The kanban board is going up!

One of the things that we came to a decision about during our retrospective after sprint zero is that we’re happier with a highly visible workload management tool. During our between sprint planning, we’ve elected to adopt some of the kanban practices that I picked up during my time at Microsoft.

Having physical cards to move across the board helps to maintain the momentum cycle and makes it very easy to visually keep score. Both of which are very important, as we’ve come to accept that we’re in a marathon, not a sprint. No pun intended.

In the spirit of “pix or it didn’t happen”, I’ll be posting occasional pix of the board as soon as we have it hung, striped and loaded with work.

This is why I don’t want employees…

It’s something that one of my mentors says a lot. “Employees are people who come to work late, leave early and steal while they’re there. I don’t want employees. I want team members. I want teammates. People who are committed. People who are all in. People who want to be here. People who have to be reminded to go home at the end of the day.”

GDC Plans

Nothing personal, Jeremy and Mike, but the attitude in this comic irks me. I get the attempt at humor and maybe you need to look for somewhere to work where you won’t feel that way… It’s certainly not what I’m looking for in future teammates.

Why we employ talent and buy vendors…

Seth’s got the most succinct explanation of the reason we aim to hire talent by preference. We will outsource to vendors for some things, but…

Vendors happily sit in the anonymous cubes at Walmart’s headquarters, waiting for the buyer to show up and dicker with them. They willingly fill out the paperwork and spend hours discussing terms and conditions. The vendor is agnostic about what’s being sold, and is focused on volume, or at least consistency.

While the talent is also getting paid (to be in your movie, to do consulting, to coach you), she is not a vendor. She’s not playing by the same rules and is not motivated in the same way.

Seth’s Blog: Talent and vendors

We aim to hire multifaceted creators to join our cross-functional teams. We treat people the way that we expect to be treated, and in turn, we expect them to put heart and soul into their creations the same way that we do.

We don’t just “do business”. First and foremost, we do fun!

Teams or Stars?

When I have been a hiring manager in previous work lives, the question frequently came up: Is it better to hire a few rock stars (aka prima donnas) or a few more really competent people who know how to play well with others? In many software engineering circles, the conundrum is known as the Myth of the Heroic Programmer.

It’s always nice to see someone with quantitative research that backs up and validates the decisions that you’ve made in the past, and help to inform similar decisions that you’ll make in the future.

For the answer to that question, we don’t have to rely on hunches, or instincts, or a handful of individual cases. It turns out that some careful research has been done on this point. Data were gathered from a wide range of companies in an effort to settle the question of which is more important in generating superior performance: teamwork, or "stars?" The answer, hands down, turned out to be teamwork.

Caseplace: Teams, Not Stars, Are the Key to High Performance

Of course, if you can hire rock stars who are great team players, that’s the best of both worlds! However, in my experience, the personalities who gravitate toward building a “star brand” for themselves are generally the antithesis of team players. C’est la guerre.

I’m looking forward to growing Glacier Peak and adding quality team members to the mix, because there is nothing more satisfying than results that a small group of talented and highly motivated people can produce who are kicking ass, taking names and producing great products together.