Fret over what you fret over …

Just because a thing can be noticed, or compared, or fretted over doesn’t mean it’s important, or even relevant.

– Seth Godin

Accompaniment to another of Seth’s quotes:

If you measure it, it will improve

I strongly recommend everyone read the full post.

A big reason behind why I removed most of in-app analytics from my Chrome projects.

Rise on your strengths

Solve hard technical problem for ONE obvious business opportunity (e.g. image recognition solution for construction industry). Better than solving an easy technical problem in a crowded marketplace (a messenger app).

– Matthew Clifford

Quite an insightful statement from Matt at a recent Google event at Campus London. Reminded me of a quote by someone else:

The wise warrior avoids the battle.

– Someone

David & Goliath

It also reminded me of couple of other sayings.

Fight to your strength, defend your weaknesses – anonymous

So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak. – Someone

What Matt and that someone are saying are perfectly in sync.

Matt, via Entrepreneur First, recruits young technical wizards, and equips them with business skills and support to help them launch exciting startups. By the definition of their recruitment filter, they attract people whose strength lies in solving hard technical problems, and who may have weaknesses in other areas – marketing skills to fight for growth and traction in crowded markets, for instance. For such teams, it makes obvious business sense to go after problems that are hard to solve technically, but (relatively) easy to sell to market. And thus, the insightful, powerful statement by Matt.

However. The statement isn’t the final truth for everyone. Following the second set of quotes above, you need to fight on ground that enhances your strengths, and hides your weaknesses, best. If you’re an excellent marketing & sales driver growth hacker, with possibly a good designer and an adequate developer for company, you might want to pick problems that are easy to solve technically, but in a big, vibrant (likely crowded) market – diametrically opposite to what Matt suggested.

And if you start succeeding, you’ll be well advised to acquire/acquihire/poach some of the graduates of Matt’s EF program :)

Diversity

How many white males does it take to lead and support a tech cluster?

Based on 2 recent power lists – as many as you can get in!

Both the lists are packed with white males, with little to no representation from many minority-gender groups. I’m not criticising the lists here, but taking them as a reflection of the state of our tech ecosystem. We have far to go…

Business Insider’s list of coolest 50 people in UK tech [Source]

50 Coolest People in UK Tech
Click to see full image
  • 39 of the 52(!) people on the list are white males.

  • There are ZERO, by my quick calculation, black men or women on the list.
  • There are just 8 women, in total.
  • Only 2 non-white women, Eileen Burbidge and Bindi Karia, grace the list.
    There are few people – male or female – more highly deserving of their spot on the list, but I’m surprised that there are *just* 2!

 

Fresh Business Thinking Power 100 [Source]

Fresh business thinking power 100 2014
Click to see full image
  • 79, out of 100, people on the list are white males.

  • Only 2 non-white women – Shalini Khemka and Bindi Karia – grace the list.
  • 2 black malesChuka Umunna and Samuel Kasumu – make the list this time. No black/origin females, sadly.
  • Only 9 out of 100 people on the list are non-white.

Considering this list is more about thinkers and influencers – it has David Cameron at #1 – than about do-ers, the lack of diversity surprises me even more. I’m sure there are lots of non-white women and men leading, encouraging, and influencing fresh business thought in the UK tech and business communities.

I may be wrong. In which case, there simply need to be more. A lot more. In my humble opinion.

Continue reading Diversity

Risk – Statistics, norms & decision fatigue

They wouldn’t think of preventing many statistically riskier parenting decisions so long as those decisions jive comfortably with social norms.

Source: Working Mom Arrested for Letting Her 9-Year-Old Play Alone at Park – The Atlantic

This problem is everywhere – social behaviour decisions, government policy implementations, day-to-day corporate decision-making. The reason, hinted at in the quote above, is two-fold:

  1. Strength of ingrained social norms
  2. Mental effort required to understand statistical risk of decisions

Other potential reasons, I guess, are:

  1. Decision fatigue, or coping mechanisms for it – people avoid making decisions requiring involved thinking if they can get away without them , and
  2. Conflict avoidance – going with less controversial, more socially accepted option, even if it may be the worse/wrong choice.

What can (should) be done to overcome these hurdles? (Other than defining regulation more rigidly to take decisions out of hands of people, and/or ‘educating’ people)