Tag Archives: Scale

Power BI at Ignite 2017: announcing enterprise-ready capabilities for establishing data culture at scale

Since we released it over two years ago, Power BI has redefined what is possible with a truly modern BI tool. Delivered as a cloud service that anyone can sign up for and experience in minutes, it has made our ambitions of delivering BI to everyone a reality.

Power BI has quickly become the platform of choice for enterprises that want to establish a “data culture” to run their organizations on data-driven decisions. This week at Microsoft Ignite we will showcase how organizations from across the globe have used Power BI to get the most of their data. We are also really excited to announce a wealth of new features and capabilities that will help enterprises to achieve even more with their data. It’s going to be a great fall season!

Enterprise-grade scalability and performance with Power BI Premium

With a capacity-based pricing model, coupled with dedicated hardware, Power BI Premium is the right choice for a variety of critical analytics workloads in the enterprise. Businesses around the world are continuing to experience the impact of delivering intelligence to users throughout the organization with Power BI Premium, including many that have adopted the offering since its general availability in June – for example:

ASOS is a UK-based online retailer, whose mission is to become the world’s number one fashion destination for 20-somethings. Josie Williams, Data Services Architect at ASOS, said, “As we grow, Power BI apps together with Premium capacity provide scalable operational reporting, helping us to maintain a best-in-class Customer Care function.”

Slalom is a purpose-driven consulting firm with 25 locations across the U.S., U.K., and Canada helping companies build for the future. Mike Heffernan, CFO, says, “In addition to a highly efficient licensing model, Power BI Premium has empowered Slalom to share business insights across our core platforms with a broad global audience, taking Slalom one step closer to realizing a vision of BI for everyone.”

Since launch, we’ve been working on major new capabilities for Power BI Premium, geared towards further realizing our vision of enabling truly massive deployments and demanding workloads in cost-effective fashion.

  • One-click scale-up [available this week] of Premium capacities, meaning that organizations can easily increase the resources brought to bear on their critical data, without the need to move content around or set up new capacities.
  • Larger Premium capacity nodes [coming October] featuring the new P4 and P5 SKUs, which give organizations even more room to grow as they scale their data infrastructure to new heights
  • Support for large models [coming October] in Premium, allowing organizations to leverage dedicated capacity to host datasets 10x larger than what was previously possible
  • Power BI Premium available for US government and US Department of Defense users [coming October], building on Power BI Pro’s availability announced earlier this year. Visit the Azure Government Cloud blog for more information.

Enterprise-scale distribution and compliance features for Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium

Additionally, we’ll be building on existing distribution and compliance features to help you keep tabs on your enterprise data and meet security, governance and regulatory requirements.

  • External distribution of Power BI apps[coming October] to suppliers, customers, or business partners to improve decision making across the value chain. Built on Azure Active Directory, external users don’t need to remember extra passwords and can sign on using their own organization’s security credentials.
  • Push Power BI apps to end users automatically [coming October] so that everyone in your organization can find the reports and dashboards they need, on their first day, and across all their devices. Governance controls are built in to ensure data quality and control standards are met.
  • In-region auditing [coming October] with auditing data generated by Power BI now stored in the same region as your Power BI tenant. Along with our global data center footprint and industry-leading national cloud strategy, Power BI uniquely enables you to meet your organization’s compliance requirements.
  • Data lineagetools [coming October] to understand the downstream use of sensitive data sources to plan changes, manage compliance, or understand performance and load. The data lineage solution template is fully extensible to your needs and can be integrated as part of your organization’s monitoring or adoption reporting.

Enterprise-wide deployment of Power BI Desktop

Power BI Desktop is the most powerful tool in the market for shaping data into rich, interactive reports. In hundreds of thousands of organizations, Power BI Desktop has helped kindle a powerful data culture by empowering end users to make the most of their data.

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Above: Power BI Desktop can now be widely deployed through the Windows Store

We want to help supercharge this movement, and to empower millions more to achieve the same. To that end, we are excited to announce that Power BI Desktop will now also be available in the Windows Store. Enterprises will now be able to easily push the latest version of Power BI Desktop to their end users, ensuring access to the latest and greatest features. And, as we continue to improve Power BI Desktop, any existing installations will automatically be updated, without the need for end user Windows administrator rights. It’s never been so easy to empower your entire organization with cutting-edge data analytics capabilities. Learn more in the Windows Store

Enterprise-ready partner network

Power BI works with a rich network of partners to create solutions tailored to every need. Today, we are excited to announce exciting updates to our partner ecosystem.

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Above: new Plus subscription for ArcGIS in Power BI

Last June, in collaboration with Esri, a global leader in Geospatial Information Systems, we announced the general availability of ArcGIS Maps for Power BI. The integration of Power BI with ArcGIS has allowed us to redefine how business users experience their data using maps and advanced GIS techniques previously available only in specialized tooling.  We are excited to announce that the new Plus subscription for ArcGIS Maps for Power BI will enable users to further advance that experience. The Plus subscription allows users to access more maps, global demographics, verified ready-to-use data, and plot even more locations on their maps for compelling visualizations that give perspective and impact decisions. Esri will make this new subscription available later in Q4. Learn more

Powerful ISV ecosystem with Power BI Embedded in Azure

Power BI empowers ISVs looking to embed rich data visualization and analysis into their custom-built applications and solutions. Today, we are excited to announce that new Power BI Embedded SKUs will be available in Azure beginning Oct. 1. These capacity-based SKUs simplify how ISVs and developers use Power BI capabilities, helping them quickly add stunning visuals, reports and dashboards into their apps. Read more here

We look forward to seeing you in Orlando. Stop by our booth and attend our sessions. If you’re unable to attend, be sure to watch online.

See you in person or online!

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WEBINAR SERIES: Simplify and Scale Your Smart Data Discovery

Attivio Webinar Series 2 Blog 620x360 WEBINAR SERIES: Simplify and Scale Your Smart Data Discovery

Join TIBCO for this 3-part webinar series where we help you simplify and scale your smart data discovery. We’ll walk you through the concepts, then do a live example using the technique and conclude with a live Q&A session. All webinars will be recorded, so bookmark this page to return for the on-demand content.

Register today.

AI-Driven Data Discovery and Cognitive Search to Accelerate Big Data Insights with TIBCO Spotfire Smart Data Catalog
Live Date: July 26, 2017   

Looking for the right data across departmental silos is not a great use of analysis time. The TIBCO Spotfire® Smart Data Catalog, a new data connectivity and management solution makes it dramatically easy to search and automatically blend related data across multiple disparate data sources, including databases, data lakes and files. Once found and blended the catalog makes it easy to provision data to Spotfire for analysis. Learn more.

Unlocking the Value from Unstructured Data Goldmine with TIBCO Spotfire Data Catalog
Live Date: September 7, 2017  

Historically it has been very difficult to unlock the value of information trapped in unstructured data. Tune in to this webcast to see how the Smart Spotfire Data Catalog can extract meaning and sentiment from millions of documents and make the results available to analyze in an easy to use visual analysis environment. Learn more.

AI & Machine Learning Powered Data Discovery with TIBCO Spotfire Data Catalog
Live Date: October 11, 2017   

The TIBCO Spotfire Smart Data Catalog, uses artificial intelligence and machine learning methods to make it easy to search and find the right data. It uses natural language processing, synonyms and customer specific taxonomies to increase the accuracy of search results. Machine learning is used to auto-join data sources leveraging a patent-pending technology. Learn more.

Register today.

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how to hardcode Z axis scale on 3D surface

I am trying to plot a paraboloid in Mathematica. Here is my code:

Plot3D[x^2+y^2, {x, -4, 4}, {y, -4, 4}]

The output is a 3D plot but with the vertical axis completely off scale:

W5sLa how to hardcode Z axis scale on 3D surface

I tried several different functions namely BoxRatio, AspectRatio and PlotRange. None of these work. How do I hardcode the z-axis scale to be the same as the x and y scales and not exagerated like the above figure?

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Recent Questions – Mathematica Stack Exchange

Driving Power BI adoption in your organization – Learn how Microsoft does this at scale

At Microsoft leaders across the company have committed to fostering a data culture and are often asked how to drive this type of change. An internal program designed to drive adoption of Power BI internally has been at the center of this cultural shift.  

Through a combination of training, a comprehensive communication strategy, and user-centric features and design, BI@Microsoft drives adoption of our data culture with Power BI. This program enables our employees to use data visualization, business intelligence and statistical analysis in their day-today jobs. Employees were previously limited by a mindset that they didn’t have the technical skills or time necessary to model data. Or they thought the data was not available or accessible. The BI@Microsoft program has proven that data driven decisions are possible at every level of the organization, while also creating loyal fans that influence their teams to use data to make informed decisions.  

As Microsoft’s “First and Best” customer, Microsoft employees have the responsibility and privilege to be the first people in the world to use Microsoft products in production. With Power BI, we are not only the first customer, but because of the reach and scale of our company, we are a great example of an active and engaged global Power BI user bases.   

BI@Microsoft is a program inside Microsoft IT which is responsible for the BI tools Microsoft employees use. We are responsible for two key things, driving rapid internal adoption of Power BI and influencing the Power BI product group so that it builds a product that meets the needs of large enterprise customers like Microsoft. This virtuous feedback cycle ensures we build better products for our external customers.

clip image0029 thumb Driving Power BI adoption in your organization – Learn how Microsoft does this at scale    

The purpose of this blog post is to explain how we drive adoption of Power BI at scale so that you can learn from our best practices and implement a similar method. That way you too can get the most value out of your Power BI licenses. Like you, we are always striving do more with less.  For that reason, our program is focused on reaching and influencing the behavior of employees at scale.

The BI@Microsoft program uses basic principles of change management to enable change inside the company. We focus on different activities based on the product lifecycle and recent updates. We might start the cycle over again when promoting a big new feature. The principles drive the following behaviors:

  1. Awareness—Employees are aware of the product and its features
  2. Understanding—Employees understand the benefits of the product and its features
  3. Enablement—Employees learn or know how to use the product and its features
  4. Adoption—Employees usethe product regularly

clip image0049 thumb Driving Power BI adoption in your organization – Learn how Microsoft does this at scale

We manage our program in what we call workstreams.  We’ve found this way of structuring the work very effective, and I think it will be easy for you to see what applies to your situation.  We will briefly explain each of the workstreams, and you can determine which of them are most appropriate for your company to help you get the most value out of Power BI.

Here is a list of all our workstreams, a description of each, and examples of tasks and goals that may apply to an external company.   We will limit this discussion only to the activities that a company outside of Microsoft would benefit from.

  • Strategy and Program Management
  • Power BI Subject Matter Expert (SME)
  • Website
  • Training
  • Service & Support
  • Social & Community
  • Reporting & Telemetry
  • Advisors
  • Suppliers

This illustration summarizes all the worktracks and prioritizes which to focus on first.

clip image0069 thumb Driving Power BI adoption in your organization – Learn how Microsoft does this at scale

Strategy and Program Management:  Our leadership team determines the strategy of the program and provides overall program management. This workstream aligns the program strategy to drive adoption of Power BI to your corporate BI and data strategy.  If you don’t have a corporate BI or data strategy, this is a great opportunity to determine one. At Microsoft, we were fortunate that the launch of Power BI aligned with our CIO’s drive to foster a Microsoft data-driven culture within Microsoft. Activities include but are not limited to:

  •          Obtaining executive sponsorship and communicating it
  •          Aligning program goals to corporate goals
  •          Planning strategy and execution, and measuring the program
  •          Obtaining program resources and budget
  •          Managing all the other workstreams

Power BI Subject Matter Expert (SME):   For the program to succeed, at least one person in the program must be a Power BI subject matter expert (SME).  This person (or persons) is a BI professional with deep experience and knowledge of how the company uses BI, and helps the program make all decisions related to Power BI usage inside the company. Activities include but are not limited to:

  • Understanding Power BI and how your company will use it
  • Continually learning and keeping current with the Power BI roadmap and features
  • Sharing knowledge about Power BI roadmap and features with the program and the company
  • Power BI content and timing for all other workstreams
  • Liaising with Power BI product group and Microsoft on behalf of your company
  • Advising the program and employees on features, timing, training
  • Vetting or creating content to publish through all workstreams
  • Planning and executing any early adoption and testing programs for employees

Website:  We created and manage an internal website for Microsoft employees to help them easily find all the information they need to adopt Power BI.  Our internal website is a critical component of our program and we use it as a platform for communicating the information employees need to adopt Power BI at scale. The internal website is a combination of curated public information about Power BI and company-specific content.   We use it as an anchor to publish and centralize the content we think employees need to use Power BI, which includes but is not limited to:

  •          Home page for announcements, easy-to-find links, the latest news
  •          Internal blog for Microsoft company specific content or confidential news
  •          Curated content from public Power BI sources
  •          Best practices for using Power BI
  •          Company-specific guidance (e.g., Microsoft IT security guidance for using Power BI with confidential data)
  •          How to get support on Power BI
  •          How to participate in our internal community
  •          How to meet with our advisory services
  •          List of preferred suppliers to hire for Power BI projects
  •          All training options—public and internal

A view of the internal Microsoft BI website.  We update this weekly with the news from not only Power BI, but all Microsoft BI related products like the recently announced Azure Analytics Services.

clip image0089 thumb Driving Power BI adoption in your organization – Learn how Microsoft does this at scale

Marketing:  A essential element of our program is our marketing.  Marketing the resources we make available to employees is critical to driving adoption at scale.   We use our marketing channels to communicate everything from how to make the best use of new features, to examples of how other teams are using Power BI, to corporate guidance on data security. We use standard marketing techniques like segmentation to target the right message to the right people at the right time.  We also promote the adoption and use of other BI backend tools like Cortana Intelligence Suite and Azure Analysis Services. Activities include but are not limited to:

  •          Segmenting users via telemetry and existing email distribution lists in the company
  •          Sending monthly newsletters to our three user segments: business users, analysts and developers
  •          Sending weekly training summary
  •          Planning and managing targeted marketing campaigns. For example, we are planning a marketing campaign in support of new security features that shipped recently that now make it possible to use Power BI to analyze our most confidential corporate data.

Training:  Another important component is ensuring that employees have the training they need to learn how to use Power BI. Because we started using Power BI before there was a formal public training program; we built a lot of our own training. You are lucky, there now is a wealth of publicly available Power BI training that you can use for your company!  Now that there is great public training is available, we have scaled back our custom training resources significantly and now leverage the public Power BI training as much as possible. Here are the activities we still do with regard to training:

  •          Identify and curate the best training and provide links to that from our website
  •          Host “Applied BI” 30-minute presentations in which internal users explain how they used Power BI to solve their business problems
  •          Host internal Dashboard in a Day training classes. This class content is available to partners for external delivery.
  •          Host monthly Office Hours where users can ask questions of the Power BI SME(s) and experts in the company
  •          Publish a weekly training summary with the best training published that week and upcoming live sessions
  •          Enable users to subscribe to internal training communications through a distribution list to receive all notices about upcoming training opportunities

Here’s a glance at the training page on our website where employees can find the best curated public training information, internal-only training opportunities and a link to sign up to our training newsletter:

clip image0109 thumb Driving Power BI adoption in your organization – Learn how Microsoft does this at scale

Support:  Microsoft has an internal HelpDesk for employees to find solutions to technical problems.   We use the Microsoft IT HelpDesk for all major applications used in the company including Office, Skype, and Windows. BI@Microsoft worked with the Power BI team and the IT HelpDesk team to streamline support for Power BI through the formal IT HelpDesk processes. To adopt Power BI, you will also want to determine what is the best support mechanism for your users and how you will integrate that with the standard help facilities or help desk you have for your users. Activities in this worktrack for you may include:

  •          Understanding your corporate technical support processes
  •          Determining how you want to provide technical support for Power BI for your users:
    •    Use the free support
    •    Use your company’s or corporate technical support processes to streamline support
  •          (Optionally) Purchasing a support contract for Power BI through Microsoft
  •          (Optionally) Establish a process for your internal technical support to escalate to Power BI through your support contract
  •          Communications to your employees about how to get support for Power BI through your company

Social & Community:  A workstream that we believe is very important to the success of adoption of a viral product like Power BI is the social & community workstream. We heavily leverage this workstream to increase employee awareness of Power BI, amplify our internal marketing campaigns , and give users a safe place to ask each other questions and get answers. You can use the Power BI public community or build your own community using your own internal social tools. We have an extensive Yammer community with many active members helping each other with Power BI questions. Tips for success for an internal Power BI community include the following:

  •          Provide a safe place to ask questions and get answers
  •          Identify experts in the company to help others
  •          Run contests to increase adoption through competition and fun—see the Annik custom visual contest as an example of a great community activity
  •          Host regular meeting to increase the number and expertise of your champions
  •          Plan and execute community activities that match your corporate culture to encourage users to engage and help each other

Strategic Advisors:  We have a small team of BI advisors who engage with key internal BI teams creating Power BI solutions for large internal teams.  These advisors work with the BI teams to ensure they are aware of and using all the resources available to help them adopt Power BI and facilitate their progress.    In your company, you could take a similar approach to ensure large internal Power BI projects are successful.

Reporting:   Finally, in alignment with our data-driven culture, we continually measure our program’s impact.  We analyze Power BI user activity and combine it with user surveys, interviews and focus groups to help make decisions on how to run and improve our program.   For example, we track employees Power BI usage and correlate it to delivery of internal training to see if the training was effective in helping employees use Power BI.   User activity is available to the Power BI admin settings which takes you to the Power BI audit logs.

We measure and report on nearly every aspect of our program to inform our decisions, including but not limited to:

  •          Power BI usage by division, team, and manager (MAU, WAU, DAU)
  •          Training attendance and activity
  •          Usage of our website
  •          Social activity

You can pick and choose which of these workstreams are most appropriate for your company and would likely yield the best results based on your corporate culture. Use them as examples and tailor them or similar activities to your company.

To help you understand more about how we did this:

Finally, I’ve made some Power BI feature requests that will make the effort to drive adoption at scale easier for others.  I hope you will take a look at these requests and vote for the features you believe your company would benefit from using and even make your own requests.   https://ideas.powerbi.com/forums/265200-power-bi-ideas/category/180799-adoption

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How to Build and Scale Your Brand [VIDEO]

What happens when your company outgrows your brand – do you update, totally rebrand or just refresh? And how do you do it without spending way more than you can afford?

Eric Mason, the director of strategic marketing and communications at Wix.com, tackles just those questions on this week’s episode of Ignition

Eric small business owners to think of their brand in terms of how it makes people feel instead of as a brochure or website. And he had three main suggestions for a rebrand:

  • Employees are critical brand ambassadors
  • Build a relationship with loyal users
  • Focus your message

Check out all of Eric’s suggestions in the full video!

 

Don’t have time to watch the full video? Check out our summary below.

ultimate guide maximize value of leads How to Build and Scale Your Brand [VIDEO]

This week’s questions was from Rob:

Our web development business has really taken off and now that there are six people here, with more to come soon, our branding is feeling both out-of-date and too small for where we’re going. Do we need to update our brand? And if so, how can we redefine and refine our brand story and overall branding without spending way more than we can afford?

Eric Mason, the director of strategic marketing and communications at Wix.com started out by congratulating Rob for growing the business, because he’s clearly doing something right. Too often small business owners don’t pat themselves on the back when they’ve got that kind of growth.

Most people think that brand is their logo or website or a fancy brochure they put together. So Eric suggested Rob take a step back and think about his brand as how his company makes people feel, how it resonates with people when they think of you. Eric had three suggestions for small business owners to rebrand themselves or build their brand and deepen their engagement with their users.

The first thing is to take a look to your left and right to your employees. Your employees are your number one brand advocates. If you’re building a brand, your best sellers, marketers, people that can go out and spread the news are sitting right in your own office. So everything from how you’re doing billing to how you’re greeting new clients to your follow-up, those people around you are critical in building your brand and really deepening the engagement that you have with your users. 

Next, look to your existing users. They’re the second level of building a great brand. Find out where those users live and what they’re doing and engage with them. Maybe it’s putting together an email newsletter so that you’re building that brand relationship with your users. It’s not just about your website. It’s about building that thing with loyal users first, and then spreading out from there. 

Existing customers can be amazing tools. Eric shared some Nielsen numbers that show that 92 percent of people trust earned media or something that’s said from someone else more than any other type of advertising. More than 80 percent of people actually decide on what they’re going to do with their dollars based on what someone says on social media. So these are really powerful data points that really speak to the fact that if you’re going to build your brand, support your customers. Build that relationship with your existing user base. It doesn’t cost you a penny.

Once you’ve concentrated on employees and customers, Eric suggests only then do you look at your visual identity online or offline. He says maybe it’s time for a website refresh, but said something a bit more contrary: Great brands have laser focus on what they’re doing. When people start a business, they have a lot of energy and stuff happening, they want to put all the design tools and skill they have into their website, and they probably put all their products and features and design right onto their home page.

When it comes to rebranding, you want to focus on the message. It’s time to start thinking about how people feel when they come to you. So maybe it’s time to throw those features back to the second page. Maybe it’s time to take a case study and to put that onto your home page. Get more visual but focus down. 

It’s not about completely redesigning your website – Eric thinks it’s actually a bad idea. He suggests first testing your website by honing your messages and streamlining your messages. Maybe you’re on five social channels and only one of them is working. Put your energy into the one that’s working. Once you’ve got some clients and you’ve got some users, you can start to tell amazing case studies. 

You can start telling the stories of why people came to you, not just what they needed to get don and what it was about that experience that was so impactful for them. That’s your brand. 

This is what’s happening in the offline world. It’s what you want to portray in the online world. And frequently, what that takes for a website is focusing and streamlining and being brief and concise. Remember that if you’re going to rebrand, if you’re going to build your brand, it’s about thinking about every touch point with a potential customer. 

It’s how a customer is engaging with your whatever it is. That is your brand. And people often misunderstand that. They think, “I need a new brand so I’ve got to get a new logo.” Well actually, that’s not it. Your brand is something much deeper.

 

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Organizational Tools to Help Scale Your Business [VIDEO]

Your business is growing, but the processes you used when you were one or two people just won’t cut it now that you’ve grown so much. So how do you get your processes to grow up with you, and how do you get your team on board to schedule your processes?

Simran Thadani, executive director of Letterform Archive, a non-profit organization which has a library of typography and design, sat down with Ignition to share her methods and business organization tools. 

Sim recommends tools to capture ideas and reduce admin like Trello and Zen Payroll, but she also recommends that to get your team onboard with you, reaching a consensus, and sticking to it. She finds that a great method is the Google Ventures Design Sprint, which uses sticky notes, stickers and the whole team. Check out the video! 

Not able to watch right now? Read through our summary below.

Business organization tools

This week’s question was from Henry:

I’ve only ever worked for start-ups and small business. Now that I have a start-up of my own with four employees, the things I used to do to stay organized and efficient just aren’t working anymore, but I don’t know how larger start-ups scale their processes, and more specifically, I don’t know how to get my team on board to help us scale ours. Do you have any suggestions on how we can better communicate, capture ideas and plan next steps as our business grows?

Sim started by saying that overall, as a start-up grows and wants to scale, maybe the best way to think about this: To scale up, slow down. There are different ways you can do this, thinking about your people. Henry has four rock stars he’s hired to work for him, so think about them. Think about how you can leverage their skills. How each individual brings different things to the table and how you can have empathy, and bring them on enthusiastically and individually. 

Having good business organization tools to document what you’re doing and capture ideas is really, really useful and it also will take reduce the admin burden for you. One tool that Sim loves (that we here at the Infusionsoft blog use too) is Trello.

Trello is sort of like a post-it note wall. It’s very flexible, it allows you to create little note cards that you can put on lists, and then move them around just by clicking and dragging them. What that does is that gives you a flexible, interactive, collaborative tool where you can chart out anything from your entire company’s road map for the next 18 months, to a specific project and divvy up who does what. Everyone has their tasks laid out. Or it can just be one person’s to-do list; personal, professional, admin, that sort of thing.

Zen Payroll isn’t something that all of your employees will use as admins, but it will surprise and delight them. It’s easy to set up, you don’t need a voided check the old fashioned way. You just go online and put in your information. The brilliance is once you get your first paycheck it says, “Hey, you’ve just been paid. Isn’t today a beautiful day?” with a picture of butterflies and flowers.

Just bringing people into a place where they’re happy to come to work and happy to be at work is a great way to get people to be invested and not be renters, but be owners of the processes that they’re going to be in charge of. 

Those tools can really help Henry with not having to worrying about some of the other things with accounting and payroll, just get it all in one place, and it will reduce his overhead in terms of time, energy and money. Zen Payroll is cheaper than any other alternative that I’ve seen, and Trello is free.

When it comes to in-office things Henry can do to start scaling his processes and getting people on board, slowing down is a great way to scale up. It sounds very paradoxical and idealistic and you’re thinking, “Oh God, I work overtime already. I don’t have time for this.” 

But it’s much easier to get to the prize if you have your eyes on that prize. You really want to know where you’re going. You want to understand that you’re doing it the right way, and most importantly, you want to know and believe you have your employees, your whole team, on board with you because part of the process of growing is getting to consensus and then sticking with it. Not having someone say, “Well, I said that we should do it this way.”

Sim has a good model that she’s been using for the last year and a half, both in a previous role and now again at Letterform. It’s the Google Ventures Design Sprint model. It’s great because it scales up or down, you could have four employees or 15. At the beginning you give everybody quiet time to brainstorm, no bad ideas, write everything down on a Post-It with a big magic marker and stick it up on a wall. That way there’s not just one loud voice in the room or deathly silence. Then you have people come around with dots or stars to vote on their favorites, so this is the convergence angle of it. And you’ll find that it’s not that one person who has all the good ideas, people will gravitate toward certain things and usually all parts of the company are represented and all employees have something they can share and have their colleagues come to consensus on. You talk about how to validate it, why did you choose this, why does this idea have three stars and that one have five or what’s the best way to go for it. And from there you can prototype and test with your users because then you have something that’s validated by the team and you’ve brought out the individual talents and perspective s and works well for any type of project that you’re working on.

It’s also tremendous validation not just of the best ideas but of the people who brought up those ideas.

The frequency of your sprints depends on how frequently you feel you need to iterate on something new, whether it’s to improve a process or come up with something from scratch. The good thing about the design sprint is it works in a range of different situations but you don’t want to rely on it as a crutch, like just going back to the drawing board because it didn’t work. You don’t want to get stuck in meetings. Take the time you need but don’t get stuck in meetings. Use the sprint to figure out the path to the next thing, don’t come back to the sprint, iterate from where you’re stuck. Be confident in the good ideas you’ve had thus far and then take it from there.

 

 

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unknownskywalker:This very detailed simulation of large scale…

This very detailed simulation of large scale structure was created as part of the Illustris simulation. The distribution of dark matter is shown in blue and the gas distribution in orange. This simulation is for the current state of the Universe and is centered on a massive galaxy cluster. The region shown is about 300 million light-years across.

Recommended article: Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.
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A Smarter Planet