- Five Google Engineering Management Mistakes — interesting to see informed criticism, because Google’s style is often presented as a winning model. TLs [Tech Leads] were still evaluated as individual contributors. Leads to poor management practices: Grabbing all the sexy work for themselves; Providing negative evaluations for team members so they look good in comparison; Not paying attention to team member needs or requests; Confrontational relationships between team members and TLs (in some dysfunctional cases).
- Community Escrow (Simon Phipps in Computerworld) — interesting take on open source as a way of protecting against the interests of a vendor changing to no longer be aligned with those of the customer. The kicker: If the product was “open core” – with the key commercial features kept proprietary – it will be very hard for anyone to provide continuity. This is especially true if you are using the software as a service, because the critical know-how to make the software reliably run in the cloud is unlikely to be included in the open source project. Hear, hear. Cloud and open core are new enough that we still blow kisses every time we meet, but that honeymoon will pass and before long it’ll be hostile cold stares and long contemplative silences spent gazing out the window, musing on their shortcomings.
- Data Story Telling (Pete Warden) — Pete nails something I’ve been chewing on: in this model, a new form of media is like an infection hitting a previously unexposed population. Some people figure out how it can be used to breach the weak spots in the audience’s mental ‘immune system’, how to persuade people to believe lies that serve the propagator’s purpose. Eventually the deviation from reality becomes too obvious, people wise up to the manipulation and a certain level of immunity is propagated throughout the culture. The same is true for advertising: we’re in an arms race, novelty against neuroplasticity.
- Whimsy (and Clothes) For Sale (NY Times) — “We could never afford to make product in volume, so we adopted kind of like a Beanie Baby approach: we’d create small collections that supremely rabid buyers would end up buying,” Mr. Lindland said, noting that some customers own more than 20 pairs of his signature pants. “They’re a collectors’ item, oddly enough.” Small-run manufacturing embraced as a differentiating advantage, rather than as a competitive disadvantage.
ENTRIES TAGGED "management"
The best IT managers have a background in IT and general management.
Being a good IT manager is hard. Being a great business leader is harder. What separates them is not just the ability to continually and uniquely inspire, but to also be a well-informed and skilled business manager.
With few exceptions, good data is the best way to make great decisions.
We make decisions with data and we measure performance with metrics. It's letting the data and metrics — the evidence — tell the story and then taking some form of action on it.
Engineering Management, Open Source Escrow, Media Immunity, and Small-run Production
Managing Mistakes, Paying for APIs, Gaming Gmail, and Classy Twitter Engineering
- How to Manage Employees When They Make Mistakes — sound advice on how to deal with employees who failed to meet expectations. Yet again, good parenting can make you a good adult. It’s strange to me that in the technology sector we have such a reputation for yellers. Maybe it’s business in general and not just tech. [...] People stay at companies with leaders who rule like Mussolini because they want to be part of something super successful. But it does tend to breed organizations of people who walk around like beaten dogs with their heads down waiting to be kicked. It produces sycophants and group think. And if your company ever “slips” people head STRAIGHT for the door as they did at Siebel. I’d love to see a new generation of tech companies that don’t rule through fear. (via Hacker News)
- Information Wants to be Paid (Pete Warden) — I want to know where I stand relative to the business model of any company I depend on. If API access and the third-party ecosystem makes them money, then I feel a lot more comfortable that I’ll retain access over the long term. So true. It’s not that platform companies are evil, it’s just that they’re a business too. They’re interested in their survival first and yours second. To expect anything else is to be naive and to set yourself up for failure. As Pete says, it makes sense to have them financially invested in continuing to provide for you. It’s not a cure-all, but it’s a damn sight better than “build on this so we can gain traction and some idea of a business model”. Yet again, Warden reads my mind and saves me the trouble of finding the right words to write.
- 0Boxer — Chrome and Safari extensions to turn gmail into a game. (via waxy)
- Twitter’s New Search Architecture (Twitter Engineering Blog) — notable for two things: they’re contributing patches back to the open source text search library Lucene, and they name the individual engineers who worked on the project. Very classy, human, and canny. (via straup on Delicious)
Hiring Strategy, Data Catalogue Software, Web Frameworks, and Perl Lives
- Google Hiring by the Lake Wobegon Strategy — having just run some interviews myself, I recognise the wisdom in what they say. Another hiring strategy we use is no hiring manager. Whenever you give project managers responsibility for hiring for their own projects they’ll take the best candidate in the pool, even if that candidate is sub-standard for the company, because every manager wants some help for their project rather than no help. That’s why we do all hiring at the company level, not the project level. First we decide which candidates are above the hiring threshold, and then we decide what projects they can best contribute to. (via Hacker News)
- CKAN 1.0 Released — an open source registry system for datasets. It powers data.gov.uk and more than a half-dozen other national catalogues around the world.
- Perl 5.12.1 Released — lovely to see regular stable releases coming from the Perl line, and active development of the next versions with new features. 5.12 featured new work to help developers with APIs and versions, future proofing (literally: 2038 is no longer a bad year), DTrace support, and lots more.
Dearest Reader, for today’s compendium of brief pointers to the writings of the world’s greatest minds features language not suitable for children. So please stop reading this blog post to your child. Please. Think of the children.
- Don’t Work for Assholes (Derek Powazek) — sound advice that we all have to learn, then relearn.
- Broadband Stimulus Package Explained by Yochai Benkler — understanding the state of the bills in House and Senate, what each proposes to spend, where, and why. I, like many, were surprised to learn that the House’s bill gives half the money to the Secretary for Agriculture to spend. There is no sarcastic comment I can make about the Secretary of Agriculture that the Internets have now not already made. (via BoingBoing)
- The Web In The World — Slideshare presentation by Timo Arnall. Good intro to pervasive computing. “I think the hyperlink is a flawed model for physical interaction. (via Liz Goodman)
- Offshoring, Does It Ever Work? — very interesting responses to this question on Stack Overflow. As far as “does it EVER work” concerned: it does. It doesn’t work well though. Most people can run, doesn’t mean that most people can run as fast as Usain Bolt.
“You don’t choose the moment, the moment chooses you. You only choose how prepared you are when it does.” – Fire Chief Mike Burtch (Note: I became a Firefighter-1 and EMT in 2000. My experiences in the fire service profoundly influence my efforts in technology. Much of my work over the past few years has been translating and distilling my…