Striving for greatness

The life and times of a Gentoo developer and leader

Archive for March 2009

links for 2009-03-25

  • Similarly, you need to quickly build the same level of trust with our community. Do you have the tools it takes to hack into the code? and do you know how to use them? When a contributor uploads a patch to our mailing list or to our tracker (preferred, but to make sure you get noticed please post a link on the mailing list too) he builds instantaneously the same level of trust that the unknown cab driver builds with every new customer: he implicitly shows that he has the tools (hardware, operating system, internet connection, coding environment, repository access) and that he can use them for basic operations.
    (tags: gsoc)

Written by Donnie Berkholz

March 25, 2009 at 5:03 am

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links for 2009-03-24

  • I think you should fire this person immediately. Okay, maybe give him exactly one warning.

    You’ll find someone else who really knows this stuff. No doubt about it. And firing one intransigent bully is a lot less painful than shutting down an entire division next year because he paralyzed your decision-making.

    Deep technical competency is overrated compared with the ability to make excellent decisions and to create a culture where forward motion is valued and personal initiative is rewarded.

    The good news is that the bully knows this, and the only reason he gets away with being a bully is that he thinks he’s got you bluffed. Call his bluff and odds are you’ll have a much more cooperative team, top to bottom.

    (tags: leadership)

Written by Donnie Berkholz

March 24, 2009 at 5:02 am

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links for 2009-03-18

  • ut as someone who has spent decades hiring and firing, coaching and mentoring journalists, I know a bit about their skills and values and what they could mean to your organization.

    I also know that journalists may not be comfortable appearing to brag about what they do well; self-esteem can get downsized pretty easily these days.

    So permit me to make their case to you. Here are 10 reasons you should hire a journalist.

    (tags: journalism)
  • But McKee’s research has identified four internal factors that work against recovery and often paralyze you: … Loss of Nerve. Probably the most insidious factor. When growth stalls, as McKee points out, it’s confusing. “Great leaders are supposed to be firm, decisive, and sure-footed. When things go wrong, you just fix them. That is, until the problems spin beyond your control.” It’s discouraging. “When the road drops out from under the company, the CEO’s own discouragement can be difficult to hide.” It’s contagious. “It’s one thing to struggle privately…it’s quite another when the discouragement and disillusionment hit you so hard you can’t hide them. When the CEO is worried, everybody’s worried.” It's paralyzing. “You don’t have the luxury to think strategically when things are so desperate.” It’s wearying. As one CEO told him, “I wasn’t so much scared as ticked off and drained. I was tired of pushing the rock up the mountain like Sisyphus.”
    (tags: leadership)

Written by Donnie Berkholz

March 18, 2009 at 5:01 am

Posted in Blog

links for 2009-03-17

  • Stories shed example on what impact some of these jerks have in organizations and on the people as well. In addition, there are positive stories where corporations have turned around their business by implementing the title of this book. It’s great to see a business book that is entirely written about relationships and the people factor and I’m thrilled to see the interest it’s generated and I respect Sutton for the guts it took to be so bold to put out a frontal attack against the type of people that consistently belittle others and cause pain in the organization simply for their own pleasure and gain.
    (tags: leadership)

Written by Donnie Berkholz

March 17, 2009 at 5:01 am

Posted in Blog

links for 2009-03-16

  • We tend to judge ourselves by our intentions and judge others by their behaviour. This belief means that we are often blind to our behaviours, dismissing its impact on others as a mere miss understanding. After all, we understand our intentions and they are for good! However, those who observe our behaviours have no such insight. Leaders who manage their character effectively are acutely aware of this gap and actively seek to manage the impact of their behaviour on others.
    (tags: leadership)

Written by Donnie Berkholz

March 16, 2009 at 5:01 am

Posted in Blog

links for 2009-03-15

  • Write some of your best work in the days leading up to the conference, and have a great post launch on the day of the event. The likelihood of people checking out your blog during or just before an event is high. Heck, I just recommended that you do it.
    (tags: conference)

Written by Donnie Berkholz

March 15, 2009 at 5:01 am

Posted in Blog

links for 2009-03-11

  • The Return on Management ratio

    ROM can be expressed as the following equation: ROM = Productive energy released divided by management time and attention invested.

    This ratio—which is more of a metaphor than an exact calculation—provides a framework for evaluating your strategic focus on daily tasks. Is your energy invested in activities that best contribute to your organization’s productivity and overall performance? If not, you are likely not spending your time on the “right” opportunities and challenges.

    In the case of developing employees, the ROM ratio suggests that managers spend the most time working with the people that contribute the most and add the most value to the organization. This group would consist of both star performers and solid contributors. Based on such an assessment, the third group, your low-potential, low-performing employees (or C players), would merit the least management time and energy because they benefit the organization the least.

    (tags: leadership)
  • Excellent post on specific ways to help different kinds of people improve, with links to even more specifics for "A," "B," and "C" players.
    (tags: leadership)

Written by Donnie Berkholz

March 11, 2009 at 5:01 am

Posted in Blog

links for 2009-03-10

  • The goal of leadership is to produce superior results on purpose and that makes leadership a results contest. The challenge of leadership is to persuade and motivate those they lead to produce the results they want. When people voluntarily and enthusiastically do what their leaders ask them to do and the desired results are achieved, leaders are considered to be effective and successful! The question is how do leaders really get others to voluntarily and enthusiastically produce the desired results? There are many parts to this puzzle, but there is none greater than a condition I describe as Strategic Presence.
    (tags: leadership)

Written by Donnie Berkholz

March 10, 2009 at 5:01 am

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Intuitive packaging is vital to Gentoo

A post I made on the Gentoo development list last night deserves your attention because it illustrates a key aspect of Gentoo. I want to make sure it’s preserved instead of lost in mailing-list archives. This is in reply to a proposal to move a significant portion into a series of variables instead of being written as scripted functions:

I think the idea of ebuilds as scripts showing directly how to build software is a core part of the Gentoo build-system philosophy. This proposal pushes ebuilds toward a formatted file that is not a script. Instead, it is more like an Ant XML file that more abstractly describes a build. I think this is the wrong direction for ebuilds because they should directly resemble how software is built by hand.

One of the key reasons people use Gentoo is that ebuilds are so easy to “get” for anyone who has ever built software by hand. I will continue to vehemently defend anything that I think retains this key advantage of Gentoo over other distributions.

Gentoo is a distribution for advanced Linux users, or those who want to become advanced. Having packaging scripts that are easy to learn lowers the barrier to entry to editing them, which vastly increases our number of potential developers. It additionally comprises a key part of Gentoo’s ease of customization by allowing people to easily write their own packages or modify existing ones for their purposes. When users do this, it creates a natural pathway from building software by hand to editing ebuilds to becoming a Gentoo developer. The more difficult it is to learn how to write packaging scripts, the more of your potential developer base you repel.

Written by Donnie Berkholz

March 9, 2009 at 8:44 am

Posted in Blog

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links for 2009-03-08

  • “OSS concentrates on the software, not the problems the software can solve: Take a look at an OSS site, any OSS site. You’ll see a whole lot of talking about the software, the implementation of the software, the source code for the software, how you can contribute to the software, etc. You’ll almost never see anything about the problem domain — the assumption is that, if you’ve stumbled upon the site, you already know you have a software problem.”
  • Innovation is not the job only of the leader. For innovation to happen at all levels and from followers as well, a leader must look to steer what is needed for a change or direction, but should never limit how to come about doing that. The adversity that exists in a team is far greater than any leader will ever have and so the possibilities and ideas generated from the whole group are always more than the leader could generate on their own. For this reason, it is especially important for a leader to not only allow innovation at all levels, but encourage and promote it as well. This will bring forth more ideas, more possibilities and enable more people amongst the followers to start having practice and interest in the decisions, risks and change as well.
    (tags: leadership)
  • True leadership is about taking people to a place that they would not go to by themselves. Good leaders provide that by delivering and demonstrating purpose, direction, goals and guidance that is well beyond a supervising role alone. These are the areas that I feel make direction vital to leadership.
    Planning and Communication

    Direction cannot be given if it is not known by the leader in the first place. And a leader cannot lead if they don’t give a direction for people to follow them. This creates a big requirement to do something about that by using techniques, tools and resources to provide and develop that direction.

    (tags: leadership)

Written by Donnie Berkholz

March 8, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Posted in Blog

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