“My Performance Review (and An Expense Report)”— How do you figure out if you’re doing a good job in a staff role like the one I had when I was billg’s technical assistant. It is more difficult than it might seem. New post in “Hardcore Software” 1/ …rdcoresoftware.learningbyshipping.com/p/030-my-perfo…
2/ Tempting to think you sit down with the CEO, talk through specific goals, then measure progress during 1:1s and so on.

But all of that is very high overhead for a CEO, especially one not pre-disposed to management :-)

As a staff person you want to amplify performance…
3/ But if doing so takes a lot of time and effort from the principle it might be costly. So you have to adapt your work style to their style and just “deal with it”.

That’s what I did. So we met almost never even though we shared a wall—we used email/ writing.
4/ Some will disagree with and talk about the amplification that comes from spending time directing and managing staff. The challenge I felt, perhaps wrongly, was that always ended up taking time away from other employees, customers, partners, etc. So this is one way of working.
5/ It is a very interesting challenge that comes from a staff role. Also just as interesting is getting expense reports approved, so there’s a little story about that. // END

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More from @stevesi

2 Jun
In Peter Drucker's 1954 classic "The Practice of Management" he described the role of the CEO as being a combination of the right level of outside, inside, and action focus arrived at through management by objectives. 1/ excerpt.
In a later work this is refined (American CEO series in WSJ) he described the importance of an outside role and then a bridge to inside. 2/ wsj.com/articles/SB110… CEOs have ultimate responsibility for the work of everybody
This is a great framework but the problem is finding all of these in one person can be daunting or impossible resulting in disappointment/failure.

Also holds not just for CEO but for any sort of divisional or business leadership role (eg in charge of a whole biz). 3/
Read 5 tweets
1 Jun
With the excitement over the "Friends" reunion, I wanted to share this video, "The Windows 95 Video Guide" which was released with Windows 95 in August 1995. It aged just about as well as Friends. 1/

Windows 95 Video Guide (1995)
2/ If you're curious about just how much "crap" people went through to use a computer 25 years ago then this is a wonderful time capsule.

There's a section on 20 FAQs and each one is a tech support nightmare. Also, constant reminders about tech support in general.

Example: How does Windows 95 connect to the internet?Three option: The Microsoft Network, Microsoft PlusManually connect: obtain and internet PPP or SLIP account Us
3/ There are other fantastic questions such as "Can Windows 95 run Macintosh software" tl;dr, NO.
Read 6 tweets
31 May
The list of things people repeat as if they are evil or some secret plan continues to surprise me: “ads”, private label, loss leaders, loyalty cards/benefits, price incentives…Amazon generational innovation is in distribution and efficiency, like every mass market retailer ever.
October 2003. What did Walmart do? Focus on distribution and efficiency. Everything they did had been done before, just not as well.
Set in 1990 -- Walmart competing with legendary K-Mart.
Read 10 tweets
31 May
Telling the Untold Story in "Hardcore Software" (inside the rise and fall of the PC revolution) tells the story of Microsoft's famous pivot to the Internet. Writing on @substack draws out fun stories from a community of readers adding even more. Example: …rdcoresoftware.learningbyshipping.com/p/029-telling-…
2/ Shared the behind the scenes details of a cover story in July '96 BusinessWeek magazine giving a timeline of events leading to Microsoft's big bet on open internet technologies (aka "embrace and extend"). Story opened with this quote from the employee newsletter, _MicroNews_. Magazine cover of businessweekFirst page of article. Has "Inside Microsoft: The untol
3/ I got a note from former Microsoftie Dean Ballard, former developer on the TrueType team (and among other things named Trebuchet typeface). Turns out DeanBal authored "Battle Hymn" which he documents here including a fun series of MicroNews letters. deanbal.net/hymn/hymn.htm Full text of Battle Hymn reproduced from the original MicroN
Read 8 tweets
27 May
Narratives are a powerful concept that make difficult concepts easy (and even fun, interesting) for us to understand. BUT they also come with some rish—risk from abstracting out important details and context that might diverge from facts. This happens quite a bit… 1/
2/ I want to talk about this in context of business because there's a lot going on where compelling narratives are taking hold, which sound like big problems or a lesson from business history but might hold us back collectively from finding solutions or understnading challenges.
3/ This is not a new problem and to be clear it isn't one to ascribe to malice. In fact it is most always a simple form of confirmation bias or "that just makes sense" combined with a bit of "if that's true it fits super well with a broader narrative." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmat…
Read 23 tweets
25 May
What did a corporate network look like in 1994? Here are some slides I made in the summer of 1994 for the interns. MS had 35,000 PCs sending 12.2 million email messages a month. Also, MS had 23 mini computers and a mainframe with 3.2 terabytes of disk space. 1/ End user stats such as 35,000 PCsOperations includes 22,000 batch jobsThe network itself has 35,000 nodes and 80km of fiber.The network topology is a hub and spoke from redmond.
2/ Why is this so interesting? Because companies around the world were building out networks like this right when the Internet arrived. The Internet upended how to think about connectivity. A BigCo connected to the internet versus making its own Intranet.
3/ Many of us were incredibly excited by the opportunity the Internet brought us. Sitting in a hallway outside a the TCP/IP Dev Manager's office was Microsoft's FTP server. No demand gen. Spontaneous usage! FTP Server usage 65000 users every week downloading 280000 f
Read 7 tweets

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