Newsletter #67 : Rules For This, Rules For That!

February 15, 2021


One of our biggest challenges at the moment is trying to manage disruption and maintain routine.

My wife and I are lucky enough to be working full time and have a gorgeous daughter to look after but, it comes with a significant amount of disruption attached as we manage and balance schedules, demands and the need for occasional moments of space (and peace).

We’ve set up certain rules and routines that just a few weeks ago we would have thought ridiculous and having always been a contrarian I’m not always a stickler for rules and routine but, they matter now more than ever.

So I thought the topic of ‘rules’ was quite a good anchor for this weeks newsletter … alongside another two superb ‘Lockdown Learnings’ from tech leaders.

Until next week, stay safe and remember to contact those you love on a regular basis and tell them …

Andrew Weaver

[email protected]

Global Tech Leaders Talk Lockdown & Beyond

Having spent most of her career delivering and leading data, information and insight driven transformations for clients, Shilpa Shah is currently working in a role to help drive Deloitte strategy around innovative deliery models. She is also leader of the Deloitte Women in Technology Network.

She joined us from her lockdown in North West London.

“Be passionate, stay authentic to yourself and have the courage of your convictions”

Watch the interview with Shilpa here.

Paul has a fantastic mixture of corporate and start-up experience in tech.

Currently, Technology Partnerships lead at ITV in the UK, he was previously head of TV research at SKY and founder of Satchel Messaging which created a mobile messaging platform using chatbots to enable groups to pay for things, communicate and organise events.

“Influence people by building stronger relationships and establishing trust by doing what you say you’re going to do”

Watch the interview with Paul here.

5 Rules of Programming

This popped up on my timeline, in amongst all those tips on how to #WFH et al

Rob Pike, is an Engineer at Google co-authored the Go programming language and previously worked at Bell Labs as a core member of the Unix Team.

These are his 5 rules of programming;

  • Rule 1. You can’t tell where a program is going to spend its time. Bottlenecks occur in surprising places, so don’t try to second guess and put in a speed hack until you’ve proven that’s where the bottleneck is.
  • Rule 2. Measure. Don’t tune for speed until you’ve measured, and even then don’t unless one part of the code overwhelms the rest.
  • Rule 3. Fancy algorithms are slow when n is small, and n is usually small. Fancy algorithms have big constants. Until you know that n is frequently going to be big, don’t get fancy. (Even if n does get big, use Rule 2 first.)
  • Rule 4. Fancy algorithms are buggier than simple ones, and they’re much harder to implement. Use simple algorithms as well as simple data structures.
  • Rule 5. Data dominates. If you’ve chosen the right data structures and organized things well, the algorithms will almost always be self-evident. Data structures, not algorithms, are central to programming.

Pike’s rules 1 and 2 restate Tony Hoare’s famous maxim “Premature optimization is the root of all evil.” Ken Thompson rephrased Pike’s rules 3 and 4 as “When in doubt, use brute force.”. Rules 3 and 4 are instances of the design philosophy KISS. Rule 5 was previously stated by Fred Brooks in The Mythical Man-Month. Rule 5 is often shortened to “write stupid code that uses smart objects”.

5 Rules For Maintaining Remote Team Morale

Many of us were familiar with managing remote teams, some of us have had to adapt very quickly, large companies have had to overhaul many incumbent systems and points of resistance, to effectively manage this unique and wholesale remote experience.

Recent forbes article looked at ways to maintain remote team morale.

  1. Master non-verbal communication
  2. Let elephants out of the room first
  3. Practice empathy and patience
  4. Be available
  5. Appreciate and recognize frequently

I’d also suggest that pastoral care and management of team wellbeing is particularly important now as the uncertainty, and for many the dislocation, continues without a clear end game in sight.

Perhaps no.6 should be fixing up virtual downtime, an opportunity to chat about non work stuff, home life, normal things. To check in that people are ok.

The friday zoom happy hour has become standard for many companies and we do one here at CTO Academy. It’s easy to overlook.

What has been your experience?
What are the procedures, methods and tricks you use to maintain productivity and morale?Maintaining Employee Morale In A Remote Environment

3 Rules of Crisis Management

Scott Galloway is a professor of marketing at NYU Stern School of Business and an increasingly high profile pubic speaker, author and entrepreneur. He’s also co-host of one of my favourite current podcasts (the list does change quite frequently) called Pivot.

He has a 3 step theory on the key rules for crisis management, perhaps more relevant now than ever before.

According to Scott, we are defined by who we are in times of crisis (see what we mean about the wisdom?), and that goes for your business, too. Your company’s response right now has the potential to redefine your brand entirely. With stakes that high, there’s no room to mess around. 

He applies his 3 rules to the US federal government handling of the Covid-19 crisis;

Rule #1: Communicate Regularly. Leaders must be present and visible. They should make statements (when relevant), share information openly and be accessible to the public. Here, Scott gives President Donald Trump a B. He’s there and he’s saying words. Technically, he is fulfilling this requirement of leadership. 

Rule #2: Acknowledge the issue. State plainly and transparently that there is an issue. Consumers don’t like mistakes, but they HATE refusal to acknowledge them. 

The presidential response to COVID is a terrific example of failing in this respect – the expectation was that the country would be immune, and then the virus would disappear. When that turned out not to be the case, well, nothing much happened. 

Rule #3: Overcorrect. Do the most radical thing possible to fix the issue at hand. Sure, you might be accused of being the person who overshot the mark and wound up with too many ventilators, but the consequences of that are a fraction of the consequences facing the person who said ‘sure…that’s probably enough.’ Scott sees Johnson & Johnson and their response to the 1982 cyanide crisis as a perfect example. 

No Mercy, No Malice : Further Thoughts

Book of the Week 1: Think Like A Freak

Chosen by Shilpa Shah from Deloitte.

“Authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner explore how the iconoclastic approach to data revealed in Freakonomics can improve the way we think. As they write, This book steps out of the shadows and tries to offer some advice that may occasionally be useful, whether you are interested in minor lifehacks or major global reforms”

Think Like A Freak

Book of the Week 2: Getting Things Done

Chosen by Paul Kane from ITV 

“The Season’s Best Reads for Work-Life Advice . . . my favorite on organizing your life: Getting Things Done . . . offers help building the new mental skills needed in an age of multitasking and overload.”

—Sue Shellenbarger, The Wall Street Journal

Getting Things Done

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