Issue #98, 10th October 2014

This Week's Favorite


24 People, No Managers: Our New Experiment in Getting Work Done at Buffer
5 minutes read.

I remember a tweet by Leo saying "One of the most fulfilling parts of Buffer for me, is the feeling that we can keep changing things however we want even as the company grows" - this is exactly how Buffer operates. With 24 employees, 2 million customers and $4.5M in ARR, it's impressive to see how they continue to experiment and share their journey.

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Culture


Sierra's Featuritis Curve
1 minutes read.

Whenever someone says "wouldn't it be cool if you could also do X?", I think of Sierra's Featuritis Curve. Probably the ultimate poster for your meetings room.

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Well, He’s Not Going to Get Very Far
6 minutes read.

I really enjoyed this story by the team at Moz. This funny story could have ended really poorly if there wasn't open communication between Zach and Sarah - "I hope everyone at Moz does what Zach did, and bravely talks it out. With luck, we’ll get more funny stories and less uncertainty about values out of the process."

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The Omission of “why?”
4 minutes read.

One of my personal "Work Smell" is a working environment where people are not asking any questions about the product or business. We are not being paid to write code or deliver products no one needs. Our job is to solve real problems. To do that, we need to have the entire context behind the problem. Usually, it's a symptom of broken trust or lack of interest but either way, it will kill the team. Interesting post on how the team at Sprintly keep engagement high by making the context visible.

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Move Fast & Break Nothing
12 minutes read.

Zach Holman not only delivers, but does it with style. While waiting for the video of his talk, I laughed and found the text accompaniment he added to his slides really interesting. My favorite section was "build into your existing process" - "You want your coworkers to think less about bullshit that doesn't matter and spend more consideration on things that do."

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Peopleware


How to Avoid One of the Costliest Mistakes in Software Engineering
5 minutes read.

Edmond Lau shares some of his lessons learned on rewriting your project's codebase and how to avoid that - "We tend to significantly underestimate the cost and overestimate the benefit". The story of how Writely (now Google Docs) had to migrate from C# to Java, due to Google's policy, using regular expressions is pretty crazy. And yet, I find it smart. It's almost impossible to make such a hack sound right, but running a successful business is a set of tradeoffs people need to make. Getting the migration done so they'd be able to focus on the product probably was smarter than putting everything on hold for many months.

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Are You an Unwitting Audience to Productivity Theater?
5 minutes read.

Epic post from Janet Choi. This one sad sentence encapsulates the Productivity Theater we all experienced at some point in our professional career: "Looking busy becomes how you get recognized for doing a good job". The root cause to it all is moving decision making responsibilities to people who no longer know how to get the job done - "workers pointed to the lack of knowledge that many middle managers have of what jobs actually entail." Read the last section to get some pragmatic tips on how to avoid that waste at your place.

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Knowledge Workers Are Bad at Working (And Here’s What to Do About It…)
5 minutes read.

Pretty old post, but highly relevant nonetheless. Cal Newport, a computer scientist exploring how people reach elite levels in knowledge work careers, shares some interesting tips on how to apply deep work concepts to improve your skills. I'm going to test this method on some areas where I feel there is plenty to gain by investing my time there.

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Inspiring Tweets


@BiIIMurray: Coffee Has Given Me Unrealistic Expectations of Productivity.

@LifeLimits: Listen Without Defending; Speak Without Offending.

- 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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