The Book: Team Geek - A Software Developer’s Guide to Working Well with Others: O’Reilly.com
Whether to buy or not (short review)
In my opinion this is a well-written and easy to understand essay about how to get along with people. There are some pretty dense parts where I needed my full concentration. However, overall this book is filled with lots of information mixed with amusing anecdotes and illustrations. At some points I missed a bit depth. On the other hand, the book’s shortness is likely the most important selling point.
Buy it. Just buy it. I think, anyone I am going to work with in the future, should have read this book.
Do not buy it if you have been working as a manager several years and all your engineers are as happy as it gets in a perfect world. In other words: buy it as I am sure even such a person can learn something.
Let’s talk about the book (long review)
For many years I read a lot of very specialized books, that introduced me to new programming languages, frameworks and specific software. One day I bought Code Complete by Steve McConnell and realized after a few pages that I had to stop reading all those very specific books. As my goal is to become a great Software Engineer (or anything around this job title), I had to thinking in a bigger picture. It was simply the time to abstract.
This thought is the reason, why I bought Team Geek. It is exactly one of this book’s, that gave me a feeling of learning something really useful that is not bound to a short time period or version number.
The book is based on the central idea of “HRT” (read “heart”), which stands for “Humility, Respect, Trust”. The six chapters of Team Geek take a look at different groups of people we encounter daily in our business and show how to use HRT to get things done, be happy and of course be successful. It starts with you as the individual, moves further to your peers, then to the team leader, covers “poisonous people” (people draining your time or disrupt what you try to built), explains how to deal with the organization you are working for and ends with the people that use your product. Six chapters full of information.
The most important part for me were the presented patterns I can use to recognize situations, in which something goes the wrong way. Especially, I have the feeling now that I would much faster detect if something starts to move the wrong direction. For those situations I also got hints, how to solve them. As the book is about human beings there is no easy solution that works in all situations. Team Geek is more about ideas and stories how similar problems were solved, so you can find your own solution.
While reading, it is obvious that both authors work for Google. I am not sure how I feel about this. On the other hand it was always about a real life story from which I learned. It resulted in the feeling, that Google was the best employer this planet has to offer. Do not get me wrong, I am a happy user of Google Search, GMail and so on. I just did not expect to read the word “Google” so many times in a book not published by Google itself.
After reading this book I realized that I miss a lecture at my university that teaches me teamwork skills and what is more important, how to be a person with whom others would like to work with. It is time that we stop making common mistakes and receive some kind of help to avoid those common situations. Team Geek is a great start for this.
As already stated in my short review I would recommend this book to everyone who is an engineer at heart. It would be great to work just with people that try to follow the HRT principle and exactly because of that I started this blog and wrote this review. I hope trough this I get one or two more to buy the book and read it. In my opinion, this is very well-invested time and money!