Reflections on organizational observations

On the benefits of being under resourced

An organization that is under-resourced is similar to an individual who regularly practices intermittent fasting.

In the case of the individual, weaker cells are cannibalized by the body to produce new cells. Studies has shown decreased probability of developing cancer and Alzheimer, coupled in some cases with increased longevity.

In the case of the organization, operations are forced to be focused and only opportunities backed by stronger market signals prioritized and pursued. Wastage and distractions are structurally curtailed. ROI improves as a by product.

On organic growth

An organization that is organically grown tends to be happen-chance and exhibit somewhat illegible and opaque structure.

In contrast, an organization that is deliberately designed tends to exhibit a legible and transparent structure.

Counter intuitively, it is the former that exhibits more resilience in times of environmental stress. The observed illegibility and opaqueness is attributed to the process of organic adaption to its environment. Chief historical examples are:

  • Military of Carthage
  • Genghis Khan’s Mongolian horde

Related readings

Book summary – the goal

The Goal

Productivity is the act of bringing a company closer to its goal.

The goal of any company is to make money through the fulfillment of its mission

Key parameters to monitor for meeting the goal

  • Increase net profit
  • Increase return on investment
  • Increase cashflow
  • Increase system throughput while reducing operating expense and inventory

Inventory stuck in WIP can be reduced by reducing parts that piling up in front of the bottleneck waiting for other missing parts


  1. find the most critical bottleneck in the system right now
  2. increase capacity at current most critical bottleneck until it is no longer the bottleneck
  3. repeat step one until we have built enough capacity to more than fulfill market demand


Insights from drinks with Charles Wu

On pivotal

Pivotal was able to grow by setting up a process that allows them to build out simple CRUD app using second tier software developers.

Their pair programming practice allowed them the ability to use relatively cheaper software developers to build out these simple projects while buffering them against the relatively high churn rate.

Their partnership with Code camps like hacker reactor has allowed access to a constantly supply of relatively cheaper labor.

Their standardization of the technology stack to just Rails and Java has further facilitated the interchangeability of developers across projects.

To ensure no wenches gets thrown into the process pipeline, they primarily target companies with legacy systems that need migration away from.

They choose to avoid startups solving technical problems that require deep domain expertise. Supporting Twilio requirements was a real challenge to their process.

On Twitter

Most of the progress by Twitter recently has been stuff that they have talked about before Jack Dorsey’s return as CEO.

The main road block to was management’s inability to make a decision to execute driven mainly about insecurity over potential impact to users.

On Facebook

Was highly stressful. Put on a lot of weight during tenure. Work life balance was a challenge

On having run rate

Reid Hoffman mentioned when you have a long run rate and are able to stay in the game, it’s lije playing baseball without the fear of ever striking out. You just have to wait for the home run.

On shares

Employees have lock in period after a company goes IPI before they can sell off their shares. It’s important to define clearly your exit and not get too greedy

On being Asian in this time and age

Crazy Rich Asian has really help set the trend and this demand for Asian Actors for the next few years. If you are tall, Asian and good looking you have basically cornered the market at this point. Why not give it a shot and go do some casting in the Bay Area?

By the way do something about that domain you own called

On health and use psychology

Most health issues can be attributed to bad habits like smoking, drinking and fast food. So long as you have a habit of working out and eating healthy it is possible to stave off 90% of health issues.

The trip with Health is to capitalize on the reciprocal bias that humans have. Humans have an inability to differentiate at an emotional level between other humans and things that does favor for them. A robot that pretends to be human that nags them to perform behavior beneficial for their health falls into that category

Hospitals get fined when heart patients return to the hospital within a specific period of time after being released. As such they utilize call centers to help remind recently discharged patients to perform healthy behaviors that will reduce the likelihood of their return.


Ideation process

  1. Gather qualitative data through user interviews
  2. Gather historical quantitative behavioral and segmentation data if any
  3. define problem statements
  4. define personas
  5. Prioritize personas base on segment size and organization strategy/mission fit
  6. Prioritize problem statements based on problem and product feature fit
  7. generate many design concept variants  as different approaches to tackling problem
  8. curate and prioritize them as agile stories
  9. implement base feature set
  10. roll out to user base
  11. validate outstanding hypothesis to gain visibility
  12. iterate on results
  13. head back to step 1

External references

  • User centric design high level –

Tim on User centric design

Design thinking is a more elaborate waterfall like model as compared to User centric design

  • It was originally created by the dude from SAP which is the founder of IDEO

User Centric Design

Helps avoid thinking of solution purely in functional terms devoid of human values


  • Business Goals – numbers you want to hit as a business


  • List of hypothesis revolving around your business goals


  • Who
    • the various personas about your user
    • it is centered around the kinds of physical behavior they exhibit
    • it is centered around the emotions and attitude
    • In a market place or social network the following distribution would hold true
      • 1% content creators – the protagonist
      • 9% synthesizers – they transmute the inputs from the creators
      • 90% silent majority – they observe and consume what was generated
  • Problems / Needs
    • centered around the day to day needs they have in their role
    • centered around the day to day problems they experience because of the need they have
    • qualitative and quantitative data to size of each segment of persona as well as the conversion rates in prior experiments
  • Themes
    • The commonly recurring themes identified based on qualitative feedbacks gathered from interviews with users.