Saturday, October 25, 2008

Andy Bechtolsheim On a Common Start-Up Mistake

Lean staffing also helps Arista keep its costs down. The Menlo Park, Calif., company has fewer than 50 employees and started shipping systems a few months ago even though it had no formal chief executive.

“One mistake a lot of start-ups make with the encouragement of venture capitalists is to hire the whole management team upfront,” said Mr. Bechtolsheim. “You have a lot of people twiddling their thumbs and spending money.”
- via NYT article Sun Loses Co-Founder to Start-Up

A Marketing Guy Nails the Problem with Software Companies

Watching Steve Johnson's short six and half minute presentation titled 'Software:Business or Hobby' (video) at the Business of Software Conference (2007), I was struck by something he said (around 04:13):

One of the challenges, I think that we all face is so many people in the organization are making decisions about that they are not qualified to make decisions about. Nothing seems hard to the people, who don't know what they are talking about.
- Steve Johnson of pragmatic marketing

You can watch the whole presentation here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mercurial vs Git: The Biggest Non-Technical Difference

The biggest non-technical difference between git and mercurial is the rabid culture surrounding git. mercurial users fairly happily and quietly use their tool, while I've had to send two separate door-to-door git missionaries away today alone.
- Dustin Sallings

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Software Development - Fire Fighters vs Real Heroes

In a Dilbert cartoon, the pointy-haired boss, apparently frustrated by the company's sub-par products, announces that he'll reward each bug fix with a $10 bill. Wally says: "Hooray! I'm gonna code me a minivan!"

Unfortunately the heroes, those who seem to save the organization in a great flurry of activity, are often reacting dramatically to the problems they created. Like Wally, they're rewarded for the successes while no one notices that furious activity is no substitute for doing things carefully.

Solving problems is a high-visibility process; preventing them is much better, but earns few rewards. This is illustrated by an old parable:

In ancient China, there was a family of healers, one of whom was known throughout the land and employed as a physician to a great lord. The physician was asked which of his family was the most skillful healer. He replied, "I tend to the sick and dying with drastic and dramatic treatments, and on occasion someone is cured and my name gets out among the lords.

"My elder brother cures sickness when it just begins to take root, and his skills are known among the local peasants and neighbors.

"My eldest brother is able to sense the spirit of sickness and eradicate it before it takes form. His name is unknown outside our home."

Unfortunately, sometimes the very best developers get the least acknowledgement, even from their own teams.
- Jack Ganssle, Embedded development expert