Pivotal Conversations—The Story of Project Sputnik at Dell, with Barton George

May 27, 2015 Coté

sfeatured-podcastOur customers are always tasked with one of the most difficult jobs in a company: being a change agent. In the quest to become software defined businesses, much change is usually required not only in IT, but on the business side. Barton George has been such a change agent for several years now at Dell with Project Sputnik, a developer-centric, Linux laptop. We discuss the history of Sputnik (which is now a full, shipping project in it’s fourth generation) and specific tactics he used along the way, including how he kept his spirits up.

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Coté:
We’re here at Dev Ops Day Austin, Barton.

Barton George:
Yes, Coté, yes we are.

Coté:
Now, every Friday you wear a different tech t-shirt.

Barton George:
Yes, I do.

Coté:
Let me ask you, how many of these t-shirts do you have?

Barton George:
Oh my gosh, I don’t know. That’s why I come into conferences like this. I replenish the stock so that I don’t have to wear the same one twice. Dev Ops is really, to throw out some props to these guys, they do amazing shirts. Probably some of the coolest shirts. This is my fourth one, I’ve been to all four here in Austin and they consistently have very good …

Coté:
They have a whole table you can buy old shirts from.

Barton George:
Oh, I did. I did.

Coté:
With donations.

Barton George:
Supports the Capital Area Food Bank here in Austin, a very good cause.

Coté:
Yeah, makes you feel good. Now we had some lovely brisket yesterday, how much did you eat of it?

Barton George:
A lot of it. Yeah, yeah.

Coté:
Yes. It’s just inadvisable, it’s decadent food, which when placed in front of me, I eat too much of.

Barton George:
Yes, but when in Rome, try the olive oil.

Coté:
Mmm. We got to know each other way back when we were at Sun, right?

Barton George:
Mm-hmm.

Coté:
And then, we worked together when we were at Dell.

Barton George:
Yes.

Coté:
Yeah, and then what I wanted to talk about with you was the whole project Sputnik thing.

Barton George:
Sure.

Coté:
Specifically, just to set this up, and then I’ll let you actually tell the stories and everything, ask some more questions … I’m curious, how you would characterize and talk about being a change agent inside of Dell, because essentially you came up with a product that was new and you know, not to reveal anything that people probably don’t know, but it wasn’t easy.

Barton George:
I think you said it was like pushing a car made of mud up a hill and I think that pretty much characterizes it.

Coté:
Why don’t we start at the beginning, what is … I always call it Sputnik, I know it’s got a real name, but what is Sputnik?

Barton George:
It’s actually a Bluetooth based laptop and we started out with the XPS13 which is our svelte system that came out three years ago now. For those people who don’t know, it looks like a Mac Air, only better.

Coté:
You know, I was holding one this morning and I noticed that one feature on it …

Barton George:
Not a Mac Air, an XPS13.

Coté:
Yeah, yeah because we’re giving one away at the booth and you were very specific about not leaving it there at the booth alone ’cause it gets lonely.

Barton George:
It does. It does.

Coté:
Right. It likes to be touched and held and used.

Barton George:
Who doesn’t?

Coté:
I was carrying it around with me when I was away from the table and it has this little ridge on the back which I was thinking, it serves two purposes. One, when you put it on … I was going to say the ground, people like to sit on the ground, when you put it on a flat surface, it kind of angles it a little bit.

Barton George:
Yeah.

Coté:
Then also, when you’re holding it, you can hold it with one hand and that ridge is like a grip thing.

Barton George:
Yeah, that was my suggestion. No, no it wasn’t.

Coté:
That ridge is Sputnik.

Barton George:
Yes, exactly, that’s my value add here. Anyway, we’re now on our fourth generation of the XPS13, as I say, it’s a Bluetooth based laptop and we’ve expanded the line right now to include the M3800 Precision, which is a big work station. One of the things people kept asking about was, “Hey, can we have something with sixteen gigs?” That’s one of the reasons we went to the 3800 and that’s actually something that was driven by customer request. We did an unofficial version of it a year ago and we had so many people saying, “Hey, make this a real boy, please,” that we went and did it.

Speaking of which, that’s sort of the whole philosophy behind this project from the beginning is let’s solicit customer feedback to help drive this. As opposed to other companies that maybe do the big reveal, keep it hush hush, then they get up on stage in their turtlenecks, and then they say, “Hey, this is our brand new, etc.” We really wanted to involve developers in this process.

Coté:
What’s funny is there is a company now who could say, “This is our brand new etcetera D.”

Barton George:
Is there?

Coté:
You know that Core OS works on etcD.

Barton George:
Oh, that much I didn’t know.

Coté:
It’s true and now, developers who want a Linux laptop, are they a vocal bunch? Do they tell you what they want?

Barton George:
Yeah, yeah, they really are and the great thing that I’ve learned is one of the lessons that I’ve learned from this is, treat everyone with respect because you get a lot of folks who appear to be trolls and would flame the heck out of you, but, it’s very simple, just come back with a level headed answer and it’s amazing how much they change their tune and how appreciative they are.

Coté:
Yeah, that’s a point to be honest I forgot, but I remember when we were working on it, that pattern played itself out over and over again where someone was really angry. Or let me rephrase it, they were typing something that seemed really angry.

Barton George:
Yeah.

Coté:
And then what would end up happening?

Barton George:
There was one recently talking about hey, it’s not here in Denmark, which it actually was after a short while, and said, “Oh, I guess Dell doesn’t care about Denmark. I guess you just want to make profits.” He called us … well, I won’t swear on the podcast, but F donkey’s, read the donkey words. I just wrote back and said, hey, I’m really sorry for this, it should be available in Denmark, let me get with the team and just make sure it is. He came back and said, “Hey, thank you so much for the quick response.”

Coté:
Right.

Barton George:
A lot of these people are just venting and want to be heard and that’s the great thing about this is I get to interact through social media directly with customers. I wanted to get back to something he originally asked, I sort of veered off which was, “What is it like to develop something like this in a large company?” I think one of the key lessons is you need a corporate sponsor. If you remember, your boss at the time was that corporate sponsor and he was, at the time he set up an innovation program which you were also on that board and one other fellow, Matt Baker. Then what was amazing about this program is it was extremely agile and extremely lightweight.

Coté:
Yep.

Barton George:
Compared to other innovation programs we have done where you have a whole set of people on the council and it’s very step by step by step, the great thing about this was it was almost seat of the pants, but a lot of it was intuitive. I was the first one that pitched and then got the green light. One of the things I liked meeting with Nnamdi, who is the head of the project, the VP, was I would come in with one page of hand drawn notes and I would have sketched out what the issues were and that’s what he enjoyed. He appreciated that whereas what you think about is you get up to thirty power point slides with all sorts of numbers and figures and graphs and charts and this is our estimates, etc. and really to get something like this going, you really need to be agile.

Coté:
Yeah, let’s talk about that a little because I think that’s … One of the things that I, let’s compliment myself, say I got my post graduate degree in at Dell was the tool we call the presentation. There’s many things, in a large organization, like that, there’s many types of presentations, many ways to use them and you just highlighted one that doesn’t come up a lot in a corporate context but is actually very effective and that is literally, a single sheet of paper on which you’ve hand drawn something. Right? Also, when you were pitching Sputnik, I remember you had a more regular presentation, right? You were always good at being concise, it was probably an eight to ten slide presentation.

Barton George:
Mmm hmm.

Coté:
Eventually, as we progressed throughout that process, you ended up only ever communicating through an 8×10 sheet of paper. How did you figure out that’s what you should do? Where you just didn’t have slides one day, so you scribbled something out, random mutations.

Barton George:
It’s the equation is what’s the value of creating it and also know your audience so I think one thing’s great with Nnamdi is I knew that that was his personality.

Barton George:
Let’s not worry about the details, let’s just make this happen and I think a lot of us feel this way is that you spend all your time creating a power point deck to show to senior execs and that really takes away time that you could be spending on your project actually advancing it.

Coté:
Yeah, there’s a lean principle that the Dev Ops crowd has adopted which is, only do things that are valuable to the customer and you were just kind of articulating that in this presentation thing. If your product is helping executives make a decision or trying to convince them to decide the way you want something, you have to question time you spend on this presentation, does that create value for that? That’s one of the things that I notice people who are change agents, they become masters of navigating that, like figuring out when I need a long presentation or a short presentation or no presentation. It’s curious to see people go through that, that step.

Barton George:
It’s interesting. The other thing I think is really powerful and you and I … you came in sort of as a consultant recently, you and I presented to a certain group within Dell the landscape of containers and management and you talked about the part of the cloud and Dev Ops and how this all fit together. I didn’t even present, I used the white board, which I also find very effective. Just sort of sketching out what the landscape looks like and I think that really helps to help people understand as you go through. I think a huge thing in all of this is communication and how do you get folks on your side.

Coté:
Absolutely.

Barton George:
Now to that point, if you’re doing a big consumer business, you are going to want the data, you are going to want to say, “Okay, here in this market, my goodness, we’re seeing a big uptick. Let’s see what we can do to increase that.” In that point, where you’re already past the development phase, and you’re looking for that feedback, you can go to the numbers. I think for us, a lot of it was about the value we were bringing in, the cool factor of courting developers and a lot of the feedback we get is rather than the actual numbers, is we get quotes and tweets and things like that that are just amazing.

I think one of my favorites is this guy wrote in the blog saying, “I did something I never thought I would ever do. I bought a brand new Dell laptop for full price. Me. Hell will be freezing over shortly.”

Coté:
Right, right.

Barton George:
That’s what we’re really looking for is if we can get people who would have thought Dell was just not in their list of people they would have thought of, is sort of changing those minds. I should say, even though it wasn’t necessarily about them making the money, one thing we have said is, and I won’t say the actual figures, but we’ve pulled in a darn good amount of money given the amount of resources we put into this.

Coté:
Right, how many countries is this sold in now?

Barton George:
Right now, in Europe it’s sixteen and with the M3800, we now have it worldwide.

Coté:
Right.

Barton George:
The other thing is, the latest one that launched, the new version of the XPS13 which actually is the upper low plugin, it’s the smallest thirteen inch because it’s got that infinity display and doesn’t have the board …

Coté:
Oh, that’s why you guys had the tagline in that marketing, it starts with borderless things.

Barton George:
Yes, exactly. We found that that one is actually making up a significant amount of the overall ones that we sell. Obviously, that one’s a Ubuntu based but we also sell a Windows based one.

Coté:
Right, one might use the code words, it’s immaterial amount.

Barton George:
Yes, exactly.

Coté:
It always means something slightly different to slightly people but it means we care.

Barton George:
Right and as a result, I had a team of people come in from the small business group saying, “How can we help to make this bigger?” That’s not something we’ve ever really had.

Coté:
This touches on something I hadn’t thought about Sputnik in a while but it’s also relevant to Dev Ops stuff. There’s one framing of how you go about doing product development and it’s the explorer exploit dichotomy which is exploring is like you’re innovating things and as you were saying, you’re not so much worried about numbers and the machines and things like that, you’re exploring what people want to buy. Then, once you figure that out, exploit has bad connotations to it, but let’s …

Barton George:
Leverage.

Coté:
Yeah, leverage. But then you exploit, that’s when you switch over a little bit more to the numbers oriented thing. Tell me if I’m perceiving this wrong, but it seems like once you become a material amount of sales, the people who are really the machine as people call it, who are really good at the exploiting and getting profits, they start to kick in because they understand how to do that. That’s a process they’re really good at.

Barton George:
You can imagine in all large companies, you’ve got so many different priorities and they’ve got their budgets and you can’t necessarily even push the ones that you want to be pushing and then somebody comes in and says, “Hey, please push our developer laptop,” and they say, “You know what? This is how much we sell in Belgium on Tuesday.” That’s all changed now, and we’re significant, material to what I think you …

Coté:
Just trying to help people with words, Bart.

Barton George:
Yeah, exactly.

Coté:
I’m a walking dictionary, a regular Funk and Wagnall.

Barton George:
Yes, I would say Webster but that’s another story.

Coté:
Merriam.

Barton George:
Yeah, or Noah. Gosh, there was another point that I was going to make along the way. I think it was this, explorer. I think that was a very key part of this innovation team that you were involved with was basically we pushed this thing out. I got a small pot of money, which I didn’t even get all of, I think I got like half of it …

Coté:
It was Dell…

Barton George:
Yes, it was.

Coté:
Very efficient.

Barton George:
The idea was, you’re given six months, let’s just see if this is real. I remember when I posted the first blog which was basically, hey, we’re going to try and take a look at creating a developer laptop, we can’t promise anything but if we get enough positive response, hopefully we can actually make this real. Just to give you a perspective, I’ve now had seventy thousand views of that blog …

Coté:
That’s on your own site, right?

Barton George:
Yeah, exactly.

Coté:
Bartongeorge.net?

Barton George:
Yes, thanks for the plug.

Coté:
Maholo.

Barton George:
Exactly. Pineapple. I think the interest in there, just to put it into perspective, is my average blog, it’s a readership of five hundred over it’s life.

Coté:
Right.

Barton George:
Now that being said, since Sputnik’s taken off, I’ve got a lot of blogs that have … I know, fifteen thousand, twenty thousand views.

Coté:
When Sputnik became famous.

Barton George:
I don’t think it’s famous as much as it is that’s the canonical source, if I can use a pun for an Ubuntu based laptop for information on Sputnik and so that’s why so many people come.

Coté:
Right.

Barton George:
But nothing’s surpassed that initial one. Then we got picked up by USA Today, we got Wall Street Journal, we got all these people …

Coté:
Going back to the explorer/exploit dichotomy, just so I can say that fancy word.

Barton George:
I like that one.

Coté:
When I was involved and we were doing the incubation thing, it was clear that it was in the explorer mode and I feel like a lot of our work was basically telling people, “We’re in explorer mode.” Right?

Barton George:
Right.

Coté:
So give us some oxygen, like you’ve got to allow us to explore this out and there are going to be some parts of process which works really well for the exploit mode that we’re just going to get a free pass on. I think there were lots of times where we were basically metaphorically carving our own wormholes to go around things. Just to get stuff in market and try them out. I don’t know if you would characterize it that way.

Barton George:
I don’t know what that means, but okay.

Coté:
A wormhole is like there’s a long distance you need to traverse and …

Barton George:
It takes you to another dimension, right?

Coté:
… and a wormhole let’s you go faster between those two points than if you traversed it on your own.

Barton George:
Okay. Was this from Star Trek?

Coté:
I don’t know, we’re at the Dev Ops conference Barton, I’m just trying to get along with the people. I’m going to go to a sports bar afterwards and have some brewskis.

Barton George:
I hear you. I think you’ve had a few already but okay.

Coté:
All right, so can you reflect on some of the times when you had to remind people, yeah, we don’t have awesome big numbers but we’re never going to have awesome big numbers if you let us not have numbers now. Where you were kind of like convincing people and whether you actually convinced them or not, how would you get along with the process and let the process let you explore things and try to change things instead of having to go along with the rules?

Barton George:
Right, well let me bifurcate that dichotomy …

Coté:
Sure. Would that be a quadcotomy?

Barton George:
Yes, it would. No, just cleaving it down the middle. I think that’s really true is you had a lot of, shall I say, Sputnik haters? And they saw this as a sucking up of resources, as I said, the precious resources they didn’t even have enough of to cover everything they wanted to do and this was just another thing. So, we constantly had to be appealing to folks and that’s where an executive sponsor comes in to try and smooth over those areas that would happen. A lot of times you just had to, what shall I say? I don’t want to say cut corners, but you had to expedite matters, right?

Coté:
Yeah.

Barton George:
Without compromising the quality and the product that you’re developing, you needed to shorten the normal path and we got this whole thing out in less than nine months …

Coté:
Yeah, that’s true.

Barton George:
… we didn’t even have the concept, that’s starting from a power point deck, albeit a fun power point deck to actually creating this. The other thing to is it really hasn’t gotten easier, you’ve got a lot of people who really appreciate the innovation that Sputnik has brought to Dell and then there’s also a lot of people, as I said, who are still concerned about the resources we’re taking from other things. To be honest, about six months ago I was ready to toss in the towel, saying, “Hey, you know what? We had a really good run, I feel good about this. We’ve helped the developer crowd and now it’s time to move onto the next project.” And yet we’ve not only moved onto the fourth generation but we’ve expanded the line and as I said, this newest one is selling way beyond what the previous ones …

Coté:
Right, it’s much more beefier, as it were, right?

Barton George:
Yeah, and it’s lighter, it’s smaller, it’s got the better definition and of course, things just keep getting, like all computers, things just keep getting more powerful and better as the technology …

Coté:
Yeah, to reflect a little bit more on that, I remember in running the incubation fund, one of the rhetorical tricks we would use is we would say, “This is from the chairman’s budget,” which was basically code of, this is from Michael Dell’s budget.

Barton George:
Yeah.

Coté:
It didn’t work as awesomely as you would think it would …

Barton George:
You just thought the people were going to lay down and the seas were going to part, it wasn’t quite like that.

Coté:
It was no path of rose petals but it actually was an effective way of at least getting people’s benefit of the doubt or having them give you time to consider it, right? That was one of the tactics that I think was effective was to say, and you keep mentioning executive sponsorship and things like that but to point out, that upper level management, if not the upper level management, supports this thing.

Barton George:
You can’t get more upper than that. Yeah and I think that was the great thing was that Nnamdi at that time was Michael’s Chief of Staff and that’s how he was able to do this. Then he moved over to be the VP in Software and we still worked with him and he still had his clout and I think a lot of people knew that Michael was somehow connected to this, they didn’t quite know, but that was one of the things that kept it alive. Like you said, it wasn’t as if everybody bowed down and just said, “Okay, here’s our resources,” but it helped us from being killed.

Coté:
Yeah and I think that was a key thing is you started off with saying communicating or it’s basically always being able to argue and prove the point, right? Maybe not even argue it, but explain yourself, here’s what I’m doing, here’s why I’m doing it. I’m not just a whacky person who wants to have an orange laptop. I mean, we didn’t have an orange laptop but you know. I don’t just have an idea to think I’m cool, there’s actually business reasoning behind it and that’s surprisingly hard to do. Then there’s the second thing which as we’re talking about this I’m realizing which is, you’re constantly building up your pool of allies.

I remember there was a whole string of people who were either fanatical allies for it, they were just allies or they were half allies. It was always good to nurture that pool of allies that you had because you might tactically have a reason. There might be some big meeting you go too and you know they run that meeting so you can get on the agenda and get their approval …

Barton George:
Yeah, exactly.

Coté:
… but then even if you don’t really know why they’re going to be an ally, inevitably in a company, even the size of Dell, you’re probably going to end up needing their help at some point so it’s always good to build up those allies that you have.

Barton George:
That’s very true and I think one of the things that was frustrating is that all of the sudden, a new group would pop up who had never heard of this and you’d have to re-justify yourself, why are we doing this, this is silly. It was a never ending battle and it got less and less as we went on, less and less to people but even just recently, I had one of those things about, I have no idea why we’re doing something like this. Then you can explain and you can win them over. You know I talk about getting an executive sponsor, I talk about communicating, treating everybody with respect, the other thing I talk about is, if you screw up, own it.

We were going to do a beta program, we were told it’s not going to be a problem, we can preload it in the factory and we can get it out all over the world. We got six thousand people from around the world filled out this lengthy form and then what do you know? We go back to the people and say, “We’d like to now preload this and send it out.” And oops, no we can’t.

Coté:
Oh, I get it, that was a nightmare.

Barton George:
Yeah, so what you have to do is just come back and just say, “Hey,” lay it out,”We were not able to this, we thought we could. We’ve got new information now, we really apologize. We are going to run it with people only in the states and we’ll have a place for you to download it. We can’t preload it.” Even then, all we were able to do is give a 20% off the laptop, which is decent but what we’d really prefer of course is to be giving these out for free. Yet, we still got a really good …

Coté:
Yeah, and I think even though it was early on, by that point you had built up a pretty good follower base.

Barton George:
Right and that’s one of the reasons to do it out in the open and get their input.

Coté:
Right. Whereas also, as you had, not just like a celebrity follower base, but you had built up a bunch of co-empathy between the people who were interested in Sputnik and yourself, but any rate, after a while, you had people who were very supportive and I remember there were a few comments of people who were actually also very understanding. They would start to write defenses of things not happening on Sputnik’s behalf, like, “Well, you know, it’s hard to get things out the door at big companies. You shouldn’t get too upset about it. It’s nice that they have it.”

Barton George:
I think the other thing too I wanted to get to with regards to support is, none of us on the team are full time and so we’ve got people who are just typical open source. We’ve got a guy whose actually on the Linux server team and he’s come over to help with this. We’ve got people who are on Linux in general but have given a disproportionate amount of their time to this.

Coté:
Yeah.

Barton George:
We’ve got a team of about five of us that we’ve been …

Coté:
Let’s talk about that. Can you give any tips on recruiting resources when you have no resources?

Barton George:
Yeah, and I think it’s really trying …

Coté:
Or when you have limited resources.

Barton George:
Right, it’s really trying to convince folks that this is a cool project to work on. We started from the beginning with Mario, whose a Linux engineer and like I said, he didn’t have all of his time but he was very interested. He’s also an Ubuntu Master of the Universe kind of guys and then through him, we got Jared who just heard about this project.

Coté:
He’s the one with the rabbit?

Barton George:
Yes exactly, Bubba. Jared was one who just heard about this project, he was the Linux server software engineer and said, “Hey, I’d like to be part of this.” Amit came on after that and then we’ve had a string of project managers, I like to refer to it as a spinal tap drummer who keeps exploding so we’ve had a whole … That’s the one position that just keeps being refilled. That being said, with Amit now, we’ve got someone whose really a strong proponent and I’ll have to admit, when she came on board and had all these big ideas, I just thought …

Coté:
Oh, that’s nice.

Barton George:
I just thought, you know what? I’ve heard this before and we’ll just see. She’s just turned out to be an amazing advocate of this.

Coté:
Right, right.

Barton George:
That’s the thing, I keep hearing from her that hey, I’m not going to be able to work on this anymore and yet she still comes back and really is helping quite a bit. I think that’s true of the whole team.

Coté:
One last question before everyone fills into this room and makes it a cacophony of joyous Dev Opping …

Barton George:
Yes, din, a din.

Coté:
You mentioned a while ago, about six months ago you were ready to rest on your laurels and enjoy your accolades …

Barton George:
Yes exactly, retire to my Orca.

Coté:
I’m curious throughout this process, as you hit bottom of why being involved in it, how have you managed to get back up? As challenges come at you, how do you manage to get back on your feet and stay with it and you know, “Now we’ve hit the fourth generation, there’s going to be a fifth one …” What do you do personally to make sure that you don’t get too depressed about it and give up?

Barton George:
I think this one just had a bit of legs so I said I’m not going to give up but I’m just going to keep on going knowing that at any point, we could have the rug pulled out from under us. We just kept going, planning for that fourth and if they build it, they will come. I don’t know if that’s a good analogy here but you just fake it until you make it, that might be another one. Basically, just keep going and just until they tell you to stop, you just keep going and I think we gathered steam and then things came out and now we’re doing well and so like I said, I never just said we’re going to do it, but I just had in the back of my mind, let me be prepared for them coming up and saying, “Thanks but we’re done, bury your minimal resources elsewhere.”

Coté:
Right. It’s like an application of the old Stockdale paradox, if you’re in a Vietnamese prison camp, everyday you need to believe that …

Barton George:
Oh, Stockdale. I thought you said Stock Dell and I thought there was …

Coté:
Yeah, yeah. Where are we? Where am I?

Barton George:
I think this was a supply chain comment.

Coté:
No, to survive in a situation like that, you have to think that tomorrow I’m going to escape and at the same time think I’m never going to get out of here. Otherwise your psychological balance gets all whacky.

Barton George:
Right, your existentialism in a … was it it Eli … oh gosh, I forget in a concentration camp?

Coté:
Eli Whitney.

Barton George:
You can gin your cotton all you want but he actually made his money, made none of that, but he made his money during the Civil War with weapons with replaceable parts.

Coté:
Yes.

Barton George:
Most people don’t know that.

Coté:
Interchangeable parts they called it in textbooks.

Barton George:
Yeah, exactly.

Coté:
Absolutely. Where can people go if they want to check out more about Sputnik and things like that?

Barton George:
It’s easy, you can just go to Dell.com/sputnik. You can go to Dell.com/ubuntu, you can go to Dell.com/developer or developers and all of them will take you to the same place.

Coté:
Yeah, great, thanks for going over this with us. This is has been another Pivotal Conversations Podcast. We’re at blog.pivotal.io/podcast, you can find us there, you can find us in iTunes and other reputable podcasting areas. Maybe even unreputable ones, but you should just subscribe to that and I wanted to talk to you about doing change agent stuff because a lot of what we talk about with our customers, they’re in a very similar situation where they and other people that are their allies know that they need to start doing things in a new way.

They need to become a software defined business, use custom written software to help out run their business differently and it’s not easy. There’s a lot of inertia and resistance but usually, as we were talking about, there’s usually just the need to explain and make your case to people and have the patience yourself as a change agent to just build up the case and go through it and end up doing the right thing.

Barton George:
Just a bonus comment, I would just say that the other thing is, which is true of a lot of things in technology today, start small and get bigger.

Coté:
Right.

Barton George:
I remember when I first pitched that I wanted to do a Beauty and the Beast lineup. Do a beefy one and a thin one and then I remember you or Nnamdi or whatever said, “Hey, let’s just focus on one right now,” which was the right example and we only picked one config, we didn’t say out of the gate, “We’re going to go with a multiple configuration …”

Coté:
That’s a good point and I remember in … I think I was generally doing this, but almost in an exaggerated way, I was always telling you to do less. At some point it became like every time you wanted to do something I would say, “Let’s do half of that.”

Barton George:
Right, I do remember that because otherwise you just expand your target or you just sort of bend under your own weight of the colossal project that you’ve started doing and if you focus … For example, now we have four configs out there and we’ve gone from one to I think, two to three and then four. Much easier to expand out from a small …. what’s the World War II analogy that you said?

Coté:
A beach head.

Barton George:
Beach head, that’s right. I was thinking of another pun but it didn’t work. Yeah, you establish a beach head and then you expand out from that.

Coté:
Absolutely. Great. We’ll go get some lunch I think here.

Barton George:
All right.

Coté:
Looks like there might be some chicken fried steak or something equally healthy to eat.

Barton George:
I appreciate and thanks for the opportunity.

Coté:
Absolutely, we’ll see everyone next time.

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