Coté Memo #031: Avoiding Showing Up, Yet Another Private Equity in Tech Story, Cyborgs, and more #VMworld

Title: Coté Memo #031: Avoiding Showing Up, Yet Another Private Equity in Tech Story, Cyborgs, and more #VMworld

Meta-data

Hello again, welcome to #31. Today we have 39 subscribers, so we’re +1. I’d love to hear what you like, dislike, your feedback, etc.: memo@cote.io. (If you’re reading this on the web, you should subscribe to get the daily email.)

See past newsletters in the archives, and, as always, see things as they come at Cote.io and @cote.

Sponsors

Tech & Work World

Quick Hits

It’s a real project if…, or, avoiding showing up to save time

I liked the quick summary of determining if something is a real project or not on this week’s Back to Work. I spend much of time sorting out if I should get involved in a project or not, both internal to 451 and externally. In analyst life, there’s lots of people looking for open-ended projects with no budget, and those become time-sucks that marks like me end-up carrying the water for.

I spend a lot of time observing behavior of other people in the companies I work for, mostly the people who are considered “successful.” What I’ve noticed is that those successful people don’t do much, in a good way. They’re highly selective of the projects they get involved with, and even the email threads they answer.

If you’re the kind of person who subscribes and actually reads this newsletter, you likely have the problem I have: you get bored easily and use work as a way to entertain yourself…instead of using work as a way to get paid. I’ve got to shift more and more of my efforts to that second part, because the first creates a stream of unfinished projects that go nowhere and becomes a terrible loop of boredom on its own.

451’s VMworld 2014 pieces are coming out

The names may have changed, which makes it quite difficult to track both historical usage and forward-looking plans, but at the end of the day marketing departments like to change names to protect the guilty. Whatever the products are called today, or may be called in the future, it is clear that the hypervisor-level technologies that are the basis of VMware’s current market dominance are commoditizing. This provides leverage but no guarantee of future market share for VMware in adjacent markets (management and cloud platforms), which have notable established incumbents and a set of engagement rules that are not necessarily aligned with VMware’s historical success factors.

Hey, don’t worry: that vRealize one is on the kitchen island ready to cook up.

Private Equity, which was the style of the time

All the sudden so many large tech companies are looking to go private. TIBCO did the obligatory hanging out a sign recently, it seems. Of course, I’m sure many are all like “TIBwho?” which is fine (and if you’re a TIBwhu? person, you’ll love this discussion of Compuware!). If you couple this trend with another macro-theory, that IT spending is slowing down, permanently, then you’ve got something slightly interesting. Tech becomes normal.

Fun & IRL

There’s only two days left to upload several years worth of photos to my newly TB’ed Dropbox account. Yup. Try not to do that.

You can tell it’s a real project if…

Eisenhower Matrix

As they cover in this week’s Back to Work, you can tell something is a real project in an organization (aka, “work”) if it has:

  1. A budget
  2. A deadline
  3. An owner

Otherwise, it’s just a “nice to have” and likely in the lower boxes of the Eisenhower time management matrix. I first came across that Eisenhower matrix in The Decision Book, which is sort of like a coffee table book for people who read too many business books.

(There’s a whole app for that matrix – I wonder if it’s good?)

Creative People Say No

parislemon:

Kevin Ashton:

Saying “no” has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined. No guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know. We are not taught to say “no.” We are taught not to say “no.” “No” is rude. “No” is a rebuff, a rebuttal, a minor act of verbal violence. “No” is for drugs and strangers with candy.

I love and agree with everything about this post.

Hey, it’s pretty good framing. It’s like the old programmer saw about how much interruption actually take – 2-3x the time spent in the interruption because you have to get back into “flow.”

I spent a lot of time saying “no” the past week (mostly the email and my own desires to distract myself with meta-work), and ended up writing 5 or so reports. It worked out well.

There’s a whole concept of that “meta-work” that needs to be explored: it’s “meetings,” analyzing team performance in spreadsheets and KPIs, dreaming up marketing support, etc. Stuff that isn’t core production. Once you master avoiding goofing off and get yourself some sort of GTD system in place, that meta-work is the next friendly assassin to watch out for.

Creative People Say No

The hardest thing for most first-time engineering managers is getting used to the fact that the sum of your importance is now far beyond simply the code you write or the infrastructure you design. Your job just got a lot harder, you need to balance more distractions and learn how to keep yourself out of too many critical paths. If your first answer to every problem is “I can just bang that out,” you’re probably doing it wrong. You probably have more meetings to go to, at the very least you need to have 1-1s with everyone who reports to you, ideally once a week. All of a sudden, managing your time will become one of your most critical skills.