From The Editor | October 2, 2018

Day One Takeaways From The Business Of Software Conference

Abby Sorensen July 2017 Headshot

By Abby Sorensen, Chief Editor

The Business Of Software Conference

My flight to the Business of Software conference departed at 6:30am on Monday, October 1. It didn’t take me long to wake up once I arrived at the Boston World Trade Center & Seaport Hotel to spend three days with people who come here from all over the country (and the world) to, quote, “Work on your business in the company of some of the best and brightest software entrepreneurs on the planet.” My “live” recap articles from the conference are going to come straight from my notes so I can spend less time writing and more time learning from those best and brightest in the software world.

Here’s are some of my favorite takeaways from day one:

  • Mikey Trafton explained why he likes anonymized employee feedback surveys: “We’re introverted software developers, we’re not going to give truthful feedback to your face, we have to have a form for that.” He also said feedback – especially constructive feedback – from coworkers is the best way to motivate people to change behavior.
  • After listening to Jared Spool’s talk, I shuddered to think how many times I’ve written the word “metric” in an article or talked to a software company about the importance of knowing your metrics inside and out. Metrics are only as good as the actions they cause you to take. And most metrics do not really explain why something is happening.
  • Another gem from Spool was a reminder that “satisfaction” is the food equivalent of “edible” – “satisfactory” should not be seen as an endorsement. Achieving satisfaction is an extremely low bar for software.
  • Agile expert Bethany Pagels-Minor cited a recent survey of development teams, in which about half were doing waterfall and 25 percent were doing Scrum. And most of those Scrum teams were moving back to waterfall, while many waterfall teams were moving back to Scrum. The point here is the grass isn’t always greener unless you can communicate and establish trust and accountability on development teams.
  • Bob Moesta explained how there some cases when your software might be undervalued simply because it’s being used in the wrong context. Pizza is great, but substituting a pizza for your last steak dinner makes that pizza seem less great.
  • Moesta also said, “When people fire you as a software company, they do it because they think they are making progress.” If you think customers are being irrational, you don’t know your customers’ context.
  • I loved this quote from Giacomo “Peldi” Guilizzoni, “10 percent slower and 10 percent lower quality is hard to detect, but it will kill the company in two years.”
  • Drift cofounder and CEO David Cancel is a five-time founder, and in his early businesses he said he cared 99 percent about the product. With Drift, he now cares 99 percent about the people (employees, customers, investors). Why? Because dealing with people is more infinitely more complex than dealing with bits.

If you’re reading this and are regretting not being at the Business of Software conference this week, you can still learn from some of the software thought leaders who attend. The following are articles we’ve published in Software Executive and on based on people and companies who have been speakers at the conference: