What is a Technical Co-Founder?

April 8, 2017 § Leave a comment

Most successful startups require both a technical “hacker” and a relational “hustler” to bring them to life.  One common pattern is that a “hustler” has access to ideas and potential funding and looks for a “technical co-founder” to join him or her,  through a process often compared to finding a spouse.

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Agile as Organizational Therapy

November 11, 2015 § Leave a comment

Agile is a meaningless buzzword for many because it is perceived as an answer in search of a question.  Too often, Agile is “cargo-culted” into an organization as an imposed process without first developing a deep understanding of what problems need to be solved.  True progress only happens when the solution is aligned with the problems people actually care about.

To make that happen, we need to take our organizations though a therapeutic process of surfacing and dealing with the hidden pains and frustrations than prevent top performance.  The good news is that we could use the same principles of agile to get us there.

  1. Agree on a Vision
  2. Define a Deliverable
  3. Commit to a Process

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Transforming the Bay with Christ: A Platform Analysis

February 24, 2015 § 5 Comments

My series of four articles (plus a postscript) analyzing the regional spiritual renewal initiative Transforming the Bay with Christ:

  1. A Platform for Regional Transformation?
  2. From Platforms to Governance
  3. Trading Control for Authority
  4. The Process for Products
  5. TBC Postscript: A Missional Creed

TBC 2: From Platforms to Governance

February 6, 2015 § 7 Comments

In our first installment of my series on Transforming the Bay with Christ (TBC), we talked about how platforms enable us to tackle problems and markets too big for any one entity to manage directly. Because of that, though, it is much harder to create a successful platform than it is to create a successful program. In this installment, we will talk about how to do that.

Characteristics of a Platform

The first thing to realize is that every platform is characterized by three distinct but interrelated factors:

  • Policy (governance)
  • Incentives (business)
  • Infrastructure (engineering)

The health of a platform is determined by how well these three factors support each other and the overall purpose of the platform.

This has two interesting implications:

  • Every complex human system (states, markets, corporations, etc.) can be considered a platform
  • The reason most platforms fail is that “wonks, suits, and geeks” only worry about their layer of the platform (politics, economics, or technology, respectively) and tend to despise or ignore the others

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A Universal Problem Solving Process

February 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

  1. Feel Concern
  2. Frame Question
  3. Find Authority
  4. Interpret Answer
  5. Implement Solution

Back up as needed and repeat until concern is fully addressing.

The Innovator’s Restaurant: Architecting for Creativity

June 1, 2012 § 1 Comment

Andrew Dunn from Insight Labs recently posted a call for metaphors about Iterating imagination:

Creativity. Structure. The two are normally thought to be at odds. But for a large organization to produce imaginative results again and again, it must have a structure that anticipates reinvention.

He listed four models they came up with:

  • Church and Statethese two ways of thinking access different parts of the brain and people with radically different skill sets
  • Turn! Turn! Turn!The relationship between reinvention and maximization is a natural cycle
  • Planned Obsolescenceafter a set period,  switch to reinvention mode and rebuild the strategy
  • The Star Within a Star: the overall system is built in a way to blow things up again and again
These aren’t bad metaphors for organizational structure.  But, as I told Benedict Nelson, I fear they miss the most important point.

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