VSHN.timer #15: Startup Life
Welcome to another VSHN.timer! Every Monday, 5 links related to Kubernetes, OpenShift, CI / CD, and DevOps; all stuff coming out of our own chat system, making us think, laugh, or simply work better.
In this edition we are going to talk about ideas, tools, and approaches that make (or break) early 21st century startups.
1. One of the founders of sociology, German sociologist Max Weber, published a series of groundbreaking works about leadership, management, and authority. It was one of the first attempts to explain the nature of social organizations, with a deep impact in social sciences. One of the core tenets of Weber’s work was his antipositivism, that is, the need to go beyond and above the scientific method to describe human relationships, through empathy and mutual understanding. Fast forward a hundred years after Weber’s death, the topic of management of software startups is slowly reverting to Weber’s views, after decades of Taylorism and positivism. Alex Ellis, the founder of OpenFaaS, recently published a fantastic article about the five pressures of leadership in the world of Open Source, DevOps, and remote work. His thesis evolves around the concepts of empathy, kindness, understanding, and communication. A new paradigm based on good old ideas, and a required reading for our frantic times.
2. For decades, technical companies argued that their work was strictly non-political, devoid of partisanship, and strictly neutral. But the reality is quite different. Technology startups are redefining and “disrupting” not only markets, media, and business, but also politics, economy, and society at large. Case in point: GitLab had to reverse its decision to allow for unethical business under pressure from its employees and the broader community of users. In the era of social media empires undermining democracies, supporting repressive governments, and openly dismissing human rights, society calls for transparency, ethics, collaboration, and consensus. Maybe we need to adopt some of the core DevOps ideas to rebuild our democracies?
3. Software startups are caught in a basic conundrum; you need to deliver features as quickly as possible, yet doing so can dramatically increase your technical debt. Hence, “architecture,” the dreaded word, comes in as a mechanism to bring order into chaos. Does this always work? Not really. Big corporations end up with “architectural teams” overseeing projects, dictating instead of counseling, writing hundreds of pages of documentation that nobody reads, and slowing down the delivery process altogether. To prevent teams from ending up in such a grim situation, Gergely Orosz wrote an article detailing his experience in the Uber and Skype teams. Those (very large!) teams created their architectures following an organic approach, through discussion, feedback loops and mutual understanding. The result? No buzzwords, no UML diagrams, but working, documented, and maintainable, code. A simple approach for simpler architectures, perfect for these times of boring one person companies.
4. Speaking about communication, how can modern, distributed teams collaborate effectively to achieve empathy, disruption, and ethics? How can you leverage the tremendous amount of talent available overseas and build a distributed startup? This is by far the greatest challenge of our generation. Amir Salihefendic, founder and CEO of Doist, provides some absolutely ground-breaking advice in his article Asynchronous Communication: The Real Reason Remote Workers Are More Productive. The key for success, according to Amir, is the “asynchronous” part, and how to balance that with synchronous meetings. This can have a very strong impact in the culture of teams, and the article provides a wealth of information. Absolutely must read for anyone working in a distributed team.
5. Instead of a tool, this week we will recommend an upcoming book: The Unicorn Project: A Novel about Developers, Digital Disruption, and Thriving in the Age of Data by Gene Kim. This book is a sequel to The Phoenix Project, a novel about DevOps published in 2018, which quickly became a global sensation, and a beacon marking a new era in software delivery. This eagerly awaited new book is already making a lot of buzz, and we have already pre-ordered our copy!
What other ideas help your team work better? Is your startup spread all around the world? Do you have any best practices you would like to share with the community? Get in touch with us through the form at the bottom of this page, and see you next week for another edition of VSHN.timer.
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