Running to Stand Still

With Jeff Immelt out and John Flannery in as General Electric CEO, The Economist describes the company as having gone through a lot of important changes without achieving greater results. Shuffling. Reorganizing. Yet in the same place as before.

“GE has been running to stand still. …what it now needs is less re-engineering and more consistent execution.” — General Electric picks a new boss

This made me think. When I have the urge to shift things around: team, products, projects, office furniture, books on the bookshelf — I can ask myself, “Am I doing this just to stay busy? Look busy? Feel busy?”

Instead of movement for its own sake, I should find impact where I am today in my exact location. With this team, this project, this company — not something new. Work on meaningful results to help people by finishing what I’ve started.

Automattic: When a Company Grows, but the Office Shrinks

The story behind Automattic’s decision to emphasize a distributed company by downsizing our “office” in San Francisco.

Toni.org

Automattic, a distributed company with over 500 people, is moving out of our San Francisco offices. Why?

The story begins in late 2011. Automattic had about 100 employees with 15 of us in the San Francisco Bay Area and the rest spread around the world. We had a small office in San Francisco’s Pier 38 that we used for Bay Area employees, various visitors, and WordPress events. Then we, along with dozens of other startups, got evicted by the San Francisco Port Authority and started looking for a new space. Since 15% of our company was Bay Area based and we were planning to grow to 500+ people over the next 5 years, we decided we needed space for about 75-100 people. We ended up leasing a 14k square foot warehouse in the SOMA area of San Francisco and renovated it into a fantastic space for both co-working and events.

Then something…

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Design in Tech Report 2017

A must-read zeitgeist if you work in tech, no matter your role.

Design trends revolutionizing the entrepreneurial and corporate ecosystems in tech. Related M&A activity, new patterns in creativity × business, and the rise of computational design.

View the full video + slides and an executive summary on LinkedIn of the presentation led by my colleague John Maeda, Automattic’s Global Head, Computational Design and Inclusion.

Key takeaway: “Design isn’t just about beauty; it’s about market relevance and meaningful results.”

 

Open Source Stories: Ball Aerospace, AT&T

I love seeing a trend of large companies embracing open source projects, both from the business angle and understanding that open standards help everyone.

An Aerospace Coder Drags a Stodgy Industry Toward Open Source (via Wired) — see projects on GitHub.

Opening up Cosmos wasn’t an easy swallow for the aerospace industry. It’s historically closed-off: Big companies sell big-bucks programs, and people either shell out or cobble together their own kludgy systems. But a freely available, edit-able, enhance-able program has been a boon to researchers and businesses—anyone that can benefit from a robust system to point satellites and display their data.

AT&T Releasing Its Network Playbook into Open Source (via The Economist) — see projects on GitHub.

This is a big decision and getting it right is crucial… We want to build a community – where people contribute to the code base and advance the platform. And, we want this to help align the global industry.

Design Success Ladder: Meaningful Products

Via design.org: The UX Design Success Ladder: Achieving Meaningful Product Design.

Design-Success-Ladder-The-Key-to-Achieving-Meaningful-Product-Design-1.png

Product success envisioned as rungs of a ladder, that you climb up from the bottom: functional, usable, comfortable, delightful, meaningful.

I first heard this concept last year at WordCamp Phoenix in a presentation by Ward Andrews; the article showcase examples of products or services at each level.

Takeaway message: don’t stop at functional and usable. Set the bar higher.

Reboot Heroku as Last Step After Pushing

A computing tip from my friend and WordPress web engineer extraordinaire Chris Marslender.

When pushing code to a Heroku app, make the last step be an action to reboot the app, with something like Hubot. So any time code changes, the server restarts. So if someone is offline and the server isn’t running, you can push a change to get it working again without pinging them.

Video: A Look into Calypso

A Look into Calypso, a talk by Matías Ventura at WordCamp Europe 2016, is an engaging survey of the open source technology running the new WordPress.com publishing interface. Why it’s important, what it’s made of, the values and principles that guide it, and how to use it today for your own projects.

The introduction of Calypso has brought the notion of a modern JavaScript approach to the front and center of the WordPress community. What does an admin UI built entirely in JavaScript (with technologies like React that have taken the JavaScript community by storm) mean for WordPress and how we think of JavaScript in the project?

Matías ends with a challenge to everyone wanting to contribute to advancing JavaScript in WordPress; I won’t spoil it, watch the video to see the call to action.

Links and resources mentioned in the video below. You can also download the slides (PDF, 10.4 MB).