Beautiful Teams: Inspiring and Cautionary Tales from Veteran Team Leaders

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Andrew Stellman is a developer, architect, speaker, agile coach, project manager, and expert in building better software. He has over two decades of professional experience building software, and has architected large-scale real-time back end systems, managed large international software teams, been a Vice President at a major investment bank, and consulted for companies, schools, and corporations, including Microsoft, the National Bureau of Economic Research, Bank of America, Notre Dame, and MIT.

Jennifer Greene is an agile coach, development manager, business analyst, project manager, tester, speaker, and authority on software engineering practices and principles.

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Books & Videos

How do you build an effective team? Can a group of people who don't get along still build good software?

How does a team leader keep everyone on track when the stakes are high and the schedule is tight? Tim O'Reilly : My own experiences are around running a company. Yes, there are team experiences in that. But most of the reflections I have are around the broader question of how you exert leadership. Let me start at the top, with a few thoughts about leadership and management, which are part of the whole team thing.

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The Secrets Of Great Teamwork

I'm not quite sure where the boundaries are. There are two quotes I want to start you off with. One is from Harold Geneen, who was the guy who started ITT , which was really the first modern conglomerate.


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He said, "The skill of management is achieving your objectives through the efforts of others. And the question is of the different styles of doing that, where some of them are very directive.

Your Leadership Story

This is the classic "manager"--the idea of somebody who figures out what needs to be done, and who needs to do it, and builds the teams with the roles and so on. While I completely subscribe to the concept, because the skill of management is indeed achieving your objectives through the effort of others, I have always worked with the framing of another quote, which is actually about writing. It's from Edwin Schlossberg, who wrote a magazine article I read early in my career, and it's probably one of the seminal things that took root in my brain.

He said, "The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.

[PDF] Beautiful Teams - Inspiring and Cautionary Tales from Veteran Team Leaders - Semantic Scholar

So, can you think of how you apply that idea--"creating a context in which other people can think"--to software teams? I'll make an observation here, and it relates to something I call the architecture of participation. In , we did a book called Open Sources , and we did interviews for some of the people who produced their essays on open source. And I don't think it made it into the final book, but there's something that Linus Torvalds said in an interview that stuck with me: "I couldn't have done what I did with Linux for Windows, even if I'd had the Windows source code.

Beautiful Teams Inspiring And Cautionary Tales From Veteran Team Leaders Andrew Stellman

It just wasn't architected that way. Because there are rules that are laid down. I think one of the reasons why certain projects fail is because they're mixing and matching from the wrong systems. We have to have a system that has a fundamental characteristic that there are small pieces that people can work on independently. I think this is why, for example, people have said that they'll do books as Wikis, and it hasn't really taken off.

Why not? Because a book is a fairly large, complex thing with a single narrative thread.

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