to do lists
- Break down your estimations: The smaller something is, the easier it is to estimate
- Make tiny decisions: Big decisions are intimidating, and we usually put them off. Breakdown your decisions, so you can keep the momentum going
- Checklists: If something is a repeatable process, make a checklist so you no longer need to think about it
- Complexity = Simplicity + Noise: If something is ambiguous, breakdown the complexity into buckets
One buzz word for the past couple decades has been “workflow automation.” As a technologist and someone who values efficiency, the intent of these ideas and the systems are important, but their implementation tends to get a little sloppy on the details.
One area where the rubber hits the road are system generated emails. Usually, a system generated email requires the user to take some sort of action, or to be notified of something. Here are some guiding principles that I recommend for developing a strong system generated email:
- Minimum Customization (i.e. variable copy): Since emails have to go through copyedit reviews, the communication departments, the legal teams, etc. — keep it simple. Less is more.
- Minimum HTML Formatting: The email has a purpose and really does not need too many bells and whistles — every added second to download to the users phone or computer reduces the chance of action.
- Consistency between Subject, Body and Footer: Humans proceess what they read in patterns. If the content is structured in a way to make it easy for the reader to understand, then there is a higher chance of response.
- Subject: [What does this have to do with?]:[What is the action?]
- Body: Identify Main Actor; State Needed Action; State Alternative Scenario and Action (if needed)
- Footer: What to reference for help? Who to speak with for help?
- Active Voice: All copy should be in the active voice
Thanks for reading.
We all have biases. The most important step we can take as leaders is to bring awareness to our biases to ensure our decisions are based in objective truths as much as possible.
The below list is excellent for reflecting on and reviewing during key decisions, or even to see who you are being on a day-to-day basis in work (and, life)!
- Affinity bias – The tendency to gravitate towards people who remind us of ourselves.
- Halo effect – The tendency to always see someone in a positive light because of their title or because you like them.
- Perception bias – The tendency to form stereotypes and assumptions about certain groups that make objective decision making impossible.
- Confirmation bias – The tendency for people to only seek out information that confirms their preexisting beliefs or assumptions.
- Group-think – The tendency for people to go along with the group rather than voicing their individual thoughts and beliefs.
Source: UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Program Director of Executive Development, Horace McCormick, Jr. via Google Beats Unconscious Bias by Teaching Its Employees These 4 Tactics
In the article, “New AI Can Diagnose Pneumonia Better Than Doctors (https://www.fastcodesign.com/90152230/new-ai-can-diagnose-pneumonia-better-than-doctors) we begin to see a glimpse of the possibilities:
“In the case of CheXnet, the research team led by Stanford adjunct professor Andrew Ng, started by training the neural network with 112,120 chest X-ray images that were previously manually labeled with up to 14 different diseases. One of them was pneumonia. After training it for a month, the software beat previous computer-based methods to detect this type of infection. The Stanford Machine Learning Group team pitted its software against four Stanford radiologists, giving each of them 420 X-ray images. This graphic shows how the radiologists–represented by the orange Xs–did compared to the program–represented by the blue curve.”
From the beginning of the discussion around 5G, I have not been sold on the prospect of 5G networks being the panacea to solve connectivity challenges in the United States (and, in other parts of the world).
In 2007, I remember my enthusiasm for LTE, and the prospect of bridging the digital divide using this technology. Now, 10 years later the same enthusiasm is there for 5G.
There are two reasons I don’t trust this trend:
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The on-the-ground realities always difer signficantly from the labs. The telecom industry (and, especially players marketing the potential of 5G) have an incentive for the markets to believe this idea.
- The middle mile and the last mile still require significant investment. The middle mile will still need fiber, and the last mile is still complicated — i.e. line-of-sight and obstructions will still be there.
This article in FierceWireless “Editor’s Corner—Fixed 5G was tested by the cable industry, and it came up a bit short” describes some key areas to consider:
I’m going to dig into some of the more interesting findings, including a cost comparison between fiber deployments and fixed 5G deployments, a little later, but first let’s cut to the chase: “We have come a long way in the drive to 5G—but as the saying goes—there is still a long way to go,” concludes the report. “As cable operators move Fiber Deeper going to an all passive coax network, the ability to deliver multiple Gbps of capacity to a single home, seems an easier path than building out a FWA [fixed wireless access] millimeter wave architecture.”
Basically, the report concludes that fixed 5G can deliver pretty fast speeds, but that it’s significantly hampered by interference issues, coverage challenges and backhaul and deployment obstacles. It predicts that fixed 5G services might initially be used to deliver services into apartments and other so-called MDUs (multi-dwelling units), and that cable operators might consider using it to reach specific locations more quickly while they build out fiber connections. But Arris and CableLabs definitely don’t present fixed 5G as the panacea that some in the wireless industry have—and they’re not recommending that cable operators immediately switch over to 5G.
So, what do we do?
We do the hardwork and make the long-term descisions to put fiber in the ground. The last mile will be a hybrid solution of fiber, cable, and wireless for years to come. Let’s embrace it fully.
I am a big fan of this Disciplined Agile Framework. These folks have done some great work (even if a bit jargony): http://www.disciplinedagiledelivery.com/
This is an impressive use of machine learning instead of on-the-ground sensors for smart parking.
There are a lot of resources out there on broadband and telecom information. The challenge — as always — is separating signal from noise. The following list of resources are a helpful jumping off point for news, research and analysis on fixed and wireless broadband:
Diffraction Analysis: Google hired this company to analyze what the best broadband models are is in the world.
Baller’s Email List: Jim Baller’s weekly emails roundup everything going on in broadband/telecom as it relates to the FCC.
Next Century Cities: Consortium of cities working together to collect best practices.
Fierce Telecom: Telecom news. They also have separate publications around wireless and cable.
CTC Technology & Energy: CTC Technology & Energy is an independent communications and IT engineering consulting firm with more than 30 years of experience. We work at the highest levels on cutting-edge communications networking projects for public sector
fcc.gov: The Federal Communications Commission does a lot of work to analyze and understand telecom problems. For example, http://www.ecfr.gov/, provides details on complaints from providers on pole attachment issues.
Telecom Ramblings: Potentially a telecom nerds haven — you can often find fiber maps here.
This is ongoing and living list, and we will keep updating as we find better resources.