Book review: Team Geek

Sometimes I forget that I have to work with teams, whether they are virtual teams or physical teams. And although I started working on understanding the culture map, I still have to understand how to efficiently work in a team. Enters the book.

Content and opinions

Divided in 6 chapters, the book tries to move from a centric point of view to the most general one, with team members and users, around a principle summed it by HRT. First of all, the book spends a chapter on geniuses. Actually, it’s not really geniuses and not people who think they are geniuses and spend times in their cave working on something and 10 weeks later get out and share their wonderful (crappy) code. Here, the focus is visibility and communication: we all make mistakes (let’s move on, as would say Leonard Hofstadter), so we need to face ourselves with the rest of the team as early as possible.

To achieve this, you need a team culture, a place where people can communicate. There are several levels in this, different ways to achieve this and probably a good balance between all elements, as explained in the second chapter of the book. And with this, you need a good team leader (chapter 3) that will nurture the team culture. Strangely, the book seems to advocate technical people to become team leaders, which is something I find difficult. Actually the book help me understand the good aspects of this, and from the different teams I saw around me, it seems that a pattern that has merits and with a good help to learn delegation, trust… it could be an interesting future for technical people (instead of having bad technical people taking management positions and fighting them because let’s face it, they don’t understand a thing :p ).

Fourth chapter is about dealing with poisonous people. One of the poison is… exactly what I shown in the last paragraph: resent and bitterness! A team is a team with his captain, we are all in the same boat. We can’t badmouth the people we work with (as hard it is!). Fifth chapter is more about the maze above you (fourth was more about dealing with the maze below), how to work with a good manager, and how to deal with a bad one. Sometimes it’s just about communication, sometimes, it’s not, so what should you do?

Finally, the other member of the team is the end-user. As the customer pays the bill in the end, he has to be on board and feel respected, trusted (as much as the team is, it’s a balance!). There are not that many chapters about users in software engineering books, it’s a hard topic. This final chapter gives good advice on the subject.

Conclusion

There are lots of things that are obvious. There are things that are explained in other books as well, but the fact that all relevant topics for computer scientists is in this book makes it an excellent introduction to people starting to work in a team.

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