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Photo by Allie Pasquier/CC BY-SA 2.0

I realized today that for the last couple of years, I’ve been recommending these three books over and over. Combined, they’re a great playbook for your next project, team, company, whatever.

1. Start With Why, by Simon Sinek

Because clearly articulating why you’re making what you’re making is good for your team, and for your users. If you don’t start with why, you have no compass.

2. Just Enough Research, by Erika Hall

Because everybody gets stuck at “What the hell should I make? How do I know it’ll be the right thing?” And it’s not all that hard to find out.

3. Lean UX, by Jeff Gothelf

Because even if you’ve done the research, you still don’t know if you’re actually making something that works. You must run rigorous experiments to know that.

You’re still here? It’s over! Go read!

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Because what gets measured gets done*.

The metrics you choose — and the ways you choose to communicate them — drive people to action. Analytics have the power to change behavior. To push your team to embrace different types of storytelling. To encourage reporters to think about some audiences more than others. To help managers make the hard choices of what to staff.

And this can all go horribly wrong. If your metrics do not align with your goals, you’ll push your organization in the wrong directions, to make poor choices. What you celebrate must reinforce your goals.

You must be extremely intentional. …

Good morning!

I was walking to work with my wife and we got to talking about how to manage projects. She’s got a bunch of work to coordinate, and the short-term stuff often trumps the important, longer-term stuff — a situation that we’re all familiar with.

And the talk got to tools — should they use Trello? Or Basecamp? Or GitHub Issues? Maybe Slack will help! Again, a conversation we’ve all had at least once, probably many times. But the thing is, the tool is not the solution. Basecamp will not soothe your itchy boss. …

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Photo by Jason Scragz.

I’m a Trekkie.

When I’m feeling ragey, a trip with the crew of the Enterprise is my solace. It reminds me that my work ain’t that hard, and the news may suck, but there are many wonderful things that humanity may achieve.

(If you’re new to Trek, or don’t really understand the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek, think of it this way: Star Wars is romantic. It’s set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. It’s an ancient myth about the struggle between good and evil. The good guys wear white, the bad guys wear black. Star Trek is the future. OUR future. There’s no money, everybody mostly likes their jobs, interracial and inter-species marriage are totally cool, and democracy and peace won…on earth at least. …

In a manager’s meeting a few weeks ago, we were talking how all the teams in our newsroom need to be awesome on Facebook and Twitter.

That’s a difficult thing to be charged with. How do we teach that? What’s our strategy? What does awesome even mean?

But there’s one small thing that every manager in that room could start doing, today. They need to get on social media too.

It’s important because their actions define the norm. Our managers aren’t going to be the awesomest Twitterers, but it’s their job to set an example — that it’s acceptable to spend an hour of your day talking with people on the Internet. …

Here’s some great stuff I’ve read lately…

If you get that I can’t go backward feeling, fight it. It’s perfectly sane and reasonable to change your mind, no matter how deep you’ve gotten into a disagreement or process. Tying yourself to something just because you’ve already said it or started it is actually kind of nuts if you think about it.

Do The Right Thing, Cap Watkins

3) Making the best decision is not as important as putting in the right processes to ensure that the best decisions get made.

A Manager’s Manifesto, Julie Zhuo

It sounds so simple to say that bosses need to tell employees when they’re screwing up. But it very rarely happens.

Radical Candor — The Surprising Secret to Being a Good Boss

Happy Friday!

Originally published at on January 15, 2016.

In our first team retrospective it became obvious that the team had outgrown my ad-hoc management habits. We needed to be much more explicit about everybody’s roles. Becky and Livia recommended a tool to help solve this problem: a RASCI diagram. It was completely new to me, and it’s been super helpful. Here’s how it works.

Draw a matrix. Down the left, write down tasks. Across the top, people. For each task, each person gets a role, designated by a letter. You can be…

R — Responsible for completing the task
S — Supporting the responsible person, that is, you help do the work, but don’t own it
C — Consulted, because your opinion matters
I — Informed, because it doesn’t, but you oughta know
A — Or you can be the person to whom the responsible party is accountable. …

Recruiting is fucking exhausting. It’s also your most important job as a manager.

A new hire is huge deal. Your decision will have lasting effects on the team. I’ll write another letter about how we recruit. (For now, read this post by my teammate David Eads). Today, I wanna focus on a thing about our job posts…

“NPR’s developer job posting is the first developer posting I’ve seen that doesn’t mention a language in requirements

Yep. I didn’t require a programming language. In fact, I never do. (Well, not for a long time…)

Here’s what I required in…

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Photo by Peter Dutton/CC BY 2.0

At work, a lot of people think I’m a cowboy or a pirate or something — a rule breaker. It disappoints me. It just isn’t true! Anyone who has worked closely with me knows that I love rules. Rules are awesome!

Maybe it’s because I cuss and have a beard and wear a leather jacket. Or more likely, it’s because I question everything, especially the rules. Except, what I’m usually questioning is not the rules but the way we do things. …


Brian Boyer

Writing about being a manager. Also: Hire me!

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