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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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 194 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (July 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449302440
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449302443
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Team Geek Tips


JOIN THE TEAM

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.

SET THE STAGE FOR SUCCESS

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.

BE A TRUE LEADER

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.

MANAGE PROBLEMS WITHOUT DRAMA
  • 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.
MANAGE UP & OUT

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.
Example:
  • There is a pony deficiency.
  • Lack of ponies makes people sad.
  • Ponies increase productivity.
Please get us a pony.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR USERS

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

Customer Reviews

I'd say that this book is worth about half a million dollars to my factory.
Travis
I strongly recommend it for all members of development teams, for the directed and gentle manipulation of people is how the business of software creation is done.
Charles Ashbacher
The book is full of good advices, best practices and even a list of antipatterns you better avoid to apply to your team.
Masci

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 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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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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Format: Paperback
You'd think that in IT, the most important component of a team would be its technical prowess. Wrong... it's the ability to work with each other. Team Geek: A Software Developer's Guide to Working Well with Others by Brian W. Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman make the case that respect, personality, and team culture is just as important (if not more so) than the ability to come up with the "perfect" code that passes geek inspection. After 30+ years in the industry, I have to agree...

Contents:
Introduction; The Myth of the Genius Programmer; Building an Awesome Team Culture; Every Boat Needs a Captain; Dealing with Poisonous People; The Art of Organizational Manipulation; Users Are People, Too; Epilogue; Further Reading; Index

I don't think this book would be nearly as good if it were written by an "expert" in organizational team dynamics (or some other vaguely worded title). IT people are... different. Fitzpatrick and Collins-Sussman live in that world, so their advice is based on real-world experience. The style and language of the writing is perfect for the audience, and everything is grounded in practical terms with real-world examples of teams that work on well-known projects.

One of the points that resonated with me was the insistence that culture *must* be considered the primary driver for the direction of and choices during projects. There are a number of examples where teams, especially open-source teams, were faced with individuals who wanted to inject their own ideas into the mix. That's a good thing, unless it's done in such a way that goes against the grain of how the team functions and what they value. It may be tempting to take their code and overlook their personality.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Masci on July 11, 2013
Format: Paperback
As a software developer and a team member, I know how difficult is dealing with people in
respect of writing code sitting comfortably at my desk, so I am usually very skeptical of
technical books that promise to teach you how to deal with this "human stuff" like it was a
programming language. I had the pleasure to meet Brian Fitzpatrick at a conference and I was
very impressed by his brilliant personality and his fascinating personal story and this somehow
convinced me on reading this book. And I was not disappointed because since the first pages
you have the strong feeling you're reading something written by developers, so you mostly and
easily get the point of the authors.

The book is full of good advices, best practices and even a list of antipatterns you better avoid to
apply to your team. Some of the advices derives from common sense and you or your team
likely apply them already, nevertheless it was very useful realizing how important some
behaviours, habits or attitudes me and my team already have but wrongly take for granted, or
worst, miss to improve.

The authors keep saying a sort of mantra during the book: HRT, an acronym that stands for
Humility, Respect and Trust. Apply this mantra and you will soon become an excellent team
player, whatever your job is. For this reason in particular I'll do my best to make my colleagues
read this book.
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