Issue #74, 18th April 2014

This Week's Favorite


Hyper-Growth Done Right - Lessons From the Man Who Scaled Engineering at Dropbox and Facebook
10 minutes read.

A must read post by Aditya Agarwal. So many valuable lessons here on how to build an engineering org that scales. My favorite part - ".. keeping an engineering team moving quickly but guided by core values keeps product quality high — even if things break behind the scenes. If you’re doing things right, something will always be a little bit broken. Most importantly, tell everybody that a little bit of chaos is okay." Also, enjoyed reading how they decide which companies to acquire (e.g. Mailbox) and how they let them operate after the acquisition completes, based on their culture fit.

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Culture


How Project Management Tools Kill More Companies Than Any Other SaaS Out There
4 minutes read.

This one is by yours truly. I wrote this post after having some discussion with a few friends about how they use their project management tools, and how they believe it could benefit their business. Invest your mental energy and time in building a successful business rather than optimizing waste. There is no value or glory in delivering for the sake of "showing progress".

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Shipping Is a Feature: Some Guiding Principles for People That Build Things
8 minutes read.

The real challenge in shipping products is how to deal with the people (and our emotions) involved in the process. Steven Sinofsky offers 5 great tips to apply, where my favorite two are "You get paid to decide" and "10% better can be 100% different". One thing I would add though, is to make sure decisions are made and judged once you have defined your core values as a company and team. If you don't, start there. Talk about it. I've been to situations where the disagreement between people were painful, but what killed decision making for the long run is mismatch in how people grasp the values in the company (e.g. one individual is okay with spamming the users to show users growth to investors while the other one isn't).

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The Secret Behind MailChimp's Creative Culture, Even as It Grows
7 minutes read.

I've watched a talk by Ben Chestnut (MailChimp's CEO) about a year ago and I was amazed by their approach for building a company. While it may not be a great system for others, it seems to work pretty well for them. Ben's approach for "Take away time" is a great tool to validate priorities. When time is taken away, you have to really consider what needs to get build, what is the right order of execution, how to align other efforts such as marketing around it etc. It can be a dangerous tactic to use - You just have to make sure that people understand how limiting their working unites affect the decision making that comes next.

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Peopleware


The Right Way to Lay People Off
7 minutes read.

An old post by Ben Horowitz but a great read nonetheless. A huge takeaway from this post is the importance of training your managers to deal with this situation. Learning how to do it right is never taught at school or university, so make sure your people get the proper training now. My advice: Keep this post bookmarked and share it with your management team.

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Leadership in Holacracy
3 minutes read.

Zappos recently made a decision to move into a "no managers organization" (Holacracy). John Bunch with a short and helpful post on the differences in the leadership role in traditional organization structure versus Holacracy. I think that "traditional organizations" will gain a lot from training their managers to think and implement the principles behind Holacracy. Scaling the company or adjusting it to face a new reality will become much easier when decision making and core values are pushed into the nodes (contributors level).

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Should You Pay Your Employees to Quit?
3 minutes read.

Great snippet from Jeff Bezos (Amazon's CEO) shareholder letter for 2014 - are you willing to take some money and quit Amazon now? While the tactic can change to better fit your own personal taste, I think it's a sign of strength for what Amazon is trying to build. If measuring happiness over time is important for you, check out TinyPulse.com, I heard some good feedback from the team at HubSpot.

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Inspiring Tweets


@bubs: I Live My Life by Two Simple Rules… 1. Always Finish What You Start.

@hnshah: It's Better to Tell Someone About Your Unhappiness With Them Sooner Than Later.

- Oren

P.S. Can you share this email? I'd love for more people to experiment and improve their company's culture.

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