Friday, November 20, 2009

10 Reasons Your Team Hates You

Mike Figliuolo of thoughtLEADERS, LLC says workers often are less happy with their bosses than they let on. "If you don't start fixing some of these behaviors, you might end up with a mutiny on your hands," he writes. Here's Mike's list of 10 obstacles to a happy team.

  1. You Don't Prioritize - If everything is important, the team can't focus on critical tasks.
    The Fix: Force yourself to rank each task, dividing them evenly between high medium, and low. Honor that list.

  2. You Treat Them Like Employees - If you know nothing about your team as people, they know it.
    The fix: Take the time to learn some details. No faking this one.

  3. You Don't Fight For Them - Then you don't stand up for people, you lose their trust.
    The Fix: Get someone that raise they deserve. Get that cool new project approved. Let them know.

  4. You Don't Model Balance - You say weekends are precious for families, then bombard them with email on Sunday afternoon.
    The Fix: Take a day off -- or learn how to do "delayed send" so your messages won't go out until Monday morning.

  5. You Never Relax - Negative or stressful energy transfers to others.
    The Fix: Let them know you're human. Laugh, when appropriate.

  6. You Micromanage - They have no room to make decisions on their own.
    The Fix: Pick a few low risk projects; commit to doing nothing unless being asked for help.

  7. You're A Suck-up - This shows a lack of spine -- and could mean you expect the same from them.
    The Fix: Try kicking up, and kissing down.

  8. You Treat Them Like Mushrooms - In the dark, fed manure.
    The Fix: Share information within reason. You aren't 007.

  9. You Don't Get Your Hands Dirty - You're great at assigning work. Doing work? Not so much.
    The Fix: Pick a smaller project and do it yourself.

  10. You're Indecisive - Flip-flopping is not leadership.
    The Fix: Acknowledge you might make a mistake, but move ahead.
To read more from Mike, visit thoughtLEADERS, LLC.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

This list of "7 Lessons from a Marketing Genius" was created by Carmine Gallo, author of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience.

Plan in analog
  1. Jobs prepares presentations in the world of pen and paper. He brainstorms, sketches and draws on whiteboards.
  2. Exact messages are decided on for new products, and used consistently across all platforms: presentations, Web sites, advertisements, press releases, and even the banners than are unfurled after Jobs' keynote.
Create Twitter-friendly Headlines
  1. Can you describe your product or service in 140 characters? Jobs offers a headline, or description, for every product; each fits in a Twitter post.
  2. Introducing the MacBook Air in January, 2008, he said, "The world's thinnest notebook." More information was available, but you already knew a lot.
Introduce the Antagonist
  1. In every classic story, the hero fights the villain. The same holds true for a Steve Jobs presentation.
  2. Before he introduced the famous "1984" ad, Jobs said, "IBM wants it all." Apple would be the only company to stand in its way. A villain allows the audience to rally around the hero -- you, your ideas and your product.
Stick to the Rule of Three
  1. The human brain can absorb three or four chunks of information at any one time. Too much information, people won't remember a thing. Every Steve Jobs presentation is divided into three parts.
  2. On September 9, 2009, Jobs returned after a medical leave. He had three things to discuss: iPhone, iTunes and iPods.
Strive for Simplicity
  1. Apple chief design architect Jonathan Ive said Apple's products eliminate clutter. The same philosophy applies to Apple's marketing and sales material.
  2. Most of Steve Jobs' slides are visuals -- photographs or images. When are there words, they are astonishingly sparse. Steve Jobs tells the Apple story. The slides compliment the story.
Reveal a "Holy Smokes" Moment
  1. People forget words and actions, but not how you made them feel. Jobs creates water-cooler moments that everyone talks about later. These show stoppers are completely scripted
  2. Jobs unveiled the MacBook Air at Macworld 2008 by removing the computer from an inter-office envelope. Everyone who saw it, or read about it, remembered it.
Sell Dreams, Not Products
  1. Great leaders cultivate a sense of mission among their employees and customers. Jobs says he wants to put a "dent in the universe." True evangelists are driven by a zeal to create new experiences.
  2. Jobs, launching the iPod: "In our own small way we're going to make the world a better place." Most people saw a music player, Jobs saw a tool to enrich lives. Great products matter, but passion, enthusiasm and emotion will set you apart.

From: CIO Insight

Google aims for faster Web downloads with SPDY protocol

By Mikael Ricknäs | Nov 17, 2009 | ComputerWorld

Google is hoping to make Web pages download up to twice as quickly using SPDY, a new application-layer protocol it's experimenting with, the company said in a blog post.

It wants to improve on the performance of using HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) by minimizing latency. For the protocol to work, the browser and the web server have to be upgraded, but changes to Web pages are not needed, according to Google.

Google's lab tests of SPDY show an improvement in page load times compared to HTTP of between 27 percent and 60 percent, and between 39 percent and 55 percent when using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), it said.

The company still needs to do a lot of work to evaluate the performance of SPDY in real-world conditions, the blog post said.

Google conducted the tests by downloading 25 of the "top 100" web sites ten times each over simulated home network connections, using a prototype Google Chrome browser and a Web server that it has developed.

SPDY uses a number of techniques to speed Web downloads, including allowing many concurrent HTTP requests across a single TCP session, prioritizing the requests, and using compression to reduce the number of packets and overall amount of data sent.

Google doesn't want to start from scratch with SPDY. The protocol still uses HTTP headers, but it overrides other parts of the protocol, such as connection management and data transfer formats.

"That Google is trying to improve download speeds is great, and the numbers are very promising," said Måns Jonasson, a web developer at IIS, which is responsible for the top-level Swedish Internet domain, .se.

For something like SPDY to work everyone has to be on board. The protocol won't become a success unless it's supported in both Internet Explorer and Firefox, according to Jonasson. It might be able to convince Mozilla to implement the protocol in Firefox, but convincing Microsoft will be difficult, he said.

"Microsoft seems to hate everything Google does," said Jonasson.

The source code for the prototype Google Chrome browser is available for download. The code for the server will be released as open source in the near future, it said.

That Google is opening up the code is good, but it also needs to approach standards organization IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force), Jonasson said.

Development efforts on other protocols to speed Web downloads, such as SCTP (Stream Control Transmission Protocol) and SST (Structured Stream Transport), have seen little activity in recent years.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cloud computing: Simply SaaS renamed?

Blue Sky

Is cloud computing just a renaming of SaaS (software as a service) in today's buzzword-prone IT landscape? After all, both involve accessing applications over the Internet, with those applications generally residing on third-party servers.

But industry executives cited subtle differences recently at the SIAA (Software & Information Industry Association) OnDemand 2009 conference in the US, during a panel session pertaining to cloud computing, business models, and the enterprise.

Panelists spoke of the cloud and SaaS as separate entities. Treb Ryan, CEO of cloud infrastructure provider OpSource, for example, stressed that "service levels of what we've seen in the cloud so far are far worse than [we have] seen from any SaaS provider."

Asked the differences between SaaS and cloud computing, Ryan and IBM's Dave Mitchell, director of strategy and emerging business for ISV and developer relations, cited nuanced differences.

"Some people view SaaS as a layer within cloud computing," Mitchell said. He also noted, "[SaaS is] really about delivering an application on a subscription model over the Internet."
"When you talk about cloud computing, cloud computing has to have significant real attributes around scalability and elasticity," said Mitchell. Not all SaaS solutions have the kind of elasticity associated with cloud computing, he said.

"Cloud as been largely defined as cloud infrastructure in the current market," featuring elasticity and offered by a vendor such as Amazon, Ryan said. A truly SaaS program, such as Salesforce or WebEx, is "designed to provide business applications within the cloud," said Ryan. Facebook is a social networking application in the cloud, he added.

"In terms of what is cloud and what is SaaS, in my opinion the big picture [is] who cares," said Tien Tzuo, founder and CEO of online billing services provider Zuora. The Internet is transformational and everyone is trying to figure out what it all means and take advantage of the global network, Tzuo said.

Panelists also discussed key drivers of application services in the cloud.
"For all of the economic advantages and business advantages to what's going on in cloud and SaaS, we believe the real driving factor that's driving adoption of these platforms is really a generation of users entering the workforce who spent their entire [lives] on the Internet," said Ryan.

Great SaaS companies, said Mitchell, are separated from others through an efficient marketing and sales force, making customers part of the development process and focusing on renewals.
"You get the best ideas from users," he said.

Customer service is critical for SaaS providers, said Sanjay Popli, vice president of corporate strategy at LiveOps, which provides cloud-based contact center services. Customers, Popli said, "expect significant upgrades and changes on a regular basis."

"If you lower the entry barriers [via SaaS], remember, you're also lowering the exit barriers," he cautioned.

Earlier at the conference Thursday, Lars Dalgaard, founder and CEO of SuccessFactors, touted his company's efforts in SaaS. The company, which has 5.4 million users, offers on-demand applications to align businesses to strategies and seek maximum business results.
SuccessFactors has been built over the Web. "A lot of companies still are not comfortable with that, but that's really how we've driven it," Dalgaard said.

SaaS still has a way to grow, but "not too long from now, people aren't going to buy software any other way," said Dalgaard.

"It's a great market to be in SaaS right now. It's for real," he said.

InfoWorld (US)