Coté's Commonplace Book #43
There's an insane block of travel coming up for me in October, and then Asia in November. Figuring out a "road warrior" job is difficult, and I'm constantly asking if that's the life I want, away from family a lot. The perks - pay, seeing people and places, all the frequent traveler benefits, and also getting exposed to lots of customers and their store - is great. But, it'd also be nice to just be a hermit at home, spending most of my time typing away at things and podcasting.
If those things are a cycle: a lot of the content I have to write about comes from traveling and meeting people.
At any rate, I'm happily locked into this work-life for the next few years. It's been the best job I've ever had. Long term, it'd be nice to just be a grounded analyst type, participating through the web, writing up an analysis of what's happening, and getting closer to that Robert Brook state of online life where people only know you by the default profile image...if that.
22 Sep 2018
Strategy, the systems management company lifecycle, or, Adobe didn’t fuck it up! Software Defined Talk #147 — www.softwaredefinedtalk.com There’s lots of monitoring and systems management M&A and funding this week, so we talk about the cycle of systems management companies. It seems like Atlassian is starting up and operations product line with the OpsGeniue acquisition, and PagerDuty has a whopping valuation at $1.3bn. With rumors that Adobe might buy Marketo, Coté recounts the RIA days and how Adobe ended up doing a good job surviving, despite RIA
This is the introduction and explanation of "small batches" from the book I'm working on. Until recently, in this kind of thing, you had to explain why you wanted to change - you know, FANG, "the acceleration of business," and all that. Now, people mostly know, so the introductory material on that is short. This part also includes what I think the end goal of IT change/digital transformation is: putting a small batch process in place to improve the design and usefulness of your software. If you can release software every week, you get a lot of feedback from users on what works and doesn't and can, hopefully, make your software better.
Hey, if you like this stuff, you should tell a friend (or enemy) that they should subscribe to it. Also, we need some more reviews on the iTunes page for Software Defined Talk.
Container Orchestration Market - Global Forecast to 2023, from Research and Markets
The global container orchestration market size is expected to grow from USD 326.1 million in 2018 to USD 743.3 million by 2023, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17.9% during the forecast period.
Composed of: SUSE, Oracle, Microsoft, Red Hat, AWS, Google, Docker, Mesosphere, Rancher Labs, Cisco, Critical Stack, Giant Swarm, Ericsson, Aptible, Kontena, SaltStack, Hashicorp, Shippable, Heroku, Joyent, Pivotal, Cloudify.
Last year in Q4 we issued news about hitting a $50m+ run rate and this year’s Q2 marks our biggest quarter ever, beating our numbers over the last 14 quarters. In fact, according to a recent report from Inc, we are the third fastest-growing software company in the U.S. with a revenue growth of 7,507 percent.
Quest Software Enhances Kace Systems Management Appliance The all in one, mid-market systems management appliance.
Google making private cloud stuff
Google is responding to enterprise computing needs by making custom-designed computers to run in organizations' own data centers, reports The Information. The computers include server, storage and networking functions specifically for "a handful of large customers," according to two sources close to the project in the report.
High churn rate in the S&P 500 Innosight's third study of company's ability to maintain leadership positions estimates that by 2018, 50% of the companies on the S&P 500 will drop off, replaced by competitors and new market entrants. Staying at the top of your market-heap is getting harder and harder. This is often used to show how difficult the business world is now. It's hard enough to get to the top, and hard to stay there.
Barely a third of outsourcing deals are now safe: Window-dressing legacy engagements is over - Enterprise Irregulars
People want to change the nature of outsourcing:
As this year’s State of Operations and Outsourcing study of 381 enterprise operations leaders across the Global 2000 reveals, only 30% of these relationships will continue to operate in the old model, while a similar number will stick with their service provider if they can have a shift towards business outcome pricing and a degree of automation applied. 27% have already given up on shifting the model with their current provider and have declared their attention to switch, while 17% want to end the misery and focus on bringing the work back inhouse, and look to simply automate it.
Agile processes can transform companies from unexpected places: The VGZ success story
At the topic of agile, lean, DevOps, and all that “digital transformation” stuff is a renewed focus on customers and figuring out what they want to give you money for, then making the product as good as possible for them:
VGZ decided to focus its efforts on improving the customer experience. The starting point was not a traditional customer segmentation — the leadership instead decided to focus on understanding and improving customer journeys, specifically the frequency of customer interactions and the impact on the life of customers.
Very “jobs to be done.”
A historic drop, a historic rebound
The current record pace means acquirers are announcing two billion-dollar deals every week, a stunning acceleration compared with announcing fewer than two billion-dollar deals every month when the credit crisis was bottoming out.
Lots to say on my reading this week...
TV mysteries vs. book mysteries
I finished up Sharp Object this week. I liked reading it a lot. I don't get a lot of entertainment reading, which is my own fault. Having watched the TV show, it's fun to contrast how each is structured to tell the same story.
Both are immersive environments, but the TV show can be a lot more spooky and elusive. Expositioning in a book seems fine, but in TV it’d be annoying: instead in TV you show explanations of things instead of describing them. There’s a certain tension that TV can drive with unexplained imagery and flashbacks, but the lack of being clear in a book makes the experience painful: it’s like the third wall being brought down.
Spoiler: there's a long sub-story in the TV series that isn't in the book, the main character's time in a rehab center and her roommate killing herself. This is just mentioned off-hand in the book. That little story did seem to stand out and was odd - it was the only thing of its type in the story. That kind of story just takes me out of the immersion. I liked the book's choice to keep it super-short.
Technology will save you
Chris Dancy's book, Don't Unplug, came out this week, which I'd pre-ordered. Back when he was an IT Management Dude, I did some podcasts with Chris and would see him out and about. He's a good person. His perspective on technology and mindfulness - and, really, overall just being happy with life - is one of the best. Normally, I don't like suffering through autobiographical stuff in a non-fiction book, but it's fun reading about him. I mean, the stuff isn't always "fun," but it's interesting to learn more about him.
Kids don't like the classics, dinosaurs always work, tho
My son and I continue to read The Rise and Fall of Dinosaurs, and I've gotten my daughter to tolerate me reading to Alice in Wonderland to her. I couldn't get my son to do the same. I've been disappointed that my kids aren't into the classic kid books, but little wonder when there's more exciting things to read. I mean, the reason I want to read those classic books is because I didn't (want to?) read them when I was a kid.
I've also been picking away at Wardley's mapping book. It's published as a series of Medium posts (perfect for sticking in Instapaper), as you do. He's a good writer. I'd like to see more examples and cases from other companies, but his photo sharing app is fine as anchor. Then again, littering your business book with cases can also turn out poorly: it gets distracting and the cases seem opportunistic. Shifting voice to another person's writing is the worst; it's what makes that OKR book so intolerable.
How to write
Meanwhile, I started listening to Bird by Bird. So far it's both entertaining as a memoir and useful for writing tips. As ever, the first lesson of writing is to accept that you'll never be published or famous, that you're a shit writer, and that you need to spend years just doing it and getting it better. That always rings a little big like the pro-bloggers telling you that you should just blog for the fun of it, not for money. Have you ever noticed that the people who tell you that you should just do writing as a "hobby" are already successful writers? Hmm...
The book's focus is on fiction, but the same tricks apply to non-fiction. The best one (other than making sure to frequently sit down to write, more on that below) is to just pick a random topic to start writing about, if you're stuck. You have to just start typing, no matter what you're typing about. Eventually, you'll find the thing you were looking for, or it'll find you.
Of course, after a few years when you get better, you can immediately tackle the topic you're writing about. The next level is taking lots of notes, constantly. Then you start with those chunks, maybe just arranging them and writing the transitions between them.
The trick of all of this is that once you start writing - if you have being a writer in your blood - you'll keep writing until your family and friends remind you that they exist and pull yourself away from it. At that point, you need to follow the Hemingway tip: always stop right in the middle of an excellent idea, somewhere that you're happy. That way, when you pick up again the next day, you'll know exactly what needs to be written - you could literally finish a sentence, or just a paragraph - and you'll have unscrewed the jar again and be off to the races.
All writing teachers tell you that you have to to sit down and just start writing. That's true, and the best tip. It sounds stupid and obvious, but you'll come up with numerous reasons to not just sit down and write. They'll be good ones, like bills are due, you need to book some travel, or you're kids have driven you crazy and you can't concentrate.
Writers usually do this early in the morning before other people wake up. Other than getting the writing done, the other goal in writing every day is to get better. You can always be better at writing, and everyone starts as a terrible writer. Very few people become good, less great. It takes a long time to figure out writing well, a long time to figure out getting done writing, and a long time to build up an inner editor that you can apply to your own writing. In my experience, people are way to harsh about their writing. There's a better place you get to where you understand your own writing style and what your readers want. Once you figure that out, your editor makes sure you keep doing that. If you want to be a "writer," as with so many creative things, you have to stop writing for yourself and start writing for your readers, whatever they may be. This is probably why many writers work in different mediums and even use pen-names: it's a way to find new readers so you can write in new styles and on new topics.
I mention this because in all the "how to write stuff" I consumed for about 20 years, I rarely heard anyone discuss discovering your style and then sticking to it. Defining "style" is ellusive. As a writer, you need to be reading constantly, all the time (welcome to that section of the commonplace book!). This exposes you to tricks, forms, and other technique. If you pay attention, and read enough from the same author, you'll also start to understand their style, and this will let you figure out your style. Once you get sort of good at writing, pay close attention to your style as it evolves. Pay attention to parts of your text that people like.
As an example of all this, I'm often told that people love the cold opens I do, just starting right in the middle at the start. I do those on all my podcasts and frequently in my writing. That's very much so a part of my style that I discovered and learned over time, so I do it a lot. Here's a recent example, and here's a place where I goofed it up (I should have just started with the dialog, then explained the scene a few sentences in). I learned that form somewhere along the way, it crystalized back when I listened to The Talk Show, which often does with a cold open.
Anyhow, pay attention to style: others, and your'sen'.
The advice to "sit down and write every day," is actually "sit down and work on your text every day." That may not be typing something new, but just editing and rewriting.
Most of the time, other people are what keeps you from writing. Learn to shut them out, even if you're sitting right next to them. "Other people." Ugh.
Now, if all you do is write for a living, you should sit down every day to write. Maybe this is just to maintain my sanity and self-worth, but if writing is just part of what you do, perhaps you can back off from that. For example, I travel for meetings and conferences a lot. Those meetings and presentations need content, and that has to be worked on. That's my "writing" often, rather than books or columns. I'm more or less OK with this...but I'd rather be just writing (see the intro at the top).
Anyhow, it's a good book if you're interested in writing.