Today I stumbled upon an interesting topic of culture in Spotify. Henrik Kniberg is main person who provided the insights to it.
It's all started in 2012 when Henrik wrote about it in Scaling Agile @ Spotify with Tribes, Squads, Chapters & Guilds. The organisation grew and changed since then, but I think it's valuable to see how the organisation evolved.
Such a strong content and great delivery backed by successful company grew the popularity like a wild fire. There is an interesting post about the wrong adoption of the ideas. See There Is No Spotify Model for Scaling Agile
I'm very excited about Rough Consensus. Democracy is built around the majority. It works great when all voters are at the same high level of expertise. Unfortunately that can't be further away from reality. For example in voting: "Don't let ignorant people vote".
In practice nobody knows everything, so we should respect our differences. The core idea of Consensus: the lack of disagreement is more important than agreement. The focus on the flaws helps to drive the discussion and share the knowledge of the minority to the rest of the group. It's a way to pick the best option, and not the popular option.
I highly recommend to read the original paper: On Consensus and Humming in the IETF. It explains how to do it and the mistakes to avoid.
I like this book because it's practical. I also hate it in places because it feels like the book couldn't qualify as a best seller without completely unnecessary chapters. The book can be very useful if you can finish it.
First of all few words about the author. It's hard to respect Brendon when he is proud that he wrote a book in 1 month (not this book). Author who seeks success while openly claiming that good research is unnecessary. You will see that while reading it. Few chapters are written around author's personal stories and claims based on it. So yeah, who needs research?
The best part the book is very well structured and easy to follow. The content is weak in places, but there is nothing that conflicts with my personal experience, so it's easy for me to accept it even with weak arguments.
The book presents 6 habits and 3 common mistakes/traps.
Envision the Future Four. Everything starts with your place in this world. Have clarity on 4 things:
Determine the Feeling You’re After. Be more proactive with you feelings. Determine the feeling you want to bring and get from each situation.
Define What’s Meaningful. Figure out what activity is important to you and spend more time there.
Release Tension, Set Intention. I like this one. Stop carrying emotions and stress between activities. In the transition stop for a minute and clean your brain from all the stress and worries. Also set a clear intention for the next activity.
Bring the Joy. Have fun yourself and bring it to others. Set triggers to remind yourself to be positive and grateful.
Optimize Health. Treat your body with respect and look after it. That includes sleep, exercise, and nutrition. I also add myself to exercise your brain by learning new things.
Know Who Needs Your A Game. Get some focus, spend your time where it yields the highest return.
Affirm the Why. Repeat your "why" to yourself and share it to others. That will motivate you and will allow people to help you.
Level Up Your Squad. Your social circle affects you, so spend more time with the most positive and successful people in your peer group. Keep building your ideal network of supportive and empowering people.
Increase the Outputs That Matter. Just like focus with time in 3.1, you need to get focus on results. What outputs determine your success. Say No to the rest.
Chart Your Five Moves. Now you know your end result, list top 5 moves/projects that will get you closer to it. Then breakdown each project into deliverables, deadlines, and activities.
Get Insanely Good at Key Skills (Progressive Mastery). In addition to the achieved goal you need to work on yourself. What are the five major skills you need to develop over the next three years. Master those skills.
Teach People How to Think. Always ask yourself how do you want other people to think about (a) themselves, (b) other people, and (c) the world at large. Then go communicate that consistently. Shape people’s thinking by saying things like: “Think of it this way ...” “What do you think about ...” “What would happen if we tried ...”
Challenge People to Grow. Observe people’s character, connections, and contributions, and actively challenge them to develop those things even further. Ask people if they gave their all, if they could be treating those around them better, and if they could give even more or serve with even greater excellence and distinction.
Role Model the Way. Ask yourself: How can I handle this situation in a way that will inspire others to believe in themselves, be their best, and serve others with integrity, heart, and excellence?
Honor the Struggle. Don’t complain, view struggle as a necessary, important, and positive part of your journey.
Share Your Truth and Ambitions. Be genuine. Share your true thoughts, feelings, needs, and dreams with other people. Do not play small to placate others. Live your truth.
Find Someone to Fight For. You will do more for others than for yourself. Find that person and use the motivation and courage to fight the struggle.
Superiority. Always remember that all people are the same. Your success is mere result of your habits and choices. That does not make you superior. Everybody else has the potential to achieve the same. Yes, not all will achieve it, but many will. You will loose all respect when you'll look down on your peers.
Dissatisfaction. What gets you promoted on one level, kills you on another. Being dissatisfied brings extra motivation to change things. You use the negative fuel to power your successes. But watch out, it's too easy to slip into the void and see the flaws in everything. There nothing brings you joy. You will never be happy chasing the perfect world which could never be achieved. Your constant dissatisfaction is the most dangerous to the people around you, because you rip them off of their happiness as well.
Neglect. Having focus is great, but having too much focus will destroy your life. Do not ignore any area in your life with a hope you will make it up in the future. It will cause more issues long term. Always maintain the balance. Today will never happen again.
Everybody heard of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I was curious to know more about it than what's in wikipedia so I read the original paper called "Theory of Human Motivation".
To remind you, the paper was written in 1943 and it's one of the best reads I've done. Modern books prioritise the high words count. The paper is opposite of that. It is very concise and full of references.
To my surprise only the first half of the paper talks about five levels. There are so much more to it! The second half argues that the hierarchy is not rigid. It was never meant to fit everybody and be 100% accurate. I think that's a very important part that got lost in the process of over-simplification to a single image of a triangle.
It was pleasing to see the author arguing both sides of the argument. The paper mentions the limitations of the proposed model, exceptions and areas for the further research.
This is extremely dense book. It wins extra points for being concise. You can read it in hour or two. There is also audiobook read by the author.
I still can't make my mind about Derek. It's either he is genius and hiding it very well. Or he is the most naive and luckiest man. Either way read the book, it's worth it.
One thing really surprised me. Derek talks about completely different attitude of running a business. Every single business I know is there for one reason — money. You might think that's the best way to run the business. Sure, but it's definitely a survivorship bias. Money focused business might live longer but it's like a walking dead — it ruins the scenery.
It's rare to find customer focused business. Everybody says they focus on their customers. Yeah right, as long as their business is growing. Are your customers really interested in your business growth? I don't think so. They are interested in a great service/product. In fact larger companies tend to have worse service than their small competitors.
The author's mindset is similar to Basecamp. Focus on customers. You are not going to need it. Adjust as you go. No funding.
I like his "HELL YEAH! or no" principle. I saw it many years ago and it got stuck with me for all that time.
Delegate or die: Answer the question and explain the thought process and philosophy behind the answer.
Trust, but verify: Remember it when delegating. You have to do both.
A real person, a lot like you: Technology depersonalises humans, but there are people on the other end, remember that.
Quote from Steve Blank: No plan survives first contact with customers.
You should feel pain. If you do you will always know what to improve.
If you like the book I would recommend to follow Derek's blog.
This is a great technical story. I find it hard to explain my daily job to a non technical person. This book is the best example I've seen which closely resembles what the tech work is like. It's not the perfect match but the closest I've seen by far.
The story's realism keeps holding your attention till the end. The book is well paced and full of management lessons. Few highlights which I enjoyed:
"Free puppy" analogy. When what you think is free ends up costing you a lot over the years. I find people tend to favour short term thinking unfortunately.
Management of key resources and bottle necks at production factories and office jobs.
The book brings attentions to 4 types of work in tech teams: 1. Business projects 2. Internal projects 3. Changes 4. Unplanned work
And my final observation, just like in real life, managers in the book don't have formal management education.
The book focuses on the management aspect of work. I would recommend this book to experienced tech people, because they will appreciate it more. If you are outside of tech and want to get a glimpse into the daily lives of tech management jobs have a look as well.
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Shortly after I finished Inspired book Shape Up book came to my radar. After reading this book the whole puzzle got together. The pieces:
This book serves well as a guide on how to use Basecamp. The closer your process is to this book, the more useful Basecamp will be for you.
It’s important to note that Basecamp is a cash-cow. The quality of the development process is not necessary affects its success. Read the book with a grain of salt.
Their process is also Dual Track. The first stage is exploration and the second is development. However unlike in Inspired, it’s not clear if they ever do user testing. The book is very practical and it’s easy to see that it evolved over time.
I find Shape Up process very reactive as they discourage having backlog. I agree with the principle that important ideas will always come back, so you don’t need to record them. However they went to the extreme to reinvent the road map every 2 months. Basecamp doesn’t feel like a product but a playground for its founders.
I think the book will gain popularity because it’s short and free. It would serve as a good introduction to dual track processes. I will recommended it on this basis to others.
My friend is a big fan of Marty Cagan. He is so impressed by his work that it made me think I’m missing out, so I’ve decided to read it. Inspired is a book for product managers about product managers by product managers.
Let’s start with important things first. I loved it. My career is a decade old and I was surprised how little I knew about product development. This book taught me a lot. What product managers are, what they are not, what they do, how to hire and how to work with them. It’s probably the most comprehensive book on a single topic.
The mind blowing discovery for my was at the end. The author is highlighting through the book about the difference between normal agile coach and the one who worked in product team. It’s only at the end of the book he explains the difference. Scrum as the most popular agile methodology is created in consulting (custom software in the book). It works amazingly well in such setup and it is completely unsuitable for product teams. I knew it myself deep inside, but verbalising it made it real. I like agile manifesto. With that the new knowledge 12 principles behind the Agile Manifesto opened up from a completely new perspective.
Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
It’s great for consultants, pointless for product teams.
The process the author proposes is something between waterfall and agile. In short you don’t develop anything until you’ve proven the prototype and business model. I was very skeptical at the start but finally got convinced that it is a good process to use. The book does not give it a name, but people call it Dual Track Development.
On the first track you explore ideas, come up with prototypes and test them on users. The idea is to keep the feedback loop tight and iterate on ideas. On this track all roles must be involved, including developers. That avoid the problem with waterfall model where levels don’t communicate.
The second track is usual development process. That could be Scrum, Kanban or chaos driven development.
Both tracks run in parallel, but with different cycles.
If you test an idea and it fails, you just scrap it and move to the next. The BIG difference to plain agile you don’t pollute your code base with bad ideas. Also when you start development you already have well designed, tested and proven feature. No more assumptions and no more pivoting.
Even though the book is mostly for product managers, I found it very useful, so would recommend it to everybody who is in software development.
This is a second time I listened this book. It wasn't a standard audiobook, but audio theatre with multiple voices and sound effects.
I enjoyed it like the first time, but also picked up the bits that I missed before. That allowed me to enjoy the book even more.
I better understood the characters and the love narrative. My original critic is only partially relevant now. Turns out I didn't get it the first time.
This time I spent more time researching the Objectivism, which is the main philosophy in the book. I found that hard to navigate and differentiate philosophical terms. It's like learning chemical elements without periodic table. Would be great to get some framework for different philosophies.
I love the title of this book, it can't be said better. The book was release in 1987 and had its third edition in 2013. The content is still relevant to this day, but sometimes it feels dated.
This is a great book, but I'd say hold off from reading it until you get into managing people. Then this book becomes invaluable resource. It describes the work dynamics from the social perspective and even touches on a big topic like happiness in life.
The book confirmed and cleared a lot of my observations. My three highlights:
Software quality is a cult. Not striving for the best is the common mistakes most companies do. It's not just cutting corners but has an enormous phycological consequences. One of them is job satisfaction. By pushing dev speed over quality you rip the most important part for developers, to be proud of the craft. You might say the speed to market is the king. Sure, but don't be surprised when developers resign.
Hidden hiring costs. It's not so hidden, just ignored. Based on my estimates it costs 50k to hire new candidate. The average employment duration is 2 years. It means you pay 25k per year per hire. It's ironic when company wants to save 5k and not to match the salary offer of the resigning employee. People overvalue simple numbers and ignore more complex ones. The short story value your people while you have them, otherwise you will pay for it. Even if you spend 20k in perks per employee per year, you should celebrate your decision. It made your employee happier and you saved 5k.
I also enjoyed the chapter on introducing change to organisations. I was burnt in the past when I wanted to improve things. I leant the lesson: people really hate to change. The chapter shows a technique to ease the transformation. Each change needs a catalyst. You need to show and convince the people that the status quo is wrong. The catalyst should create the chaos, the bigger — the better. Only after the people are scared enough you can introduce your idea as a solution to the chaos.
The book sounds too good to be true, but I like the reasoning. I wish it had more to back it up, to build my confidence in the content. But as mentioned above, this book is highly recommended.
I'm pretty good with money (at least I'd like to think that). However I lack a lot of common knowledge about Australian rules. For example how super works or what happens when your bank goes bankrupt. This book is mostly relevant to only Australians, as financial system differs in each country.
The book present a simple step by step guide on how to take your financial life under control. Starting from the bottom of owning a lot of debt up to getting the financial independence. This book is recent which is important as the content is time relevant.
The books proves a good general knowledge and a must read for all Australians.
Great book! It talks about tribe (group of people) culture. It's mostly described in the context of work organizations. The book is inline with my own experience. I saw it as the explanation of the things I didn't see at the time.
The content is very well structured and to the point. It has a good balance between stories and actionable steps.
You can download free audiobook. You'll need to go through 5 pages to get the file, but it's worth it.
If you've achieved competence in your career, this book is a must read for you.
I will read the book the second time to better understand it. One audiobook wasn't enough to fully appreciate the insights.
I do not recommend this book. The book brags about success stories. If at least one employee heard of OKRs, the author would claim the company's success solely to OKRs. This book takes survivorship bias to the extreme. What this book does not talk is how the mentioned companies, including OKR mother-ship Google, constantly fail. You might assume those teams didn't implement OKRs correctly. However the book does not tell you the correct way and you have to figure out it for yourself.
Without that, it's a pigeon superstition:
However I would recommend the resources at the end of the book.
Don't get me wrong, the topic of goal setting and uniting teams is very important. OKR is a fancy word for the goal setting and it creates more confusion. Without understanding of OKR implementation details it's too easy to fall into cargo culting.
It's a weak book. The author's style of writing doesn't help either. The continuity breaks, thoughts jump and the lack of structure make it hard to build the understanding.
There are few good quotes and thoughts, but unless you are into group psychology, don't waste your time. The only reason to read this book is for completeness on the topic and to see the different perspectives.
Recently I've started using external 4K monitor with my Macbook Pro. I was shocked to discover that the laptop is running 30% slower. That's right it's slower by third.
I've got one of the most powerful Macbooks you could buy at 2018 with i9 processor (2.9GHz with 6 Cores), 32GB RAM and Radeon Pro 560X. However that does not matter because the power is throttled. You might remember the throttling story when the laptop was released. It is almost the same now after the fix.
For example, my test suite takes 1m40s to run without external monitor. However with the external monitor it takes 2m10s. That's a big jump.
That's a last book for the year. It's very short and has a very clear message. The title says it all. I love it a lot. However I'm biased as my opinion is inline with the book.
I've discovered that the book splits people into two opposite sides. The question is simple, so I've found everybody have an answer for it. Do you think you should be the best in what you do? I would recommend this book, does not matter what your answer is. It's worth 1-2 hours reading.
I'm a big believer in habits and picked this book specifically for this reason. The book has three parts: individuals, organizations and society.
The individuals part is the best. It explains the habits in a structured form. There are a lot of insights and knowledge that you can apply yourself.
In the second part that the book starts to go down hill and it goes fast. There a lot of interesting stories, but no analysis. It is the same problem as Charles' another book Smarter Faster Better, which I've read few months earlier. Entertaining to read - useless in building understanding. Most stories have too many unnecessary details. Chapters are hard to relate among themselves and the book lacks purpose. It's very disappointing, but fun at the same time.
"Habit" is a big word for this book, which it does not deserve. More accurate name would be "Stories about influencing people".
I would recommend to read the first part about individuals. You can skip or skim the rest.
UV index is very harsh in Australia. While 11 index is considered Extreme, it's often you'll see 13 in Melbourne. Thus I bought a beach tent.
I checked all of the available resources on how to set it up and still miserably failed to do it myself. It's almost always windy on the beach. During the setup the tent cover becomes a huge wind sail and it's a challenge to secure it with ropes before it flies away.
As a result I came up with new way to set it up.
That's my beach book and it's a great fit. Short aphorisms are quick to read and give you a lot of opportunity to think about them. I didn't understand the half of the aphorisms, which gives a reason to read the book again.
I've found this book very insightful. It talks about modeling the application based on domain or real business terms and operations. My development experience slowly led me to the same conclusion. DDD is very valuable technique and it should be more talked in the software industry.
I can't remember seeing the DDD concept in the book yet. While the book's content is great, the delivery is horrible. I found it to have a bad flow, being too long and slow at times and often confusing. The more appropriate title would be "DDD Half-Distilled". I feel the content could be cut in half without significant drop in value.
I've picked this book for the second book club meeting. It is short and publicly available. The book provides interesting insight into the company, which is successfully operating with flat structure for 20 years. It's so different so it's hard to believe it.
The most surprising part for me was about hiring as it is considered the most important task in the company. I agree with such approach, but unfortunately it's not so common.
Few other things I've liked: T-shape people, peer reviews, cabals, stack ranking and compensation.
The book gives a good overview of the culture. I really want to know more details how everything is setup. That's where the real insight.
RubyWeekly is a weekly email with curated list of links about Ruby. It might take me few hours to read through it if the content is interesting. It’s hard to find 2 hours of focus time. It would be nice if I could track each link in the newsletter separately.
This blog post describes my evolving solution and how you can optimise your workflow and read RubyWeekly with one click.
Great books and great methodology. It would be even better if the author didn’t oversell it. The way he presents it, is like he treated all diseases on the planet. After a while of such praising of his work you start to question his credibility.
The author made a good point. You can't significantly change the performance of a person in a short time. However you can significantly affect the team. Everything should be seen as a system. People are just the participants in the game.
There are no bad people, but bad systems
The book made me think of Nazism. Its success can be explained by the system that was in place. Most german people didn't want to kill anyone on the individual level. However they played their cog role in the complex Nazism machine.
Anyway, back to the book. Scrum is focused on providing the basic rules for the process in the team. It prioritises efficiency, uncertainty and change. I can't think how those rules could be distilled even more. That make me think the scrum would be around for a long time.
I would recommend this book to everybody. But don’t be put off by the writer. The product does not change because of the bad salesperson.
This was an audiobook, and I did an experiment with it. I’ve listened to this book three times in a row. The goal was to see how the second and the third rounds would be different.
After the first round, I liked the book. Each point is backed by real life example. That makes the listening a joy.
The second round wasn’t much different. I’ve picked up some missed details. However overall understanding of the book is only improved by 10%.
For the last round I created a mind map while listening to it. To my surprise that made a huge difference. The mind map forced me to become an active listener. The overall understanding doubled. That shocked me because that was the third time I’ve listened to it.
My favourite part is about goal setting. There are ‘smart goals’ and ‘stretch goals’. Smart goals are achievable and measurable. These are your everyday goals. They prioritise efficiency of what you are already doing. In contrast stretch goals are about the direction.
To better understand them, think of the running analogy. Smart - is how fast you are running. Stretch - is where you are running to.
While the book has a great content, it feels disjointed. It would be nice to combine all knowledge into a recipe to follow. I guess it’s up to the reader to do so.
Yet another interesting book from Dan Ariely about behavioural psychology. The book talks what motivates us at work. It feels that book heavily overlaps with author's other books. It's good to remind about those things anyway.
I decided to read some Russian classics. The book is about people and society. The book dates to the 19th century. However, it is still relevant today. The social aspect of the society did not evolve as quickly as the technology.
Selecting good communication and collaboration tools for work, is just like having a solid foundation for the house: if it’s flawed then you can’t avoid the cracks in the walls.
Often it’s our ignorance of communication theory that caused all of that.
The article will give you a model which will help you understand why new tools don’t fit into your company and why existing tools are abused in their usage. I will describe the five main categories of collaboration and communication tools and explain their purpose and needs along with the tool examples.
Let’s start with something popular.
Crucial Conversations is a very practical book. You can apply knowledge in everyday life straight after reading it. As you probably know our life is not always vanilla. Quite often we need to deal with people who completely disagree with our opinion. Whether it be your boss, partner, neighbour or co-worker. This book teaches you how to have those conversations without alienating the relationship. The book is very insightful and I feel I need to read it again to better understand it.
I definitely recommend the book for everybody and I wish everybody to have a read of it.
It’s loooooong, very long, 30+ hours long. I can’t count the number of times I thought to stop listening to it but somehow I managed to finish it.
Such level of details is acceptable at court when creating a criminal record. Let me ask you, would you be interesting in reading the criminal records? Nobody cares who said what, to who and at what minute. The readers want a story, a good story with overview of what’s happening. Unfortunately this book pollutes a good story with unnecessary details.
One advice to you is to listen to this audiobook on x1.5 speed, I started with x1.25, and it wasn’t fast enough. You get bored faster than your patience for the author’s mumbles.
First of all, great book and now the details. I thought it was a book about biology and how humans evolved from monkeys. It definitely has a lot of it, but that’s only a small portion of the book.
While I was reading it I realised the book 100% proves its title. Think about some time in year 3000 or perhaps when aliens colonise the earth. They would want to study the creatures which were living on the planet. I think this book speaks about us more than anything. The author manages to distance himself and you truly think it’s just another history book.
It is a pretty long book, at times it could be boring because of the details, but only sometimes. This is one of the best book I’ve read and I definitely would read it again.
I wrote a small Rails app, which sends emails on a particular schedule. For example to send an email every week on monday and thursday at 7:00am Melbourne time.
However Heroku doesn’t have cron or good free alternative. I wrote a cron replacement in 5 minutes. This post shows how I did it. There are three parts:
The story starts with the RubyWeekly newsletter. Once signed up, every week you’ll receive a collection of curated links. It’s a great resource to learn Ruby. It could take a few hours to read through the interesting articles.
I found it hard to set aside 2-4 hours every week to read them in one go. So I wrote a script parses each week’s issue into an RSS feed. The feed had one item per link, which gave more granular control.
This book is very hyped this year. To summarise it's a detailed refactoring tutorial. It could also be called "Refactoring 1-on-1 for dummies".
I like that it goes through long and tedious process of proper TDD. I don't like for the exactly same reason and had to skim through it. People who are not familiar with TDD should find it very useful.
The book was a good detailed reminder of the refactoring process for me. However I wouldn't recommend it to myself.