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Archives for Managing

the possibility space of company behavior

This picture from Liz and Mollie showed up on my Twitter feed a few times recently: And that reminded my of one of my favorite (?) BusinessTown posts: Not because they’re pointing at the exact same thing, but because they’re both pointing at monocultures within how businesses (or at least tech business, or at least […]

brenda romero: jiro dreams of game design

It’s months since GDC, and I’m still trying to unpack my feelings about Brenda Romero’s Jiro Dreams of Game Design talk. Or maybe not so much my feelings about it—it’s an excellent talk, no question—but my emotional reactions to it. Her talk confronts concepts that I care about (greatness, team structure, creation) in contexts that […]

on estimation

It probably would surprise people who have interacted with me recently to hear it, but I actually spent a fair amount of time a few years back trying to get good (as an individual, as part of a team) at estimating: reading the literature (both agile and otherwise), trying it out, and refining and repeating […]

structure within teams

Since my role shift at work, I’ve been thinking about teams: partly being surprised by my reactions to some interactions, partly thinking about ways in which my instincts are a bad fit for some aspects of our house style. And three questions about organizational team structure (in general, not about my current job) that I’ve […]

gdc 2013: wednesday

My notes for the Wednesday GDC 2013 sessions: Ideas per Second: How Double Fine Optimizes for Human Performance, Nathan Martz Empowering the Player in a Story-Rich World: Co-Directing Dishonored, Harvey Smith and Raphael Colantonio #1ReasonToBe, Brenda Romero, Robin Hunicke, Elizabeth Sampat, Mattie Brice, Leigh Alexander, and Kim McAuliffe Strange Love: Game Theory vs. Game Design, […]

inboxes at work

Merlin Mann’s Back to Work podcast recently did a five-part series on GTD (starting with episode 95); good to have an excuse to think about that again, to have my eyes opened to ways in which I can improve my GTD practice. One thing which particularly struck me while listening to the series was the […]

first, break all the rules speaks truth

When I became a manager at Sun, they sent me to new manager training; they asked us to read a book called First, Break All the Rules which seemed to do a pretty good job of presenting a research-based approach towards management. One of the findings that the book presents is that, if you want […]

agile, anarchy, and teams

I tend to think of agile as a way of thinking about programming that’s very supportive of individuals, their quirks, desires, and autonomy. As I’ve been tossing some of the ideas behind this post around in my head, though, I’m not entirely sure why I have that attitude. Certainly the lean pillar of Respect for […]

the dangers of micromanaging

There’s a fine line between keeping in close touch with how your subordinates are doing and micromanaging them. Some team leaders in our study stepped way over the wrong side of that line. Operating under a misguided notion of what management involves, they held themselves aloof from their teams. Rather than working collaboratively with the […]

gdc 2012: brian sharp, concrete practices to be a better leader: framing & intention

I wasn’t planning to go to this talk until I heard his pitch in the Flash Forward session; something in that pitch reminded me of a Gerald Weinberg / AYE approach to personal interaction, so I went. And I’m very glad I went: certainly my favorite talk of this GDC, but perhaps one of my […]

random links: november 24, 2009

Gerald Weinberg is, sadly, in poor health. Never tried doing Rock Band vocals this way… (Takes 15 seconds or so to actually start.) (Via @dan_schmidt.) R.I.P., Brother Blue. (Via @scottros.) The difference between motion and action. (Via @harlan_knight.) An unforeseen design problem. (Via @shawnr.) Nice perspective on slow programming languages. Glad to see non-Miyazaki Ghibli […]

random links: may 26, 2009

Malcolm Gladwell on spaghetti sauce: the power of choices, of market segmentation. Two on folded paper: pictures by Simon Schubert (via @KathySierra) and a TED talk by Robert Lang on the origami that modern math and computers allow us to produce. An abandoned island city. (Via @japanesepod101.) Or, if you want a whole blog about […]

jobs and roles

One of my goals in going to GDC was to get a feel for what the industry is like on the inside. I think I succeeded in that, to some extent; what I wasn’t expecting, however, what that I’d learn so much about what I like about my current job, and about things to keep […]

esther derby on organizational change

On Tuesday morning of AYE, I attended Esther Derby’s session on organizational change. This session’s simulation was about a factory that had decided to enter the lucrative “fancy pinwheel” market. She started out by dividing us into four groups (cutters, assemblers, testers, managers), and plunked us down in a room without a lot of information. […]

random links: september 1, 2008

Hmm, been a while since I’ve done one of these; sorry about the length… Visualizing the Python commit history. Leadership, responsibility, and sausage. Solving sudoku games via package management. Japan, computers, appliances. (Via Niels ‘t Hooft.) Breakpoints as a checklist. Programmers, insecurity, source control. I linked to a movie of strandbeests (amazing wind-powered sculptures that […]

weekly reviews

One aspect of GTD that has surprised me is the weekly review. The idea here is that, once a week, you go over all your projects (and their associated tasks) and all your someday/maybe items, to make sure that your current projects are all on track and that your current projects are what you think […]

resume formats

I’m trying to hire right now. Which means that I get to read lots of resumes, mediated by various pieces of technology. Which is annoying, among other things because the format in which the resumes are most easily read isn’t necessarily preserved by those mediating technologies. Specifically, Sun’s internal tools only accept resumes in either […]


Behind Closed Doors recommends that you have frequent one-on-ones with your team members: it says that One-on-one meetings provide managers an opportunity to ascertain status, solve problems, and provide positive and corrective feedback. Which I was a bit dubious about: daily standups provide a mechanism for me to get status from my team members every […]

hiring again

I’m hiring again. If you live in the S.F. Bay Area, are a good programmer, and want to be the first kid on your block to stream out 320Gbps of video data, please let me know. (You can also submit a resume via the above link.)

random thoughts: november 11, 2007

I would seem to be more confused than normal these days. Which, in the past, has frequently been a good sign; maybe my brain is figuring something out? Or maybe I’m just clueless. Anyways, I present to you a random collection of thoughts, which may or may not be related to each other in some […]