First up this week is an article from Business Insider on why, even though they are quite vocal in their protestations that they want to, Silicon Valley doesn’t hire black coders. When it takes more than a decade of invitations from the head of a computer science program at one of the largest African American universities in the United States for there to be any traction, that commitment by Silicon Valley certainly seems hollow. It’s also representative of one of Silicon Valley’s most persistent problems: it’s too white. When pressed by the public and press to disclose their workforce demographics, it turns out that while 13% of the US population consists of African Americans, no more than 1% of the technical employees at all the prominent Silicon Valley employers were black. Having lived in the “Silicon Valley of the Rockies” I can tell you that this isn’t just a problem in Silicon Valley and one that tracks across the United States. Now, many of those being hired in Silicon Valley have been coding since they were kids, and, as noted in the article, this isn’t the typical profile for students at Howard (and likely other) University. It will be interesting to see how Silicon Valley and the industry as a whole grapples with this issue in the future.
I keep coming back to crypto currency and in particular Bitcoin, but this week Coindesk has an article that digs into this history of Bitcoin, how it works, how it makes itself “hack-proof,” and how to use it. It also digs more into some of the alternate uses for which Bitcoin and blockchain can be used. It’s worth a read simply because it was written by a Wall Street Veteran and is in mostly non-technical terms.
There’s a great article from Techcrunch this week on why big companies keep failing and how the stack fallacy relates. It’s brief, has enough depth, and it brings to mind that question many of us fall for when we examine the competitive landscape: not realizing who your competitors might be because you are so focused on who your competitors are and how that can get in the way of deciding what you build.
HRB has a number of good articles this week. First is one about motivating Millennials – I know I keep coming back to this topic, but it is one of the bigger challenges facing us today. This article taps into the need to go beyond flexible work hours and locations, and digs into how we need to create a deeply compelling vision of what our companies do to contribute to society, train our leaders to communicate openly, effectively, and frequently, embrace tech and make collaboration the way we do business, build an entrepreneurial environment, and loosen up on the notion of a career ladder.
Next is aligning your organization for an agile workforce. There are several issues leaders are facing in trying to access a more agile workforce, including relationship management, internal-external competition, a clash of expectations, and a failure to deliver results. The authors discuss each of these and note that the organizations that get the most from agile talent use the most effective managerial techniques in engaging, motivating, and building teams with internal staff. How? They ask questions around strategic alignment, performance alignment, relationship alignment, and administrative alignment.
There is a collection of articles in HBR’s Insight Center that focus on corporate culture for a digital world. One of those is about how just using big data isn’t enough anymore. You have to develop the right metrics based on that data and then use it to identify opportunities for innovation while preparing for cultural and business change. None of these concepts are new to us, but Randy Bean does a good job of capturing the “why” behind them. The scariest thing to me, perhaps, is the sheer volume of data companies are capturing today and their absolute inability to make head or tails of that data … and it keeps stacking up every day.
Last is an article my brother shared with me this week on the hard data of being a nice boss. The long and the short is that being a jerk to your employees is bad for you and for them, and that we need to start valuing kindness at work. It kind of makes me want to go back and read one of my favorites from when I worked back at Microsoft – The No Asshole Rule.