Tag Archives: michael-lopp

Become Comfortable with Incompleteness: Writing Tips from Rands

“Don’t write a book” is the first piece of advice Michael Lopp offers us in a post chron­ic­ling his writ­ing pro­cess.

Lopp–an engin­eer­ing man­ager at Apple, author of Being Geek and Man­aging Humans, and more com­monly known as Rands–details his tools and meth­ods for writ­ing a book and, as always, his advice is applic­able to more than just the top­ic at hand:

You must become com­fort­able with incom­plete­ness. At one point dur­ing the latest book, I had sev­en chapters in vari­ous state of done­ness. When I began Man­aging Humans, I’d get pan­icky if I didn’t com­plete one chapter before start­ing the next. This is your brain, once again, try­ing to organ­ize where it shouldn’t.

The reas­on I have simple, read­ily avail­able tools is that I can nev­er tell when I’m going to be able to write. I’m on a dead­line and my edit­or is breath­ing down my neck, which means I do have a weekly writ­ing sched­ule that carves off morn­ings three days a week. As I settle into one of these morn­ings, it’s just as likely that I’ll write as it is that I’ll count the num­ber of folks in the room who’ve chosen to drink from ceram­ic mugs versus paper cups.

A sin­gu­lar focus on fin­ish­ing a chapter is just anoth­er bar­ri­er to writ­ing. By brows­ing all my chapters in vari­ous states of done­ness, I’m more likely to pick one that is going to tickle my writ­ing fancy: Oh hey, I have some­thing to say about this today. Those ceram­ic mugs have to wait.

Kathy Sierra’s com­ment is one not to miss.

Deconstructing Managers

Today and tomor­row I’ll be post­ing a few links I’ve saved on man­aging: on being a man­ager, deal­ing with man­agers, and how to be a bet­ter one.

To begin, a six-part series from Rands in Repose—Deconstructing Man­agers.

There Is Evil, Your Manager’s Job

I trust that, like me, you’re an optim­ist and you believe that every­one in your com­pany is busily work­ing on whatever they do. I also believe the fact that you don’t under­stand what they do auto­mat­ic­ally biases you. You believe that because you under­stand your job intim­ately, it is more import­ant than any­one else’s.

In your head, you are king. It’s clear what you do; it’s clear what is expec­ted of you. There is no per­son who rules you bet­ter than your­self because you know exactly what you’re about. Any­one out­side of your head is a mys­tery because they are not you.

Give Him Some­thing to Say, Where Does Your Man­ager Come From?

Your man­ager is your face to the rest of the organ­iz­a­tion. Right this second, someone you don’t know is say­ing some­thing great about you because you took five minutes to pitch your boss on your work. Your man­ager did that. You gave him some­thing to say.

Trans­form­ing Glar­ing Defi­cien­cies, How Are They Com­pens­at­ing For Their Blind Spots?

Each man­ager, good or bad, is going to have a glar­ing defi­ciency. […] The ques­tion is, does he recog­nize they have a blind spot? […]

A manager’s job is to take what skills they have, the ones that got them pro­moted, and fig­ure out how to make them scale. They do this by build­ing a team that accen­tu­ates their strengths and, more import­antly, rein­forces where they are weak.

How Much Action Per Decision?, How Does Your Man­ager Talk To You?

Yes, you want to fig­ure out how not be a bot­tle­neck in your organ­iz­a­tion and, yes, you want to fig­ure out how to scale, but you also want to con­tin­ue to get your hands dirty. […]

Pure del­eg­at­ors are slowly becom­ing irrel­ev­ant to their organ­iz­a­tion. The folks who work for pure del­eg­at­ors don’t rely on him for their work because they know they can’t depend on him for action.

Incess­antly Demon­strat­ing Your Hun­ger

The organization’s view of your man­ager is their view of you.

They Might Be Evil, What Hap­pens When They Lose Their Shit?

Your man­ager is not a man­ager until they’ve par­ti­cip­ated in a lay­off. […] He hasn’t truly rep­res­en­ted the com­pany until he act­ively par­ti­cip­ates in the con­struct­ive decon­struc­tion of an organ­iz­a­tion. There is no more pure a pan­ic than a lay­off and you want to see who your man­ager will become because it’s often the first time he sees the organ­iz­a­tion is big­ger than the people.

The above quotes are rel­ev­ant to many more areas of life than man­agers and man­aging a work­place.

The Nerd Handbook and Caring for Your Introvert

Rands In Repose’s Nerd Hand­book is an essay on under­stand­ing geeks; from our insa­ti­able appet­ite for know­ledge to our hard-to-decipher social inter­ac­tion ‘skills’. The Hand­book is at times pain­fully pre­cise.

The nerd has based his career, maybe his life, on the com­puter, and as we’ll see, this intim­ate rela­tion­ship has altered his view of the world. He sees the world as a sys­tem which, giv­en enough time and effort, is com­pletely know­able. This is a fra­gile illu­sion that your nerd has adop­ted, but it’s a pleas­ant one that gets your nerd through the day. When the illu­sion is broken, you are going to dis­cov­er that…

Your nerd has con­trol issues
Your nerd has built him­self a cave
Your nerd loves toys and puzzles
Nerds are fuck­ing funny
Your nerd has an amaz­ing appet­ite for inform­a­tion
Your nerd has built an annoy­ingly effi­cient rel­ev­ancy engine in his head
Your nerd might come off as not lik­ing people

I see a lot of myself here, and I’ll have to remem­ber to send this to any future pro­spect­ive Mrs Mor­gans. In fact, while I’m at it, maybe I should also send them The Atlantic’s art­icle on caring for your intro­vert… they share a lot in com­mon with us.

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet con­ver­sa­tions about feel­ings or ideas, and can give a dynam­ite present­a­tion to a big audi­ence, but seems awk­ward in groups and mal­ad­roit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recu­per­ate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accos­ted with pleas­ant­ries by people who are just try­ing to be nice?

[…]

If you answered yes to these ques­tions, chances are that you have an intro­vert on your hands—and that you aren’t caring for him prop­erly.

How can I let the intro­vert in my life know that I sup­port him and respect his choice?

First, recog­nize that it’s not a choice. It’s not a life­style. It’s an ori­ent­a­tion.
Second, when you see an intro­vert lost in thought, don’t say “What’s the mat­ter?” or “Are you all right?”
Third, don’t say any­thing else, either.