Whiskey and a Hammer

I’m on vacation next week (first of two in short order this summer), and I’ve been fond of thinking “it’s not a minute too soon.” The past couple of weeks have been very intense, but the work is fun and energizing. Above all, the best part about working is the collaboration, and without a doubt, the various social tools internally at SAP have opened up the world to me at work. This last week was so busy I usually didn’t know whether I was IM’ing or emailing – or twittering?

Among the highlights:

  • My instant-message working collaboration with Michael Biermann. Together with Craig Cmehil, we want to find a whole new way to surface trends and ideas. Michael and Craig are two-men machines of great ideas and skills (and right now may be the most dangerous guys in town); Michael nearly took down the internal wiki in the process – that’s a blast! Thanks Michael for the whiskey and the hammer: and it really does take a village.
  • Moderating the response to an internal newsletter relating to our wiki space, which has been phenomenal – nearly inexplicably so. Again, whole new communities open up to me and I count myself fortunate.
  • Watching and working on the wiki space redesign process between Phil, Will, and Dirk. I’ve concluded that email is not a great way to run design reviews, but I think in the end you guys can gain consensus. Sometimes, it’s good to take a step back and really get a good look around.
  • Working with Jerome across timezones toward an understanding on knowledge architecture. Should be interesting to stay tuned.
  • Wrapping up Pride in San Francisco. It’s typically ironic to me that we get a month to be proud – and then after that? After Sunday we all go back to shame! But seriously – there was much energy inside and out this year. Another kind of importance of community.
  • Our daughter saying goodbye to her favorite teacher so far, Sarah. She drew her a heart and gave it to her. Not even three and she gives us a knot in our throats. Her community.
  • New fire-colored hair. Well, it’s actually apparently a very very bright red, but it looks pink. Is it fuego? Well… you’ll just have to see me after Bandon to find out…

First stop: Bandon, OR. Next stop: Palo Alto. Next stop: Alaska. See you somewhere there!

Scandinavian Drinking Songs

Marten Mickos at SAP

Marten Mickos at SAP

Marten Mickos, the CEO of MySQL, finished his very interesting talk on “Keys to Simplicity” with a story about how he helps to connect distributed teams from around the world. Every month, he opens up the airways of “Radio Sakila” (named after the company’s mascot, the dolphin) by running an IRC chat while he “broadcasts” on a conference call, which he described as like a radio broadcast.  Everyone in the company attends, and he describes his broadcast as very open – talking about things that other CEOs might not share. As a bonus, at the end of each broadcast, he sings a scandinavian drinking song! I thought to myself:  Wouldn’t we love to hear more drinking songs where I work, at SAP?

Keys to Simplicity
  1. Thorough design combined with the ability to question prevailing norms.
  2. Frugality — or the ability to say no (leads to great solutions)
  3. Openness
  4. Modularity (decomposition of structure)
  5. Release early; release often (decomposition of process) “If you’re not ashamed of the product you’ve released, you’ve waited too long.” You learn the real challenges ahead when you release early.
  6. Connectedness (APIs, reuse)
  7. Peer reviews
  8. Simplicity a core value
Selected Interesting Quotes
  • “Small things together will create big big things — things never before created” – and everyone can participate.
  • “In the business world, the big revolution is the business model.”
  • “When we build something new, we are always misinformed of what the problems are.”
  • “A physical office is an artifact of the industrial revolution.” — Farmers didn’t have work/play time.
  • Innovator’s dilemma: “Customers lie: They say they want features, but they really want simplicity.”
  • A Web 2.0 quote (attributable to?): “The uncreative mind spots the wrong answers. The creative mind spots the wrong questions.”
  • Leonardo Da Vinci: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
  • Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “Perfection is achieved not when there is noting left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”