Contributing to Company Values

A friend/former colleague of mine is starting a company, and from the outset he wants to codify values by which the organization will be run.

After drafting a proposed set of values and principles, he reached out to a few folks to provide input. I feel quite strongly about such things (codifying leadership principles and structure? sign me up!), so I appreciated the opportunity to weigh in and to contribute something to what could well become one of the region’s hottest tech companies in the coming years.

In this post, I’ll share some of my comments and the reasoning behind them.

Unsurprisingly, there’s a recurring theme of accountability, empowerment, and discipline.

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Posted in Everything, Leadership, Management

Book Report: The Inner Lives of Markets

inner-lives-of-markets“Markets are a means of resource allocation, and often a really effective one at that. But they’re not good for everything – or at least not without a lot of engineering and tweaking. That’s something both free-market advocates, as well as those who find markets wholly repugnant, need to hear. We need to develop the wisdom to know when to deploy the market in some situations and not in others. This requires developing a better understanding of what markets can and can’t accomplish and entertaining their strengths and shortcomings with an open mind.” (The Inner Lives of Markets)

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Posted in Books, Everything, Marketing, Math and Science

What’s in a name? A curiously long post about naming things.

2000px-Hello_my_name_is_sticker.svgI cannot stress this point enough: everything needs a name! And everything will get a name, whether consciously (i.e., thought went into it) or not (i.e., whatever term happened to pop into someone’s head when he entered it into a task list)

In my career at Sandvine, and setting aside particular titles, in thirteen years I had three roles:

  • Product Manager (individual contributor)
  • Product Marketing Manager (individual contributor)
  • Leader of the Product Marketing team

In all three roles, I dealt to some degree with naming ‘stuff’: when I was a Product Manager, we didn’t have a Product Marketing team, so naming decisions were left to us; later, the Product Marketing team took over naming, and I took over the Product Marketing team.

Naming ‘stuff’ is something with which many companies and individuals struggle, because it’s rarely simple or straightforward. And things were no different at Sandvine. Due largely to a combination of past choices over a fairly long history, inconsistency, corporate philosophies, breadth of ‘stuff’, lack of clear ownership, and other factors, naming was always a loaded, hot-button topic.

After a particularly contentious discussion (which ultimately ended positively), in December of 2012 I banged out a long collection of thoughts on the subject and distributed it to some internal stakeholders.

This post is that long collection. It’s curiously long, in fact, but if you work with names, then it’s probably worth a read…even if you just want to argue with me. If you’re just starting out with naming, either as an individual contributor or as a company, then it’ll show you how much complexity can emerge.

So, what’s in a name? More than you probably think…

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Posted in Everything, Leadership, Marketing

A Naming Success Story for the Ages

When you come up with the right name, it’s like that name was there all along, and all you had to do was look in its direction, then it’d march right up, shake your hand, introduce itself, and smack you in the face for taking so long to find it.

A few days ago, I wrote about a concept I’d pitched back in 2010 while I was a Product Marketing Manager at Sandvine: to use market-friendly product, technology, and feature names as part of an overall strategy aimed at more effectively communicating our solution differentiation. As you know by now (if you read that post), the proposal got squashed.

A couple of years later, the marketing department reported into a different executive – our CTO, Don Bowman. One day, on his wildly entertaining and (occasionally) educational internal blog, Don explained a problem he’d noticed.

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Posted in Careers, Marketing

Book Report: Scale

scale-cover“Even though the conceptual and mathematical structure of the growth equation is the same for organisms, social insect communities, and cities, the consequences are quite different: sublinear scaling and economies of scale that dominate biology lead to stable bounded growth and the slowing down of the pace of life, whereas superlinear scaling and increasing returns to scale that dominate socioeconomic activity lead to unbounded growth and to an accelerating pace of life.” (Scale)

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Posted in Books, Everything, Math and Science

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Our VP of Product Management said something to the effect of, “This is a great idea, Lee!”…and he couldn’t have been more supportive in his tone.

baseball-player-pitcher-ball-163487In September (or October) of 2010, at one of our quarterly marketing offsite meetings, I pitched an idea.

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Posted in Leadership, Marketing

Book Report: The Only Rule Is It Has To Work

the-only-rule-is-it-has-to-work“This was the ugly part of the stats-vs.-tradition debate in baseball: Rather than a conversation about the best way to make baseball decisions, it had become an argument, in which it increasingly felt as if the purpose was to score points by humiliating one’s opponent. So far as I could tell, nobody had ever changed his mind about anything in an argument. Dale Carnegie was way ahead of me: ‘If you tell them they are wrong,’ he wrote, ‘do you make them want to agree with you? Never! For you have struck a direct blow at their intelligence, judgment, pride and self respect. That will make them want to strike back. But it will never make them want to change their minds. If you are going to prove anything, do it so subtly that no one will feel that you are doing it.'” (The Only Rule Is It Has To Work)

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Posted in Books, Everything, Leadership, Management, Math and Science, Sports

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