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Team Geek: A Software Developer's Guide to Working Well with Others Paperback – July 18, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1449302443 ISBN-10: 1449302440 Edition: 1st

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Team Geek: A Software Developer's Guide to Working Well with Others + Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager + Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (3rd Edition)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 194 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (July 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449302440
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449302443
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Team Geek Tips


Don’t work alone. Create a low-friction environment for rapid feedback loops with other programmers.

Keep the "bus factor" high. (Bus factor = the number of people that would have to get hit by a bus before your project is completely doomed)

Practice humility, respect, and trust. Almost every social conflict can ultimately be traced back to a lack of one or all of these behaviors:
Humility: You’re not the center of the universe. You’re neither omniscient nor infallible. You’re open to self-improvement.
Respect: You genuinely care about the people with whom you work. You treat them as human beings, and appreciate their abilities and accomplishments.
Trust: You believe others are competent and will do the right thing; you’re okay with letting them drive when appropriate.


Build a strong team culture. Base that culture on humility, trust, and respect— and consensus-based decision making.

Write a mission statement. It's just as important to agree on what you're NOT doing as what you are.

Run efficient meetings:
  1. Only invite people who absolutely need to be there.
  2. Have an agenda and distribute it early.
  3. End the meeting early if possible.
  4. Keep the meeting on track.
  5. Try to schedule the meeting near other interrupt points in your day.
Build strong processes and tools around team communication. They're just as important as your software tools.

Never underestimate the bandwidth (and power) of a face-to-face conversation. It trumps all forms of electronic communication.


Remove roadblocks for the team. Strive to be a "servant leader."

Be a leader, not a manager. Managers worry about *how* to get things done, while Leaders worry about *what* things get done, and trust their team to figure out how to do it.

Provide direction and intrinsic motivation. Figure out how much guidance the people on your team need to stay on track—and happy.

  • Reject behaviors, not people.
  • Guard your team's attention and focus.
  • Ignore trolls and stick to facts.
  • Don't sacrifice long-term culture for short-term convenience.

Ask for forgiveness, not permission.

If you can't take the path, make the path.

Connect to the right people. Take advantage of the favor economy.

Cut to the chase. Make requests using "3 bullets and a call to action" method.
  • There is a pony deficiency.
  • Lack of ponies makes people sad.
  • Ponies increase productivity.
Please get us a pony.


When marketing your product, under-promise and over-deliver. Be aware of how people perceive your software; it determines whether they’ll even try it out.

Make your software easy to use. If your software isn’t easy to try, fast, friendly, and accessible, users will eventually walk away.

Listen to your customers. Users want to be heard and acknowledged. Proactive engagement with long-term users has a positive effect on the evolution of your software, and on retaining your customers.

Book Description

Secrets of Successful Software Developers

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Lots of useful advices in the book.
Eric Chou
This was a great book that I would highly recommend for anyone involved in a software development team, especially if that team is attempting to adopt agile practices.
Matthew Block
Because let's face it: if you're reading this book, you want to be set straight on a few things.
R. Friesel Jr.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. Dargin VINE VOICE on February 24, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
People are a giant pile of intermittent bugs, say the authors. People are messy and difficult and hard to apply logic too. If you believe that and are a software engineer (or know one) then this book is for you. The authors then proceed to solve problems in a funny, logical, and concise way.

They start out using many arguments to convince us that software development is a team sport, e.g. you must get feedback early on; fail early; fail fast; fail often; your team's hit by a bus factor, genius myth, tight feedback loops - never do 50,000 lines of virgin code.

The underlying model for making teams work is what they call the three pillars of humility, respect, and trust. The rest of the book uses the three pillars and addresses various challenges of software. The chapters are:
- How to build an awesome team culture
- Every team needs a captain
- Dealing with difficult people
- The art of organizational manipulation
- Users are people too

Each chapter has humor, anecdotes, clever logic, pictures, and charts to prove their points, here are some examples:
- Serious - when to fire someone
- Helpful - how to write a complaint letter
- Funny - grandma is a user, her Mac and pencil sharpener have a relationship

I enjoyed this! I wish I had this book thirty years ago, when I was a practicing software engineer. I am giving this book as gifts for the all the amazing and talented software people in my life.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By वाचक on July 13, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A handy guide of best practices for all stakeholders of a project. Revolves around simple, commonly accepted principles of being a good human being first with intention of delivering something useful for others.

Recipe for channeling individual energies towards achieving the common goals, and increasing productivity by reducing friction.

This book is applicable not just for software developers; but to any group of individuals having supposedly/ intended common goals, and having a potential for conflicts about how to achieve those while also guarding individual interests.

It's déjà vu for experienced (> 7 years) folks. Listing of all the best practices in an organized manner in one place is the value of this book.

Equivalent of the books 'Code complete', and 'Writing solid code' for nurturing great teams. Those two book had profound impact early in my career. I wish this book was available way earlier for me and to those I worked with so far. I would've named this book 'Team complete' or 'Developing productive teams'.

Speaking in the software metaphor, I wish I could write a country specific localization of this book. While most of the ideas expressed are valid, some nuances of recommendations made do vary across world cultures, company type, and regions.

Meaningful cross references provided at the end of each chapter. Good that they are hyperlinked in the soft copy form.

Kindle edition likes: digital index of topics at the end of the book makes post-reading, future reference a charm. Also, hyperlinked cross-references provided at the end of each chapter.

Gripes: two-column view was not available with Kindle for PC, though the reader supports it for other books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Prof on December 31, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Strengths: Geek "mentality" (hide my code until it's perfect) is summed up well, the team experience and culture are explained throughout with useful metaphors.

Weaknesses: Much advice is based on utopic premises, i.e., oriented towards large open source projects or Google (where candidates with dysfunctional team culture are theoretically weeded out during job interviews). It would be good if there was more realistic advice that applies to the 99% other software companies, e.g., where customers are government, military, etc. and companies are small businesses operating outside of silicon valley without the biggest talent pool.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Andy on July 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
Brian Fitzpatrick leads Google's Data Liberation Front and Transparency Engineering teams.Ben Collins-Sussman is one of the founding developers of SVN and now manages the engeneering team for the Google Affiliate Network.
Both have a lot of experience with Open Source Projects.

The Book has a clearly defined goal - to help programmers become more effective
and efficient at creating software by improving their ability to
understand, communicate with, and collaborate with other people.

And that is the essence of this book. It explains why each relationship (not only related to Software projects) should be based on Humility, Respect and Trust (HRT).

The message of the book also applies to the relationship between team mates, team leader and team and above all to the relationship with end users.

The book gives useful tips on how to cope with complicated team mates and how managers should lead their team.

Brian and Ben explain why a team culture is so important and should be protected right from the start.

Last but not least the reader gets some tips on how to promote himself better within his company.

I really enjoyed reading this book.
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