The scourge of PowerPoint

Anyone who worked with me and others on putting the early hack days together at Yahoo! knows that one of the rallying cries was “No PowerPoint!” I’m pretty sure that the first invitation sent around inside Yahoo! back in 2005 said that explicitly, and presenters who started out with PowerPoints at those early hack days were enthusiastically booed. This theme continue to be reflected in future hack days, like the one we put together with Techcrunch just last year. The “No PowerPoint!” stance was a reflection of what I had seen or heard about in a number companies (not just Yahoo!) — seemingly endless twiddling with slide decks, with a disproportionate amount of energy devoted to aligning squares and choosing clip art. At its most pernicious, entire teams become obsessed with “the deck” and lose all sense about what they are actually trying to accomplish.

(And don’t get me wrong, I really love artfully-done PowerPoint or Keynote presentations. It’s absolutely possible and the best slide decks inspire and motivate.)

So, I particularly enjoyed this bit in Nokia CEO Stephen Elop’s remarkable “burning platform” memo:

At the lower-end price range, Chinese OEMs are cranking out a device much faster than, as one Nokia employee said only partially in jest, “the time that it takes us to polish a PowerPoint presentation.” They are fast, they are cheap, and they are challenging us.

“Only partially in jest.” Ouch.

(Thanks to @finitor for his tweet!)

How we manage development and operations at Etsy

I just found a new reason to love Quora: questions people ask can spur you to write about topics you’ve had kicking around in your head for some time. Such was the case with this one:

How does Etsy manage development and operations?
Etsy seems to have scaled far and fast, whilst continuing to add new features; how is all this managed – is there a strictly-defined process within which engineers operate, or is it a case of hiring clever people and letting them get on with it (Facebook-style)?

I posted my answer, and cross-posted it to the Etsy engineering blog, too.