Ambivalence, confusion, work and culture

Hi Matte,

Being my first post I can’t quite decide how to move forward in this very interesting open letter concept we have going here. I think I’ll response to one of your posts.

Finding your Do I need my own desk? very interesting I would like share my view on the subject. I see the question boiling down to two parts: The level of creativity required by the work and the culture you and your organization want to foster. Mixing things up, like people, surroundings and even routine might be beneficial for creative worker. For the less or none creative worker these things might be nothing but distractions and impediments. Further more, everybody is different, this is where the culture part comes in. If you want “free spirits” and people being creative all over the place (with everything), perhaps none personalized open spaces is the way to go. If you on the other hand want to deliver on time, on budget and according to the client’s detailed specification, there is less value in people being be creative all over the place and maybe a more traditional approach will work better. Maybe.

Personally I like mixing things up, working from different locations, with different people, during different hours, following different processes and so forth. I think this has done good for me and my work (on smaller, more or less creative projects) the last 6-8 months. Working with you lately I’ve got more of a traditional office experience, in shorter bursts. This felt like the right working conditions for the job and I would not want to change it. Most working conditions seems to have their rightful place. Worth mentioning might be that I am not in a team and most people can probably not work like I do, but more probably could…

I feel like I’m rambling and my brain keeps reaching to the same conclusion over and over: “it depends” and everyone should do whatever they like, as long as they like it …If they don’t like it they should try something different and if they do like it …they should try something different.

Over and out,

Kalle

The “Jack of all trades” department

Hey Kalle,

read a blog post that I stumbled across (I think I started with looking up http://dojotoolkit.org/ which seems pretty neat btw) that made me think of you and your path as a freelancer.

It was kinda warm and helpful, and it seemed like a real person had written it, so I though it might be a good read for you:

http://rmurphey.com/blog/2010/08/14/2-years-in-some-thoughts-on-working-for-yourself/

Among all those nice tips, this little line caught my eye:

“My general theory on the economy question is this: rarely is full-time employment of a web worker an efficient distribution of labor, unless you are working for a very, very large company.”

Now, this can interpreted in many ways. But the thought I had was: maybe I’m thinking about my own role wrong?

(This is where this post takes a strange turn, it sometimes happens when I keep writing like this – new thoughts pop up and I’m too lazy to write a new post…) 🙂

I’ve always felt that I should try not to code when I’m hired for managing since it takes time from my managing, and therefore might make my co-worker less efficient and happy. Right now, as you know, I spend my time between project managing, recruiting, selling and coding and I’ve always thought of this as a phase we have to go through since the department is still growing (plan is to be around 10 people in 10 months, up from three right now).

But maybe it would be more effective if I’d still do a little of each even after the department has grown, and eventually hire a couple of others like me who can do a little of everything? A project lead who can sell? A coder who can recruit? A sales guy who can code and do GFX? This way, everyone can always do something where they are effective, even though we might not need coding or project managing right now. Hello cross-functional, flexible SCRUM team of our dreams where everyone can pick any task from the board and go.

I admit: this sounds like a Game Dev Story game gone a bit weird, but I have a strong feeling this could really work (and probably is working in a lot of smaller companies). I just wonder how far it would scale.

See you on Wednesday,

Mattias

 

 

Do I need my own desk?

Hi Kalle,

posting from Starbucks at 9pm while sipping on some green tea and waiting for the bus.

I know that the norm of the average office is that each employee gets assigned a desk when they start where they do most of their work until the day that they either leave or die (usually leave in most companies I hope).

However, since you are a globetrotter when it comes to working from everywhere (open offices, clients, cafes etc), I am beginning to question this practice, since it seems to be working well for you.

I read a really interesting article in Monocle a few months ago about a web agency that had open seating in their office for all their staff (think weird lounge areas, 6-tops, 8-tops, single desks etc) and only provided the staff with a personal locker to store their things safely in. I kinda wonder what the average employee would think about that practice (we, of course, are not average so our opinions don’t count). Don’t people wanna personalize their space? Isn’t there calm in the monotony of working from the same place every day but with different tasks? A solid foundation in a stormy world?

Second guessing someone else is always tough (I think I’ve argued against this practice on multiple occasions), so I have to step back to myself I guess. I think my initial reaction would be “cool! someone has really done some thinking about the space issue here” and I’d happily try it for a period of time. In the long run though – well, the jury is out on that one.

Freedom or confusion? Or just not that relevant? I don’t know – I just know I just made a good rant post.

Enjoy your weekend,

Mattias

Sherlock uses usability to find the right password

Dear Kalle,

Since you are the biggest Sherlock buff (was going to write “I know” but I think “Period.” might also be possible) you’ve probably seen the episode “The Hounds of Baskerville” from season 2 a million times so I don’t have to put spoiler tags on anything I write from here on.

As you might recall, in one scene, Sherlock is trying to access a military officer’s computer by figuring out the password. I could quote you what happens, but instead here is a link to refresh your memory: http://mickhartley.typepad.com/blog/2012/01/the-right-password.html

Anyways, while watching the scene it struck me that what Sherlock is doing – sitting down at a USER’s desk, looking for clues to the password in the immidiate enviroment, trying to form a persona of the officer to figure out how he thinks – are perfect examples of a usability methology called field studies – actually visiting end users on site to find out how they use the product. Of course, this is obviously easier when the user is present, but Sherlock is obviously beyond that and does an observation of the user WITHOUT THE USER PRESENT!

Holy level 6 frigging usability maturity, Batman!

Conclusion: Sherlock is a great usability expert, and we should both remember to do field studies more often, even though we seem to end up working with applications and services distributed over the web, so it will take active effort on our part to make it happen. But hey, the higher the fruit – the sweeter the juice!

Laters,

Mattias

PS. Fantastic show by the way! Only seen two random episodes of season 2 but I have to go back and watch the rest.