Monthly Archives: December 2015

Management and Life Centers

Management is about the right people making decisions. It is about forming the trust and delegate chains. It is about hierarchy. Don’t be afraid of hierarchy, because life is full of centers. To have something that is full of life, life centers need to be formed naturally. To have an organization that is full of life, life centers also need to be formed. The forming of life centers in an organization is exactly about “right people making decisions” and “forming the trust and delegate chains”.

So don’t be afraid of hierarchy. Every organization has hierarchy. The right question is how many levels of hierarchies there are in an organization, there are too many or too few, whether there is natural flow btw hierarchies, whether there is transparency, whether there are still channels of communication across hierarchies, and etc.

This hierarchy is totally based on individuals’ ability to make the right decisions in this domain. And it it about making decisions and taking responsibilities for your decisions. It doesn’t extend to to your personal life (this part is usually quite difficult for people coming from the oriental world to comprehend).

I have seen startups where bosses seem to be afraid of hierarchies. They are afraid to delegate any responsibilities and authorities to other people. It seems they are trying to maintain a flat structure, but in reality, the bosses often become the sole authority in the company and make decisions on every level. A lot of micromanagement indeed.

Finding the right hierarchy, having the right people at the right positions and at the same time maintaining natural flow between hierarchies and transparency are what management is all about. In short, management is about centers of lives.

I often say that software is about creating lives. Thus you can see why I say software and management are inherently connected. I don’t see a software engineer as a good software engineer if s/he cannot do good management. However, what we often see in the industry is that a lot of people tend to think that software engineer cannot do management, and thus management belongs to people who can not do software. It sounds bizarre. However, that is how many software companies are run today. What a tragedy if you run a company like that!

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Software Management

I am trying to summarize a short list of what I deem the most important for software management.

Management is about the right people making decisions. It is about forming the trust and delegate chains.

Emphasis on programming skills. Everyone should try to learn programming.

Break the boundary. People should not be separated way too early into testing people, system admins, developers. They should try to learn the comprehensive programming skills, which include how to do testing and how to run servers and do deployment. Testing people and system admins are encouraged to learn programming.

Rich projects to build up a comprehensive learning environment. Projects of different size and difficult levels, many of which are independent projects that are not tangled with other projects. So every individual in a software team can find projects that fit her/him to improve step by step.

Emphasis on product. Everyone in the software team should care about the software that s/he is building. Thus everyone should care about the product. Dedicated time (for example, Friday afternoon) is allocated for software team members to do nothing but playing with the product.

Emphasis of design skills, cultivation of programmers’ architect skills. Design sessions are secluded regularly, when team members take turns to tell what s/he has found in her/his daily life that has a good design or bad design and why. Various design topics will be covered during  such design sessions.

Do pair programming and code review very often to help programmers improve programming skills.

Everyone is building stuff. Everyone is builder. No one is just talker, doing management only. This is from Spotify founder. I think at least for software management, this should be enforced. It might seem radical to enforce this at the whole company level. But I would love to see that happen, and I tend to believe that should be a very good thing for the software company.

This list might not be comprehensive. They are what I can think of off the top of my head. Maybe they are what I deem most important. Or it might just be related to my recent experiences. Time will tell, I think.

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