mark cerqueira well-rounded nerd

Manager Reads - Debugging Teams: Better Productivity through Collaboration

Next up on the manager reads train is Debugging Teams: Better Productivity through Collaboration by Brian W. Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman.

Who recommended the book? An iOS colleague at Twitch, Matt, recommended this book. I checked to ensure I did not personally need any debugging. 😆 Thanks, Matt!

Judge the book by its cover, font, page quality? The soft cover has a nice gloss and prominently features a crew team which is in line with the teamwork focus of the book. Two women and two men on the cover give us some gender balance but that’s where the balance ends. My biggest disappoint with the cover is that given it’s an O’Reilly book I wish there were a variety of animals in the boat and not humans. Oh wells…

Inside the book we’ve got thin pages where highlighter definitely bleeds through and even text on the opposite side of a page can be seen. I like the font choice, the point size, and comfortable amount of leading. But given the authors have a long history at Google I was hoping to see Roboto.

Thoughts on the book and the big take-aways? I enjoyed reading Debugging Teams. It’s a must read for anyone who is starting a team because it provides a framework for starting and nurturing a strong team. For those already on an established team the book can highlight some improvements to consider and blindspots to look out for.

The book is divided into six chapters that cover a variety of topics which include a bunch of stories and lots of entertaining illustrations. Here were my big takeways from each chapter:

  1. The Myth of the Genius Programmer - Everyone needs to practice HRT: humility, respect, and trust.
  2. Building an Awesome Team Culture - Establish a strong culture and maintain it. Providing high-level synchronization like mission statements and multiple channels for communication.
  3. Every Boat Needs a Captain - Stop being a manager. Instead be a servant leader.
  4. Dealing with Poisonous People - Get better at identifying poisonous behaviors early and work towards fixing it before it becomes a bigger problem. Focus on fixing behaviors and not fixing people.
  5. The Art of Organizational Manipulation - Acknowledge that most organizations have bureaucracy so learn to navigate it and work towards carving out a place where you can be happy and productive.
  6. Users Are People, Too - Make your product usable and useful. Design a delightful experience. Your users’ trust is your most sacred resource, so don’t squander it.

Favorite quote from the book? “Speed is a feature.”

Elevator pitch for suggesting (or not suggesting) the book? Read Debugging Teams. If your team is awesome, this book will help you figure out what you may have intentionally (or unintentionally) already done. If your starting a team, it’ll provide a playlist to help set your team up for success. And if your team is not doing so hot, it’ll give you a framework to approach the problem. Also, it has awesome illustrations.

Notes in Evernote? Debugging Teams has a lot of good information, which my notes hopefully capture, and lots of cool and funny illustrations, which my notes unforunately do not capture. Feel free to review my notes on 🐘.

Most of the world’s wisdom is written down in its best books. Manager Reads is a series covering books on management and leadership, focusing on books that can improve your own leadership with the wisdom of others. Enjoyed this post and want to see more? Check out more at Manager Reads.