Messaging the direction

Read this great post on AVC today :: http://avc.com/2016/11/keep-it-simple/

It reminds me of some thoughts on product management – then I realized how I had written up this multi-parter but never got past part 1. oops. https://seedvc.blog/2014/08/20/how-i-try-to-product-manage-part-1/

Let me add my point – which is based on this comment from Fred:

The number one cause of employee unhappiness and unwanted departures is “I don’t understand where we are going.” That is a failure of leadership on the CEO’s part. I agree with John, keep it simple and repeat often and don’t mix up your messages. It is critical, particularly as the organization grows in size.

One of the hardest problems I faced with teams small or large was keeping everyone on the same page and making sure the product management process aligned with the business process. It would be easy to find work to do or to evolve a product or a feature or just let a dev work on something “cool”. Problem is though that all those things may not help solve a business goal. 

The issue is you need to convey to the product team where the company is going and how the product cadences will help the company meet the business goals. There is no perfect way to manage all of this but what started to work for me was having 6 month big picture meetings where business goals where stated and the product roadmap would be discussed as a group but with the clear idea that the product needed to support the business needs. Then we would try to break things down by quarter and by month. At a product level we might even get down to 2 week sprints. 

At the beginning of the 6 months, post the big pow wow meeting, everyone knew where we were going and everyone knew their role in the outcome. This helped with dealing with wayward devs or product creep but this also helped deal with the other side of the coin which is when the biz folks would change their mind midstream. I think it is important to hold both sides accountable – if you stick to the plan then normal schedules are okay but if the biz people want to alter the course, which is perfectly okay, then the biz people must accept that the product schedule will get pushed back. 

This way everyone knows the plan, everyone knows how to make it work and everyone is accountable for time changes if there are scope changes. It is not easy. No amount of tools make it easier but making sure everyone knows where the biz is going and how is an important step in how product management works.

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Great post by Om on Empathy

I am digging seeing Om in long form in the New Yorker :: http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/silicon-valley-has-an-empathy-vacuum

He makes some solid points but I don’t see the valley changing much given it’s such a bubble. Both the wealth and the protection from the real world but I do wonder how the Trump era is going to attack it and how the valley will rise to the challenge.

Empathy would be a great place to start.

I have talked about this some before :: https://seedvc.blog/2016/10/17/empathy/

Thoughts on schooling 

This is pretty interesting :: https://cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/brightside.me/wonder-curiosities/finland-will-become-the-first-country-in-the-world-to-get-rid-of-all-school-subjects-259910/amp/

Obviously a work in progress but it feels like the right way to try and tackle a new period of education.

I don’t know what the right answer is to how best to educate kids. Even with my own kids I struggle a bit since I would choose options other than Singapore public schools but the options are not much better and vastly more expensive.

I have done some private school, some home school, some public school but very little university – my views are all over the place but my most enjoyable school experience was 4-8th grade. One room classes with one teacher and an assistant who took us through all of our courses, read books to us and introduced me to computers. Small classes with teachers who cared and who had also had other careers in their past – they were not teachers from day one. 

This actually may have been the difference – since they brought in their previous experiences and shared bits about real life and career theories.

Looking back I am pretty sure those 4 years of school were my most formative. I one day aspire to teach some after I retire.

APAC banking app security report

Check it out :: https://letstalkpayments.com/launch-of-the-latest-security-report-on-bank-apps-in-apac-at-singapore-fintech-festival/

Highlights:

The report reveals that 85% of mobile banks were vulnerable to high, medium and low security loopholes and over 50% of apps were found to have at least four to six bugs in them.

Here are the key threats to the mobile banking applications that were studied:

  • 13% of the mobile banking applications had broken trust for SSL
  • 15% of the mobile banking applications had Remote Code Execution through the Javascript interface
  • 10% of the mobile banking applications had insufficient Transport Layer Protection
  • 12% of the mobile banking applications had derived crypto keys
  • 26% had other threats that could harm the security of their mobile banking applications

For more info – you can grab the report here :: https://medici.letstalkpayments.com/research-categories/security-report-of-top-100-mobile-banking-apps-apac

https://www.appknox.com/ and https://devknox.io/

Happy mobile banking day!

Is anywhere ever the capital of anything?

Adding this interesting tweet::

Was reading Term Sheet today and came across this.

http://fortune.com/2016/11/15/term-sheet-tuesday-november-15/ :

The Capital of Fintech: There’s apparently a fight, or battle, or race on between cities to become the Capital of FinTech. Hubs, scenes, ecosystems “capitals,” and various spins on the phrase Silicon Valley are overrated.

I see the benefit of mentorship, available capital, and attracting talent, but I don’t quite see the value in fighting over who has the most and biggest. Berlin’s economy minister launched a letter-writing campaign to beg London fintech companies to move. Singapore and Hong Kong are battling with government-sponsored conferences. Does there really need to be a winner? Can’t fintech just be an everywhere thing? (PS. I can’t help but think this is a sign that the fintech frenzy, and its related valuations, might hitting its peak.)

She is referring to this article :: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/15/business/dealbook/where-finance-and-technology-come-together.html

Several cities around the world are competing to become the capital, or at least one of the regional capitals, of fintech. If the young financial technology industry has the transformative effect that some have imagined, the contest could also determine the future capitals of finance as a whole.

And then of course for Asia the often coffee chat is around Singapore or Hong Kong:

Hong Kong has lots of competition from Singapore, which recently started its own aggressive effort to become a capital of fintech. Singapore has begun offering some of the same inducements as Hong Kong, including its first fintech week.

Last year, more fintech companies in Singapore raised money from venture capitalists than did in Hong Kong, but the Singapore companies raised less money in sum than those in Hong Kong, according to data from Accenture.

Funny enough all this is happening during FinTech week in Singapore. 🙂

My take is just like the blockchain frenzy we are at peak hype cycle for FinTech – in other words, Peak of Inflated Expectations. Buzzword bingo at its finest. I personally don’t think there will be a capital of FinTech but I could be wrong. 

This goes with my feeling that the only Silicon Valley will be …. Silicon Valley. Same as the next Amazon is still most likely Amazon.

As Erin alludes to – the power of a network, capital, mentors and the support system for a given vertical trend is great but products can be built by people anywhere for anywhere but maybe it helps to be in a Singapore or Hong Kong for some things but not always. Example is Abra based in California but product focused on the Philippines. 

In general though I think some of the core advances in FinTech are more practical and structural and may not need to be based anywhere special. In hearing Neal Cross from DBS the other day he mentioned that DBS has 40% profit margins so chasing the hype of FinTech is silly unless it can beat what they already do. Hint, hint – the banks don’t have a lot of interest in disrupting themselves so focusing on them or their financial centers may not be the answer.

I find it funny that the issues still plaguing banks and how fixing them is little to do with hardcore FinTech. Take for example that all the Singapore banks require you to use a hardware token generator. Mine ran out of battery the other day and I filled out paper forms to turn it in and to get a new one. New one had to be mailed to me and until I got it, I was not able to transact. Yes I know they have SMS tokens but they are for view only – not paying my bills.

Why can’t the bank know I don’t have my token for 5 days but allow me to do transactions that I always do? Pay the power bill for example but don’t let me add a new payee since that could be suspicious activity. Why can’t they use a software based token generator? Why can’t they use touchID on my phone? Why can’t they use my voice?

My point is that practical use cases for disruption in finance may not be connected to having to be in FinTech central.

Back to reality …