The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work (review)

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The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work (review)

Loved this book! One of the fastest reads I’ve had lately, coupled with more highlighter and notes than I’ve had in a while.

This is the story of the year (actually more than a year) that the author worked for Automattic, the company that does WordPress.org and WordPress.com. If you’re looking for a different way to manage software development, this book may provide good clues. As a manager, I think there are lots of nuggets to learn from.

The inability to scale is one of the stupidest arguments against a possibly great idea: greatness rarely scales, and that’s part of what made it great in the first place.

For example, there are creative and support teams – support teams provide support for creatives, not the other way around; its more important to make teams like HR and Finance efficient for the creative teams to use than to make them efficient internally at the expense of the creative teams.

One of my ah-ha moments was, “safeguards don’t make you safe; they make you lazy.” I’ve been thinking about Netflix injecting errors purposely into their production systems to force the teams to build solid code and learn to efficiently debug problems…

And given the craft of software development, “In all cases it is up to you as an employee to figure out how to be productive.” You pick and use the right tool for the right job in the right way – by enforcing standards we require the identical mediocrity among all staff instead of recognizing the craftsman who can achieve greatness if given the opportunity.

Heck, I’ve already recommended this book to peers and execs above me. I think this is much more interesting than any of the books I’ve read about how Microsoft or Google work – this is much more ‘out there.’

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