The TellApart Blog

TellApart + Twitter


Today, we are excited to announce that TellApart has agreed to be acquired by Twitter.  Learn more on Twitter’s blog.


“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Aristotle’s phrase elegantly describes why we’re so excited to announce we’ve agreed to be acquired by Twitter. TellApart’s strengths in personalization, dynamic product ads, commerce data and with retail advertisers are strong complements to Twitter’s deep experience in mobile, understanding users and the app ecosystem. Together, we’re excited to bring the power of cross-device targeted advertising to Twitter, our clients and all of our ad exchange partners.


Better advertising begins with the consumer.

One of the biggest challenges facing marketers today is the fractured nature of the consumer experience – across devices, between the web and apps, and between the digital and the physical worlds. While there are no silver bullets to solve this problem for advertisers, we believe that by working together with Twitter we can considerably improve the experience. On desktop, advertisers on our platform reach the right consumers at the right moments, and working with Twitter, we’ll be able to do more for our advertisers to find the right consumers on either mobile, desktop or both.


Ads are information too.

A big part of what drives us at TellApart is the idea that consumers can find value in ads if they’re relevant, compelling and timely. Indeed, we’ve based our business on getting paid only when users click on an ad they find interesting and then make a purchase from the advertiser. This is a part of Twitter’s core too, with their innovative native ad units that target the right user to drive the right engagement and action across devices.


Time flies when you’re having fun.

It’s hard to believe six years have gone by in the run up to this moment, and while we couldn’t be more excited to get started on this new partnership, we want to pause to thank the many supporters who have helped us get here:  our clients, to whom we promise we will continue to drive amazing results;  our board members and backers – James Slavet of Greylock Partners and Ajay Agarwal of Bain Capital Ventures – whose guidance has been invaluable at every step;  our business partners – including Anthony McCusker and the great folks at Goodwin Procter who have worked tirelessly to see this through;  and our families, many of whom have shared in the long nights and short weekends along the way.



The greatest leverage a partnership can achieve is found when the two companies’ efforts yield outcomes for users, advertisers and the combined organization that are greater than what could be achieved alone. We believe we’ve found that with Twitter. Our commitment to our clients remains as steadfast as ever and we’ll continue to run our business in the same way as we do today, seeking to provide value to consumers and incremental revenue to advertisers.


We are excited to join Twitter and to push forward our shared vision.


Josh McFarland, @crazyfoo

Co-Founder & CEO, @tellapart

TellApart Named Top 10 Best Places to Work


At TellApart we work incredibly hard to maintain an passionate, transparent and innovative startup work culture and are honored to be named one of the best small-sized companies to work for in the 2015 San Francisco Business Times Best Places to Work in the Bay Area.

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It’s truly exciting to be recognized as the best in a city packed with talent and other great companies. This distinction speaks to the larger culture built by our world-class employees across our Silicon Valley and New York offices.

We are particularly proud of this award because it’s based solely on employee sentiment, and it confirms our belief that TellApart has created a work environment where our team genuinely enjoys coming to work every day. When smart people come together to work on intriguing problems, they can accomplish great things together…and have fun doing it!

A great place to work is filled with employees that know that they are valued and the best way to do this is to make sure each employee feels:

  • Informed: Employees are given regularly constructive feedback from their managers and peers including formal bi-annual performance reviews.
  • Heard: Every employee has regular 1:1 meetings with their managers to share their feedback and to get mentorship to help them grow and develop as a professional. As a part of our TellAboutX series, we encourage employees who have an expertise in a particular area – work related or not- have a chance to teach their colleagues about it.
  • Rewarded: In addition to regularly adjusted compensation, employees are given full ownership, responsibility and credit for their contributions. Peers reward each other through peer bonuses which are given during our all company meetings every other week, but many employees would say the best form of compensation is the ability to work with world class teammates.

TellApart strives to be a company that our remarkable team loves coming to everyday and we are always looking for inventive and passionate people with strong ideas and ambitions. If TellApart sounds like it might be the next place that you want to work, check out our careers page to learn more about how you can be part of our team!

To all our employees, thank you for making TellApart a best place to work!


Tackling Omnichannel in 2015: Lessons learned in bridging the gap from HBC’s Michael Burgess

Forrester Research has predicted that US online retail will exceed $325 billion in sales in 2015, with web-influenced in store sales totaling more than $1.4 trillion. This growth of online sales, along with the continued importance of physical stores, explains why “omnichannel” has transitioned from a discussion point to a way of life for the biggest retailers in the U.S. The omnichannel future is being driven by a clear evolution in consumer behavior, and the time is now for retailers to bridge the gap between the customer experience online and in store.

As the New Year kicks off, we wanted to share some lessons from a key TellApart client — Michael Burgess, who is leading the path towards this omnichannel future at the $8+ billion North American retailer, Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). HBC operates Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks Off 5th Outlets and Lord & Taylor in the U.S. and Hudson’s Bay department stores in Canada. Michael reports to the Office of the Chairman and leads ecommerce and digital across all HBC retail businesses.

Recently, our CEO had a great discussion with Michael on stage at Luxury Interactive in New York City to discuss his pioneering efforts to create an omnichannel experience for HBC customers, at every part of their “shopping journey.”



The full conversation (found above) is a great resource for the next set of industry leaders tackling the omnichannel opportunity in 2015 – including:

  • Why omnichannel matters
    Michael shared that sees ten times the amount of visitors than all of the brand’s retail locations combined. This is a driving force of HBC’s efforts to embrace and integrate digital into all areas of their business. HBC recognizes that their success in both understanding and evolving with the customer’s shopping journey, from looking up an item on a mobile phone on the train to returning an item in store, will be what keeps them connected and relevant to their shoppers in the years to come.


  • Taking the first steps
    Since taking the helm at HBC Digital a year ago, Michael has worked to break down the silos between teams across HBC, starting by implementing its first-ever omnichannel sales incentives across e-commerce and in-store teams. He followed these efforts by getting more ambitious in bridging gaps between technology and infrastructure systems typically built and operated separately, including both inventory and marketing. This effort is ongoing and complex, but the foundation of one team and aligned objectives being set make embracing the big changes ahead easier, and more fun.


In 2013, venture capitalist and technologist Marc Andreessen proclaimed “software eats retail.”  This perspective spurred many discussions, but the truth is that software won’t eat retail, it will enhance it in important and monumental ways — as highlighted by our board member, Ajay Agarwal of Bain Capital Ventures, and by Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder of LinkedIn (and personal investor in TellApart).

HBC stands out as one of the companies to watch in this evolution, and we look forward to having more great conversations with Michael and other leading retailers tackling the omnichannel opportunity in 2015.


What the 2014 Holiday Shopping Numbers Confirm about Today’s Consumer – And Why Mobile Demands Full Attention in 2015

Over the past week, dozens of headlines reported the slowdown of Black Friday, while others showed the trend moving in the opposite direction. The chasm between this season’s reports may leave some of us scratching our heads, but there is broad consensus on one point: consumers’ shopping patterns are evolving quickly, and with them, the marketing opportunities and tactics of successful retailers.

TellApart is in the privileged position to be able to look into our data from more than 200 million shoppers buying from leading retailers like Neiman Marcus, One Kings Lane and Warby Parker to better understand what’s really driving purchases. With the lens of the kickoff of the 2014 holiday shopping season, our data confirms much of what has been reported, as well as important patterns that have been emerging, such as:

    • Shopping goes surprisingly well with turkey.
      Call it what you will – Grey Thursday, Thanksgiving, or anything else – but this year people started shopping right after their feasts (or maybe even during). Across our audience, we saw a significant uptick buying year over year, with Thanksgiving Day sales up an impressive 36 percent.



    • The days before and after Black Friday are busier than ever.
      With the majority of the focus on a few key days it is important to note that the week prior to Thanksgiving and the weekend after Black Friday saw as much as 19 percent more online sales day over day than last year.


    • Mobile purchasing is happening – and it’s happening faster than many expected.
      There is no question that mobile devices (phones and tablets) played a major role this holiday shopping season. Putting headlines aside, it is important to remember that the vast majority of sales still happen on desktops, followed by tablets and then phones. That being said, the percent of mobile sales increased by over 35% year over year. And the growth of buying on phones has *doubled* since 2013.


So, what can retailers take away from these numbers? The common understanding shared in the industry that shopping patterns of consumers continue to evolve is clearer than ever. Also confirmed is that the holiday shopping season has become a marathon, not a sprint. Black Friday and Cyber Monday still matter, but they belong to a longer, and more distributed shopping season. Retailers need to approach their shoppers with this fact in mind, and meet them when and where they are ready to shop.

Perhaps most importantly – and for some, a lesson to take action on in 2015 – retailers must embrace mobile shoppers and implement strategies to understand and engage with them more wholeheartedly than ever before. Our data clearly shows that a retailer’s most engaged, highest-value buyers don’t shop on a single device. The cross-device shopper is more than three times as likely to buy — i.e. the shopper who accesses a retailer’s site via desktop as well as on a mobile device as compared to a single-device shopper. That’s a number no one should ignore, any day of the year. When you look ahead to Cyber Monday 2015 — if you have under invested mobile, it will have caught up with you.

Welcoming Bridget Shea as VP of Client Success

Josh McFarland, CEO & Co-Founder

Executive searches are hard. They’re hard because they’re rarely undertaken during the course of a company’s life, and each spec is unique. Building muscle memory, let alone improving upon the practice, is almost impossible unless it’s your full-time job. Even the best in the business — like Mark Kesic of Kesic Cervino (who we’ve used twice and who I highly recommend) or Jeff Markowitz, Talent Partner at Greylock — will tell you it’s difficult to know whether the candidate who looks good on paper is going to hold up in person, let alone in the trenches of a fast growing company. Yet given enough focused effort, it is possible to find your unicorn.

And so, it is with great pleasure that I officially announce Bridget Shea as our VP of Client Success!

Bridget comes to TellApart after highly successful executive roles in strong companies like Kenshoo and Yext, and she brings with her the rare ability to be both close to the details and able to scale. Indeed, as one of the first US-based employees at Kenshoo, she helped them grow from her living room (aka first US office) to a distributed team of 60+ folks across 10 global offices.

Bridget occupies the small area of overlap in the Venn diagram circles of someone who has a deep command of online media and performance metrics but with an enterprise-grade Client Success playbook. Her charter is to help TellApart clients escape other providers’ false dichotomies… or as we see it: Performance, Platform & White Glove Support: pick three.

We could not be more excited to have her as a TellApartan. Welcome, Bridget!

This Time It’s Personal

Bridget Shea, VP of Client Success

How apropos to start a new adventure with TellApart on the 20th anniversary of the banner ad. The first banner was launched on Wired magazine in October 1994 and became both exalted and vilified along with the transformations in our industry over the last two decades. After being declared dead several times, the banner ad has made it through the ups and downs of its formative years alive. The banner ad, as icon of online marketing industry, is now well poised for what I see now as its formidable years.

As someone who grew up professionally during this reign then went on through my work at Kenshoo and Yext to help clients optimize search and social marketing initiatives, I know our industry still has a lot of growing up to do. I want to be part of the movement to help ads mature and grow into formidable contenders to win the hearts and minds of customers. TellApart’s leading role in this movement as so simple and yet ultimately transformative.

This is why I joined the TellApart team and this time it’s personal.

If business is personal, why do so many marketing initiatives forget the person behind the click? We have made huge advancements in our ability to target consumers online more efficiently through programmatic marketing and Real Time Bidding (RTB). While this has made us better at harvesting anonymous demand, personalization still remains a requirement for advertisers that want to curate one on one marketing experiences that build loyal customers for life.

A recent study by Econsultancy showed that 74% of marketers say they know personalization increases customer engagement, but only 19% actually use it. So why isn’t everybody doing it when the benefits of personalization have been well founded? Simply put…it just ain’t that easy.

Personalization done right has become increasingly complex given the growing number of touchpoints with brands that include multiple devices, in store activity, online shopping, etc. Due to this complexity the core concept of identity becomes the essential linchpin to bring Big Data alive in real time to create a personal and consistent customer experience.

The concept of personalization also transfers over to my client services doctrine…and I practice what I preach. When I start working with a client I’ve given them my personal commitment to deliver on the promise to generate optimal value from our products and services. At TellApart we are building a client services team that understands a client is a person (yes a real live human) and we are fully vested in making that person successful in their role to advance the marketing initiatives for their organization. In the new tech era TellApart is reviving the old fashioned approach to client services.

  • People – Getting personal requires a client service team that has empathy for our client’s needs and the insight, skills and pure resolve needed to deliver.
  • Partnership – Develop a true and personal bond that outlasts any particular project, issue or initiative.
  • Get Inside – Know your client’s business like an extension of their team. Use that context to execute tailor-made strategies and tactics.
  • Value – Ultimately we must continuously drive value and exceed performance goals to earn our keep year after year.
  • Depth – Go deep on product capabilities and analytics to deliver direct, thoughtful and quick solutions for clients.
  • Breadth – Omnichannel marketers have many challenges beyond the scope of any one product or company. Our team needs to be well versed in the broader online marketing industries to see around the corner for our clients.
  • Speak Up – Have an opinion. Clients need input from experts to make smart decisions about their business. Make assertive recommendations on what your client should be doing now, next or never.
  • Problem Solving – Above all else we are creative problem solvers for our client’s marketing challenges.


At TellApart we are bringing old school back with smart personalization. This means resuscitating traditional online ads to drive killer results for our clients and servicing our clients with a deep one to one approach. I’m excited to be part of a team that is working hard…and smart to drive personalization forward in a very unique and multifaceted ways throughout our entire organization. This is my unfinished business, and for me, it is personal.

TellApart + Freshplum: Personalizing the Shopping Experience

Josh McFarland, Co-Founder & CEO

Have you ever searched for a promo code to knock a few bucks off a purchase you were already set to make? Of course you have! As consumers, who among us doesn’t love a discount? And yet, as a marketer (or empathetic shopper), have you also slightly cringed at the thought of shaving precious points of gross margin off of an already guaranteed sale?

The motivation behind promotions is straightforward: to drive sales that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred. However, it turns out that actually focusing these efforts is an insanely hard problem requiring immense data and deep modeling in order to drive net new value. It’s this ability to drive incremental value by way of personalized promotions that attracted us to the Freshplum product and team.

When Sam Odio and I sat down for coffee a few months ago, we bonded immediately over our shared frustration with online offers’ lack of incremental value. This opinion is rapidly gaining mindshare. The Wall Street Journal recently authored a piece which delved into this broken world, and it used Freshplum data to underscore the issue. Meanwhile, Forbes profiled Freshplum in a look at the topic of differential pricing (applied through discounts) and its ability to improve conversion rates and consumer satisfaction.

Together, Sam and I knew there exists a huge market need for the type of technology Freshplum had built. And to catalyze the adoption of their technology, we knew TellApart could offer two key benefits: client scale and distribution. Together, we could take offers from their state as a sledgehammer (wreaking havoc on P&Ls with their unintended overusage) to a scalpel-like instrument of precision (driving incremental revenue through the right offers to the right shoppers). So today, we are jointly proud to announce TellApart has acquired Freshplum.

As TellApart accelerates through significant revenue milestones, our large client base now includes some of the biggest names in retail: household names such as Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Sur La Table as well as premier online merchants such as One Kings Lane, Wayfair and ModCloth. And importantly, while Freshplum built expertise for the dynamic offering of discounts while shoppers remained on a retailer’s site, TellApart’s Dynamic Message Service is the key to delivering these same personalized promotions to shoppers after they’ve left — through any channel: display ads, Facebook, mobile web, cross-device applications and email.

Perhaps more importantly, we found in the Freshplum team a group of people who share TellApart’s DNA — indeed, several of our folks used to work together at one of the leading retail pricing companies, DemandTec. Sam, who sold his last company to Facebook and led the creation of Facebook Photos, and Sid Patil, who led the Consumer Products Data Science team at DemandTec (but who is probably more famous for leading part of the MIT Blackjack Team that inspired the book “Bringing Down the House” and the movie “21”) are the kind of people to bet on when trying to solve for an opportunity of this magnitude, and we couldn’t be more proud to have their team as part of TellApart.

We’re excited to announce that the Freshplum product capabilities are available today for all TellApart clients as Dynamic Promotions, the newest application atop our Predictive Marketing Platform. Dynamic Promotions have already been shown to drive conversion rate increases of 13% (site-wide) to 30% (returning-visitors) for clients like, CafePress and Hayneedle, and we know we are just scratching the surface of this market opportunity.

Dynamic Promotions is another powerful use case toward our goal of providing a more personalized retail experience. As we continue to leverage the capabilities of our machine learning-based models and Customer Value Scores, TellApart and Freshplum will help retailers make the customer experience feel more personal and curated, ensuring shoppers discover the products most delightful to them.

Welcoming Jonathan Shottan as Advisor

Josh McFarland, CEO & Co-Founder

During our initial fundraising process for TellApart, almost five years ago, we were very mindful of choosing the people we wanted around our table as investors. James Slavet from Greylock, where Mark and I had spent the preceding nine months as Entrepreneurs in Residence, was at the top of our list and decided to lead our Series A with a $4M investment. Alongside James, we carved out another $750K for a very select group of people we wanted on our team, many of whom we had previously worked with. They included strong operators, such as: Dick Costolo (CEO, Twitter), Jeff Jordan (former GM of eBay, President of PayPal and CEO of OpenTable — now Partner at Andreessen Horowitz), Jeff Holden (Chief Product Officer, Uber), Deep Nishar (SVP of Products & User Experience, LinkedIn) and Phil Libin (CEO, Evernote).

We also added just a single advisor: David Rosenblatt. For those unacquainted with his name, David was CEO of DoubleClick and led it from IPO in 1998 (when it was one of the highest flying companies in the tech bubble) to its private equity buyout in 2005 through its eventual acquisition by Google for $3.1B in 2007. He then stayed to see his baby become one of the biggest digital marketing juggernauts in the world before leaving in 2009. Today he sits on the boards of Twitter and IAC while serving as CEO of 1stdibs — the world’s largest online luxury marketplace for rare and desirable objects.

Why do I offer all this color to today’s announcement? Because it highlights how selective we are when gathering the very best people around our table. We aren’t looking solely for big names. We want only the kind of people we intend to work with for decades – with deep substance, specific expertise and strong character.

I’m proud to announce today that we’ve found someone qualified to serve as our second ever advisor: Jonathan Shottan.

Prior to landing his new position at Pinterest (congrats Ben, Tim & team!), Jonathan ran the product side of Facebook’s ads targeting, measurement and the Facebook Exchange. When he joined, Jonathan was quickly tasked with filling the big shoes of two amazing folks who had recently departed Facebook — Gokul Rajaram (now at Square) and Antonio Garcia-Martinez (now at Nanigans), and I can’t say I wasn’t skeptical and trepidatious.

We had built such strong relationships with his predecessors — with TellApart as the first Facebook partner to serve ads live on FBX, the co-authors of the Real-Time Bidding Exchange Protocol, and the first to serve real-time bidded dynamic ad creative into the News Feed, etc. — we were understandably nervous about this new sheriff in town.

I remember our first meeting in early 2013 — Jonathan looked the spitting image of Aaron Kaufmann. (Gas Monkey Garage, anyone? Am I seriously the only one in Silicon Valley who geeks out on hot rod reality shows?) This did nothing to assuage my concerns. However, within minutes of opening the meeting, it was clear this guy was the real deal: hugely knowledgeable about our industry, long on substance if often short on words, razor sharp technically and incredibly strategically minded. Over the past year, Jonathan proved the first meeting wasn’t a fluke. He also eventually shaved the beard.

Jonathan will be spending time with the TellApart product and engineering teams as we continue building the world’s leading Predictive Marketing Platform. As I’ve written before, Pinterest and Facebook are incredibly important players in this future ecosystem and Jonathan’s unique perspective from his work at each — plus his five years at Turn — will prove invaluable to our future direction. We couldn’t be more excited to have him join us as advisor.

Welcome, Jonathan!

— Josh McFarland, Co-founder & CEO

TellApart + AdStack = a Brighter Future for Email

Josh McFarland, CEO & Co-Founder


TellApart was founded over four years ago with the vision of helping retailers to use their customer data to improve all dimensions of the consumer experience — across devices and channels, online and off — and our products have driven billions of dollars in incremental revenue for some of the best brands in retail.

With a focus first on marketing, we started by personalizing display ads — filling the allocated space with products that foster discovery and delight. We extended these efforts across the Facebook platform — including the Facebook Exchange for both Right Column & News Feed ads and Custom Audiences. We brought our Customer Quality Score-based personalization techniques to our clients’ landing pages with Dynamic Offers. And now, we turn our efforts to the most ubiquitous marketing channel of all — email.

Today, we are proudly announcing the acquisition of AdStack, one of the leading companies for dynamic content in email. In my very first meeting with the founders — Evan Reiser, CEO and Thanos Baskous, CTO — I could see we shared the same vision. And over the past several months, TellApart and AdStack have designed what we believe is the next big breakthrough in email marketing — personalization done perfectly.


Email marketing can be improved in so many ways — over the years, it has fallen prey to the tragedy of the commons: it’s near costless, incentives are mis-aligned between those sending and those receiving, and there is no official regulator preventing over-use. Therein lies a wasteland of unopened messages; over-zealous, self-appointed arbiters of spam; half-baked, semi-enforced legislation; and — now — fragmented approaches to inbox management like Gmail’s new tabs… and with so many shifting variables, it’s impossible for marketers to measurably improve.

Yet email is still so rich an environment for marketers and consumers alike. It holds the key to identity longevity. The majority of email will soon be consumed on mobile and tablet devices and it serves as an important bridge to the desktop. It can be the link between online interests and in-store purchases and the emailed receipts that accompany them. Email is full of so much potential.

Our dynamic email products are starting with a complementary approach — by joining personalized content with beautiful editorial imagery, we will further the intersection of two major trends: native advertising and the programmatic personalization of ad content. Email truly is the godfather of native advertising — custom messages designed to be consumed as content but with the focus of driving incremental revenue. By introducing programmatic personalization into this channel, we are capitalizing on our clients’ knowledge of their customers’ preferences and we are improving the consumer experience in email.

We’re excited to bring the AdStack and TellApart teams together, and we’ll be sharing more in the near future about our joint vision for the perfect personalization of email… along with the data to prove our success!

print( “Hello, TellApart!” )

Wade Chambers, Vice President of Engineering

July 22, 2013

Introducing Wade Chambers, Vice President of Engineering at TellApart

I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.

Thomas Jefferson

feel lucky.

I’ve been lucky to have gone through three IPOs and a major acquisition. I’ve been lucky to have worked with some of Silicon Valley’s elite and to have helped build technologies that hundreds of millions of people have used (and hopefully enjoyed). I’ve been lucky to hire, mentor, and coach some of the best minds in the valley and watch them grow into amazing Venture Capitalists, CEOs, Directors and Vice Presidents of Product Management, Marketing, and Engineering. I have been lucky to be a part of teams that have accomplished absolutely amazing things against strong odds. I am thankful to have been a part of all of those things and more. But today I feel lucky and humbled by the opportunity in front of me.

I am extremely excited to join TellApart as the Vice President of Engineering and look forward to playing a part in the next wave of scale for the company. TellApart is a company that is already killing it, committed to doing it the right way, and at the center of what is technically hard but relevant. As an executive and technologist, it doesn’t get much better.

It shouldn’t be surprising that TellApart is doing so well. TellApart’s business model is completely aligned with their — correction, our — customers (and our customer’s customer). We only make money if our customers make money using our products. To do so, TellApart has built a team of ‘A’ players who are making the cloud, Big Data, and machine learning all work together in a highly-scalable, extremely high performance platform that is capable of both understanding the sophisticated merchandising models of the world’s best brands and the wants/needs of a motivated buyer.

What did come as a surprise to me is TellApart’s strong commitment to do the things necessary to be successful in a scalable and repeatable way (including growing the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs in the Valley). This forward thinking personally excites me as I would like to see the next generation of leaders make new mistakes, not repeat old ones. Over the last 20+ years I have built models, patterns, anti-patterns, and best practices and then (thankfully) reduced the number of “must haves” down to the few (80/20 rule) that generate the greatest impact.

Of those, here are a couple that I feel are connected but often overlooked:

  • Impact over Completion.You have to ship to win. As a result, getting good at closing down a project is a necessary and valuable skill. The problem occurs when shipping takes precedence over creating the desired impact with your customer base. Impact is measured externally by your customer and involves them realizing if what you shipped them actually met with what they wanted and/or needed. Completion, on the other hand, is measured internally by the team and is accomplished when the project’s ship criteria is simply met. Getting the team to own desired impact is much harder and requires different skills inside of the team but produces far superior results. The team must interact with the customer(s) to test assumptions, theories, approaches, and pivot until they reach the desired impact. In my experience, teams that continuously focus on making the desired impact a part of their completion criteria grow faster and have much longer relationships with their customers than those who only focus on shipping what they think they want.
  • Measurement over Opinion. I have often heard that a person’s opinion is only as good as their level of expertise on a subject matter. It resonates with me. But it also means that I can’t weigh every opinion in the same way, as they are highly variable and largely formulated from prior experience. Unless prior experience perfectly maps to the problem under consideration, it is most likely flawed in some way. Measurement helps expose the noise and focus on signal. I am highly suspicious of opinions (especially my own), and I look for ways to measure facts and leverage them instead. It may take several paired measurements to get to the needed facts, but at least then you have something from which you can create a shared baseline. Good facts generally make for better decisions … egos and emotions seem to dissolve in the face of the right facts. Please don’t get me wrong, I personally love opinions–and I have plenty of emotions too … I just value facts more. A lot more.

If these principles are already at work in your environment, you’re doing significantly better than most companies in the Valley. If not … we are hiring. Want to be lucky too?