Archive of posts with tag 'work'

What if Government Paid Better?

October 14, 2020 • #

In his book Political Order and Political Decay, Francis Fukuyama has a section on corruption in political systems and how it impacts economic development:

There are many reasons why corruption impedes economic development. In the first place, it distorts economic incentives by channeling resources not into their most productive uses but rather into the pockets of officials with the political power to extract bribes. Second, corruption acts as a highly regressive tax: while petty corruption on the part of minor, poorly paid officials exists in many countries, the vast bulk of misappropriated funds...

The State of Distributed Work

August 12, 2020 • #

Like most teams, we’ve now been fully remote and distributed since March 13th, almost 5 months exactly after moving a team of 50+ to fully remote, with no upfront plan on how to best organize ourselves.

About 20 of our team was already remote (scattered across the lower 48) before the COVID lockdown started, but several of them were in the office fairly regularly. But that still leaves 30+ that were forced to figure out a remote work setup overnight. Even the previously remote staff had to get used to changes in communications with the rest of the team adjusting...

Fulcrum's Report Builder

July 5, 2020 • #

After about 6-8 months of forging, shaping, research, design, and engineering, we’ve launched the Fulcrum Report Builder. One of the key use cases with Fulcrum has always been using the platform to design your own data collection processes with our App Builder, perform inspections with our mobile app, then generate results through our Editor, raw data integrations, and, commonly, generating PDF reports from inspections.

Fulcrum Report Builder

For years we’ve offered a basic report template along with an ability to customize the reports through our Professional Services team. What was missing...

Weekend Reading: Invading Markets, Sleep Deprivation, and the Observer Effect

June 13, 2020 • #

🎖️ Commandos, Infantry, and Police

Jeff Atwood on Robert X. Cringely’s descriptions of three groups of people you need to “attack a market”:

Whether invading countries or markets, the first wave of troops to see battle are the commandos. Woz and Jobs were the commandos of the Apple II. Don Estridge and his twelve disciples were the commandos of the IBM PC. Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston were the commandos of VisiCalc.

Grouping offshore as the commandos do their work is the second wave of soldiers, the infantry. These are the people who...

Weekend Reading: The State and the Virus, Future of Work, and Stephen Wolfram's Setup

April 18, 2020 • #

🏛 The Individual, the State, and the Virus

I agree with most of Kling’s takes here on the role the state should play in the coronavirus crisis.

👩🏽‍💻 Mapping the Future of Work

A nice comprehensive list of SaaS products for the workplace, across a ton of different categories. Great work by Pietro Invernizzi putting this database together.

⌨️ Stephen Wolfram’s Personal Infrastructure

Mathematician and computer scientist Stephen Wolfram wrote this epic essay on his personal productivity...

2020 Ready: Field Data Collection with Fulcrum

February 4, 2020 • #

Today we hosted a webinar in conjunction with our friends at NetHope and Team Rubicon to give an overview of Fulcrum and what we’re collectively doing in disaster relief exercises.

Both organizations deployed to support recent disaster events for Cyclone Idai and Hurricane Dorian (the Bahamas) and used Fulcrum as a critical piece of their workflow.

Always enjoyable to get to show more about what we’re doing...

Fall All Hands 2019

November 9, 2019 • #

We just wrapped up our Fall “all hands” week at the office. Another good week to see everyone from out of town, and an uncommonly productive one at that. We got a good amount of planning discussion done for future product roadmap additions, did some testing on new stuff in the lab, fixed some bugs, shared some knowledge, and ate (a lot).

Looking forward to the next one!

San Juan

October 21, 2019 • #

We’re in San Juan this week for the NetHope Global Summit. Through our partnership with NetHope, a non-profit devoted to bringing technology to disaster relief and humanitarian projects, we’re hosting a hands-on workshop on Fulcrum on Thursday.

NetHope Summit

We’ve already connected with several of the other tech companies in NetHope’s network — Okta, Box, Twilio, and others — leading to some interesting conversations on working together more closely on integrated deployments for humanitarian work.

Fortin San Geronimo de Boqueron Fortin...

Data as a Living Asset

September 20, 2019 • #

This is a post from the Fulcrum archives I wrote 3 years back. I like this idea and there’s more to be written on the topic of how companies treat their archives of data. Especially in data-centric companies like those we work with, it’s remarkable to see how quickly it often is thrown on a shelf, atrophies, and is never used again.

In the days of pen and paper collection, data was something to collect, transcribe, and stuff into a file cabinet to be stored for a minimum of 5 years (lest those auditors...


September 11, 2019 • #

I’m always proud of our annual tributes. It matters to keep perspective on how bad things can get, how good most of us really have it, and those first-responders, public servants, and national security forces that work to keep it that way.

Fulcrum 9/11

Group Training

August 28, 2019 • #

Our SNI running club on Strava keeps expanding. We’ve got 12 members now and counting. Two people are committed to marathons in the fall, and two of us to half-marathons.

Somewhere in reading about marathon training I read that the community aspect of the training plan is one of the most important: finding a group of people around you for mutual support and motivation along the way. Proper training (aside from the physical effort) is time-consuming and requires consistency to get 4 or more activities in per week, without falling off the wagon. It certainly helps to have the visibility...

Shipping the Right Product

August 14, 2019 • #

This is one from the archives, originally written for the Fulcrum blog back in early 2017. I thought I’d resurface it here since I’ve been thinking more about continual evolution of our product process. I liked it back when I wrote it; still very relevant and true. It’s good to look back in time to get a sense for my thought process from a couple years ago.

In the software business, a lot of attention gets paid to “shipping” as a badge of honor if you want to be considered an innovator. Like any guiding...

Weekend Reading: Rhythmic Breathing, Drowned Lands, and Fulcrum SSO

July 20, 2019 • #

🏃🏻‍♂️ Everything You Need to Know About Rhythmic Breathing

I tried this out the other night on a run. The technique makes some intiutive sense that it’d reduce impact (or level it out side to side anyway). Surely to notice any result you’d have to do it over distance consistently. But I’ve had some right knee soreness that I don’t totally know the origin of, so thought I’d start trying this out. I found it takes a lot of concentration to keep it up consistently. I’ll keep testing it out.


On Retention

July 12, 2019 • #

Earlier this year at SaaStr Annual, we spent 3 days with 20,000 people in the SaaS market, hearing about best practices from the best in the business, from all over the world.

If I had to take away a single overarching theme this year (not by any means “new” this time around, but louder and present in more of the sessions), it’s the value of customer success and retention of core, high-value customers. It’s always been one of SaaStr founder Jason Lemkin’s core focus areas in his literature about how to “get to $10M,...

Image credits: Mark Roberge, Tomasz Tunguz

Andy Grove on Meetings

June 21, 2019 • #

You hear the criticism all the time around the business world about meetings being useless, a waste of time, and filling up schedules unnecessarily.

A different point of view on this topic comes from Andy Grove in his book High Output Management. It’s 35 years old, but much of it is just as relevant today as back then, with timeless principles on work.

Grove is adamant that for the manager, the “meeting” is an essential piece in the managerial leverage toolkit. From page 53:

Meetings provide an occasion for...

The Second Phase: allinspections

June 3, 2019 • #

This post is part 3 in a series about my history in product development. Check out the intro in part 1 and all about our first product, Geodexy, in part 2.

Back in 2010 we decide to halt our development of Geodexy and regroup to focus on a narrower segment of the marketplace. With what we’d learned in our go-to-market attempt on Geodexy, we wanted to isolate a specific industry we could focus our technology around. Our tech platform was strong, we were confident in...

Discovering QGIS

May 29, 2019 • #

This week we’ve had Kurt Menke in the office (of Bird’s Eye View GIS) providing a guided training workshop for QGIS, the canonical open source GIS suite.

It’s been a great first two days covering a wide range of topics from his book titled Discovering QGIS 3.

The team attending the workshop is a diverse group...

Weekend Reading: Data Moats, China, and Distributed Work

May 25, 2019 • #

🏰 The Empty Promise of Data Moats

In the era of every company trying to play in machine learning and AI technology, I thought this was a refreshing perspective on data as a defensible element of a competitive moat. There’s some good stuff here in clarifying the distinction between network effects and scale effects:

But for enterprise startups — which is where we focus — we now wonder if there’s practical evidence of data network effects at all. Moreover, we suspect that even the more straightforward data scale effect has limited...

Weekend Reading: Product Market Fit, Stripe's 5th Hub, and Downlink

May 11, 2019 • #

🦸🏽‍♂️ How Superhuman Built an Engine to Find Product/Market Fit

As pointed out in this piece from Rahul Vohra, founder of Superhuman, most indicators around product-market fit are lagging indicators. With his company he was looking for leading indicators so they could more accurately predict adoption and retention after launch. His approach is simple: polling your early users with a single question — “How would you feel if you could no longer use Superhuman?”

Too many example methods in the literature on product development orient around asking...

Weekend Reading: Gene Wolfe, Zoom, and Inside Spatial Networks

April 27, 2019 • #

📖 Gene Wolfe Turned Science Fiction Into High Art

Wolfe’s work, particularly his Book of the New Sun “tetralogy”, is some of my favorite fiction. He just passed away a couple weeks ago, and this is a great piece on his life leading up to becoming one of the most influential American writers. I recommend it to everyone I know interested in sci-fi. Even reading this made me want to dig up The Shadow of the Torturer and start reading it for a...

Weekend Reading: Running Maps, Thinking, and Remote Work

April 20, 2019 • #

🏃🏻‍♂️ On the Go Map

Found via Tom MacWright, a slick and simple tool for doing run route planning built on modern web tech. It uses basic routing APIs and distance calculation to help plan out runs, which is especially cool in new places. I used it in San Diego this past week to estimate a couple distances I did. It also has a cool sharing feature to save and link to routes.

🔮 As We May Think

I mentioned...

Spring 2019 All Hands

April 8, 2019 • #

Today kicked off our Spring 2019 All Hands. The 59-person team makes for an exciting, hectic, energizing, and fun week! Getting us all in a single room is pretty challenging these days. This morning Tony did his semiannual “AMA” to talk company strategy, focus, and talk about what’s new in the business.

Spring 2019 All Hands

Weekend Reading: T Cells, Creating Proteins, and SNI Awards

April 6, 2019 • #

🦠 T is for T Cell

After reading The Breakthrough, I’ve been doing more reading on immunotherapy, how it works, and what the latest science looks like. Another book in my to-read list is An Elegant Defense, a deeper study of how the immune system works. The human defensive system of white blood cells is a truly incredible evolutionary machine — a beautiful and phenomenally complex version of antifragility.

🧬 Engineering Proteins in the Cloud with Python


Entering Product Development: Geodexy

March 27, 2019 • #

I started with the first post in this series back in January, describing my own entrance into product development and management.

When I joined the company we were in the very early stages of building a data collection tool, primarily for internal use to improve speed and efficiency on data project work. That product was called Geodexy, and the model was similar to Fulcrum in concept, but in execution and tech stack, everything was completely different. A few years back, Tony wrote up a retrospective post detailing out the...

Promoting GIS at Hunter College

November 14, 2018 • #

As premier sponsors of the American Geographical Society, we try to do our part in promoting geographic literacy, education, and the future of geo sciences.

Hunter College

Part of our efforts this week is participating in the GIS Career Fair at Hunter College in Manhattan. Bill and I were there to showcase how geography fits into our business and talking with students about what it means to build a career centered around GIS and mapping. We talked to dozens of people about all aspects of the industry, with a...

All Hands 2018

October 14, 2018 • #

Spatial Networks is past 50 employees now, with a sizable remote group scattered all over the country. Even though we’ve grown substantially in 2018, we’ve been able to scale our processes, tools, and org chart to maintain pretty effective team dynamics and productivity. When we first started hiring remote folks back in 2010, we had nowhere near the foundation in place to have an effective distributed team.

This week is our 2nd “All Hands” of the year, where our entire remote team comes to St. Petersburg HQ for a week of teamwork, group projects, and fun camaraderie....

The Missing Communication Link

October 8, 2018 • #

Slack grew huge on the idea that it would “replace email” and become the digital hub for your whole company. In some organizations (like ours), it certainly has, or has at least subsumed most all internal-only communication. Email still rules for long form official stuff. It’s booming into a multi-billion dollar valuation on its way to an IPO on this adoption wave.

But over the last couple of years there’s been something of a backlash to “live chat” systems. Of course any new tool can be abused to the point of counter-productivity. As tools like Slack and Intercom...

A Product Origin Story

September 11, 2018 • #

Fulcrum, our SaaS product for field data collection, is coming up on its 7th birthday this year. We’ve come a long way: from a bootstrapped, barely-functional system at launch in 2011 to a platform with over 1,800 customers, healthy revenue, and a growing team expanding it to ever larger clients around the world. I thought I’d step back and recall its origins from a product management perspective.

We created Fulcrum to address a need we had in our business, and quickly realized its application to dozens of other markets with a slightly different color of the...

Mapping Kabul

February 29, 2012 • #

We’ve just posted a map of Kabul, Afghanistan built from spatial networks map data. I built this a couple of months back (with TileMill) for some mobile field collection project work we were doing with Fulcrum. This is the sort of challenging work that our company is out there doing, bringing high-tech (yet cheap and simple) solutions to up-and-coming communities like Kabul.