< Back to Blog

Being a Wartime CEO

Download the PDFAn employee looking at reports
From the CEO

Ben Horowitz wrote an excellent blog post about being a wartime CEO. There are a few places I disagree with him (listed below).

However, the reason I’m writing this is because his post is targeted at the CEO who needs to be a wartime CEO or their company will die. Damn good reason to be a wartime CEO.

But for Windward we’re the other case. We can run under a peacetime CEO and continue to grow at about 30% per year. Or we can run under a wartime CEO and shoot for 100% growth a year, until we hit an inflection point and it grows at an even greater rate.

Choosing to be a wartime CEO when you have the option is in many ways harder. Because you can always relax back to a peacetime CEO and things continue fine. You only have yourself to keep you focused on being a wartime CEO.

Windward’s Wartime CEO Perspective

Here is Ben’s list followed by my comments:

  • Peacetime CEO knows that proper protocol leads to winning. Wartime CEO violates protocol in order to win.
    This is a big difference. Protocol (or process) is not a straitjacket. But the key is to adjust the protocol to meet the problems faced. Sometimes ignoring it, but when possible (most of the time), adjusting it.
  • Peacetime CEO focuses on the big picture and empowers her people to make detailed decisions. Wartime CEO cares about a speck of dust on a gnat’s ass if it interferes with the prime directive.
    Damn straight. Without this attention everywhere wartime growth is a dream, not a reality. (At Microsoft in the early 90’s I saw Bill get into very detailed issues. The end result was incredible success.)
  • Peacetime CEO builds scalable, high volume recruiting machines. Wartime CEO does that, but also builds HR organizations that can execute layoffs.
    Fortunately not an issue in our case. But it is key to constantly ensure that everyone we hire is an A player.
  • Peacetime CEO spends time defining the culture. Wartime CEO lets the war define the culture.
    I want to say this is 50/50. But the truth is our culture to date is defined by our wartime approach to success. I think what’s key here is you work to define the culture to increase your success.
  • Peacetime CEO always has a contingency plan. Wartime CEO knows that sometimes you gotta roll a hard six.
    This is the biggest difference. As we’re presently successful, we can place large bets without betting the future of the company.
  • Peacetime CEO knows what to do with a big advantage. Wartime CEO is paranoid.
    Key to this is get everyone thinking about what can happen – and talking about it. The end result is you generally have discussed what does bite you in the ass.
  • Peacetime CEO strives not to use profanity. Wartime CEO sometimes uses profanity purposefully.
    We are at fucking war.
  • Peacetime CEO thinks of the competition as other ships in a big ocean that may never engage. Wartime CEO thinks the competition is sneaking into her house and trying to kidnap her children.
    We want to dominate the market. So yes, we engage – constantly.
  • Peacetime CEO aims to expand the market. Wartime CEO aims to win the market.
    Yep!!!
  • Peacetime CEO strives to tolerate deviations from the plan when coupled with effort and creativity.  Wartime CEO is completely intolerant.
    Yes but… the plan should not come on down from on high from the CEO. The people there collectively know more than the CEO. So we work together to figure out the plan, we adapt as we implement and learn, and we ride that. But yes, that plan is not advisory, it is what we are going to do. And when a decision needs to be made over disagreement, that is the job of the CEO.
  • Peacetime CEO does not raise her voice. Wartime CEO rarely speaks in a normal tone.
    I find yelling wears out quickly. Speaking clearly in a normal tone tends to accomplish more. With that said, I tend to speak loudly because I’m hard of hearing (too many concerts when I was young) and so my normal tends to be a bit loud.
  • Peacetime CEO works to minimize conflict. Wartime CEO heightens the contradictions.
    I think what Ben is driving at here is face and resolve contradictions, don’t try to paper them over. In that case, yes I agree.
  • Peacetime CEO strives for broad based buy in. Wartime CEO neither indulges consensus-building nor tolerates disagreements.
    I strongly disagree with this in all cases. We hire very smart people. They know as much as me, more so on many subjects. In addition people will put everything in to accomplish goals they believe in. They’ll put in the hours on goals imposed on them. We do not need to reach consensus. And once we’ve reached a decision, then everyone needs to be all in on accomplishing it. But trying for consensus (we usually reach it) and discussing through disagreements – that leads to better decisions and with more buy-in, better effort from all involved.
  • Peacetime CEO sets big, hairy audacious goals. Wartime CEO is too busy fighting the enemy to read management books written by consultants who have never managed a fruit stand.
    I love the “fruit stand” line. But I think this is wrong. A company striving to survive needs a specific goal. It’s the goal key to survival but it is a goal. We have a BHAG too. What I think Ben is saying here, and I agree, is that the goal needs to be key to surviving (his case) or key to where we want to go (our case). Generic general bullshit BHAGs are a waste of everyone’s time and energy.
  • Peacetime CEO trains her employees to ensure satisfaction and career development. Wartime CEO trains her employees so they don’t get their ass shot off in the battle.
    This is another big difference. We can take a longer view. So yes we work to make sure everyone can execute well today. But we have the time and money to develop people so they can execute well 1, 2, 3 years out. Because what we’ll need then from everyone is more than we have today.
  • Peacetime CEO has rules like “we’re going to exit all businesses where we’re not number 1 or 2.”  Wartime CEO often has no businesses that are number 1 or 2 and therefore does not have the luxury of following that rule.
    But we’ll get to #1.

Here at Windward, we’re at war. We’ve got a phenomenal product: the one reporting and docgen product that users love. But it requires a full-on wartime approach to get that information out to people.

Our goal, is in five years, when people are choosing what reporting or docgen product to use or switch to, we are selected more than 50% of the time. Worldwide.

This goal requires a wartime footing.

Also, check out our latest interview with David Thielen, CEO at Windward.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited! Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Tags Start & End

Tags Can Start & End Anywhere

Appendix B

.NET code for multi-page image output

Appendix A

Java code for multi-page image output

Data Bin Search

The Data Bin can now be searched to find a table, column, node or other piece of data without scrolling through it all.

Shrink to Fit

This will shrink the contents of a cell until it fits the defined cell size.

Time Zone Conversion

A new Windward macro has been added to help with converting dates and times from UTC time to the local time zone.

Image Output Format

New image output formats added.

PostScript Output Format

PostScript, commonly used with printers and printing companies, has been added as an additional output format.

New and Improved Datasets (Designer, Java Engine, .NET Engine)

Datasets have been re-written from scratch to be more powerful and easier to use.

Stored Procedure Wizard (Designer)

This works for all tag types that are connected to a SQL-based data source (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, or DB2).

Boolean Conditional Wizard (Designer)

Before, conditional statements could only be written manually. Now they can also be built using our intuitive Wizard interface.

Reorganized Ribbon

The ribbon menus have been re-organized and consolidated to improve the report design workflow.

XPath 2.0 as Data Source

Adds various capabilities such as inequalities,descending sort, joins, and other functions.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

SQL Select Debugger

SQL Select  Debugger

  • The look and feel was improved
  • Stored Procedure Wizard
  • Improved Exceptions pane

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Tag Editor/Tag Selector

Added a Query tab as a field for typing or pasting in a select statement

  • Color Coding of Keywords
  • TypeAhead
  • Evaluate is now "Preview"

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Rename a Datasource

All tags using that Data source will be automatically updated with that name.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Connecting to a Data Source

New single interface to replace 2 separate dialog boxes

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Tag Tree

Displays of all the tags in the template, structured as they are placed in the template. This provides a simple & intuitive way to see the structure of your template. Also provides the capability to go to any tag and/or see the properties of any tag.

Added Javelin into the RESTful Engine

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Support for Google Application Engine Integration

The ability to integrate the Windward Engine into Google’s cloud computing platform for developing and hosting web applications dubbed Google Applications Engine (GAE).

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Additional Refinement for HTML Output

  • Improved indentation for ordered and unordered lists
  • Better handling of template header and footer images
  • Better handling for background images and colors

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Redesigned PDF Output Support

This new  integration will allow for processing of complex scripts and bi-directional  text such as Arabic.  Your PDF output  will be much tighter and more closely match your template, and we’ll be able  to respond rapidly to PDF requests and fixes.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

PowerPoint Support

Includes support for new ForEach and slide break handling, table header row repeat across slide breaks, and native Microsoft support for charts and images.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Tags are Color Coded

Tags are color coded in the template by type, making it easy to visually identify them.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Increased Performance

Version 13’s core code has been reworked and optimized to offer a reduced memory footprint, faster PDF generation and full documentation of supported features and limitations in the specifications for DOCX, XLSX and PPTX.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Advanced Image Properties

Documents can include advanced Word image properties such as shadows, borders, and styles.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Improved HTML Output

Windward has updated HTML output to reflect changing HTML standards.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Version 13 New Data Sources

Windward now works with a slew of new datasources: MongoDB, JSON, Cassandra, OData, Salesforce.com

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Generate Code

The Generate Code tool in the designer allows you to open an existing template and, with a click of a button, automatically create a window with the code needed to run your current template with all data sources and variables. Simply copy this code and paste into your application's code in the appropriate place. You now have Windward integrated into your application.

You only need to do this once. You do not do this for each template. Instead, where it has explicit files for the template and output, change that to parameters you pass to this code. Same for the parameters passed to Windward. This example uses explicit values to show you what to substitute in where.

Pivot Tables Adjusted in Output

Any pivot tables in an XLSX template are carried over to the XLSX output. The ranges in the pivot ranges are adjusted to match the generated output. So your final XLSX will have pivot tables set as expected in the generated file.

This makes creating an XLSX workbook with pivot tables trivial.

Imported Template Can be Set to Match the Parent Styles

In an imported sub-template, if its properties for a style (ex. Normal) differ from the parent template's properties for the style, the use in the sub-template can be set to either use the properties in the sub-template, or the properties in the parent.

You set to retain when you don't want the child template's styling to change when imported. You set to use the parent when you want the styling of the imported template to match the styling in the parent.

Any explicit styling is always retained. This only impacts styling set by styles.

Tags can be Placed in Text Boxes

Tags can be placed in text boxes. Including linked text boxes. This gives you the ability to set the text in a textbox from your data.

Tags can be Placed in Shapes & Smart Art

Tags can be placed in shapes & smart art. This gives you the ability to set the text in a shape from your data.

HTML Output Supports Embedded Images

When generating HTML output, the engine can either write bitmaps as distinct files the generate HTML references, or it can embed the images in the HTML providing a single file for the output.

Footnotes & Endnotes can Have Tags

You can place tags in pretty much any part of a template, including in footnotes & endnotes.

Document Locking Supported in DOCX & XLSX

Any parts of a DOCX or XLSX (PowerPoint does not support this) file that are locked in the template, will be locked the same in the output.

Specify Font Substitution

If a font used in the template does not exist on the server generating a report, the font to substitute can be specified.
In addition, if a glyph to be rendered does not exist in the font specified, you can specify the replacement font. This can be set distinctly for European, Bi-Directional, and Far East fonts.

Process Multiple Datasources Simultaneously

If you need this - it's essential. And if you don't need it, it's irrelevant.

Windward enables you to build a document by applying multiple datasources to the template simultaneously. When Windward is merging the data into a template, it processes the template by handling each tag in order, and each tag pulls from different datasources. (As opposed to processing all of one datasource, then processing the next.)

This allows the select tag to use data from another datasource in its select. For example, if you are pulling customer information from one data source, you can then pull data from the sales datasource using the customer ID of the customer presently processing to pull the sales information for that customer. If you're interested in patching together your data from multiple datasources, read this post on our blog.

Written by:_
David Thielen
President/CEO at Windward Studios

Get tips straight to your inbox and become a better document creator.

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter.
Windward © 2021 All Rights Reserved.