Thursday, December 27, 2012

Broad and deep

You can invest your time expanding deep knowledge or broad knowledge.

From a market point of view deep knowledge reinforce your position and broad knowledge expands your territory.

From a business point of view, deep knowledge is not scalable but broad knowledge is. (Few people can acquire a deep knowledge, but everybody can acquire broad knowledge)

From a marketing point of view, deep knowledge is about focused coverage (quality is better than quantity), broad knowledge is about broad coverage. (quantity is better than quality)

As an independant developer, I swear only for deep knowledge but as an entrepreneur I swear only for broad knowledge. A business that only require broad knowledge from its customers can scale, and a business that scale is easier to sell.

The broad knowledge needed for a product to spread is always created by deep knowledge.
Making things simple is only possible when you have both, the vision and the knowledge of the current deepest thing... If it is not deep, then it is already broad, and if it is already broad, you are not making life easier for anyone.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Personal and Autonomous Information System

This is an exciting time. As for now, you don't need any physical stuff to work, except a laptop and a wifi connection.

If you need a complex corporate network environment, cloud make it possible to move everything online. (Infrastructure As A Service, is yet an undervalued progress)

If you need people to do repeatitive tasks, you can create process (human process, or software process) so you can find people fitting your need more easily... everywhere in the world.

If you need to be notified when anything happen, you can use SMS, lightbulb, mails, twitter, facebook with tablet or cellphone or computer or whatever channel of communication you ever want.
Everything exists, the hard part is to decide which notification is important to deserve your attention, and which one should be kept out of your eyes, the technical part of the solution already exist.

You will certainly agree with this point. But like most people, you might not yet use it to your advantage. You might consume killer apps, or using killer website, or killer tablet, but the problem is that you consider it like a tool.
These are not tools, these are part of a personal information system that support your decision and extend your reach. This system should follow you and evolve through your life.
Nobody will have the same system, because nobody have the same life, so you can't expect someone to do it for you.

A business should be considered as an autonomous information system that will integrate with your personal one at the beginning. The goal is to reach the point where you can unplug from this system, without it dying.
An entrepreneur that sells or quits its business that just crash without him is a business failure for the entrepreneur.
With this definition Steve Jobs can be considered an entrepreneur failure if Apple can't stand without him. Whatever the genius in marketing or vision, the great business should thrives without someone holding its hand.

As I've not created any successful business yet, this definition will drive my choices, and is the ultimate metric I need will use to track my progress. Does it stand without me ?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Entrepreneur, self-employee, employee

A big misconception grows in France about the word Entrepreneur.
For the majority of people Entrepreneur is someone that work for himself. So one might argue that consulting and training is entrepreneurship.

Wrong ! This is not entrepreneurship, this is self-employment.

The goal and mind of an entrepreneur is different from a self-employer.
The difference is that : an entrepreneur build a business whereas a self-employer build its job.

So here is a clear definition of what is going on :

An employee is someone that consume a job, and the product of the job is consumable its creates.
The product of a self-employer is his job, and the product of his job is consumable it creates.
The product of an entrepreneur is a business, the product of the business are jobs, and the product of job is consumable it creates.

A business will live and grow without its creator : the entrepreneur.
An entrepreneur and a business are two different entities.

A job and a self-employer is a single entity. Without self-employer, the job dies.

That's a considerable shift in perception. And a hard one for me, because the majority of people does not know what enterpreneurship is, the more you stay at school, the more your environment push you to employement or self-employment. This clear definition was exposed to me thanks to The E-Myth Revisited from Michael E. Gerber.

This remind me what I have read in The Conspiracy of the Rich of Robert T. Kiyosaki about the power of derivative.

A broad definition of a derivative is a substance that can be made from another substance.  For example, orange juice is a derivative of an orange.  

The theory is : the more derivative is your product, the more money you'll get.
In one sentence : A business is a derivative of jobs that are a derivative of consumable.
That's why an employee gets less than a self-employee that gets less than an entrepreneur.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Community that leave the comfort zone

In an extract from Flow from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi , you will find a description given by Richard Kool, about how an Indian tribes of British Columbia lived :

     The Shushwap region was and is considered by the Indian people to be a rich place: rich in salmon and game, rich in below-ground food ressources such as tubers and roots -a plentiful land. In this region, the people would live in permanent village sites and exploit the environs for needed resources. They had elaborate technologies for every effectively using the resources of the environment, and perceived their lives as being good and rich.
Yet, the elders said, at times the world became too predictable and the challenge began to go out of life. Whithout challenge, life had no meaning.
     So the eldes, in their wisdom, would decide that the entire village should move, those moves occurring every 25 to 30 years. The entire population would move to a different part of the Sushwap land and there, they found challenge. There were new streams to figure out, new game trails to learn, new areas where the balsamroot would be plentiful.
Now life would regain its meaning and be worth living. Everyone would feel rejuvenated and healthy. Incidentally, it also allowed exploited resources in one area to recover after years of harvesting...

As most fear changes, and fight for status quo, they forget that growth is multiplied in the unknown.
As some fear the unknown, this is the only place that help to stretch the mind.
The mind is lazy, socially and genetically programmed.  Burning safety boat, and leaving comfort zone is the only way to make it grows.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Flow : the activity does not matter, purpose does

While reading Flow : The psychology of Optimal Experience of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (I'm lucky I don't have to pronunce it), I've had some of these "ah ah" moment.

As I often noted, when I was employee, I had good customer, good boss, good co-workers, and yet disatisfied.
In fact, the whole activity of programming has been boring from the very day I did it for money.

The book gave me the words for the reason of this problem : Autotelic and exotelic experience.
Autotelic experience is all activities that you do for its own sake.
But you can also do the very same activity for an external reason like example making money, which is an exotelic experience.

Flow, the state of complete concentration where you forget the self, seems to occur when it is composed of four parts:
  • Immediate feedback,
  • Autotelic experience,
  • Clear vision where to go,
  • Your skills match the task (ie,  you are not bored and not anxious)
This explains why current best practices from software development world works so well !
Unit testing, and iterative development, improve feedback.
Fast, and frequent shipping not only develop feedback but also add clarify your vision.

Coding is fun, I have an autotelic experience whenever I open Visual Studio, and I can speak with other coders about code during hours.
However, if I start doing it for money, it stops become exotelic.

If you want to know whether you have autotelic experience, just ask yourself : If I was millionaire, would I continue what I am doing ?

If you have autotelic experience, you keep procrastinating and that you know you have the skills to do the task, you lack clear vision. A clear vision is what a manager should give to his team, and when you are working by yourself, you need to use the manager part of your brain, so the worker part of your brain can achieve flow.