There’s no such thing as “the team”

There’s a powerful story in the narrative of Western civilization around the team. It comes up in the context of the military, especially special operations, in the startup community, especially in the early phases of a company, in sports as well as in the leadership literature. The idea is that a group of people can … Read more

There’s no such thing as “the process”

Although the Agile aficionados tried really hard to kill the notion of process in their efforts to remove the heritage of the capability maturity model, the fact is that every team, company and business ecosystem uses processes. These can be formally defined, to the point of individuals or companies being legally liable if the process … Read more

There’s no such thing as “the architecture”

It’s highly controversial to claim that there’s no such thing as “the architecture” of a system. On the one hand, folks in R&D use the term to indicate that the technical debt in the system has reached a point where more resources need to be dedicated to architecture refactoring. On the other hand, those on … Read more

Protagonist rule #11: Give back

In science, there’s an interesting pattern few people talk about. It turns out that inventions often occur at the same time or almost the same time in multiple research groups. These inventions aren’t struck-by-lightning insights by a single scientist; they tend to be ideas that evolved and emerged in a research community for an extended … Read more

Protagonist rule #9: Take care of yourself

Especially during my time in industry, a common saying among my a-type, hard-driving colleagues was “I can sleep when I’m dead.” The idea communicated was that the things you’re now spending time on are so important that you’re willing to give up everything else. Especially young, ambitious people, for some reason mostly men, have this … Read more

Protagonist rule #8: Use data

One story that keeps fascinating me when it comes to science is how people in the early 20th century insisted on the existence of aether for transferring light. The general belief was that similar to how sound was mediated by air, there was another medium that would allow light to flow. This was important to … Read more

Protagonist rule #7: Change your mind

When I worked as a young professor in the 1990s, one of my main research areas was software architecture. The prevalent view at the time was that the architecture of a software system was virtually immutable once you had committed to it and consequently, you had to be very careful during the initial design phase. … Read more