Quote from Year Without Pants (Chapter 22)

The transition to managing a larger team reminded me that when everything is going fine, management is easy. Thousands of managers around the world inherit healthy teams in healthy companies, do little of merit, and get great rewards for just being in the right place at the right time. The real story behind some people you meet with fantastic reputations isn’t notable talents or skills, but merely an exceptional ability to choose the right time to join and leave particular projects. The work of managers everywhere is rarely evaluated with enough consideration for the situation they inherited and the situations they faced that were not in their control. We all make judgments of ability at the most superficial levels. If the results are good, we give praise. If the results are poor, we criticize. We rarely give credence to the feeling in the back of our minds that the winner or loser doesn’t quite fit the part. We know in our careers people who were shafted, taking the fall for incompetence that wasn’t theirs, and also people who slide through organizations as if coated with Teflon, causing misery and frustration at every turn, yet they move into promotions unscathed.

  – Scott Berkun

Quote from Year Without Pants (Chapter 19)

The natural mistake engineers make is to build from the bottom up. They leave the user interface last, assuming it is the least complex technology. This is wrong. Humans are much more complex than software, and since the interface has to interact with people, it’s the most difficult to do well. By building from the bottom up, technologists paint themselves into a corner, resulting in ugly, hard-to-use things. By the time they finally got to the user interface work, so many constraints exist that even the best designers in the world couldn’t salvage the project. The answer is simple: design the user interface first. This is a mandate at any organization that makes things people love to use.

 – Scott Berkun

The Year Without Pants (Chapter 7 – The Big Talk)

I think  most  big software companies have forgotten this (or never knew  it):

As I watched Team Social work, happily uncontaminated by any pretense of management by me, I kept in mind the lesson I learned from Joe Belfiore, one of the best bosses I’ve ever had. He told me the central way he’d evaluate me was the quality of what made it out the door. It wasn’t about the ideas I had or how I managed schedules. It wasn’t how I ran meetings or how well liked I was. Those were all secondary. What mattered was what we shipped. And he told me the only reason anything good ships is because of the programmers. They are everything. They are not factory employees; they are craftspeople, craftspeople who are the fundamental creative engine of making software. 

– Scott Berkun

Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit by Mary Poppendieck and Tom Poppendieck

Lean Software DevelopmentWhen Toyota was a small company, its goal was to sell inexpensive cars in Japan. Because it was small, it couldn’t use economies of scale to compete. Instead, they develop a series of techniques to eliminate waste and speed-up development time. These techniques eventually were called “Lean”, and later where incorporated in the Agile software development methodology.

The thing that really struck me about this book is it’s economy and logical style. Little fluff, very clear, well thought-out.