Don’t hire firemen nor heroes

Andrea: Unhappy is the land that breeds no hero.
Galileo: No, Andrea: Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.
(Bertolt_Brecht – Life of Galileo)

A firemen feels confident, useful and brave during a fire.

A hero without anyone to rescue feels under-used and undervalued.

If you work with firemen and heroes, you’ll spend all day heroically fighting fires. That means you will work on mitigating the urgent instead of on solving the important.

If you have the chance to hire any of them, please don’t do it. And if your staff includes firemen and heroes, you should better train them to do normal, easy-paced, work flow, or get rid of them.


  • Don’t be a Hero (signal vs noise, DHH)Being a hero is all about sitting aside all costs and winning anyway. That’s not a prudent way to drive everyday development. […]Every time you play the hero card, you’re jeopardizing the next game.”
  • The Hero Complex (Making things happen, Scott Berkun) “If things work out well, the survivors look on their heroic efforts as a large part of why they succeded.[…]However, there are bad habits hiding behind this logic.”
  • Fast vs Cheap vs Good and the Covery Quadrant “Finally, quadrant 2, non urgent and important things, is what will give you the chance to offer good and cheap (in the long run). What quadrant of the matrix are you willing to live your life into?”

Fast vs Cheap vs Good and the Covey Quadrant

GOOD CHEAP FAST: You can pick any two

As the sign says, you can offer three kinds of service:

  1. Good and Fast (and expensive)
  2. Good and Cheap (and slow)
  3. Bad, but cheap and fast

The sign says you must choose one of the three. Please, don’t.

If your company needs to be able to keep pace in the long run, if you want it to be a great place to work in, you simply CAN’T AFFORD the cost of offering cheap and fast BAD service.

Bad service will give you angry customers in the long run, when they’d forgotten about how cheap and fast you were, but everyday remembers how bad you were.

Fast and cheap is easy to do, as long as good is not a requirement. Besides, there always be one competitor out there who is willing to offer cheaper and faster bad service than yours.

By the way, here is Stephen Covey’s matrix.


Quadrant 1, the important and urgent things, is what allows you to serve good and fast.

Quadrant 3 is representing cheap and fast service.

Nevermind about point 4. Just don’t do it.

Finally, quadrant 2, non urgent and important things, is what will give you the chance to offer good and cheap (in the long run).


What quadrant of the matrix are you willing to live your life into?

Short run vs long run

Lisbon is quite a beautiful city, with a beautiful past.


It seems that Marques’ pastry shop was thought, many years ago, as a business in the long run. So long that, at least, one other store has taken over.

Very few business, if someone at all, will today be built on stone. Flexibility and fastness have overcome stability and steadiness.

You will need many work hours, and a municipal permit, to erase Marques’ name from the main entrance. But you can replace the Stradivarius nameplate in a matter of minutes.

Sometimes you just can’t chose betting on robustness, and have to work on speed and readiness for change instead.

But I can’t help thinking how nice it must have been working with Mister Marques.


Quote on accepting blame

Rita Hayworth playing Gilda (via wikicommons)When they had the earthquake in San Francisco
Back in nineteen-six
They said that Mother Nature
Was up to her old tricks
That’s the story that went around
But here’s the real low-down
Put the blame on Mame, boys
Put the blame on Mame

Gilda Mundson (singing on 1946 film Gilda)

A leader is eager to let team members make their own bets.

A leader is willing to accept the blame when some of the bets go wrong.

If you want the team to grow, you need both sides of the equation.

So be always ready to sing the song.



Your boss doesn’t need you to tell her she is right

Henry Dobson is a character from House M.D. series. In the fourth episode of season#4, House dismissed him after making a series of RIGHT decisions on a patient’s treatment.

Just before Dr. House finishes telling him he is fired, Henry, the old applicant tells House:

“you don’t need someone to tell you what you’re already thinking”

Take that into account. Your boss knows what she knows. She agrees with herself. And if the best thing you can do is to tell her she is right, you are, at best, being shortsighted.

Telling someone that she is wrong is hard, and you need to be brave and smart for doing it. But for your boss, this is priceless.

By the way, if discussing with subordinates is a problem for your boss, you’d better start searching for a braver and smarter new boss.

Related: Quote on creative complaining. Saving Private Ryan.

Quotes on time pressure

“People under time pressure don’t work better; they just work faster. In order to work faster, they may have to sacrifice the quality of the product and their own job satisfaction.” – Peopleware, De Marco & Lister

“I don’t need time, I need a deadline.” – Duke Ellington

Don’t use pressure for the sake of pressure.

Clearly state the project’s goal and transmit it to the team. Explain what are the constraints standing between the team and the goal. The team must figure out a creative way to deal with the constraints, while keeps getting closer to the goal.

You can’t make a good job if everyone is feeling too pressured, but you can’t make a good job if there’s no pressure at all.

Don’t use pressure for the sake of pressure. Instead, manage the pressure for the project’s benefit.

Quotes on Money, Love and Retribution

“I don’t care too much for money, for money can’t buy me love” (Can’t Buy Me Love, The Beatles)

“Now, money as a management tool does seem to make sense at first glance. We all love the stuff. And our employees certainly seem to tell us that they want more of it. In theory, money should retain and inspire. But it doesn’t. Money doesn’t buy love, it doesn’t buy happiness and it doesn’t buy commitment. Of course, […] we must offer competitive pay and benefits. […] But today’s worker will not stay at a job – and certainly will not stay committed to a job if she’s not satisfied” (Managing with Carrots, Gostick & Elton)

“One thing that programmers don’t care about. They don’t care about money, actually, unless you’re screwing up on the other things […] That doesn’t mean you can underpay people, because they do care about justice, and they will get infuriated if they find out that different people are getting different salaries for the same work” (A Field Guide to Developers, Spolsky)


  • Pay your employees fairly, according both the job market and their colleagues
  • Once the previous is done, if someone is asking for more money, chances are she’s really asking for more love