5 episodes

We all want to improve, especially businesses. Knowing what we should be doing is easy, knowing how to change is the hard part.
This podcast is a wunderkammer of discussions, interviews, talks, and other recordings trying to figure out how organizations can actually improve. For the most part this is the story of organizations trying to become "tech companies," to do "digital transformation." It's a companion to a book in progress, The Business Bottleneck (https://cote.io/bottleneck/).

Misaligned Incentives Coté

    • Management

We all want to improve, especially businesses. Knowing what we should be doing is easy, knowing how to change is the hard part.
This podcast is a wunderkammer of discussions, interviews, talks, and other recordings trying to figure out how organizations can actually improve. For the most part this is the story of organizations trying to become "tech companies," to do "digital transformation." It's a companion to a book in progress, The Business Bottleneck (https://cote.io/bottleneck/).

    Episode 4: You get what you pay for - compensating tech staff is often done poorly

    Episode 4: You get what you pay for - compensating tech staff is often done poorly

    We discuss compensation, particularly how people in the IT department ("developers," etc.) are so disconnected from the actual business that compensating them based on business performance is near impossible. Not good if you're an IT person and like money.


    There's other types of comp. then money, obviously, and those are fine too. In particular, we discuss participation in open source and more recognition. But, still: money is the best.

    • 50 min
    Episode 3: Improvement requires fear, or, digital transformation by crisis and fear

    Episode 3: Improvement requires fear, or, digital transformation by crisis and fear

    People in large organizations avoid improving for improving's sake. They're very rarely proactive in transforming. Instead, it seems that management in most large organizations only act, and change, when they fear competition and failure. "Everyone" knows this is a bad strategy, and yet "everyone" does it. Perhaps we should embrace that behavior, or at least be empathetic, and figure out how to work with it.


    We discuss this problem and things to do in this episode.


    Also, we find out why Coté always has bad breath.


    Mood board:



    (6:30) - The daily, normal fears are going to drive what a business does more than large, one-off crises.
    If your inventory is on an AS/400, then you're in trouble.
    A chaos monkey for business, or, training for the unexpected.
    "When there's not a crisis, every penny is squeezed out of technology."
    Outsourcing, but the harmful type.
    Hold your customers close, know your evolving storefront.
    Now, software is the primary storefront.
    To improve, you must have an enemy.
    (20:51) "If you're trying to modernize, do this 'digital transformation,' it has to come from a place of an existential problem."
    (21:26) To prepare for a major disruption, you have to prepare for a bunch of minor, incremental disruptions. You have to sell [the return] on paying for change.
    (25:51) If you want to justify paying for continuous delivery, you have to find a problem to solve.
    (27:41) They're bean counters, so just count the beans for them - just give them some beans and they're happy.
    (28:58) As technologist, our views on revenue are not considered important or valid.
    (29:21) Fear and loss are often easier to quantify, e.g., "if the database goes down, the business halts, and we loose millions a minute." Growth potential is harder to quantify and pitch, so we often ask for money based on fear and loss.
    (29:36) "Even though I think about revenue streams, I've never been taken as seriously when I talk about them, as when I talk about fear."
    Finding people outside of IT that care about software, like, in "the business."
    (32:55) The only reason for technical agility, is business agility.
    (33:44) If you do live through a crisis, try to internalize your failure to prepare so you only learn once from crisis, not again and again.
    (35:33) The Business needs the fear, and then needs to ask IT to help with some optimistic technology action...cause no one's gonna believe IT.

    • 38 min
    Episode 2: Outsourcing, SIs, and other "others"

    Episode 2: Outsourcing, SIs, and other "others"

    We discuss outsourcing IT.

    • 58 min
    Episode 1: Who forget to invite "The Business," to this kubernetes PoC?

    Episode 1: Who forget to invite "The Business," to this kubernetes PoC?

    Journey Through the Business Bottleneck, part 1.


    Join Rick and I as we try to find this elusive thing called "The Business." We lay out a theory we've been talking about: while IT has been improving or, at least, can improve, the business side of the house isn't showing up to do anything with CLOUD and AGILE and THE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION.


    Why's this the case? Do toothpaste people have this problem? Outsourcing - that's a treat! And so forth.


    Hopefully next episode we'll discuss tactics to get people outside of IT interested.


    Subscribe at https://misaligned.business


    And, check out Coté's work in progress book on this topic: https://cote.io/bottleneck/

    • 44 min
    Monolithic Transformation

    Monolithic Transformation

    Large organization are desperate to become “tech companies.” They drool at these tech companies ability to grow and change quickly. Despite mastering agile over the past 20 years, IT as a whole is too slow and unreliable. “It’s the culture,” everyone says. Changing culture for a team of 10 people is easy - changing a department of 20,000 developers is another challenge entirely.


    Based on case studies and interviews over the past five years, this talk describes how large organizations are getting over that challenge. First, the talk covers moving from a project to a product mindset and the associated practices. Second, it covers how DevOps and cloud platforms enable that product mindset. Third, it goes over how leadership and management change to support this new approach. Finally, the talk catalogs tactics, patterns, and organizational structures that large organizations are using to improve how they do software which leads to improving their business.


    This talk is based on my book Monolithic Transformation (O’Reilly, Feb 2019).


    You can download the slides if you like, and they pop-up as chapter art if your podcast app supports that.

    • 1 hr 32 min

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