How to differentiate between a leader, a manager and a boss… and who will vanish first

“It is only through enforced standardization of methods, enforced adoption of the best implements and working conditions, and enforced cooperation that this faster work can be assured. And the duty of enforcing the adoption of standards and enforcing this cooperation rests with management alone.”

Optimizing is a manager’s duty. Let the people do the same things better, cheaper or faster.

“The secret of leadership is simple:
Do what you believe in.
Paint a picture of the future.
Go there.

People will follow.”

A leader works to discover new ways of doing new things, uncovering new paths going off the bitten track.

Rambo: Is there a law against me getting something to eat here?
Teasle: First of all, you don’t ask the questions around here. I do. Understand! Second, we don’t want guys like you in this town, drifters. Next thing we know, we got a whole *bunch* of guys like you in this town. THAT’S WHY! Besides, you wouldn’t like it here anyway. It’s just a quiet little town. In fact you might say it’s BORING. But that’s the way we like it. I get paid to keep it that way.

Bad news, at least for Chief Teasle, is that you cannot treat top-skilled, highly trained professionals, as you would treat 18-year-old grunts. Bossy bosses are quietly disappearing from all professions where the work force is skilled and trained.

The more skilled, the faster.

Related: It’s not dealing with cogs anymore: Where did all the good jobs go?A hint. They’re not coming back. In the following decades we are not going to deal with cogs and nuts anymore. Being a compliant worker is not going to be an advantage since machines can be more compliant than any of us

Aliens’ new boss or a catalogue of errors taking on a team and how to ammend them

Gorman was the new lieutenant.

He never have lunch with his team.

Hicks: Looks like the new lieutenant’s too good to eat with the rest of us grunts.
Frost: Boy’s definitely got a corncob up his ass.

The new lieutenant never find time to met them.

Gorman: Morning, Marines. I’m sorry we didn’t have time to brief you people before we left Gateway, but…
Hudson: Sir?
Gorman: What is it, Hicks?
Hudson: Hudson, sir.
[points to Hicks] He’s Hicks.

The new lieutenant didn’t speak the same language as his team.

Hudson: Is this gonna be a standup fight, sir, or another bughunt?
Gorman: All we know is that there’s still no contact with the colony, and that a xenomorph may be involved.
Frost: Excuse me sir, a-a what?
Gorman: A xenomorph.
Hicks: It’s a bughunt.

The new lieutenant was not honest nor sincere. He tried to cover his weaknesses, stopping anyone from helping him.

Ripley: How many drops is this for you, Lieutenant?
Gorman: Thirty eight… simulated.
Vasquez: How many *combat* drops?
Gorman: Uh, two. Including this one.
Drake: Shit.
Hudson: Oh, man…

The new lieutenant never planned a strategy nor did have a plan B. And when confronted with mistakes or the unforeseen he just improvised reactive actions without telling the team why.

Gorman: [Calling Apone over the radio] Look, uh, Apone. Look, we can’t have any firing in there. I, uh, I want you to collect magazines from everybody.
Hudson: Is he fuckin’ crazy?
Frost: What do you expect us to use man, harsh language?
Gorman: Flame units only. I want rifles slung.
Apone: But, sir…
Gorman: [Interrupting] Do it Apone, and no grenades.

After so much of a hussle, Gorman finally realized he needed to start contributing to the team, instead of commanding them. And in his final moments gets both the leadership and respect from his team.

El teniente Goreman, viendo que Vasquez queda retrasada, decide volver para ayudarle

After confronting risk and danger to let the rest retreat to safety, he finally met his end working together with Private Vasquez.

Vásquez en los túneles de ventilación en la huída hacia la nave de embarque
Vasquez: You always were an asshole, Gorman!

Last words of Vasquez to the lieutenant seems peyorative. But Vasquez is treating Gorman not as an authority figure, nor with disrespect. She is talking to him like she did with Hudson, Hicks, Drake, … she is treating the lieutenant as she treats any other member of the team, because Gorman has finally started leading.

Quotes on The Goal: to sum it up


  • “the rate at which the system generates money through sales”

It doesn’t matter how fast you are producing, if you are not going to sell it or if you are losing money when you sell it.


  • “all the money that system has invested in purchasing things which it intends to sell”

Having inventory is bad. It’s not an asset, but a liability. Until the very moment you manage to turn it into money. Having lots of inventory makes it harder to uncover problems.

Operational expense:

  • “all the money the system spends in order to turn inventory into throughput”

The ultimate way for cutting expenses down is closing your business. Expense equals zero! So not all expenses must be reduced. Balance your operational expenses against your profit.


“So this is the goal: To make money by increasing net profit, while simultaneously increasing return on investment, and simultaneously increasing cash flow.”

(Goldratt and Cox, 1992).

Clean Coder vs The Lord of the Rings: software stories are much bigger than a single developer

The one thing I really don’t like about Bob Martin’s Clean Coder is how it relates ownership of your mistakes.

“What would happen if you allowed a bug to slip through a module, and it cost your company $10,000? The nonprofessional would shrug his shoulders, say “stuff happens,” and start writing the next module. The professional would write the company a check for $10,000!”

The Clean Coder: A Code of Conduct for Professional Programmers, Robert C. Martin.

It’s clear you must OWN your mistakes.

But it’s very rare (even pretentious) to consider something YOUR mistake (or YOUR success, by the way).

Software sagas are much bigger than a single programmer

Software is not written as a solo performance anymore. The times when a graphic designer and a programmer would join to create a videogame are gone. Nowadays dozens (or hundreds!) of people get together to write software collaboratively.

‘Very well, very well, Master Elrond!’ said Bilbo suddenly. ‘Say no more! It is plain enough what you are pointing at. Bilbo the silly hobbit started this affair, and Bilbo had better finish it, or himself.

‘Of course, my dear Bilbo,’ said Gandalf. ‘If you had really started this affair, you might be expected to finish it. But you know well enough now that starting is too great a claim for any, and that only a small part is played in great deeds by any hero.

The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)

We, programmers, are not novelists anymore, but part of a company of performers and script writers who put together a play.

You must own your mistakes. But as a company, not as a lone-wolf.
And you can own them in many more ways than simply paying money for them. You can own them understanding them, making sure the issue won’t regress in the future…

You can own it in a much better sense than just paying a speed ticket.

The power behind timing out

As a member of futsal, basketball, tennis and e-sports teams I’ve seen matches won and lost because of a good use of timeouts.

I’m not the only one.

And slowing down your mind is almost always a good thing. When he coaches athletes, Tewksbury uses a simple, four-step mantra to get their mind right.

Step one: slow down.

Step two: breathe. Seriously — under pressure, it’s easy to forget to breathe. Breathing is important, and it helps you slow down.

Step three: engage in some positive self-talk: “I got this.”

Step four: focus on the task at hand.

There, now you’ve got it: Bob Tewksbury’s recipe for success in athletic competition under pressure.

Bob Tewksbury’s four-step mantra (via Freakonomics)

When you compete, and you do it not only on sports but in your work life, you strive for being a better version of yourself. Each day.

Pressure could be a useful fuel. But pressure can also paralyze you.

Practice your mantra. Slow down, breathe, be positive, focus. Repeat. Until you master the power behind timing out.

You are going to fail

Eventually, you are going to fail. Not once but many time.

Wimbledon finalists (and champions) are remembered of this fact each time they enter the court.

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

If (Ruyard Kipling)

And basketball champions like Michael Jordan said it long ago.

26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.
I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.
And that is why I succeed.

The Sign of the Swoosh (Goldman, Papson)

And both professional tennis and professional basketball are competitive games. Many works today are not competitive but cooperative ones.

When facing innovation, being able to fail and face it in the same way as success is not only a skill. It is a MUST. That’s what this “celebrating failure” culture is about.

Both your successes and your failures report useful information and open new paths to tackle new challenges. Embrace them. The only people not failing are the ones not trying.

Related: Trying is harmful.

Related: On winners and dealing with failure.

Quotes on documentation: Discovery vs The Agile Manifesto

Working software over comprehensive documentation
That is, while there is value in the items on
the right, we value the items on the left more. (Beck et al)

Living documentation offers a way to track (and correct) decisions that turn our to have been wrong, as weel as providing a mechanism for managing change requests.

The BDD Books: Discovery (Nagy & Rose

Not every documentation is a waste of time.

Documentation is a tool. Use it wisely.