Wednesday, November 28, 2012

CodeStorm: Answering the question of how to build stronger software engineering teams


With CodeStorm, we're always thinking about what makes software engineering teams hustle. From the tools each team member uses, to the process, to the internal and external initiatives set forth by higher level leadership.



After watching Moneyball (2011), it tells the story of how Billy Beane reconstructed his team and rethought how to build a stronger, better baseball team on a vastly lower budget than his competition. While everyone else in the Baseball industry was using archaic ways of recruiting based on experience and intuition (paying the highest for the rockstars), Billy Beane disrupted everything by recruiting on a specific metric -- On Base Percentage. The interesting thing here is that the players he recruited on his team were undervalued -- they weren't all stars -- and they were all passionate about their craft. In the end, the moral of the story is that the sum of the team is greater than each individual part put together. Moneyball was an incredibly inspirational film for me as it is something I always think about when building up CodeStorm -- how do we build better and stronger software engineering team?

Our answer is to allow teams of developers to easily login through GitHub and have our platform magically come up with big data metrics (commits, languages, technologies, tools, activity) and present teams with a wide array of analytics in the form of visualizations (venn diagrams) that can help teams become better. The idea here is that you can't improve without measuring yourself -- and in building a high performance software engineering team, there needs to be a new way of finding talent and ensuring team is constantly innovating, pushing the limits of their products, and inspiring themselves to be better.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's not about me, it's about the team


Practicing servant leadership for the past few years, I've always made the effort to make every person and team I come across better -- through amplifying their confidence, increasing their ability to execute on tasks/missions, as well as, provide them with inspiration to chase after goals that they are most passionate about. There is greatness in everyone -- it's always my goal to amplify that because win-win situations can only be achieved if the whole team is greater than the sum of its parts. This is how you grow determined, energetic, positive learning teams based on mastery and purpose.

In looking at different perspectives on the definition of leadership, there has always been this ongoing misconception of what "leadership" is. People seem to think that rank is what makes you a leader. Partially. Generally, the graceful and professional actions of a leader in a number of situations definitely lead to them moving up in rank but to be a true leader is based on who you are. Having rank is one thing -- Having authority is another. As James C. Hunter would say, management is what you do: the budgeting, the allocations, the reports, the meetings, the salary negotiations -- but leadership is who you are -- you're able to inspire the team to move faster than they have to move, to think faster than they have to think -- you can naturally trigger hustle. Having this ability takes time and patience as it is solely based on growing your authority with the rest of the team and the fastest way to grow authority is to serve and support your teammates.

The above graph is an exponential function -- we can take this into account when modelling the behaviour of servant leadership and its return on investment for team culture. If we were to take all connections on LinkedIn and graph the level of authority you have as a leader -- you'll find a great way of measuring how much of a positive impact you're making on your colleagues and friends. If you're wondering how you can add data, one can use the recommendations or even the +skills feature (hey, this is a great idea for a startup built on top of LinkedIn's API!). 

The main point I'm trying to illustrate is that as a leader, one needs to continuously be making a positive impact on people's lives -- encouraging them to be the best they can be and enabling an environment that lets them be the best at what they do. This is how we're able to improve and push forward on several different levels from corporate and engineering culture to advancements in technology. Ultimately, things get better by being a role model and encouraging your teammates. 

In writing this, I have to admit that I'm caught at times thinking to myself, "what am I doing that I'm not supposed to be doing and what am I not doing that I'm supposed to be doing". This loop is the driving force in generating positive energy because you're always hungry for finding new ways to improve the world around you.

Cheers,
Jaime

Friday, November 9, 2012

Valuable tips for students wanting to get into Software Engineering

Software development and technology moves extremely fast. It's an ever-changing landscape of different tools, platforms, and initiatives. With such a fast-paced discipline, I've been hearing questions from students wanting to get into software engineering, such as, "what are a few things I need to do in order to land a job with a team that's just as passionate as I am?"

Let's face it, being a software engineer is the hottest career right now. There's a war for talent where companies (startups and large corporations) are fighting over the best of the best software engineers that are leaders in their respective masteries (backend, frontend, mobile, games, etc). We're in an age where the cost of technology is so inexpensive thanks to cloud computing and continuously evolving toolsets. In addition to this, teams are now practicing lean. Lean is a simple way of quickly testing viability and value proposition by shipping fast and shipping often. This means that there are no "perfect" products in the startup world and usually means that there are a lot of 80/20 approaches to solving problems.

Below are a few suggestions that can help in landing your first job when you're coming out of university:

1. Show up at meetups and expand your professional network

It's always great meeting new people and finding out who's really dedicated to their mastery. Meetups will often open the doors to these passionate people. The faster you're able to connect with people that love what they do, the faster you can start making a positive impact on the community by working with them on collaborative projects, technical talks,  and open source initiatives.

2. Share your brilliance on Github and continuously improve yourself as a software craftsperson

Part of being a leader means not being afraid of embarrassment. Every programmer can write terrible code but it's really up to them to take in that constructive criticism from their peers, improve, and push forward. Being open about your mistakes is a great way of showing a high level of maturity.

3. Make a name for yourself as a leader -- inspire others around you

Adding value to other people's lives can have an extremely positive impact on your career path. People will always remember your acts of kindness and dedication -- going above and beyond the call of duty to help them, mentor them, or inspire them.

Cheers,
Jaime

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Rise of Apps in Windows 8: Why you should join up for WOWZAPP hackathons!



When Microsoft commits to surfacing a new platform for new experiences, new business ventures, and new technologies, they usually go big. To me, this is a strategic opportunity for anyone that is a software developer as it opens up so many doors from a career perspective and at different levels of professional networking and talent acquisition.

From November 9th to November 12th, there will be a WOWZAPP Microsoft-hosted Windows 8 hackathon where there will be onsite Microsoft software engineers and technical evangelists to help you get up and running. This is a great opportunity for a developer wanting to make a name for themselves as Windows 8 is a compelling new operating system that will set the bar for business applications, games, and social media touch points for the next few years!

Come to the hackathon with your ideas on solving issues in a specific problem-space!

Cheers,
Jaime