A Critique of “Don’t Fuck Up The Culture”

in Management

I enjoyed Brian Chesky’s recent post called Don’t Fuck Up The Culture, where he proclaims to the employees of AirBnb the importance of culture in everything they do. I like Airbnb and its nice to see a founder emphasize culture. But there’s sloppy thinking in the post. The first problem is we have a field of […]

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What If Managers Didn’t Get Paid More?

in Management, Year Without Pants

One of the many surprises from The Year Without Pants is that Automattic, makers of WordPress.com, doesn’t pay employees more when them become a team leader. They consider being a leader a role, not a job. One of the fun experiments this enabled for me while I worked there was to step down as lead and […]

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Why Consultants Should Get “Real” Jobs (HBR)

in Management

My latest post for Harvard Business is about why consultants should return to traditional full-time work now and then: I challenge all consultants to spend some time — at least a year — back in a “real” job, working shoulder to shoulder with the same kinds of people who pay for their advice. So few authors and […]

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How to survive and thrive with multiple stakeholders

in Management

Each week I take the top voted question from readers and answer it (submit yours here).  With 40 votes, this week’s winner was “How a manager can facilitate communication between technical and non-technical stakeholders” submitted by Grant Landram. Any tips for how a manager can “level the communication playing field” between technical and non-technical stakeholders within project […]

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How To Work With Stupid People

in Management, work

I wrote the popular essay How To Manage Smart People awhile ago, and often heard the feedback: “advice on smart people is easy. Tell us how to work with Stupid people.” I hoped to get to it eventually, but Jason Crawford beat me to it. And he wrote about it in much the way I would have: […]

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How to build a culture of healthy debate?

in ask berkun, Management

From Monday’s pile of questions reader Ev Larsen asked: Assumptions have an unnerving way of becoming facts and received wisdom over time. How do you build some functional assumption-checking into a project team, a process that generates useful feedback and moves the team effort forward? The only real answer to questions of culture is you hire […]

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When to quit working for a bully?

in ask berkun, Management

From Monday’s question pile an anonymous reader asked: After five years of consulting I accepted a full time job with a startup. My hiring manager is someone with whom I’ve worked as a consultant: I knew he had a temper, which is why I declined his first few invitations to work for him. After a full-court press […]

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When in Doubt, Make A List

in Making things happen, Management

My favorite trick when overwhelmed is to make a list. Lists do many good things for our psychology, memory and camaraderie if working with others. It’s worth remembering the adage: Make a (Fucking) List. When in doubt, just make a list. Sit down, shut up and start writing. The expletive is a reminder not to be a dumbass. Many […]

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The idiot ratio

in Management

Every organization has a ratio of idiots to non-idiots. This is the idiot ratio. It’s an easy way to measure the talent pool in any organization. If for every 10 people you work with 3 are morons, your ratio is 3:10. How to use it:  when two people meet to compare their workplaces, both parties […]

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How to get better feedback

in Management

Stacey Hanke asked on twitter: Why when I ask for feedback, it’s never constructive, it’s always vague “good job, nice work,” what does it take to get thorough feedback? Feedback feels like confrontation to most people and they don’t want to risk starting a fight with you. They’ve learned many people are just fishing for […]

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What work traditions need to go away?

in Management, Year Without Pants

One theme of my book The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com & The Future of Work, is questioning aging work practices. Particularly ones followed our of tradition without evidence they contribute to quality of work. Here’s a list of work practices that should be reconsidered: is there any evidence these contribute to work performance in any […]

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In Defense of Remote work (and Marissa Mayer)

in Management, Year Without Pants

Recently Yahoo CEO Marrisa Mayer decreed that working from home would be banned at the company. In a company memo she wrote: To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in […]

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On What Your Culture Really Says

in Management, Year Without Pants

There’s an excellent rant on startup culture making the rounds called What Your Culture Really Says by Shanley Kane. Here’s an excerpt: Toxic lies about culture are afoot in Silicon Valley. They spread too fast as we take our bubble money and designer Powerpoints to drinkups, conferences and meetups all over the world, flying premium […]

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How do you hire for culture?

in General, Management

Bob Sutton wrote bravely about the No Asshole Rule, and how talent should never excuse destructive behavior. It’s a rule many companies are afraid to follow and they pay later. By the time leaders realize there’s something broken in the culture, it’s hard to fix. Avoiding assholes is certainly progress for some companies, but but that’s […]

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Why you should pick your own boss

in Management

Ty Clark asked me for advice on job seeking: The best advice I’ve ever heard about picking a job is to pick your boss first, not the job. This is challenging since the system of finding jobs is designed the other way: it’s set up to let bosses pick you. Job ads don’t have a […]

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