Larry Hosken: New: Tag: teams

Book Report: Scaling Teams

It's a book about managing and directing software developers. It's pretty good. It has a bag of tricks; it tells you which tricks are appropriate for which situations; it tells you symptoms of those situations so you know what you're dealing with.

I read a lot of management/business books for a non-manager. Did I ever tell you how that started? I was working at Geoworks, my first job out of school. For a while, a few of the more enthusiastic managers there started speaking weird jargon. They'd read a popular business book of the day, were trying to apply its lessons. That book was Thriving on Chaos, meant to help stodgy manufacturing companies adopt more adaptable processes. It didn't have so much advice that applied to our situation, but I'm still glad I read it. The next time someone told me my group should do something from the book, I could understand what they said and reply We already do that (but with the right Thriving jargon).

Dave Loftesness worked at Geoworks and got to see those eager-to-apply-techniques-willy-nilly managers running around. And then he went on to lead a bunch of folks there, including me. And then at a bunch of other places. Along the way, he figured out that a trick that works in one situation can backfire in another. When he co-wrote a book about managing/directing teams at a place going through growing pains, it's not just a one-size-fits-all set of to-dos. It's a set of things that can go wrong with directions on how to put them right.(Which can lead to other things going wrong, of course. You need more people, so you recruit people… and now those people step on each others' toes so you have to figure out how to organize them…) It's good stuff.

I kind of wish I hadn't got this book on Kindle; there are multi-column tables that didn't fit so well on my tiny Kindle screen.

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Book Report: Work Rules

It's a book about business people operations by Google's Laszlo Bock. (Ex-Google, but at Google when he wrote the book…) There's important advice in there even if your company doesn't have geysers of advertising money erupting up through the floor. There's important advice in there even if you don't set any policy for any organization at all.

Whether or not you set policy, if you're pulling down enough money to live on, then Laszlo wants you to save for your retirement. Get into the habit of putting some money aside. You might appreciate the peace of mind later more than you enjoy that $22 plate of fancy restaurant pork trotters now.

If you do set policy and want a place with a Googley attitude but maybe don't have Googley money, you can: set policies that remove obstacles. Don't require so many approvals for things. Give people permission to do their jobs. Sometimes they'll fall down and do embarrassing things that make you want to put up lots of signature-requiring policies again. But on average, the agility you get makes the chaos worth it.

Maybe.

When he gets into how these things have played out at Google, there's some Trust But Verify going on. People are messy. Google has a lot of people.

E.g., riddle-me-this engineering interview questions are silly. If you ask someone to Fermi-estimate how many golf balls would fill the Grand Canyon, that's not a good way to gauge their ability to estimate where to shoehorn a caching layer into your whatsit server system. Instructions to Google interviewers specifically point out not to ask these unhelpful questions (and point out some kinds of questions that do correlate with nerdly competence). But some Google engineers "know better" than to trust the instructions, bless their naive arrogant hearts. They have their favorite Fermi-ish questions and ask those questions. But the interviewers aren't the folks who make the hiring decisions. Those decision makers get a summary of the interview. When they see that an interviewer asked unhelpful questions, they don't use that interview. (And they tell the interviewer to get his act together for next time.)

Mind you, those decision makers aren't just hiring managers. They are individual contributors in those meetings too. So… maybe the "trust" message is that management should trust the non-management. And if there's some process so important that one bad apple could ruin it, like interviewing, then instead of throwing in manager approval you might toss some peers at the problem.

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Novice, Novicer, Novicest I was site-monitoring at a puzzle hunt. Things were quieting down at the site: Most of the teams had solved and gone on. Not all, though. Those that remained were novices, still learning the puzzlehu...

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Puzzlehunt Pacing I bumped into Allen Cohn on BART yesterday. We got to talking about puzzlehunt pacing. If you have some easy breezy puzzles and some tough slog puzzles, how do you order them so that players have fun...

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Book Report: Maps To The Other Side (The Adventures of a Bipolar Cartographer) Maps to the Other Side is a memoir. If you're looking for straight up cartography, you won't find it. But if you're looking for a community organizer, organic farmer, mental health activist… y...

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We escaped the @realegame Time Travel Lab room! @Hungrynerd assembled a crack team; the team's puzzlers were so strong that I could just wander around ransacking…even though it turns out I'm n...

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Looking for Group: Ravenchase Great America Hunt Are you putting together a team for Ravenchase's Great America Hunt? I wanna play. You should pick me for your team. The good news: Scurrying around all day solving puzzles seems normal to me. The ...

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This tech talk about election software http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBSiuVGQECs shows politicians can't cooperate. In theory, it's a UX programmer talking about how he and other geeks worked with t...

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Milestone: 22 Million Hits Wow, it's the site's 18 (edit: can you tell I "wrote" the intro to this post by copy-pasting an old post?) 22 millionth hit. (Not as impressive as it sounds. It's hits: someone loading a page that sh...

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Human flesh search engine comes to San Francisco. I am impressed; it helps when the target posts to Facebook. ...

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Intercoastal Altercations: team login, UI, play flow You might recall that for the Two-Tone game I wanted a good way for teams to log in, but didn't get it right. (Moral of that story: Don't assume that only the captain will want to log in; therefore, ...

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Book Report: Startup Engineering Management This book Startup Engineering Management is aimed at engineering managers at startup companies—but is pretty good for engineering managers at big companies, too. It has some info about everythi...

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List of Puzzlehunt Team Names I threw together a list of puzzlehunt team names, gathering names from a bunch of old game signup sheets and results pages. I didn't try to "combine" clusters like { Burninators, The Burninators...

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Thinking about Puzzle Hunt Answer Systems, Unlock Codes The goal of the Universal Longshots Scoring System is: A team's score should consider hints and time spent on puzzles; it should not consider the time between puzzles. You can agree or diagree that ...

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Book Report: This is not a Game It's a thriller/mystery, so you wouldn't expect me to like it. But the main characters are Game Control for some big Alternate Reality Games a la I Like Bees. So along the way, there are diverting m...

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Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, like Lindy Hop Yesterday, Debbie Goldstein was at a playtest and so was I. And thus I got to hear a little about her trip to New York City. Debbie is, as near as I can tell, the force of cajolery behind the DASH ...

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Book Report: Planning Extreme Programming For me, this was a "Casablanca" book. By that, I mean it reminded me of my experience watching the movie "Casablaca." I kept thinking Big deal, I've seen all this before. But of course, that's beca...

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Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, even Rashomon Gate The BANG 25 Writeup Addendum over at Puzzalot gets into a tricky aspect of team puzzle-solving: figuring out who had which insight. It's a hard problem; I've given up on it myself. If Player A tell...

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White Ninjas-Specific Show Report Hey, somebody tell Bay Area Night Game Team White Ninjas that I found the perfect band to play their theme song. It's Leather Feather! Most of the people in the band dress up as white ninjas! (Or ...

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Book Report: Peopleware I work for a large company. Thus, there are "leadership seminars" with "team-building exercises." I attended one of those. I was confessing this to some friends on Saturday, and one of them knew e...

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Book Report: Crossing the Chasm This book is about marketing; about marketing for products which are at a certain stage: they have enthusiastic "early adopters", but no big uptake. This stage sounds familiar to me based on my expe...

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Link: Arising like a Phoenix from a Bathtub Further evidence of Darcy's ongoing awesomeness: she rescued the contents of the team Taft on a Raft web site. It's back! Including the material from the The Apprentice Zorg game! If you sadly too...

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Book Report: Going Postal Skott raises an excellent point: The diskworld novels also have golems. E.g., I read Going Postal. I read this Diskworld novel because it's where the puzzler team "The Smoking GNU" got their name. ...

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Link: Muppet Movie Game Blog I was was avoiding linking to the Muppet Movie Game Site, but have since figured out that was dumb of me. You might say I avoided linking them due to philisophical differences... but really it was m...

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BANG 19 (aka SNAP 4 simulcast): Photos, Scoring Data, Puzzles On game day, I mostly watched over the Zombie Chess Clue. Most of the time there was nobody there. Some of the time, there were plenty of people there and they kept me pretty busy. But a couple of t...

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Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, Including a State of Inebriation Rich Bragg of Blood and Bones sent me some mail about turning BANG 18 into a drinking game, vis a vis a strategy to avoid being obliged to run a future BANG. ...By the way, re: your blog post, whil...

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Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere; but so is Problem-Solving A while back--long enough ago that I'm probably getting details wrong--someone told me how the Scoobies tackle a puzzle. They set the puzzle out where everyone in the team can look at it. They look...

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Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere: Dim Memories of GC Summit 2008 The lovely Just Passing Through put together a fun & educational event last night: a GC Summit. Folks who had run Games and/or were considering running Games showed up to eat, talk, and watch i...

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Embedded Reporter Seeks Team Is your team playing in the upcoming Back to Basics/Midnight Madness game on April 5? Would you let me play with your team and then write about it afterwards? If so, please get in touch with me (we...

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Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, Bless Them Traffic was bad this evening; my commute was long; I emerged from the bus nauseous. That happens when the commute goes too long: stare at the laptop screen too long while on a moving vehicle, don't ...

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Book Report: Dreaming in Code Tomorrow is Buy Nothing Day, but I'll probably buy some food. Usually, I Buy Nothing for Buy Nothing Day. To make that work, I stock up on food ahead of time. I was going to do that late Wednesday...

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Site Update: Conversations Before the 2007 GC Summit Maybe you've already watched the videos of the GC Summit 2007 presentations, where folks talked about how they make The Game fun. I'm sure glad I watched it. I'm a Game newbie and it was pretty eye...

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Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, Even Under One's Nose The team name "Coed Astronomy" of course invokes memories of "SETEC Astronomy," the mysterious code name from the movie "Sneakers." In the movie, "SETEC Astronomy" turns out to be an anagram for "To...

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Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, but where will Zorg start? Yesterday, we of Team Mystic Fish got our collective act together long enough to figure out the time & location of the start of the The Apprentice Zorg game. This was, of course, a puzzle. Or, ...

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"Life" is the Noun Form of "Absurd" The ever-gracious Eve Andersson published my question. To see it, follow the link and scroll down until you see "mysterious envelope". In other news: Snakes on a Plane!Labels: link, pi, teams...

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Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere I walked from U.C. Berkeley towards the BART station. I was at the tail end of a comics and library run. I'd picked up a few good books, and many good comics. So my pack was heavy and it was hot a...

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