Itamar Berger

R&D Manager @Autodesk

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The Pros & Cons in Surprising Your Manager

It’s actually hard to find any good reason for surprising your manager, and you should probably avoid it, why? because relationships are based on trust and your teamwork with your manager is no different. When you are doing something that your manager is totally unaware about, you are putting you and your manager in a position that he might not be able to assist you, or worse - you are doing the exact opposite of what he expects you to do. The confidence that your manager is giving in you is correlated with how many times you are surprising him.

Yes, there are good surprises… which can be nice, but it requires from you to deeply understand the definition of good and bad in the point of view of your manager. When surprising, do it face to face and learn your manager’s reaction - avoid doing it publicly in group meetings or by emails. For example, let’s assume that there is a group status...

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“It’s already in the backlog”

Sounds familiar? You have an idea for improving the product you are developing. You wrote a thorough mail explaining it to the Product Manager, including quotes of Steve Jobs and references from Google and Facebook. You are sure this is a great idea, a killer feature, this is what the product needs, Actually, you feel that you are a genius, in a few years you will have your own 1B$ startup. Anyway, till then…you are waiting for a reply… another day pass… no response yet.

After a few days, you get a mail from the PM, excitement! You read the PM reply - “it’s already In the backlog”, with a link to a backlog table with 450 lines. Discussion close.

This machine-like response, makes you feel that there is no one on the other side, even if such feature or a similar one has been raised before, wouldn’t it worth at least discussing it? The PM has just lost another engaged employee.

The most...

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Code Of Conflict

Teams with no disagreements are teams in stagnation. Fearless teams will sure have conflicts and disagreements, and it is important to solve them fast in order to be able to move forward. Those conflicts can get emotional, and it’s ok, we are people not machines. Try following this list before acting:

  1. You Know Nothing.
  2. Listen to the other side.
  3. Learn the background.
  4. Understand the other side visibility, context, interests.
  5. Think.
  6. Made a mistake? Admit. Apologize if needed.
  7. Promised? Commit.
  8. Confident? Explain.
  9. Be honest. Be sensitive. Be polite.
  10. Act.

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Measuring Your Own Goals

In order to accomplish your goals successfully, you need to have good measurable indicators for your success, for example:

  • If your goal is to become a better developer this year, a possible success indicator can be the amount of programming courses you completed in a year, but will it ensure that you are now a better developer? another indicator can be the amount of positive feedback you are getting about an open source project you’ve built. In contrary to the first indicator, the second one is unbiased to the fact that you can’t control how good you think you are. However, if people start appreciating the code you are writing - you are de facto becoming a better developer

  • If your goal is to have more impact at work, one success indicator can be arranging 4-5 internal meetups on topics that are important for you. Another indicator can be the amount of feedback you get about your...

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Thoughts on Business Driven Development #1

From a developer perspective, there are many approaches for a feature development, it can be Test Driven Development (TDD), Behavior Driven Development (BDD) etc. However, developing new features should be in the context of the product development. In that perspective, the notion of TDD might be misguiding, since developers are perceived as “driven” by tests. Feature development should be driven by the business, and the business only.

But why the business should be important to developers?

“The Business represents the customer. They want to make sure that we are bringing the right features to market at the right time” - The Role of the Product Owner, Lee Eason

Developers might not be fully aware of that, but they are making business decisions all the time. When they write code, each line of code is a product decision. The quality of the code, how much it scale, how buggy the code is...

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Starting-up a Product

Whether you are starting up your small side project, a new product in a company or your own start-up business, adopting the following principles may assist you getting started:

Move Quickly - develop something working and do it fast, embrace refactoring and flexibility.

Be Driven By The Industry - learn and understand the industry needs, share your outputs, build together with the industry and make partnerships.

Communicate - share your inputs, make others engaged with your product, pitch your story, let employees, managers, directors, sales, marketing, bizdev to understand your roadmap and business goals.

Expand Resources - knowledge, tools, libraries, automation, group cohesion, team spirit, excitement, positions, connections, reputation and everything else you can think of that can expand your team productivity.
Each principle supports the other principles. When you move quickly...

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Leading Innovation

Prof. Lina Hill gave a great lecture about Collective Creativity and the inherited problem with leading innovation:

What we know is, at the heart of innovation is a paradox. You have to unleash the talents and passions of many people and you have to harness them into a work that is actually useful

Leading innovation in your organization is not simple. Doing it wrong and causing to prevent innovation can lead to deep frustration and a lack of fulfillment in the team. On the other hand, even worse, innovation might result a complete business disaster if it’s not aligned with the goals, which might eventually make the team invaluable to the organization and close it.

Innovative teams are driven by the passion to build, to create, to excite. The key for a winning innovative team is to clarify the business goals every day and to connect this passion to the product. Once it works, we get...

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Appreciating Your Workplace

In my visit to Shanghai I learnt how mature are the intellectual emotions of my co-workers. I discovered employees that appreciate what they are part of, and every interaction is based on mutual respect. A direct result for this attitude is the feeling of a calm and pleasant workplace where tension becomes passion, and energy is focused to craftsmanship.

I used to work with people who where so focused in their personal state, that it made them completely ineffective and sometimes even harmful to the team, those “Rotten Apples”, as the CEO called them, eventually infect others. If you appreciate what you are part of and respecting it, it will be easier for you to handle complex situations, such as product shifting, reorganization and more.

Appreciating your team, let you focus on your daily work and invest your strength to be the best in what you do. Be less concerned on what you may...

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Develop Your Soft Skills

In any team you are part of, developing your “soft skills” will make you a better team player. Those are the communication skills that let’s you better handle the dynamic within the team. Some can be considered trivial, such as being tolerant, initiative, positive, but even a small set of guidelines can make a huge difference between a mediocre team player to an awesome one.

Here are some guidelines I’ve gathered, that can assist you getting started with improving your soft skills

  • Don’t use I, use we
  • Don’t leave unreplyed mails in the end of the day, be responsive
  • Be positive in your mails, use less “not", and more “yes, it can be done”, use less “it’s complex / impossible” and more “it is challenging / achievable”
  • Negative mails are not productive, find something positive to add. It is even better to say it in-person, sometimes sending a message through mails can result the wrong...

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How to Ignite Creativity in Your Team

  • Be positive, think positive
  • Strive people to think, challenge them to think
  • Don’t kill what they are passionate about
  • Let them find the process of pushing ideas without being pushed back
  • Let them learn the art of persuasion and the value of patience
  • Encourage focusing
  • Encourage doing, experimenting, failing
  • Discourage disrespect
  • Share business goals, share vision, share challenges.
  • Hire creative employees

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