Every organisation (including a person, which is an organisation of one) has two things: assets and aspirations. Assets are what you have. Aspirations are what you want. Ideally, your assets help you fulfil your aspirations.

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Assets can be physical things like: time, money, tools or products, but also more abstract things like: ideas, knowledge, relationships or reputation.

Aspirations can be close or distant. Close are short-term, more certain, operational things you need to do (i.e., tasks). Distant aspirations are long-term, less certain, strategic things you aim to achieve (i.e., goals).

The most distant aspiration is your vision. It is the least certain thing you want that you still believe you can obtain if you begin with the assets you have. …


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“A large number of shipping containers in a busy cargo port” by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Let’s say you open your team’s Trello board in the morning and see your face on three cards. The first one is for a feature you’re currently working on. On the second one, a colleague is asking you to review a feature she’s finished developing. On the third card, another colleague is asking you to help him QA and release his feature. Which card do you address first?

The first card represents creative work that is owned by you. The allure of that is easy to see. The second card requires reading and, more importantly, understanding someone else’s code, then giving them constructive feedback. The third card requires understanding how a new feature will be used in the real world, diligently testing different scenarios, then pre-empting anything that could go wrong after the release. …


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“A low-angle shot of several skyscrapers in a city” by Sean Pollock on Unsplash

It’s not too hard to improve the world with software, at least in theory. If you are a programmer like me, you probably know this.

For example, my wife keeps complaining about how scheduling works in her hospital. There are 40 people in her team. Some of them work part-time, some get sick, some have kids who get sick, some go on a vacation, etc. Their manager has to sit down every month and create a schedule that takes into account all these parameters. Every time something unpredictable happens — and with 40 people that’s almost every day — the schedule needs to change. The process is manual, inefficient and often unfair. …


I use naive math to explain teamwork

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Alas, people are not numbers. Managers can’t solve too many problems in Excel. Nevertheless, thinking about teamwork in terms of variables and equations has always been entertaining for me and often also helpful.

Of course, my naive teamwork math isn’t exact science. It doesn’t yield complete answers or lead to perfectly replicable management practices. But what it does do is help me think. It identifies some important patterns I can then pay better attention to. This is why I often draw charts on pieces of paper or juggle numbers in spreadsheets: to understand my team better.

As an example, let’s consider something I believe is one of the most important variables of teamwork: synergy. …


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The market will not perceive your company as ten different things, some of which are good and some of which are bad. Your company will either do good or bad in the market.

Your customers will not love your product for these four features, but hate it for those two. Your product will either be loved or hated.

Your team is not a group of individuals, some of whom are doing a good job and some of whom are doing a bad job. Your team will either do a good job or a bad job.

Therefore, you are not hiring. You are developing your team. You should not select the best candidate. You should select the candidate who will improve your team the most. …


An email I sent to my team regarding internal communication:

This got me thinking today (it’s actually a hot topic recently, started by this post), so I’d like to take this opportunity and share my $0.02. I really believe communication is an important subject, though it never seems to be an urgent one…

Let me start by saying I don’t remember team communication ever being optimal, anytime I worked with more than 2 people. …


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“Les Voyageurs”, Bruno Catalano

I was at a friend’s birthday party on Saturday. Maybe it’s because we’re getting older but, at some point, we ended up talking about things that worry us. Someone noticed that I seem to be touched more than most Slovenians by the current refugee crisis.

“Is it because you’re a foreigner?”

The question wasn’t impolite. We were old friends and I wasn’t the only foreigner in the group. I wanted to answer “probably” but then realised that “probably” would be an oversimplification.

There are basically three reactions to refugees in Slovenia or any other country. The first two sit at opposing sides. One group is afraid of refugees and concerned about how they might affect the country’s safety (social, economic, etc.). The second group (where you’ll find me) is not too concerned about our safety, but theirs. The third group is the vast majority. They still don’t care enough about the refugee crisis and often complain that the first two groups are blowing it out of proportion. …


While I was driving from Ljubljana to Belgrade the other day, I listened to Beyond Measure audio book, by Margaret Heffernan. Her TED talk on why it’s time to forget pecking order at work has left me astonished. She argues that, when it comes to team performance, empathy and social connectedness routinely beat competitiveness and raw intelligence.

This resonated well with my experience. For the past 5 years, I’ve had this “hunch” that what we still expect from management and what we actually need from management in the post-industrial age, are two painfully different things. …


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Photo by NY Post

A great basketball team is put together by a great coach. It is not put together by asking each player to vote whether somebody new should join their team or not. It may seem intuitive or even fair that players should have a say in who they should be playing with. But that would be naive.

Players are not necessarily good at selecting other players. Players are good at playing basketball. Selection is a different skill. It requires a great deal of awareness about the psychology of individual players and the collective culture of the team. Selection is therefore something coaches should do well. It is their job to know the players better than they know themselves and it is also their job to know who will fit in and who won’t. …


“What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?”

— George Eliot

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My wife, Milena, has always wanted to be a midwife.

She didn’t really have to, but she still decided to enroll into a medical school at the age of 25. Two years later, we decided not to wait any longer and had our son while she was still in school.

It isn’t easy for a pregnant woman to attend classes or work as an intern at the maternity hospital. Even less so for a mother of a small baby. But Milena did it anyway. …

About

Rodoljub Petrović

Develops and scales software, engineering teams, two children and one dog

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