Reporting to the Chalky Substance

It can be really tempting to add layers of “chalky substance” in most organizations especially as they scale in size. There are a lot of justifications for these additions, some better than others, but I believe most of them are unwarranted and ridiculous.

I think this is especially important in the context of a startup where organizational charts are nothing more of ego-driven titling rather than functional and additive.

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Hackers

I consider myself a “hacker” and I’m generally fond of the term. For many, though, the word is still a bit taboo and holds a negative connotation soliciting thoughts around dark and creepy computer geeks sitting in their creepy homes performing illegal activities on the internets.

Too bad as it’s really not about that at all and I hope, in time, the word takes on a much broader and more rich understanding in the still generally computer-illiterate world.

I think that being a hacker is a really good thing to be and a great skill to have. I think it’s a good philosophy and a really effective and functional way of thinking through problem solving. Although I’m not a super-fan of Mark Zuckerberg I am a fan of his perspective:

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Chaos and Sandboxes

I know the temptation that every manager has to micromanage and repeat the obvious “just to make sure” but I have learned that I can do a much better job of simply getting out of the way and letting the great people that I have trusted to do great work do just that: Do great work.

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An Exit Interview

All companies will inevitably walk through the process of relieving someone of their role within the company. Whether this is a part of the natural order of a company being acquired and being streamlined for resources or a breach of contract or simply natural attrition as your staff finds that it’s time to leave for the next adventure, it is inevitable.

I think leaving well (and ending well in the larger scheme) is vitally important for the employee and the organization. The chief motive for an exit interview is simply this as it is an opportunity for the ex-employee and the organization to create one final and explicit moment of critical learning.

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To All of My Past Motherships…

I’m sorry to say this but most of my previous “motherships” were not kind to me and so I must confess that I do not love nor miss them. Besides, I don’t expect that they’d remember me anyways.

But, I want to say that I appreciated you, you previous motherships, at the time, for who you were when I said “Yes” to the opportunity. Things changed and our relationship status couldn’t weather the inevitable shifts that occurred. It wasn’t anyone’s fault (or at least in a few circumstances…) – it is just what was (and is).

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What a Management Team Does

It can be difficult, at times, to know exactly what one should do with one’s time when in leadership. Sure, there are the global mission-critical functions that each role has but those can often be more strategic in nature and less tactical.

This is especially challenging for the software programmer who is now faced with executive leadership. It is worth repeating that not all software programmers should look to find themselves in management (see this classic startup sin here).

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3 Fundamental Theories to the IT Industry

I can’t remember where I first heard these (it may have been from the founders of Linux and/or Red Hat…) but I’ve been thinking about them recently as I’ve been coaching a number of new startups that we’ve invested in as well as more than a handful of young entrepreneurs through local programs like Endevvr.

Here as three fundamental theories in the IT industry:

  1. It all happened by accident
  2. It was done by amateurs
  3. Nothing has really changed

Hah.

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