A former colleague once told me a story that I think of whenever in a discussion of investing in technology to solve business problems…

Long ago (circa early 90's) he was pitching a consulting project to a major telco. The telco had put out an RFP to various development shops asking for help solving a classic problem — they had a number of different systems for billing, provisioning, customer service, etc. Their customer reps would have to physically go to different terminals to deal with different aspects of the support process, causing a lot of inconvenience and wasted time.

Of course, all of the proposals that came back talked about various ways to integrate the systems using then state-of-the-art enterprise software techniques, and, of course, all of those proposals were quite hefty in terms of time and cost. My friend submitted his proposal and waited to hear back. …

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Recently I attended my 9-year-old son’s class to watch him take his turn at the regular 4th grade “Current Event” presentation. I beamed proudly as he nailed his short talk about flying cars, after which he took questions for ten minutes from the thirty or so kids sitting there. With many hands still in the air the Q&A had to be cut short for time, and my wife and I left, proud of the great work he had done preparing and presenting. I lamented only one thing about his presentation that day: of the dozen or so students he called upon only one was female. No, it was not because only boys had raised their hands. It was because my son had, unconsciously, looked over that sea of raised hands and selected, with one exception, only boys. …

The vocabulary of Agile does more harm than good. In helping companies adopt Agile methods we find we need to correct mistaken impressions people have gotten from Agile literature. Our first task is often to help them unlearn unhelpful language so that they can set the right goals and get buy-in from teams. As George Orwell wrote in his famous essay, “Politics and the English Language,” “language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better.” …

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Photo Credit: Master and Fellows of Trinity College Cambridge

I recently had this interaction with Dave Hornik regarding his blog post urging entrepreneurs to get a direct introduction to him through his trusted network.

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Rather than getting into it 140 characters at a time I’m writing this note to him in public (because he is hardly alone in his views on introductions among VCs).

Let me first say that I like you, Dave. You probably don’t remember me, but we have met a few times (a couple of group dinners in Berkeley and an interview in your office in 2006), and I worked in one of your portfolio companies for a little while in 2007. I have always considered you to be one of the good ones. Your blog paved the way for a whole generation of transparency in an industry previously known for its abstruseness. Dave, you’re on my very short list of VCs I’d want to work with if I were doing a venture that was appropriate for your fund. …


Nathan Dintenfass

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