Friday, March 28, 2014

Weekend Reader, Week 13

Inspired by Philip, I am going to try a new format: The Weekend Reader - A post every week about interesting stuff I read on the Internets during the past week.


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The Problem with Career Ladders

Jurgen Appelo (Author of Management 3.0) identifies the problem with career ladders: Management Bias, the Peter Principle and Linearity do no fit modern knowledge working environments. He has a vision:

Far in the future there won’t be any subordinates and superiors. Just people, working together.

I personally don’t believe that this vision will become generally true any time. But I believe that it can fit some very special work environments, and it’s the kind of environment that a true knowledge worker should try to find.


Github Inc. seems to celebrate to be such an environment:

GitHub Swaps CEOs, Proves It Doesn’t Need No Stinking Bosses

GitHub is a company that doesn’t have middle managers. Few of its employees have job titles.


A Day of Communication at GitHub

Let’s stay with GitHub: They also have an interesting culture of communication: Zach Holman claims: Meetings are really difficult to get right. Chats have a lot of advantages over meetings.

Ok, I know about the first part… but chats? Seriously? However after reading the article, I am impressed.


SAFe: the infantilism of management

About every major figure in the Agile community has now formulated disagreement with the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) and similar approaches:

But this lastest critique by Dave Snowden (the authority on the application of complexity theory to organisations) is especially cruel:

SAFe is not only a betrayal of the promise offered by AGILE but is a massive retrograde step giving the managerial class an excuse to avoid any significant change. OK its a obey making machine but the same applies to snake oil salesmen and the South Sea Bubble. People will get damaged by this nonsense and it needs to be hamstrung at least, garrotted at best.

[SAFe is] the failure to realise that software development needs to be seen as a service and as an ecology not as a manufacturing process.


Identify the Champion and the Valve Handbook for New Employees

Tudor introduced to me the notion of “championing” as a mechanism for Selection and Prioritization. I am wondering if this would be applicable to work environments that are paralysed by giant backlogs.

It seems that Valve (the other poster child of a flat organisation without bosses) is living a similar notion already according to their Valve Handbook for New Employees:

Other companies have people allocate a percentage of their time to self-directed projects. At Valve, that percentage is 100. Since Valve is flat, people don’t join projects because they’re told to. Instead employees vote on projects with their feet (or desk wheels). Strong projects are ones in which people can see demonstrated value; they staff up easily.


What makes knowledge workers productive?



Defining Enterprise Applications

13 years after writing Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture Martin Fowler tries to define the term “Enterprise Application” … not without sarcasm:

And then there's so-called "business logic". When you are writing an operating system you strive to keep the whole thing logical and stive to discover and implement simplifications to keep the software straightforward and reliable. But business rules are given to you as they stand, and if you want to change them you need sixty-seven meetings and three vice-presidents retiring. They are usually a haphazard array of strange conditions that interact in surprising ways. Their insanity derives from a good reason, each one is a case where salesman could close a particular deal by offerring some special one-off condition. Do this a thousand times and you have the complex business "illogic" that lies in the heart of many enterprise applications.

Roy Osherove has his own opinion on the topic:

“Legacy” and “Enterprise” - Two words that mean good things in real life, and really problematic things in software culture.

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