Not Missing the (Power) Point

Amazon appears to have “Banned Powerpoint” or to phrase it a bit less clickbaitish: Made a heavily prepared agenda/discussion paper the core structure for meetings. Which I guess can pay off in certain settings by reducing time spent presenting, enabling more asynchronous collaboration and opening up - for better or worse - the classic 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 point font structure.

In essence this is the continuation of only having meetings with a well prepared agenda I rooted for a while ago.

Talking, Thinking, Typing

One cardinal misunderstanding burning teams, tanking projects and killing products since the dawn of software is the assumption that software development can be reduced to the aspect of producing code.

Daniel Fone does a great job of broadening the picture with his triptychon of software development as: Talking, Thinking and Typing.

Software development is talking: Speaking and listening to peers, colleagues and stakeholders. Software development is thinking: Thinking alone by modeling data, testing abstractions, thinking through cases, thinking together by reading other people’s thoughts. Software development is typing: Writing code, but also: Comments, readmes, specifications, code reviews, tickets, mails, …

Overemphasizing one of these aspects or neglecting others is a sure fire way for personal all professional frustration.

Nice blue sky

Refactoring People - Ability, Motivation and Prompt

Interesting how my main takeaway from Shopify’s write-up of a major refactoring - “Under Deconstruction” - is less about code and more about people.

As it is ultimately humans that produce code, refactoring a big code base is about changing code as much as it is about changing humans. Shopify used keynotes, guilds, handbooks and trainings to create “ability” and “motivation” to support the desired changes, only added “prompts” in the form of rules and tooling later afterwards. Without ability and motivation to act on them anybprompts are bound to fail ir worse followed superficially.

My second big take away is to understand (and ensure) value is created along the way and not only if and when a (maybe over idealistic) goal is reached. No product, no architecture, no code base will be perfect any day, but it can become better everyday.

Work Long and Prosper

Strip away the horribly misleading title and the accelerator grandezza and you get yourself some pretty solid advice for a successful and healthy career.

Reflecting On Succesful Leadership

Leading a succesful team requires clarity - a leader communicating the framework for the teams performance, the vision, goals, rules and key parameters so they are easy to grasp and presence - a leader engaging, emphatizing with and enabling his or her team during said performance. David Tates Clear and Present Leadership provides a great backdrop to reflect, learn and grow in this regard.

Pioneers vs Process People

Often overlooked while staffing: Most people excel in very specific situations, some prefer to make, some to maintain. But projects/products require different skillsets througout their lifecycle.

“[At the start] it needs builders, pioneers who come up with clever ideas and execute upon them fast. They improvise … are opinionated [and] make their own decisions.”

“[Later] it needs a lot of incremental improvements, nitty-gritty […] details […] and a developer team which […] only needs some fine-tuning.”

Really good example from Oliver Eidel.

A Good Meeting

How long since you have been in a bad meeting? A week? A day? An hour? Unfortunately it is really, really easy to botch a meeting, to make it the worst part of any given day for a whole group of people. Fortunately it is also not that hard to make it a positive and productive experience.


On Entrepreneurs And Dreamers

I greatly enjoyed reading “Craftsmanship—The Alternative to the Four Hour Work Week Mindset” and while disagree with the dychotomie of hacker and craftsman it supposes I think this is a pretty good distinction between and entrepreuneur and somebody that just dreams:

‘I didn’t know how to do x, so I just had to figure it out.’ This is what I regularly hear from successful founders, whereas ‘I couldn’t find someone to do X, so I had to reconsider whether to pursue it at all’ is a common refrain from unsuccessful founders.

Let My People Go Surfing

Equal parts auto-biography and corporate manifesto this book provides an interesting glimpse at what made the worlds hippest company with an ecological conciousness.