Make It Easy To Give You An A

October 7, 2010

Chapter 5 – CodeSourcery: An Open Team In Action

Managing and coordinating 30 engineers in 30 different locations may sound like a nightmare, but Mark makes it work. His management style is based on a simple mantra: make it easy to give you an A.

Mark had a professor at Stanford that started his first session by asking the students what their purpose was in the class. There were many answers: “To succeed.” “To learn the material.” “To complete the problem sets.” After a little while the professor stopped them all and said, “Your purpose in this class is to make it easy for the grader to give you an A.”

Making it easy to give you an A means going out of your way to let other people see how good your work is and showing your work along the way. If you deliver a large piece of code that nobody has ever seen before, it is almost impossible to review and accept it. Making it easy to give you an A means showing frequent updates so other people can follow your process. Ricardo explains how this affects his work, “If I don’t communicate, if I don’t tell people what I have done, I might as well not have done it.”

CodeSourcery uses this mantra for internal coordination. They also use it to train their engineers to interact with their customers. Many companies insulate their engineers from their customers, but at CodeSourcery every engineer works directly with clients.

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