Managed Dissatisfaction – seek & destroy.

Love this:

Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, has a name for this prison and what it does to the people trapped inside it: managed dissatisfaction. “The traditional entertainment ecosystem is built on it, and it’s a totally artificial concept,” says Hastings. “The point of managed dissatisfaction is waiting. You’re supposed to wait for your show that comes on Wednesday at 8PM, wait for the new season, see all the ads everywhere for the new season, talk to your friends at the office about how excited you are.” If it’s a movie, he adds, you wait till the night it opens, you wait for the pay-channel window, you wait for it to come to cable. Waiting means pent-up demand, millions of people watching the same thing at the same time, preferably at night, when they’re pliant with exhaustion and ready to believe they need the stuff being hawked in all those commercials. Waiting, Hastings says, is dead.

Nancy Hass – And the Award for the Next HBO Goes to… – GQ, Feb 2013



Edit: Evidently this is a PS job – closer inspection shows faithful use of known M series performance bolt ons. Here’s the actual straight 4 Series original and M parts. Still, I hope they deliver something like the above – design language pushes the right buttons.



Moon shots and what other people are doing.

Google’s Larry Page on Why Moon Shots Matter | Wired Business |

Dig this. Very similar to Jeff Bezos saying that at Amazon they don’t base what they’re going to do by waking up each morning and thinking about what everyone else is going to do. In terms of building innovation and market success, I think you’re better served focusing on people and how their problems / needs are inadequately addressed rather than what competitors are doing per se. It’s a subtle distinction and you can get caught up in the latter when trying to assess the former, but if you’ve really identified a need and worked up a solution to it, it is almost irrelevant whatever else there is on the market. Sure your sample size may not know of what’s out there and you’d get into trouble out of having the same ignorance, but that doesn’t happen if you’ve done your homework.

Other choice cuts: having “a healthy disregard for the impossible” as a leader and needing both engineering genius and commercial pragmatism when building remarkable things:

PARC had a tremendous research organization and they invented many of the tools of modern computing. But they weren’t focused on commercialization. You need both. When I was growing up, I wanted to be an inventor. Then I realized that there’s a lot of sad stories about inventors like Nikola Tesla, amazing people who didn’t have much impact, because they never turned their inventions into businesses.



Would you rather fight 100 duck sized Predators or 1 Predator sized duck?

Job Applicants Cultural Fit Can Trump Qualifications – Businessweek.

Someone asked Arnold Schwarzenegger this in his Reddit AMA:


The trend in the above Businessweek article has me wondering if questions like this will now work their way into candidate evaluations.

From a leadership / organizational design perspective, I’m of two minds on this trend. On one hand, I firmly believe that functional qualifications performed in a professional manner should be the most important consideration in hiring. Can you do the job we need you to do and are you a decent human being while doing so?

I think market supply & demand is part of the reason why hiring can tilt towards the absurd and start to resemble dating. When there are plenty of qualified candidates to pick from, you can get away with additional decision making criteria that at other times would be considered irrelevant fluff.

I can’t remember which company it was, but recall a CEO saying that they considered whether they could see grabbing a beer with someone in their evaluation process. I love connecting with people in that kind of thing, but really? That’s what’s important to consider when sizing up an accountant or quality assurance lead? I love talking about good books, movies, and music but is that a key predictor of work performance or cocktail party conversation performance?

It’s a perfectly legitimate reason / gut feel heuristic to parse a pile of candidates based on who you like most. Obviously it’s much better to work with people you connect with. Chemistry and cohesion makes problem solving and teamwork easier. Cultural fit is incredibly important in building companies and products.

But I think aiming for an overly homogenized population undermines collective problem solving capacity and creativity. I’d rather have people with diverse perspectives and abilities, willing to go to bat for what they believe in and respecting each other as professionals enough to let the best thinking win. You can’t learn or do anything new if everyone is saying the same thing. As a product leader I’d rather encourage healthy debate and intervene when it isn’t. I’d rather have products built by people who bring very different things to the table and collectively create something richer than a uniform group. It is a good check & balance in human systems to have people who tend to question consensus, whether they have a rational case or it is just a personality disposition. Good ideas and thinking can withstand that acid test.

Some organizational and product problems stem directly from the fact that there is no new blood to show how things could be done differently. Say the team has an easy going, laugh it off group personality. They might simply tolerate things that could be better. People who reject inadequate reality and might not fit with that culture, but could bring about more meaningful change. Same goes for people who have worked together in various ventures – group output tends to be constrained to a particular range and new blood might help take things in different directions. Do what you always do, get what you always get.

Obviously there is a politically wise, grown up, diplomatic way to bring about change – more organizational judo than throwing furniture and tantrums. Anyone who has led this kind of change knows it’s neither a sprint nor a marathon but a mix of both.

But before things go too far in building teams of people who are exactly the same, I think it wise to consider whether product and organizational results would be improved by diversity rather than just adding more clones and drones.



How the Legal System Failed Aaron Swartz–and Us : The New Yorker

Cogent argument from Tim Wu of Columbia Law School comparing how Aaron Swartz was treated relative to Steve Jobs and Wozniak. Two who arguably did “worse” things but ended up revered examples of hacker culture and innovators.

This case has been on my mind lately. Beyond the visceral reaction to someone killing themselves because their circumstances felt that wrong / insurmountable or that they fell through the cracks of their support network. I don’t have a fully cogent intellectual conviction on the matter, but at a gut level, I think information / knowledge deserves to be free and shared – the rise of the Internet itself or even technology trends like file sharing and MOOCs are testament to that. The basic currency of the web is the link and copying data from one place to another. The basic activity people do on the web is sharing and consuming content and information. Current laws stifle innovation, creativity and exchange, rewarding practices that ultimately short change consumers and the market. And those who question current reality are exactly the ones who do epic things to better it.

In this sense, Swartz must be compared to two other eccentric geniuses, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who, in the nineteen-seventies, committed crimes similar to, but more economically damaging than, Swartz’s. Those two men hacked A.T. & T.’s telephone system to make free long-distance calls, and actually sold the illegal devices (blue boxes) to make cash. Their mentor, John Draper, did go to jail for a few months (where he wrote one of the world’s first word processors), but Jobs and Wozniak were never prosecuted. Instead, they got bored of phreaking and built a computer. The great ones almost always operate at the edge.


via How the Legal System Failed Aaron Swartz–and Us : The New Yorker.