Press Releases

Sinu Blog: Playing with Sand

  • Monday

    Creating a culture of discipline and practice in your business

    By Larry Velez, Sinu founder and CTO

    I have often repeated Malcolm Gladwell’s statement from the Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to master anything. Gladwell claims that 10,000 hours of "deliberate practice" are needed to become world-class in any field. There is an interesting article in Entrepreneur (7/8/14) that analyzes that theory. It references a recent Princeton study that challenges the overarching principle, however, the report goes on to admit: "There is no doubt that deliberate practice is important, from both a statistical and a theoretical perspective. It is just less important than has been argued... For scientists, the important question now is, what else matters?"

    According to the Entrepreneur report, Frans Johansson, author of The Click Moment, argues that “deliberate practice is only a predictor of success in fields that have super stable structures. For example, in tennis, chess, and classical music, the rules never change, so you can study up to become the best.” 

    But for business owners who face ever-changing challenges and opportunities (and not bound by a set of constants), I would argue that the “what else matters” question can be answered by discipline, documentation, and balance. I believe you can improve productivity and profitability through your business process, employee training, and encouraging an infrastructure that allows them to practice the skills they learn.

    So with the demands of day-to-day operations, how can your organization incorporate a culture of deliberate practice in order to become a better business?

    Try to create a set of “rules” for success that never change. This means really thinking about what the goals are and how policies and guidelines can be created that would always point toward that goal. Developing and following a set of accepted “rules” can help boost productivity and morale and it sends a message that your organization values time, efficiency, and practice.

    The goal is to have self-reinforcing rules in place for your entire organization in order to create an ecosystem of guidelines that is as closed as possible. In chess every piece has absolute rules and all the rules fit together with almost no exceptions. Your business will never be as well defined as a chessboard – but the closer you can get, the more expert your team can become on what the rules are and how to succeed and contribute toward the greater success of the company as a whole.

    Practice makes perfect, but only when you know what to practice and can practice the same way every time. If there is a strong culture of practice in place, your organization will run more smoothly and will be better prepared to take advantage of opportunities that arise in an ever-changing marketplace. That’s the balance – the “what else matters.”



    Microsoft warns it will end support for key products, including Windows 7 

    According to a recent ZDnet article, Microsoft has warned of an end to tech support for certain key products, including Windows 7, Office 2010 SP1, and Windows Server 2003. “Mainstream” support for Windows 7 is scheduled to end January 13, 2015, while support for some key products will end as early as October 14, 2014. (For a full list of the Microsoft products reaching the end of support in over the next six months, click here.)

    Windows 7, released in 2009, is the world’s most popular operating system, far outselling Windows 8, which was launched in 2012. In fact, when XP support ended this April, more people chose to migrate to Windows 7 than the newer Windows 8. But Microsoft will stop “mainstream” support in January for Windows 7 and transition to “extended” support, which typically includes free security fixes but other types of updates are paid and require specific licensing deals. While there is a grace period, if you are running Windows 7, a recent Forbes article warns that you need to be sure you are running the Windows 7 Service Pack 1 to access the extended service.

    So now that “mainstream” support for Windows 7 ends in 6 months, Microsoft will likely turn its energy to developing and introducing the next best thing. So what should we expect from Microsoft in the coming months?

    According to Channelnomics: “Microsoft may hint at the forthcoming Windows 9, codename: Threshold, which is expected to hit the market in early 2015…Like Windows 7 was a correction to Vista, Windows 9 will likely be a make-good on Windows 8. It’s rumored the new version will sense the type of device in use, booting into either a traditional desktop mode or touch-enabled interface.”

    As we have been saying, technology now becomes obsolete at an increasing pace. For example, XP support stopped earlier this year and Microsoft is Windows 7 is being phased out after only 5 years. Now more than ever, businesses need to reevaluate their technology replacement cycle in order to avoid the risks of obsolete or aging technology (see Sinu blog from earlier this year). As a start, plan your company’s operating budget assuming a 3-4 year lifespan for your hardware devices. Use the Sinu Store as a guideline of what today’s devices cost and plan to replace 20-30% of your company’s devices yearly to ensure no device is more than 4 years old. (To access the Sinu Store, go to Sinu Support and click the STORE tab on the far right.) If you plan according to the lifecycle now dictated by today’s technology industry, your business will be healthier, your team more productive, and your budget will have fewer surprises. 


    Recent report shows small business owners rely on technology for independence and productivity…even on vacation

    An eWeek report highlighting the results of a recent Manta survey of small businesses owners indicates that  “40 percent of small business owners say having access to business files and apps while on vacation reduces stress because they know everything is still running smoothly while they’re away.”

    Manta, a small business service directory and search engine, surveyed 1,105 members of their small business community. The report shows that small business owners love their freedom and are optimistic for 2014.

    While it can be challenging for any professional to maintain a balance between personal and business life (see Sinu blog,  “Riding the Lion: Admitting the Fears Behind Entrepreneurship”), according to the survey 72% of small business owners say “having their own company brings more freedom and independence than working for someone else.”

    The following technologies are credited as “most important” in allowing independence for small businesses owners:

    • 39% said an Internet connection to allow them to stay connected and work from anywhere

    • 32% reported their mobile phone

    • 18% pointed to email

    • 3% claimed organizational applications


    The Manta survey also measured the projected outlook by small business owners for 2014. According to the study, 68% of small business owners reported the first half of 2014 to be a successful period for their business – up 12% from this time last year.  Moreover, 83% of small business owners reported they are optimistic about business prospects looking ahead to the second half of the year. 

    To access the full Manta survey results, go to: