There was an error in this gadget

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cross-posted from O'Reilly Radar: Mobile developers, integration, and discovery are what count now

I wrote this guest post on O'Reilly Radar.  It's about three new battles to watch as the mobile hardware gap closes.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Video interview: Lessons about carrying out high-impact projects

Andy Oram, my editor at O'Reilly, did this fun interview: "Lessons about carrying out high-impact projects from author Chris Vander Mey"

He writes:

Chris Vander Mey, CEO of Scaled Recognition, and author of a new O’Reilly book, Shipping Greatness, lays out in this video some of the deep lessons he learned during his years working on some very high-impact and high-priority projects at Google and Amazon.
Chris takes a very expansive view of project management, stressing the crucial decisions and attitudes that leaders need to take at every stage from the team’s initial mission statement through the design, coding, and testing to the ultimate launch. By merging technical, organizational, and cultural issues, he unravels some of the magic that makes projects successful.
Highlights from the full video interview include:
  • Some of the projects Chris has shipped. [Discussed at the 0:30 mark]
  • How to listen to your audience while giving a presentation. [Discussed at the 1:24 mark]
  • Deadlines and launches. [Discussed at the 6:40 mark]
  • Importance of keeping team focused on user experience of launch. [Discussed at the 12:15 mark]
  • Creating an API, and its relationship to requirements and Service Oriented Architectures. [Discussed at the 15:27 mark]
  • 22:36 What integration testing can accomplish. [Discussed at the 22:36 mark]

O'Reilly Radar (

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Are you effective? How to measure your personal email signature!

If you're a manager of any kind - product, engineering, people, cats - you send email.  Lots of it.  Each email message you send is an opportunity to build your social network and product awareness. But you don't know how effective your reach is or if you should be changing your messages.

Luckily, it's really easy to measure your email traction.  Follow these three quick steps.

  1. Create a link you can measure in
  2. Add these links to your signature
  3. Measure, modify, and measure again!

1. Create a link you can measure with or Google Short Links. is typically used to create short, easy-to-share links.  But since it's a redirector, it captures that the link was clicked on and who clicked on it.  This is your measure.  It's easy to create a link - just paste it into the website and copy the funny URL you get.  See Figure 1 - that funny "" link is what you want.  Click to copy!

Fig. 1.  Create a link in
UPDATE: If you want to track multiple sources to the same point (e.g. in my case I want to know whether my Alumni group is generating more traction than my Meetup group), you need to create unique URLs.  On most sites you can append a parameter to the destination URL to make it unique.  For example, my book's URL is:
And if I want to make it unique for my Google alumni group, I just add something to the end as a "querystring parameter" - something starting with a question mark and followed by some characters.  You may need to try some different combinations, but on Amazon I just used:

2. Create a signature.

In my case, I created a clear call to action and also linked to my other presences, including this blog.  See the figure below.
Fig 2.  Create an email signature in GMail.  Or whatever.

Now, the Scaled Recognition website has Google Analytics hooked up, and Blogger (my blog hoster) has great analytics, but by creating a signature with links I can measure specific clicks from MY sent email.

3. Measure!

One of the mantras I espouse in Shipping Greatness (note the link!) comes from Lord Kelvin: "That which cannot be measured cannot be improved."  Now that you have measured, you can improve.  You'll get charts like you see below in Figure 3 (just click on Stats in  

Fig 3.  Measure!
One challenge here is that you can't do a proper A/B test in which some recipients of your email get one treatment of your signature and others get a different treatment.  That's OK - sometimes we have to settle and ship the software we have.  You can still change up your signature in a week or two and see whether your audience changes, your traffic changes, and so forth.

What you'll need to do to make this number meaningful is control for email volume.   To do this, create a search in your GMail, or Outlook or whatever, that gives you a count of the number of messages you sent.  In GMail I entered the following into the search box:
after:2012/8/30 before:2012/9/6 from:me in:sent
And from there I get a count of the number of email messages I sent.  The metric you want to drive up is the click-to-email ratio, A.K.A. "conversion."  It is simply this:

# of Clicks / # of email messages sent

Good luck!