(Software) people have the power!

Where the pure air recognized
And my senses newly opened
I awakened to the cry
That the people have the power

People have the power (Patti Smith)

Hollywood blockbusters have depicted software developers or computer scientists as unstable freaks, unable of living a normal life. Best case, we were performing as a sidekick for the hero, assisting him with some dark security issue, so he can go on, kicking asses and kissing the girl.

average_software_developers

Average software developers discussing how to hack John McLane’s way for saving the world today. One lives in his mother’s basement. The other has no friends at all.

This kind of role is normally associated with comic relief based on clothing, being fat and socially incompetent.

comic_relief_software_developer

You are the one preventing T-Rexes from wrecking havoc so why should you worry for cleaning your desk (or yourself)?

The other role a software developer could play was as assistant to the bad guy. Just a tool for some business or military master mind who is carrying the task of dominating the free world.

average_evil_software_developer

Bad guys: the brain, the brute and the software developer

But, while everyone was having a good time watching this social outcasts helping the main characters, software was already filling every hole, crack and space in real life. First through the internet. Then through digitization and through cell phones. And this software is done by real developers. Not like the ones portrayed in the movies.

Programmers don’t think of themselves as people with the power to change the world. Most programmers I know, including myself, grew up as nerds, geeks, social outcasts. […] What do you do when you wake up one day and software has kind of eaten the world, and it is no longer clear if software is in fact an unambiguously good thing, like we thought, like everyone told us … like we wanted it to be?

To serve man, with software (Jeff Attwood)

And now, without anyone even realizing, real programmers are ruling the world.

We rule the world. We programmers. We rule the world. We write the rules that make our society work. […] Without software: Phones don’t ring. Cars don’t start. Planes don’t fly. Bombs don’t explode. Ships don’t sail. Ovens don’t bake. Garage doors don’t open […] Nothing happens without software. And what is software? Software is a set of rules. […] To protect our society from the power they have unwittingly ceded to us, we should adopt a code of ethics that describes our sworn promise and duty to humbly use our power to serve.

The obligation of a programmer (Bob Martin)

With great power comes great responsibility. What are we doing about it?

Then he waited, marshaling his thoughts and brooding over his still untested powers. For though he was master of the world, he was not quite sure what to do next. But he would think of something.

A Space Odissey. (Arthur C. Clarke)

 

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What we can learn from Real Madrid about career and companies

Raúl and Iker Casillas both won three European Cups with Real Madrid.

Cristiano Ronaldo has won four in his tenure with Madrid.

Zidane has won its third title as a coach, besides one as a player.

Francisco Gento won six of them while wearing the white shirt.

But the club itself has won thirteen.

Different generations of Real Madrid players sharing the room

Real Madrid’s generations at http://www.jamiecooperartist.com/

Raúl, Casillas, Zidane and Gento went in and out of Real Madrid. They did their best effort to win, both for themselves and for their teammates and the club. And after several years of service they parted ways with the club. Some did it in friendly terms, some didn’t. Sooner or later, Cristiano will do the same.

And in the end, it will be the club what remains. As years go by, it’s not the particular effort of any of the players what is remembered. It’s the sum of the efforts of these successful players and of those others who came before and succeeded them what matters, what counts, what remains.

Workers come and go from companies. You put your best into them. You try to improve them. And even you can try to find someone who preserves your legacy once you’d gone.

But hopefully, in the end, you will go and the company will stay.

 

Building bridges, not walls

On one hand there are walls. The people at Troy, the people at Jericho, build walls millennia ago.

antigua_muralla_zaragoza

A wall used to keep your family, your business, your house, your art and your temples safe from strangers. At night, everyone belonging to the community, gathered inside the safety of the city walls.

But then artillery came in, and military air crafts did it too. And walls were reduced to dust or became touristic attractions. Walls are not a shelter anymore.

On the other hand there are bridges. People have been building bridges for millennia. Ancient Romans built bridges still in use today.

With a bridge you can safely cross through a river and go to the next village. You can use it to go visit your parents, or to reach the market to buy some goods you don’t have on your own town.puente_de_piedra_zaragoza

Strangers will make use of the bridge to connect to you. To reach your village, and your business and your loved ones.

Bridges are still in full use. Every city has been building bridges to ease communication problems. And bridges, the ancient and the new ones, have become touristic landmarks too.

A wall can’t keep your business, your team, your project safe anymore. Your best developer will be tempted by a job offer from a company who operates with remote teams in three different continents. Your competition is operating under some Asian country laws. Your Australian customer is expecting your product to be delivered right to them, no middlemen involved.

But a bridge is more useful than ever, to connect your business, your team, your project. Your best developer will be working with a supplier’s interface to integrate your product into theirs. You will need someone with a clear understanding of how things work in the places where your competition is located. You can send products from one part of the world to the other easier than ever, and you can get direct feedback from your customer in a matter of seconds.

Bridges are at least as safe, and much more productive, than walls.

How much effort are you spending on building bridges and walls?

 


Related: Burning Bridges (Seth Godin) “A bridge well-crossed gets better over time. When you need to break it down to push through, you’ve not only hurt the person you trampled on, you’ve hurt your reputation.”

 

 

It is MY fault: Harvey Specter on Leffert’s Law

The Lefferts law of management: It is your fault

Suits, the TV series, narrates the happenings of a New York legal firm.

Mike is a young rookie with lots of potential, but a lack of business knowledge and real experience. Harvey is an admired, goal-oriented professional, that gets the hardest part of the work done, in search of a sidekick who can take on his legacy in the future. Thus Harvey and Mike develop a protégé-mentor relationship since the moment they first meet.

We don’t have to wait many episodes to see Mike, the mentee, spoil a negotiation for an important client, after being late filling a form.

Mike is worried about Harvey telling the client the mistake was Mike’s fault.

Harvey: You think that’s going to be a walk in the park?
Mike Ross: Hey. Harvey. Did you tell him it was me [my fault]?
Harvey: Why would I do that? I’m responsible for you. It was me [my fault].

Mike was worried about what the client could think of him. But Harvey didn’t tell the client that it was Mike’s fault. Not because Harvey is good people, not because he wanted to preserve his mentee’s reputation.

He didn’t told the client it was Mike’s fault… because it wasn’t.

Even if Mike had been late, it really doesn’t matter. Harvey, nor any mentor, should expect Mike to behave exactly the way he is told. Mike needs to learn by himself. For doing so, he needs to learn from success, but also from failure. He needs to learn to make hard calls with incomplete information during crisis.

And that’s precisely why he needs a mentor in the first place. He needs someone who advice, lead and guide him. He needs someone who can own his mistakes while he learns from them.


  • Related: The Lefferts law of management on ScottBerkun.com “If you have the title ‘manager’ in your name you should tend to absorb blame for what’s going on, while distributing the rewards. When all else fails, be the fall guy.[…] Being passionately accountable creates a shield for others and makes it safer for them to invest more personal responsibility in their work.”
  • Related: Who is your sidekick. “On the other hand, a sidekick is someone you can train as your replacement.”

What’s the song that sounds while you interview candidates?

Hiring people is starting a relationship. What’s the original sound track of your process?

Maybe you are interviewing to the rhythm of Bonnie Tyler. Looking for strong, fast and fresh heroes, because your company’s survival depends on them.

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight

Heroes are handy for start-ups and rapid-growing business, where and when fulfilling short-term needs is top priority.

On the other hand you could sing Tina Turner’s We don’t need another hero.

Looking for something
We can rely on
There`s gotta be something better out there
[…]
All else are castles built in the air
And I wonder when we are ever gonna change
Living under the fear till nothing else remains

All the children say
We don`t need another hero

Companies trying to strengthen their foundations, searching for scalability and growth, don’t need heroes anymore.

And there is a third option. You can sing The Chainsmokers’ Something like this.

I’ve been reading books of old
The legends and the myths
Achilles and his gold
Hercules and his gifts
Spiderman’s control

And Batman with his fists
And clearly I don’t see myself upon that list

But she said, where’d you wanna go?
How much you wanna risk?
I’m not looking for somebody
With some superhuman gifts
Some superhero
Some fairytale bliss
Just something I can turn to
Somebody I can kiss
I want something just like this
I want something just like this

Hiring people is starting a relationship. The interview is not only a filter to separate the ones who fit from those who not. The interview is the very first big moment for making the candidate fall in love with your company.
If you are able to make him want to work with you, it would be much easier for you when/if you reach the negotiation stage.
Hiring people is starting a relationship. Take care of what sounds when interviewing. It would be your first song. And the candidate will remember it.

Quote on being done

Science isn’t about being right every time, or even most of the time. It is about being more right over time and fixing what it got wrong. (Scott Adams, Sciences biggest fail)

Sometimes, some things are just never done. You just need to iterate until the result is not perfect nor complete, but good enough for your customer.

Quote: The magical power behind deadlines

nano-bernsteins

[To write a novel] You need a super-powered, diabolical device that will transform you into a bastion of literary accomplishment. And I’m happy to report that this implement is in the house, and it’s just waiting for you to pick it up.

Without hyperbole, I can say that this tool is the most awesome catalyst that has ever been unleashed on the worlds of art and commerce. Nearly every beautiful and useful thing you’ve ever touched or witnessed was born in its mighty forge. It’s portable, affordable, and nonpolluting. 

[…] What you need to write a novel, of course, is a deadline.

Deadlines are the dynamos of the modern age. They’ve built every city, won every contest, and helped all of us pay our taxes reasonably close to on time for years and years.

Chris Baty. Why deadlines are every writer’s secret weapon

I first published in my school’s newspaper when I was eleven. Since then I started to write a novel at least three times, never achieving more than a dozen pages.

Then NaNoWrimo came to scene, with its gigantic deadline. 50.000 words. 30 days. A novel from start to end, while doing your best to keep up with your life.

NaNoWriMo. A challenging but clear goal in an agreed, achievable time box. I couldn’t do anything but commit.

A deadline is, simply put, optimism in its most ass-kicking form. It’s a potent force that, when wielded with respect, will level any obstacle in its path.

Chris Baty. Why deadlines are every writer’s secret weapon

Optimistic ass-kicked as I was, I won. Four times. Thanks to the magical power of deadlines.


Related: How to make deadlines actually work, Jason Fried at Inc.com
Related: Why deadlines are every writer secret weapon, Chris Baty at NaNoWriMo.org
Related: About NaNoWriMo at nanowrimo.org
Related: Quotes on planning, Quotes on time pressure