File under: Things I wish I had written & Things to print and have up on the wall.
The question this makes me ask is: is there ever a time that I’m not part of a small team? Is there ever a time when I’m not working on a tight deadline? Is there ever a time when the work isn’t important?
And, if no, then here are the rules of the road around communication, making and keeping promises, having a real Plan B, and keeping it personal, all while remembering not to question goodwill, effort or intent.
We are always under tight deadlines, because time is our most valuable asset.
If you make a promise, set a date. No date, no promise.
If you set a date, meet it.
If you can’t make a date, tell us early and often. Plan B well prepared is a better strategy than hope.
Clean up your own mess.
Clean up other people’s messes.
Question premises and strategy.
Don’t question goodwill, effort or intent.
“I’ll know it when I see it,” is not a professional thing to say. Describing and discussing in the abstract is what we do.
Big projects are not nearly as important as scary commitments.
If what you’re working on right now doesn’t matter to the mission, help someone else with their work.
Make mistakes, own them, fix them, share the learning.
Cheap, reliable, public software might be boring, but it’s usually better. Because it’s cheap and reliable.
Yesterday’s hierarchy is not nearly as important as today’s project structure.
Lock in the things that must be locked in, leave the implementation loose until you figure out how it can get done.
Mostly, we do things that haven’t been done before, so don’t be surprised when you’re surprised.
If an outsider can do it faster and cheaper than we can, don’t hesitate.
Always be seeking outside resources. A better rolodex is better, even if we don’t have rolodexes any more.
Talk to everyone as if they were your boss, your customer, the founder, your employee. It’s all the same.
It works because it’s personal.