Discover more from Coté's Wunderkammer
“I’m sorry I made you wait. But, I was busy making you wait.”
What The AI has to say about layoffs, lots of links, and crapbooking...
Let’s just get right to it:
Thanks for reading Coté's Wunderkammer! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Relevant to your interests
What Top Tech Leaders Are Saying About Multi-Cloud Security, IT Innovation and Efficiency - “50% of enterprise technology executives strongly agree that their tech architecture can quickly support major changes to business strategies.” // Also, questions on security stuff.
Take control of the story you tell about yourself - Three themes you should put in your self-story to make you, I guess, happier: agency/control, redemption/growth/improvement, and competence. I’m a cautious believer in the “fake until you make it” theory of mental health - this take of making the story of yourself better seems like a more realistic approach. I mean, it’s all self-brainwashing bullshit, but why not?
The Executive Target Persona - Part Two - More on running executive dinner events for tech company marketing/account and community building, from Hinada.
Gartner Survey Identifies the Top 10 Priorities for CFOs in 2023 - 68% is still pretty high, but putting “improve how we work day to day,” to rephrase it, last seems like a bummer for the people who are Excel’ing and .pptx’ing all day.
to be my self is to be lonely - “My loneliness is more of an existential loneliness: I feel alone in this world, as though I don’t relate to most human beings – this is something that is actually made worse with social interaction, because being around people amplifies how out of place I am.” // The rest gets a little “dark” if you look at it from a normie perspective, but if you’re open to different ways of, like, being, it’s a pretty good case study of whatever way of being this is.
Eliminating non-compete clauses in the US - “The agency estimated that the rule could increase wages by nearly $300 billion a year across the economy. Evan Starr, an economist at the University of Maryland who has studied noncompetes, said that was a plausible wage increase after their elimination.”
Are people actually paying for email newsletters? - Who knows, but I hope so.
Netflix Revokes Some Staff’s Access to Other People’s Salary Information - The Wall Street Journal - Compensations eats culture for breakfast. // “The pay-transparency change was made in part because the number of directors had ballooned in recent years as the company kept growing, some of the people said. Some executives felt they should be paid more based on their title because colleagues at similar levels received higher compensation, even if their roles were different, some of the people said”
What TNS Readers Want in 2023: More DevOps, API Coverage - The New Stack - Ideas for your tech writing in 2023.
Salesforce and Slack don’t seem to have compelling synergies? - This doesn’t really cover any new integrations, features, or even go-to-market strategy to realize “synergies” post-acquisition. Does anyone know what the two have tried? We discuss this in the podcast this week as well.
“Where do CFOs hangout?” Find that community - some useful responses among goof-replies.
Faster RSS Subscribing with Feed Hawk - I’ve used the Feed Hawk app for so many years that I don’t think about it. But it’s essential for my reading workflow.
Engage with my brand!
Aloha to your strategy, Software Defined Talk #396 - This week we discuss digital transformation at Southwest and Delta Airlines, Shopify cancels all meetings, Salesforce’s M&A strategy, and A.I. is everywhere. Plus, thoughts on bike lanes… // Tons of links in the show notes too.
Coming unstuck: addressing bottlenecks in the software supply chain - some highlights from my list of common digital transformation bottlenecks
Upcoming, free conference for developers, ops, and executives who manage software
I’ve spent a lot of time this year helping out with our annual conference, SpringOne. It’s January 24th to 26th. If you’re a developer, doing operations, DevOps tooling and platform engineering stuff, or an executive in charge of getting better at software, you’ll get a lot of useful info.
Do all the IBM Watson people out there have some lessons learned for commercializing AI?
Take from a student in using The AI for school: it’s useless for cheating because you don’t get citations. Tracking them down would take too long. On the other hand, why not cite ChatGPT if you use it like you would Wikipedia, or having a conversation with a meatGPT?
If AI generates content dominates, brand and individual voices matter more. Just as with soap and lumber, that kind of brand-think is how people can differentiate AI-created commodity content from real, “luxury” content. Another example is Internet cooking: the brand of Kenji and his like is so much stronger than the rando recipe-bilge you find in Google. As Tyler Cowen would so: be more weird. (Ideas taken from this week’s Sharp Tech).
Speaking of: CNET Is Quietly Publishing Entire Articles Generated By AI - “AP’s justification for using AI — and a talking point being adopted across the industry — is that it frees up journalists and other staff from having to write tedious recaps. In reality, it’s hard to believe that the technology would forever be limited to a cure to tedium and never intrude on “real” writing jobs.”
Another Proof of Concept
I work with a PR agency that VMware employes on occasional thought-leader pieces (see the one linked above!). They pitch ideas at me, we discuss them, and then write them together (they do a first draft and I go in and do a fair amount of editing/rewriting). It’s great stuff and I appreciate all the work they do.
I took one of our recent brainstorming outlines and asked OpenAI to write an 800 word article. The result doesn’t have my voice/style at all. There’s plenty of room for a human to come in and make it better. But, really, it’s good enough for voice-less thought leadership pieces, LinkedIn posts, and also a great start. Like I keep saying, anything that gets you past the hurdle of a blank screen is welcome to people who write.
One novel thing a human could do is add in more links, especially with some lateral thinking of finding links that don’t seem related but…are. (hahaha! I just did some lateral thinking to throw in a link about lateral thinking!)
Anyhow. Here’s the prompt/outline and then what OpenAI wrote:
When I pasted it into the playground, it lost the outline formatting - it’s worth thinking about what kind of extra guidance a structured outline would give the AI.
Can you write an 800 word article out of the following outline? Here is the outline: Why layoffs are the last thing tech companies should be doing right now Late 2022 has seen a series of layoffs from big tech companies, which has sparked concerns about an upcoming face of cyclical unemployment. This temporary response does not take into account what will happen when the economy recovers and demand increases. These same companies will suddenly be complaining that they can’t hire the right people and developer skills are lacking. So, if these companies aren’t careful, they’re going to fall into a cyclical trap which could hinder future projects, halting business growth. So what is the real impact of layoffs, cyclical unemployment and how can it be prevented? The negative impact of layoffs: Redundancies have several negative effects - they can spook investors, the company loses valuable skills, and surviving employees feel uncertain Skills shortage: 68% of the digital leaders in the UK said a lack of skills is standing in their way, so companies need to realise that their IT staff and developers may not be so easy to replace a few months or years down the line Changing perceptions: Businesses should not think of their tech projects as temporary or one-offs but instead as ongoing products that support their business which need maintaining, evolving in order to become more valuable and worthwhile Macro-headwinds come and go, but a business’ needs for software that runs it and makes it better are constant.
This is unchanged, so, you know, a little awkward. You can see how it flattens out my style with the economics jargon: when I use terms like “headwinds” and “macro,” I’m being kind of a snarky-jerk.
As tech companies continue to layoff employees in late 2022, there is growing concern about the potential for a period of cyclical unemployment. This response may seem sensible in the short-term, as companies look to reduce costs, but when the economy recovers and demand increases, these same companies will be complaining about skills shortages and difficulty in hiring the right people. This is why it is important for companies to understand the potential for cyclical unemployment and take steps to prevent it.
The negative impact of layoffs is far-reaching. Redundancy can spook investors, resulting in a decrease in share prices and a drop in morale for the surviving employees. These layoffs also mean that companies lose valuable skills and experience, which can be difficult to replace in the future. These people are often the most experienced and knowledgeable, and not having them around can be detrimental to the business. As a result, many employees may find themselves feeling uncertain and unsure of their future with the company.
It is not just the loss of experienced employees that companies need to be wary of. A survey of digital leaders in the UK found that 68% said they were facing a lack of skills needed to deliver digital projects. This highlights the need for companies to consider the long-term implications of how they use their IT staff and developers. While it may be tempting to think of tech projects as one-off, temporary initiatives, businesses should instead be looking at them as ongoing products that support the company and need to be maintained and evolved.
Cyclical unemployment can be prevented if companies take the time to think through their decisions and plan for the future. This means having a clear strategy for hiring, retaining and developing tech talent. Companies should also think of their projects as ongoing investments, rather than one-off initiatives. It is also important to be aware of macro-headwinds that may be affecting the market and plan accordingly.
In conclusion, while layoffs may be a tempting option for tech companies in the short-term, it is important to be aware of the potential for cyclical unemployment and the negative impact that it can have. Companies should focus on retaining their most experienced and knowledgeable staff, and think of their tech projects as ongoing investments that need to be maintained and evolved. By doing this, companies will be able to prevent cyclical unemployment and future-proof their business.
We worked on this idea last month before I read this excellent interview on this topic from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about. If you mixed in some of the quotes, facts, and study stuff from that piece (with full attribution to be ethical and, like, kind), I bet you’d get a pretty phenomenal piece after some human attention.
Need to modernize your software? Use the methodology in this free book I co-wrote.
Most organizations have to slow down their software releases - or stall out entirely! - because of the shackles of success: that older software that runs their business but that's gotten a bit...mature. Marc Zottner and I recently wrote up the methodology many large enterprises have used to escape the legacy trap, showing results in weeks instead of years. You can read our free ebook here.
Compensations eats culture for breakfast. Alternative version: “culture eats strategy for breakfast; but compensation kills culture in its sleep.”
“I’m sorry I made you wait. But, I was busy making you wait.” Slow Horses, s2e4
Two of my replies to canceled things at work: (1) “I love not doing things!” (2) “A canceled meeting is my favorite type of meeting.”
My son is at the age (12/13) where he think’s it’s funny to do a harmless thing after we ask him to not do it. Like, “don’t eat the rest of that smoked salmon, I’m going to eat it” and then he takes a tiny bite and does a silly dance. I have to remember that this is not a jerk move, just him figuring out humor. (Also, you wouldn’t believe how territorial I am about food. Well, maybe you would.)
I’ve been thinking about those co-worker who always says their schedule is full and don’t have time for ad hoc projects. Often this is someone I’d like to get some content from: a practitioner who could write-up, say, how to do pair programming or a case study. When they say know because “my backlog is full” it’s obviously annoying to me. But I’m starting to think it’s a good idea: focus on your own stuff. Don’t let other people drive your priorities and schedule.
“I’ve seen some people call these YouTube poops, which is a style of absurdist video content where you mash together a bunch of clips and effects, but that’s not what these are really” here.
When my kids start a sentence with “to be honest…” I usually would rather them not be.
This is the time of year when you have to report on your work from last year. And you’re always reminded that all those dashboards, OKR tracking, business intelligence tool, and other office worker productivity tracking is mostly bullshit. Spreadsheet and copy/paste are the only tools you have. Related, a checklist for this stuff.
I tried a new section order this episode. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I like doing, what makes me happy. Two of those things are:
Reading my RSS feeds, newsletters, and such stuff each morning. I get up around 6am before everyone else, have some coffee (OK, probably too much coffee) and read all my stuff. I cannot tell you how much joy this brings to me - it’s probably the highlight of my day. So, I thought I’d put the links first. You’re sort of not supposed to do this: you don’t want your readers clicking away from your content first thing. But I don’t do that when I read, for example, Today in Tabs, I’m not an idiot: I click on the link, read it, and then go back from the next link. Anyhow, I hope you like the good stuff up top.
Publishing is my other favorite thing to do. This means creating content, but the publishing part is needed - otherwise you’re just “crapbooking,” journaling at best. I always enjoyed blogging and, arguably, turned it into a career. Anyhow: I should probably prioritize doing this newsletter daily-ish. I suspect it’d drive more subscribers, more people reading my stuff, and rebuild some kind of community. I don’t like to promise schedules in public, but we’ll see. (It’d certainly shorten these, if you’re into the whole brevity thing.)
Thanks for reading Coté's Wunderkammer! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.