Articles tagged with management

Simple sabotage for software

CIA produced a fantastic book during the peak of World War 2 called Simple Sabotage. It laid out various ways for infiltrators to ruin productivity of a company. Some of the advice is timeless, for instance the section about “General interference with Organizations and Production”:

σ-driven project management: when is the optimal time to give up?

Hi! It's your friendly project management theorician. You might remember me from blog posts such as Why software projects take longer than you think, which is a blog post I wrote a long time ago positing that software projects completion time follow a log-normal distribution.

Building a data team at a mid-stage startup: a short story

I guess I should really call this a parable. The backdrop is: you have been brought in to grow a tiny data team (~4 people) at a mid-stage startup (~$10M annual revenue), although this story could take place at many different types of companies.

How to set compensation using commonsense principles

Compensation has always been one of the most confusing parts of management to me. Getting it right is obviously extremely important. Compensation is what drives our entire economy, and you could look at the market for labor as one gigantic resource-allocating machine in the same way as people look at the stock market as a gigantic resource-allocating machine for investments.

How to hire smarter than the market: a toy model

Let's consider a toy model where you're hiring for two things and that those are equally valuable. It's not very important what those are, so let's just call them “thing A” and “thing B” for now.

What can startups learn from Koch Industries?

I recently finished the excellent book Kochland. This isn't my first interest in Koch—I read The Science of Success by Charles Koch himself a couple of years ago. Charles Koch inherited a tiny company in 1967 and turned it into one of the world's largest ones.

Business secrets from terrible people

I get bored reading management books very easily and lately I've been reading about a wide range of almost arbitrary topics. One of the lenses I tend to read through is to see different management styles in different environments.

Interviewing is a noisy prediction problem

I have done roughly 2,000 interviews in my life. When I started recruiting, I had so much confidence in my ability to assess people. Let me just throw a couple of algorithm questions at a candidate and then I'll tell you if they are good or not!

Toxic meeting culture

I spent six years at a company that went from 50 people to 1500 and one contributing factor leading to my departure was that I went from a “maker” to a person stuck in meetings every day.

Optimizing for iteration speed

I've written before about the importance of iterating quickly but I didn't necessarily talk about some concrete things you can do. When I've built up the tech team at Better, I've intentionally optimized for fast iteration speed above almost everything else.

The mathematical principles of management

I've read about 100 management books by now but if there's something that always bothered me it's the lack of first principles thinking. Basically it's a ton of heuristics. And heuristics are great, but when you present heuristics as true objectives, it kind of clouds the underlying objectives (and you end up with weird proxy cults like the Agile movement 👹 – not that I disagree with it, I just wish they could derive it from a more systematic understanding of project management).

Pareto efficency

Pareto efficiency is a useful concept I like to think about. It often comes up when you compare items on multiple dimensions. Say you want to buy a new TV. To simplify it let's assume you only care about two factors: price and quality.

Why organizations fail

One of my favorite business hobbies is to reduce some nasty decision down to its absolute core objective, decide the most basic strategy, and then add more and more modifications as you have to confront the complexity of reality (yes I have very lame hobbies thanks I know).

The hardest challenge about becoming a manager

Note: this post is full of pseudo-psychology and highly speculative content. Like most fun stuff! I became a manager back in 2009. Being a developer is fun. You have this very tangible way to measure yourself.

My favorite management failures

For most people straight out of school, work life is a bit of a culture shock. For me it was an awesome experience, but a lot of the constraints were different and I had to learn to optimize for different things.