Photo by Dan Roizer on Unsplash
Photo by Dan Roizer on Unsplash
Photo by Dan Roizer on Unsplash

Before you’re first promoted into management, you don’t tend to hear about the crying. People give you tactical suggestions, they tell you about books to read, and give you a lot of good and bad advice about how to get things done. But the first time you have someone in your office who is dealing with the end of a personal relationship at the at the same time a work project is going off the rails, you really get a broader view of the job. How do you make sure that they’re okay? How do you make sure that they…


When startups are just getting started, no organization is necessary for the most part. The team is so small and everyone is so connected. But, as they grow the question of how to organize quickly becomes important. Once that happens, there is a right way for almost all startups to organize: a functional organization with cross-functional teams focused on particular areas. This doesn’t mean that absolutely every startup needs to be organized this way but it should be the starting point and organizations should have good reasons for going with a different approach.

As Ben Horowitz says,“the first rule of…


Renaissance man and woman have not been viable for the past 300–400 years. The world has simply become too complex. On the other hand, the notion of renaissance team is entirely viable: a social network of specialists from different disciplines working as a team with a common language. But while viable, the systemic biases of language, funding and institutional barriers make this type of team the exception, rather than the norm. — Bill Buxton

Building modern software of any significant scope is a significant undertaking and requires a real team. The most creative and effective software and service teams I’ve…


As a growing company with over 50 people, the days of being able to hear just about everything going on just by sitting around our CEO’s apartment are long gone. When we added Slack to our communications mix, @julianwa and I spent a little time up front trying to come up with a set of pretty simple channel conventions as a way to bring a little clarity into our Slack world (we had been using Hipchat and it was pretty disorganized). Before doing this we tried to ask around about how others do this, but we didn’t find much. …


As the tech industry has made its recent turn towards embracing design, the designer has (rightly) been celebrated and embraced. But, as we enjoy our newfound delightful yet meaningful animations and properly spaced and kerned text, let’s make sure to appreciate everyone who is responsible.

Mostly, I want to honor the design-focused engineer. The person who has to suffer the unholy hack in the codebase that sits where a purely logical algorithm would have let them sleep soundly at night. The person who could have built a functional feature in five minutes using a native control but instead spent two…


When you say the word creativity, people’s minds usually go first to artistic endeavours. But it turns out that when you look at what makes companies and other organizations special, the ability to create something new is what matters.

Creativity in the work world (as everywhere else) is about people. New ideas and the evolution of those ideas into something real is a fundamentally human endeavour. It requires doing things like creating connections between ostensibly unrelated domains and jumping from a locally optimum method to a completely different way of approaching the problem. Those ideas are then relentlessly iterated on…


When you build software (at least if you intend to ever ship it), at the core you are trading off time, people, features, and quality.

Add more time and you can usually ship a higher quality product. Lose a person and you have to cut features or ship later. Of course there is a lot of subtlety behind that — features can refer to both breadth and depth, people may be specialized, and so on. …


There are two different stories that I’ve been told as analogies for the right way to develop products. This note is about how, even though they seem to the in opposition and are often told that way, you have to keep both in mind when making decisions.

Both stories are about civil engineering projects, just because software people apparently like large scale projects for comparisons.

The Ramps to Nowhere

When the 520 bridge in Seattle was built, the builders carefully planned ahead by building ramps to a future highway. As the project was underway, community unease with the planned routes killed the bridges, and…


The last few years have seen a lot of presentations, articles, hires, and entire funds that speak to the increasing prominence of design in the startup world. But why — how does design specifically make an impact on the things that matter in the startup world?

If you are looking to create a venture backed business, it is pretty much understood that you need to be able to create some sort of sustainable competitive advantage to be successful over time. …


Or: Things I Screwed Up When I Made the Move

Everyone first steps into management by leading a small team of 3–5 people. Making that transition is really hard and there are a plenty of interesting articles out there about how to do it, but it is still very hard work.

I haven't seen much written about the even more difficult move from manager to becoming a manager of managers. Making that jump is very deceptive — for me everything changed in terms of how working relationships worked, but it took me a while to figure that out. …

Bill Morein

Working on something new. Formerly Head of Product, FiftyThree and VP Product, littleBits.

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