The 3 surprising pieces to winning in the politics of tech and business

In the last few years, a lot more folks in Silicon Valley seem to have an interest in policy and politics around specific tech and business issues. But as a relatively new area of interest in the tech community, there seem to be misunderstandings about how to win in this kind of politics. Here are the 3 counterintuitive elements of a winning strategy from my years working at the intersection of politics, business, and technology. Continue reading

The Dawn of the Awakening of Civilization

In his class day speech at Harvard Business School, Sal has a call to action for the class of 2014 and for all of us:

In a thousand years, people will romanticize about the time we live in right now… the time when humanity went from being a fragmented, provincial, sometimes petty civilization to a interplanetary, connected, sentient one…the time when the human species awakened… Your great great children will ask you what it was like to be at the dawn of the awakening of our civilization and what you did to catalyze it… Go make history!

Watch the whole thing:

Consumerization of healthcare delivery innovations

Academic medical centers (AMCs) have the potential to be leaders in the era of healthcare delivery reform, but most have yet to display a commitment to delivery innovation on par with their commitment to basic research. Several institutional factors impede delivery innovation.

That’s from a paper in a recent issue of Healthcare: The Journal of Delivery Science and Innovation, a relatively new journal with some great editors like Sachin Jain and Ashish Jha. Continue reading

Imagining the Future by Seeing Tech’s System Dynamics

There’s a famous Marc Andreessen post from 2007 on product/market fit. One key insight there is the importance of market / timing, even over product and team. (Market is the current number, and growth rate, of users for the product.)

I’ll assert that market is the most important factor in a startup’s success or failure.

Why?

In a great market — a market with lots of real potential customers — the market pulls product out of the startup.

The market needs to be fulfilled and the market will be fulfilled, by the first viable product that comes along.

The product doesn’t need to be great; it just has to basically work. And, the market doesn’t care how good the team is, as long as the team can produce that viable product.

An @a16z podcast with @cdixon and @benedictevans had a gem on organizing thinking on market / timing. (Kudos to the team that makes the Swell app which has me listening to the best podcasts, for me, without any effort while I’m driving.) Continue reading

Harvesting the Consumer Tech Dividend

At one time, tech’s focus was bounded to computing hardware and software for enterprise IT departments and consumers.

In the past decade, its breadth has exploded thanks to many well-known trends (e.g. convergence of mobile and computing, mobile computing device as leisure, growth in e-commerce, etc).

Consumer demand has financed a dramatic growth in intellectual and human capital—in expertise about hardware, software, analytics, and design patterns and in a large group of users with new behaviors.

We’re already seeing a dividend from all this human capital formation. Continue reading

For most people, an advanced degree doesn’t make sense

Summary: For most people and most roles in most industries, an advanced degree doesn’t make sense. It is not as useful as “mastery through doing” in the real-world. There are only a few exceptions.

So you’re not sure exactly what you want to do next professionally? Maybe you’ve thought about getting an advanced degree, maybe a masters or PhD or JD. It seems like an advanced degree will help you both figure out what’s next and develop useful new skills while you’re at it. And you either have the financial circumstances to afford it or you’re thinking it’s sufficiently worth it to take out loans. Unfortunately, this conventional wisdom on advanced degrees is false, for most people in most fields. Continue reading

Some majors are valuable, most are just interesting

College seems to be set up oddly. On the one hand, it is advertised to society and to parents, both of whom pick up the tab, as the stepping stone to becoming a contributing member of society and to a rewarding (and well-paying) career.

But contrary to the advertising, the actual message and experience during college seems to place greatest importance on the process of learning how to think critically and eventually, after college, discovering your passion (by some undefined other process) to then finally arrive at a rewarding career and a valuable contribution to society. Continue reading