keep notes. Every two weeks I reread
the rules and refresh myself into doing
the right thing.
The books I recommend for managers are ones by Jeffrey Pfeffer and
Robert Sutton (professors at Stanford) since they are more evidence
driven. A lot of business books are
about what people believe, but there
is hardly any proof.
Kate’s takeaway: Whether it is How to
Win ... or another book, figure out your
own rules and revisit them regularly.
Without some sort of external stimulus,
most of us will fall back into our default
modes of socially awkward introvert,
and so a paper taped to the inside of your
planner or notebook is a smart idea.
What is the best piece of career advice
you have ever received?
When I did my Ph.D., afterward
in the celebration, my advisor, Kees
Koster, said to focus at the intersection of theory and practice. There is no
progress without friction.
It is easy to dive into theory, or all
the way into just practice—but the real
interesting work happens between
theory and practice. Try to understand
both sides. The safe spot is to retreat to
one of the extremes.
There are so many online courses
these days, so many blogs, and so
many white papers that it is easier
than ever to stay up to speed on both
sides. You can subscribe to Adrian
Colyer’s The Morning Paper,
through the ACM Digital Library,
read the Research for Practice column in acmqueue—a lot of people
are making it easier to bridge gaps.
Going back to “The Humble Programmer,” understand that you
can’t keep up with all of the knowledge that is produced. You don’t
have to throw your hands in the air
and say it is too much—you have to
hone your Google skills.
Kate’s takeaway: It is never enough just
to do what is obvious. You have to dig
deep. Devote time in your schedule to
learning new things. Try to read a white
paper per week, or per month.
What is your team process? How does
work get done? How do you communi-
A lot of what you read about process
and agile has very little evidence be-
hind it. I don’t believe a lot of process
is scientific. Instead, I define general
guidelines about what I want to see
happen, and within those I don’t care
how things happen.
My thinking has two main sources
of inspiration: the military and the
Over thousands of years, armies
have figured out how to get things done
and achieve their goals in an environment that is really chaotic and completely unpredictable. That is the environment we live in as developers as
well. If you read the U.S. Marine Corps
Warfighting manual, and replace the
word war with software, everything in
there holds true.
So how do you deal with uncertainty? When people attempt to solve with
process, they are trying to fight or control uncertainty. For example, someone
can say just adopt zero inbox and your
life will be awesome. In reality, though,
that isn’t really the case.
One of the things I like about Face-
book is “the hacker way.”
6 It is an ap-
proach to creating software that involves
continuous improvement and feedback.
It is about computational thinking: how
do you program the system, and how do P H O