Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Notes from the book Team Geek

  • Software development is a team sport.
  • You need to work with other people. 
  • Share you vision.
  • Divide the labor.
  • Learn from others.
  • Create a brilliant team.


  •  You are not the center of the universe.
  •  You don't know everything
  •  You are not incapable of making mistakes or being wrong
  •  It does not mean never failing


  • Genuinely care about others you work with.
  • You treat them as human beings
  • You appreciate their abilities and accomplishments


  • You believe others are competent and will do the right thing
  • You're ok with letting them drive when appropriate

Almost every social conflict can be traced back to a lack of humility, respect or trust.

Lose the Ego

  • Don't come off like a know-it-all
  • Build a sense of team accomplishment and group pride

Learn to both deal out and handle criticism

  •  Learn to respect your peers and give constructive criticism politely
  •  Your self-worth shouldn't be connected to the code you write

Fail Fast, learn, iterate

  •   Failure is viewed as a golden opportunity to learn and improve
  •   Don't hide in the cave until it's perfect
  •   It's ok to show imperfect software to users and some trust that your users really do appreciate     your efforts and are eager to see rapid improvements.
  •   Document your failures  

What was learned and what is going to change as a result of the learning experience. Follow through on the proposed changes. Don't erase your tracks - light them up like a runway for those who follow you.

Postmortem should include:

• A brief summary
• A timeline of the event, from discovery through investigation to resolution
• The primary cause of the event
• Impact and damage assessment
• A set of action items to fix the problem immediately
• A set of action items to prevent the event from happening again
• Lessons learned

Leave Time for Learning

It's about increasing humility and being willing to learn as much as teach. Put yourself outside your comfort zone now and then.

Learn patience

Be open to influence

  •   It's ok for someone else to change your mind.
  •   Choose your battles carefully
  •   In order to be heard properly, you first need to listen to others
  •   Listening should take place before you've decided on something

Team Culture

Code reviews, TDD and the value you place on having good design docs before starting to crank out reams of code.

Mission Statement is a way to describe the product goals and non goals.
Comments should be focused on why the code is doing what it's doing, not what the code is doing.
Require code reviews for every commit. Check for style, quality and mistakes.
Have real test and release processes. Testing should be part of the coding and review process.
Communication and process reduces the barrier to entry for newcomers.
Code is ultimately about communications with people.
An engineer needs nurturing, time and space to think and create.

Bad Manager

  •  Micromanagement
  •  Ignoring low performers
  •  Hiring pushovers : Your team won't be able to make a move without you. You can't take a vacation. You may feel secure in job. 

Strive to hire people who are smarter than you and can replace you.
See failure as an opportunity to learn and not to point fingers or assign blame.

Do a postmortem of production failures. Document the events that led to the actual failure and develop a series of steps that will prevent it from happening in the future. Focus on the code of the problem and fix it once and for all.

Be a teacher and a mentor

  •  Experience with your team's processes and systems
  •  The ability to explain things to someone else 
  •  The ability to gauge how much help your mentee needs
  •  Don't overexplain things 

Set Clear Goals

  Is there anything you need?
  You can increase intrinsic motivation by giving people three things: autonomy, mastery and purpose
  Autonomy means no micromanagement. Mastery means giving the opportunity to learn new skills and improve existing skills
Code culture should include : Consensus based development, high-quality code, code reviews and an environment where people feel comfortable to try new things and to fail fast.

Protect your team's attention and focus. Don't let someone waste team's time.
Beware of those who are incapable of accepting a consensus decision, incapable of listening to or respecting other points of view and incapable of reaching compromises.
Redirect the energy of perfectionists
Keep track of your accomplishments and use them in your self-assessment

Three bullets and a call to action

Don't be all things. Define the problem narrowly and solve it well. Solve common problems for most users and do it really well. Focus on the user, not what's convenient for you to code. Complex things should feel seamless and easy.

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