Microsoft releases a Silverlight 4 Facebook Client

Download it here. I had to uninstall Silverlight 3 in order to get it to install 4, but the Facebook client is really sweet. Better way to organize information.


Five free tips to speed your execution

Being at Microsoft almost two years now I've gotten to see how people, processes, and attitude contribute to speed of execution. Peers often ask me how I got things done, even without "approval," and by (gasp) not following Microsoft's heavyweight processes.

Here's what I tell them.

  1. Serialize your tasks. No matter what you're doing, what your roadblocks are, etc, this is a simple math problem. So long as your goal isn't "get a bunch of things done at exactly the same time (such as cooking a meal or a product launch) you will automatically increase your speed of execution simply by serializing your tasks instead of parallelizing them. Don't believe me? Try this out: pretend you have three tasks, each take 1 day to complete. Parallelizing them (spending an equal amount of time on each), you will finish all three at the end of day three. If you serialize them, you finish task 1 on day 1, task 2 on day 2, and task 3 on day three. Both approaches take three total days to complete all three. But serializing them gives you an average deilvery time of 2 days instead of 3 days (33% improvement). And you get the benefits from task 1 two days early and task 2 one day early. Always focus on one thing and get it done.

  2. Identify the least amount of work to move the needle. Smart people like to solve for the perfect solution, the 100% solution. Smarter people move the needle along the way. This is a cororally to the above. You can deliver an 100% solution in a month. Or, you can deliver a 25% solution this week, a 50% solution next week, a 75% solution the following week, and finally an 100%. The key here is once you've identified that 25% solution that moves the needle, get moving on it! Don't wait until the next phases are defined before you move on phase 1.

  3. Help others win. If you have a great idea, let others in on it. Let them win. Let them look good. Let them have some credit. Don't hoard it. You'll be shocked how fast things get done.

  4. Fail Faster. Startups know this very well. You will get things wrong more than you will get them right. And meetings, documentation, and brainstorming will not avoid the need to learn (although applied properly they will help you move forward with execution if you are getting others to contribute to your cause). So get on with failing. Now.

  5. Ask for forgiveness, not permission. A long time ago I heard "you will move as fast as you can make decisions." Amen. Every time you ask for buy-in, approval, etc you will slow yourself down. I work with a lot of Sr. PMs and I work with a lot of Jr. PMs. I never hear a Sr. PM say "I need to get my boss' sign-off" - they just do it and make it happen.

One caveat: know when care is required. The last bullet doesn't apply in all cases. You've got to know when moving forward does require input, approval, or buy-in. But the opposite is the important piece: know when you can aggressively move forward on your own and Make It Happen.

Oh yeah, one last thing: prioritize. I have probably 50 suggestions to help speed execution. But notice I kept the list to five. It's enough for you to get moving, without having to read a post 10 times as long.

So get moving :)


I just don't buy it re: Apple

Just got done reading this article on how Apple is going down the wrong path with their "closed" systems.

As I like to say, I'm a PC-and-a-Mac. I have nothing for-or-against Apple or Microsoft. I love iPods, hate iTunes Music Store (but love iTunes for managing my music library, love iPhone, hate Windows Mobile, love Xbox and Xbox Live, am indifferent to my iMac and indifferent to my Windows laptop. And I love Amazon MP3 :)

I heard this "open system" line five years ago as iPods really took off. Apple hasn't lost it's leadership position yet. Instead, they continue to innovate, deliver value to customers, and reap the profits. They have a solid business model (deliver a seamless end-user experience software to sell music as a loss-lead to sell devices at a huge profit).

Did the Wintel decoupling of hardware and software enable Wintel to beat Apple in the 80s? Maybe. Maybe not. I think they delivered something cheaper and easier-to-use. Was that because of the decoupling? I think so, but Apple could have played the price war with them (especially when Apple had the market share). Apple chose not to, they lost.

Here's the key point: open platform is not an end-user requirement.

Google or Microsoft will take market share from Apple when they build a better product or innovate a better model (something that beats the device-software integration currently done very well by Apple).


When will marketers catch up?

This chart is mind-blowing. How, in the year 2008 (when this analysis was done) can marketers still be so far behind on where their audience is? It's not 1998 anymore.

Here's what else is interesting: Google (and a number of online advertisers) has made a killing despite the low investment from marketing in this area. Imagine what happens when marketers do get with the times. Or, what happens when companies realize they can reach more of their audience with less dollars and that their ROI is higher online than TV (have they not realized that yet)?

Or maybe they never learn. Sigh.