Advertising – the good and the bad

We all want to get paid.

As ‘free’ continues to become the norm for data, information, apps and services, developers reach to advertising to fill the ‘P’ part of their profit and loss statements. Internet revenue hit $7.3 billion in Q1 this year, according to PwC – so someone must be clicking those ads.

With advertising, more clicks means more cash. We all want more cash – and the two most common ways to get high Click-Through Rates straight away seem to be:

  1. annoy, trick, deceive, or
  2. make the ad, and with it the experience, meaningful and contextually relevant (that is, give me ads that are relevant to what I am doing that might actually help me complete the task I am performing)

#1 might get you a higher CTR over the short term, but #2 has a much better chance of providing real value to your users and leading to a long-term, sustainable relationship.

When a visitor comes to your webpage, or a user interacts with your mobile app, you have been granted the ever-so-brief attention of a human being. This is a rare and important moment; this is an opportunity for you to build a meaningful relationship with them.

Don’t waste it.

Who cares if you’re doing scrum or not?

Have you ever heard the question: “Are you doing Scrum? I mean, really doing scrum?” Or: “If I take the Scrum textbook practices, but change one or two things to suit my business, software or people, is that still Scrum?”

At the Agile Lean Europe Unconference in Berlin yesterday there was quite a bit of talk about what Scrum is, and what it actually means to ‘do’ scrum. There was an open space on the topic, where one of the participants said, in response to the above questions: “the answer should be, Who cares?”.

There’s a concept borrowed from Japanese Zen practices called ‘Mu‘. Mu is the third possible answer to a binary (yes/no) question.

“Are taxes good or bad?”

The answer is they are neither good nor bad. The real answer is larger than the context of the question that was asked. The answer is ‘Mu’. What Mu is really saying, is, “un-ask the question”.

Another example: think about a single bit in a read-only memory module in your computer. When the power is off, is the state of the bit 1 or 0? The answer is: it is neither. It is in a Mu-state.

Back to the original topic. “If I change this or that from Scrum, is it still Scrum?” The answer is Mu. It doesn’t matter if it is still scrum or not. What matters is if you are delivering high quality software. If you are measuring that software and iterating. If you avoid waste and decrease time-to-production. If your team is happy, self-organising and efficient. Who cares if it’s “scrum”?

* Note: Robert M. Pirsig speaks about Mu in his amazing 1974 book, “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance“.

Software update cycle: faster every day

My Atari 2600 never got a firmware update. Not a single one. Neither did any of the game cartridges that came with it.

In the early days of software, ‘soft’ware was really just a different kind of hardware. It was built, packaged and shipped exactly once. If you shipped it with a bug, that bug would stay there.

‘Softer’ storage types (tapes, floppy disks, etc) and better distribution allowed software companies to release new versions more often. Many years between major versions became one or two years, but updates to a specific version were uncommon.

The internet shortened the cycle even further – turning one or two years to months for many software products, and allowing automatic updates of existing versions to fix bugs, patch security holes, and so on.

Seamless and fully-integrated update and application management technology, like the App Store for Mac, can bring the cycle down even futher – changing months to weeks between updates.

What happens when the cycle is even shorter? Then you get web products. Sites like or Amazon can push an updates to production servers multiple times per day.

How fast are you?