- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 8 hours and 32 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.com Release Date: October 8, 2013
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00FPT6EBK
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top customer reviews
For me, there are three big ideas in this book:
1. You can only evaluate management in the context of culture. Here is a quote from the book that outlines this issue: "I'm certain that to learn from a place, you have to study how its culture functions. A great fallacy born from the failure to study culture is the assumption that you can take a practice from one culture and simply jam it into another and expect similar results. Much of what bad managers do is assume their job is simply to find new things to jam and new places to jam them into, without ever believing they need to understand how the system--the system of people known as culture--works." This explains the title of the book - it references an inside joke within his team. I can see why he would use this as a title, but I'm not sure it reflects the content or quality of the book. However, within the WordPress,com culture, it makes perfect sense...
2. Experimentation is an essential management skill. Berkun experiments throughout his time at WordPress.com. This is a central skill for innovating, and it is not practiced widely enough. He has great insights into the roles that data and judgement play in managing, and how experimenting and learning can contribute to both.
3. How do you manage if everyone is a volunteer? One of the interesting features of WordPress.com is that it originated in a open source programming project. Everyone that works on such a project is a volunteer, and this requires a much different management style than the more traditional command and control approach. Berkun's time at WordPress.com was part of a big experiment - introducing work teams and hierarchy into an open source style culture. The outcomes tell us a lot about how to manage effectively.
Scott Berkun has a great business mind, and he is a very engaging writer. This is an important piece of work, and if you are interested in what good management looks like and how it might be changing,you should read this book.
Berkun starts out where Daniel Pink left us with his book, "Drive". Pink boiled productivity and motivation down to three things: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.
If you, as a team leader, are able to provide and sustain those three things for your employees, you increase your chances to reach high productivity and excellence. What Pink couldn't tell you is how that actually works.
This is the point at which Berkun's book picks you up.
With great data, anecdotes and structured knowledge, Berkun takes readers on his journey from a 90s software development company to a 21st Century software company. He describes philosophy and methods in precise examples to help readers understand what works and what doesn't work.
In a software company, management/leadership's purpose is, among other things, to keep the knuckle headed stuff off the programmers' desks and out of their minds so they can create, test and release brilliant work. Of course, that kind of approach takes self-motivated, autonomous, passionate people who keep an eye on what's good in the world. Sounds like heaven, right? Well, almost.
Consider this: WordPress has over 150 employees, 50 teams in 80 countries and no central office. Let me repeat: no central office.
Working in a distributed environment where all communication is public about the product, including decisions about the product, bug reports and customer service tickets, not only keeps low the personality wars in emails but also keeps everyone in the loop.
The distributed, autonomous, self-motivated and most of the time insulated programmer, or designer, who often in the past has failed while learning new technologies, is given time to learn and adapt to new team members.
Berkun looks at each part of the WordPress organization and analyzes, in precise language, the up and downside of a process - or the lack thereof. He lets you in on the struggle to bring team members together when they are used to working alone. He takes you on his journey from corporate management junkie to leader of a team of mature members. The broad experience of a 90s software developer at Microsoft and other Fortune 500 companies made Scott Berkun the best time travel guide into the 21st Century workplace, if you're bold enough to take that journey. .
Not to mention the author was at the company for a very short term, I felt as though he was not genuine in his own work. It seemed as though he needed to worked for a company who had a recognizable name [WordPress] to gain credibility. This fell short of my own expectations; I wanted to walk away with something useful and I just didn't get it.