Michael Lopp, one of my favorite bloggers, has a couple of books out. The first, Managing Humans (Kindle), is a compendium of his blog posts about geeks and software engineering stories. It’s a great read. The second, Being Geek (Kindle), is fresh and insightful material focusing on the career of software engineers, and given the close similarity, I’d say web developers as well. If you’re an engineer, developer or coder, you should buy and enjoy this book.
I’ve read 42% of the book (I love the Kindle for surfacing that info) and I’m taking my time to allow my brain to apply the lessons to my world. I’ve been a geek my entire life, and I’ve managed geeks for over a decade, but I still have a lot to learn. Being Geek has made me better at my job already and I fully expect I will start it over as soon as I’ve finished it to catch details or angles I missed the first time through.
Not a Geek, but You Work or Live with One?
Read his post The Nerd Handbook. I think that’ll show the value of his perspective and provide enough encouragement to pick up a copy of the book. A deeper understanding of your colleagues worldview and motivation is never a bad thing right? Right.
From Chapter 15, “A Deep Breath”:
I admit it. I love it when the sky is falling. There is no more delicious a state of being than the imminent threat of disaster.
During these times, I’ve done great work. I’ve taken teams from “We’re fucked” to “We made it.” Yeah, we had to cancel Christmas that one time, and there was that other time I didn’t leave the building for three days straight, but it was worth it because there’s no more exhilarating place to hang than the edge of chaos. We’re wired to escape danger.
There’s a reputation you get after successfully performing the diving saves. You’re “the Fixer.” You’re the one they call when hope is lost, and while that’s a great merit badge to have, it’s a cover story. It’s spin. See, someone upstream from you fucked up badly. When the sky falls, it means someone, somewhere underestimated the project, didn’t make a decision, or let a small miss turn into a colossal disaster, and while fixing a disaster feels great, you’re not actually fixing anything.
Management by crisis is exhilarating, but it values velocity over completeness; it sacrifices creativity for the illusion of progress.
Michael Lopp, Being Geek
It isn’t easy to choose from the passages I’ve highlighted in the book, but I believe that should provide a glimpse at the content focus and writing style that you’ll find if you pick up a copy of Being Geek. I hope you do. You and your team will be better for it.