- Homebrew Bioweapons Not Imminent Threat — you need a safe facility, lab instruments, base strain, design and execution skills, and testing. None of these are easy until the Amazon-Google cloud wars finally cause them to move into “bioweapons as a service.”
- Apple Removes App That Tracks Drone Strikes — “there are certain concepts that we decide not to move forward with, and this is one,” says Apple. (via BoingBoing)
- gitrob — a command line tool that can help organizations and security professionals find such sensitive information. The tool will iterate over all public organization and member repositories and match filenames against a range of patterns for files, that typically contain sensitive or dangerous information.
- How Much is a Leader’s Integrity Worth? — Kiel found that high-integrity CEOs had a multi-year return of 9.4%, while low-integrity CEOs had a yield of just 1.9%. What’s more, employee engagement was 26% higher in organizations led by high-integrity CEOs. (via Neelan Choksi)
Corporate leadership is as much about building people as it is about developing product.
Attend Cultivate, September 28 to 29 in New York, NY. Cultivate is our conference looking at the challenges facing modern management and aiming to train a new generation of business leaders who understand the relationship between corporate culture and corporate prosperity.
I want to call attention to two articles I’ve read recently. First, Rita King’s analysis of Amazon’s corporate culture, Culture Controversy at Amazon, Decoded, is an excellent, even-handed discussion of one of the past year’s most controversial articles about corporate culture. I hadn’t intended to write about Amazon, but King’s article needs to be read.
King doesn’t present a simple “bad Amazon” story. Anyone in the industry knows that Amazon is a tough place to work. King presents both sides of this picture: working at Amazon is difficult and demanding, but you may find yourself pushed to levels of creativity you never thought possible. Amazon’s culture encourages a lot of critical thinking, questioning, and criticism, sometimes to the point of “brutality.” This pressure can lead to backstabbing and intense rivalries, and I’m disturbed by Amazon’s myth that they are a “meritocracy,” since meritocracies rarely have much to do with merit. But the result of constant pressure to perform at the highest level is that Amazon can move quickly, react to changes, and create new products faster than its competitors — often before their competitors even realize there’s an opportunity for a new product.
Without pressure to achieve, and without critical thinking, it’s easy to build a culture of underachievers, a culture of complacency. A culture of complacency is more comfortable, but in the long run, just as ugly. DEC, Wang, and a host of other high-tech companies from the 70s and 80s never understood how the industry was changing until it was too late. HP is arguably in a similar position now. I can’t see Amazon making the same mistake. When you’re making the changes, you’re less likely to be done in by them. Read more…
An analysis of fintech competitions shows a focus on data, payments, lending, and small business.
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Fintech hackathons and competitions occur globally. In January 2012, Swift launched the Innotribe Startup Competition as an initiative to bring together disruptive startups and incumbents in financial services. It was one of the first of its kind and has been joined by similar events in subsequent years. Just this year, I counted 18 fintech hackathons and startup competitions — eight of which are happening later this year.
Fintech startups are aiming to disrupt financial institutions with their technology, products, and design. Meanwhile financial institutions focus on secure systems for money transfer, payments, and lending at a global scale. But the two are not necessarily at odds. It’s hard for incumbents to innovate existing businesses in house, and this is where startups thrive: testing new business models and pushing the limits of technology unencumbered by regulations or corporate baggage. Hackathons and startup competitions are where innovative ideas are tested. Read more…
Building the next generation of leaders, for any size organization.
At our recent Cultivate event in Portland, O’Reilly and our partnering sponsor New Relic brought together 10 speakers and more than 100 attendees to learn about corporate culture and leadership. Three themes emerged: diversity, values, and leading through humility.
Almost every speaker talked about the importance of diversity in the workplace. That’s important at a time when “maintaining corporate culture” often means building a group that’s reminiscent of a college frat house. It’s well established that diverse groups, groups that include different kinds of people, different experiences, and different ways of thinking, perform better. As Michael Lopp said at the event, “Diversity is a no-brainer.” We’re not aiming for tribal uniformity, but as Mary Yoko Brannen noted at the outset, sharing knowledge across different groups with different expectations. No organization can afford to remain monochromatic, but in a diverse organization, you have to be aware of how others differ. In particular, Karla Monterroso showed us that you need to realize when — and why — others feel threatened. When you do, you are in a much better position to build better products, to respond to changes in your market, and to use the talent in your organization effectively. Read more…