The Programmers Guide To People
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The Programmers Guide To People

About the Book

The Beginning

"My first real job was as an Engineer in the Merchant Navy. At sea we felt fear of fire, rocks, drowning (and being found naked trying to climb into fridge), but it was no comparison to the fear I felt sat in a cubicle in my first office job. This Kafkaesque fear radiated from the people around me. There were rules to be followed, confusion as to why they existed, yet a fear of breaking them. I rarely spoke to my comrades around me, we kept our heads down, built a bubble around ourselves, and dutifully soldiered on."

The End

"I'm done with fear. Letting go, fellowship, openness, courage and reflection replace it, and like fear they slowly spread. We change our life, maybe our teams, perhaps our organisations. This is not a fad, a methodology, a process or tool. This change is a slow, deep, cultural one. At times it seems impossible, armour seems impenetrable, the weight of hierarchy constraining us. This isn't a program, these are networks of real people, relationships, egos, more complex than we can hope to understand. Making work better takes persistence, enquiry, empathy and continual learning."

The Rest

This book is about making sense of the senseless; understanding why people behave the way they do at work, and how it's possible to change that by building supportive relationships, rather than competitive ones. By removing the problems that hold us back we can find time for creativity and reflection and bring joy back to our work lives.

About the Author

Tom Howlett
Tom Howlett

For as long as I can remember I've felt like an outsider observing and trying to make sense of peoples behaviours and interactions. My working life began with 5 years at sea followed by more years of monotony in an office where I began developing software. A New York startup and discovering the Agile movement turned me on to trying to create better ways of working. Becoming part of a software team with a degree of self-organisation made that a reality. Writing this book has been a process of trying to join the dots of these observations with theory and practice from, amongst others, Daniel Kahneman, Chris Argyris, Marshall Rosenberg and Nancy Kline. I hope it can help you work out the problems you face at work and discover better ways of working together and creating great software.

Table of Contents

  • Fear
    • We fear criticism so follow, it take courage to lead
    • Fear stops us from feeling, Empathy takes courage.
    • Fear stops us from listening
    • Fear kills thought, freedom nurtures it
    • Fear makes us abusive,
    • Fear stops us from acting, openness requires us to act
    • Fear stops us from communicating, learning depends on communication
    • Fear stops us from changing
    • Fear stops us from learning
    • My fear makes others fearful, openness encourages trust.
    • Conclusion
  • Blame
    • Panic and blame
    • Blame and Guilt
    • Blaming is judgement
    • Blame is Impotent
    • Blame as an alternative to relationships
    • Losing my pride
    • Blame is like driving a bulldozer through think fog,
    • Listening clears the fog
    • Separation creates blame
    • Underhand blame
    • Blame creates separation
    • Reality has no time for plans
    • Proximity heals
    • Conclusion
  • Openness
    • Management Visibility
    • Frank
    • Automate
    • Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away
    • A toolbox for visibility
    • Doing the right thing
  • Hierarchy and Equality
    • Unprepared for vulnerability
    • Separation
    • A sandwich of dysfunction
    • Protection
    • Come together
    • Life without hierarchy means treating each other as equals
    • Life without hierarchy takes collaboration
    • Life without hierarchy requires us to be social
    • Life without hierarchy takes patience
    • Life without hierarchy takes courage
    • Life without hierarchy is creative
    • Removing hierarchy
    • What should leaders do?
    • Conclusion
  • Collaboration
    • Why do we work alone?
    • Why might we work better together?
    • Standup
    • Taking steps together
    • Pair
    • I like to think working with you would be easy but it’s fraught with danger
    • All we had to do was listen.
    • What does it feel like?
  • Creativity
    • Dogma is the enemy of creativity
    • Fear is the enemy of creativity
    • Attachment is the enemy of creativity
    • Safe to fail
    • Creative Discipline
    • Individual creativity, team creativity
    • Stifled Creativity
    • Sharing Creativity
    • Inspiration
    • Customers
    • When to create, when to copy
    • Conclusion
  • Reflection
    • Who?
    • When?
    • So what’s the purpose?
    • Does what we are doing contribute to the purpose?
    • How can we reflect?
    • Dialogue
    • Conclusion
  • Let Go
    • Lose Control
    • Listen
    • Collaborate
    • Self Organise
    • Be open
    • Be Vulnerable
    • Make Time to Reflect
    • Don’t Judge
    • Friendship, Fellowship, Love
    • Create
    • Let it Emerge
    • When people are reluctant to let go
    • Current ways of working are making us sick, is this the cure?
    • If not us then who?

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