Team Geek

Though marketed toward IT managers, this book is a valuable resource for anyone who leads, or wants to lead a technical team.

As technical people, we’re often more adept at dealing with and understanding computers, so this book will help geeks better understand how to work with and play nicely with other human beings. It explains such things like why geeks are generally insecure.

Takeaway: Overcome the insecurity of letting others see your mistakes. The value of working on a team to help get additional eyes on your work. Your teammates are collaborators, not competitors.

The book explains the various way that workplace social interactions mystify us geeks. Even better, it explains in a methodical fashion how to communicate and interact with co-workers, both of the geek and non-geek variety. The writer explains why it is important to have office relationships that extend beyond just our small technical team, to say, the office secretary.

Takeaway: It’s about creating relationships to get things done, and relationships always outlast projects.

The team leader isn’t the most amazing technical expert in every area. He is the servant leader that is able to coordinate the work of a group of people and create a product that is better than any of them could create on their own.

 Takeaway: The difference between being humble and being a doormat: don’t try to come off as personally awesome. Try to build a sense of team accomplishment and group pride. Being vulnerable and listening to others is not a sign of weakness.

By learning to accept constructive criticism, we will begin to better separate our personal self-worth from the quality of our code (or whatever your product may be). The authors encourages readers to document their failures, rather then try to erase them.

Takeaway: documenting failures is like lighting them up as a runway for those who follow us.

The book also covers many other useful topics such as how to build a healthy team culture, how to protect your team culture, and keeping in mind the end user of your product.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Myth of the Genius Programmer

  • Help Me Hide My Code
  • The Genius Myth
  • Hiding Is Considered Harmful
  • It’s All About the Team
  • The Three Pillars
  • HRT in Practice
  • Learn to Both Deal Out and Handle Criticism
  • Next Steps

Chapter 2: Building an Awesome Team Culture

  • What Is Culture?
  • Why Should You Care?
  • Culture and People
  • Communication Patterns of Successful Cultures
  • High-Level Synchronization
  • Day-to-Day Discussions
  • Using an Issue Tracker
  • Communication as Part of Engineering
  • It Really Is About the Code After All

Chapter 3: Every Boat Needs a Captain

  • Nature Abhors a Vacuum
  • @Deprecated Manager
  • The Servant Leader
  • Antipatterns
  • Leadership Patterns
  • People Are Like Plants
  • Intrinsic Versus Extrinsic Motivation
  • Final Thoughts

Chapter 4: Dealing with Poisonous People

  • Defining “Poisonous”
  • Fortifying Your Team
  • Identifying the Threat
  • Repelling the Poison
  • A Final Thought

Chapter 5: The Art of Organizational Manipulation

  • The Good, the Bad, and the Strategies
  • The Ideal: How a Team Ought to Function Within a Company
  • The Reality: When Your Environment Is an Obstacle to Your Success
  • Manipulating Your Organization
  • Plan B: Get Out
  • All Is Not Lost

Chapter 6: Users Are People, Too

  • Managing Public Perception
  • How Usable Is Your Software?

Book Details

Title: Team Geek
Author: Brian W. Fitzpatrick, Ben Collins-Sussman
Publisher: O’Reilly Media

  • Print
  • Ebook
  • Safari Books Online

Print: July 2012
Ebook: July 2012
Pages: 194
Print ISBN: 978-1-4493-0244-3| ISBN 10:1-4493-0244-0
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4493-0306-8| ISBN 10:1-4493-0306-4

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