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Posted on: Sunday, July 24, 2011 by Rajiv Popat

This Team Almost Failed Me But That Is Okay.

After countless days of slogging J's team ships the build. In a few minutes of sending the email out they receive this response from their manager:

"The release notes had lots of typos. I had to fix those before sending the build out to the client. We need to be careful about running a spell-check before sending out project documentation."

When your team slogs for days shipping a build and all you can see are typos in the release notes you my friend are acting like a fully qualified asshole.

Here's a free advice if you want to get better at working with geeks: Open Microsoft word, fix the damn typos, don't bitch about them, thank the team for their hard work and move on.

Most managers cannot resist the temptation of whining about small mistakes which they can easily fix themselves in no time.

Reasons why most managers say they "have to" whine:

  1. People need to know about these mistakes so that they don't make them the next time.
  2. People need to be trained so that they don't always depend on the manager to do last minute fixes.

Reasons why most managers really whine:

  1. Managers are inherently good at advertising work. That is a huge part of what they do for a living. When it's their own work, expect the advertisement to be louder than ever.
  2. Most managers have a complex about not being productive enough OR not contributing enough. "I was able to find an issue and fix it! MYSELF! I finally showed those pesky developers that even I can contribute!" – this opportunity is often too tempting for most managers to let go.

Success breeds success and while it is OK to point out mistakes objectively, when you give out the vibe that says "you have failed me but that’s okay, I fixed it anyway" on every small mistake your team makes, you are diminishing their chances of success in the long run.

Acknowledge success, stop discouraging people by focusing on their mistakes and start motivating them by focusing on their success.  Even if you had to fix their mistakes or provide cover fire to a team worthy of it, in most cases, they really don’t need to know about it. So stop bitching and do a little bit of clean up yourself.

Just saying.

posted on Sunday, July 24, 2011 8:21:09 PM UTC by Rajiv Popat  #    Comments [0]
Posted on: Sunday, July 17, 2011 by Rajiv Popat

Be Honest About Your Reasons For Interviewing.

"I am looking forward to join a Multinational with a larger employee strength and more structured process".

When 'R' says this in an interview, she hasn't even bothered to glean through our website to know that we don't believe in large teams and our process is lighter than most BDUF shops.

That makes our organization a misfit for her.

Since interview is a two way process where candidates should reject the organizations that don't fit their needs, would she like to end the interview immediately and reject our organization?

When asked this question, she reacts as if we just dropped a dead rat on the table and asked her to clean up the stinking carcass. Clearly, the interview isn't going well for her.

After some more probing a switch turns somewhere and she flips into a totally honest mode.

You can feel it. She stops lying and getting stuck. Now she describes her real reason for looking for a job.

A higher paycheck.

During the course of the interview we figure out that she is in fact underpaid and her reasons for an expectation for a higher salary are absolutely valid.

I am guessing that what had happened here was that she was 'mentored' and told to stay away from mentioning salary as a reason for quitting because that is a cliché.

When interviewing the only two rules that often work are honesty and openness.

In situations like the one 'R' was in, staying away from Cliché's is also a cliché.

If you genuinely believe that you are underpaid and if that is your sole reason for changing jobs, having the ability to stand up for it with honesty and openness doesn't make you sound bad. Lying or trying to make up reasons does.

When you are honest and open, you showcase yourself in an as-is condition.

If you can carry your true self without being ashamed or trying to hide who you are and what moves you, your chances of getting selected in a mature organization are that much higher. If you get rejected for who you are or something that you truly believe in, your chances of finding another organization where your core values are aligned with the organization's core values are that much higher.

Don't bitch in an interview. Don't whine. Don't cry. Don't keep constantly complaining.

At the same time If you are genuinely underpaid and you truly and deeply believe that you deserve a respectable salary, don't try to sugar coat the situation with random made up reasons for quitting which people tell you will 'sound good' during an interview.

Salary being the only reason for leaving is a scar on your face, but then depending on how you carry yourself, scars can also look good.

posted on Sunday, July 17, 2011 7:26:33 PM UTC by Rajiv Popat  #    Comments [0]
Posted on: Sunday, July 10, 2011 by Rajiv Popat

Friendly Discussions Or Drunk Messages.

The nitpicking saga between J (real name withheld for obvious reasons) and his team lead had been on for months. Every small mistake J was making was being highlighted and all his contribution were not even being discussed.

J had been working late nights for a few weeks at his workplace.  On the last week of his project J having nothing on his plate decides to call it an early day and heads home at around 8:00 in evening.

The next day his technical lead escalates the issue of J not being proactive about his work. Leaving early when you are on a critical project is unacceptable.

Unable to understand what is going on, J tries to patch things up by having an open candid conversation with his team lead who isn't in office for the entire day.

At around 10:00 in the evening J sees his lead on IM and summons up enough courage to send him a message asking him if he was mad at J and if there is anything J could do to improve a sour professional relationship between them.

And the response from his team lead?

It goes like this: "Are you sending this message on a high? Are you drunk!?"

As J narrates this incident to me over a casual conversation some highlights emerge:

  1. In J's organization open candid one on one conversations are so rare and unheard of that nobody believes that is what you are trying to do even if you start an open conversation with your manager.
  2. In J's organization cases of IM flames by drunk employees to their managers are so common that most team leads see precisely that even when you are trying to have a perfectly healthy discussion that can bridge gaps.

Makes you wonder if the cases of drunk IM flaming that J's organization is so concerned about are really cases of drunk IM flaming or  just perfectly sane employees trying to summon up enough courage to have perfectly sane conversations over IM?

Wow! Talk about invisible gorillas!

posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 10:20:38 AM UTC by Rajiv Popat  #    Comments [2]
Posted on: Sunday, July 3, 2011 by Rajiv Popat

Management With Aggressive Grins.

When you come face to face with monkeys in their natural habitat most animal experts will give you one advice. Do *not* smile at them.

Monkeys (and most other animals) interpret the display of teeth as an act of aggression.

Showing teeth is way of scaring the enemy before a monkey attacks.

Smile at a monkey and he will show you his teeth back. Keep smiling and you are instigating the monkey to strike.

Human beings on the other hand use smiles to connect to others and to make each other feel good.

Even though we share some behavior patterns with primates our reasons for smiling are very different than there. A simple lesson that most managers it seems need to be taught explicitly.

"No, No, No, No, there is nothing I can do about it. You need to finish this in the given timeline." - how many times have you seen your manager give that response with a stupid grin on his face.

Management Advice: This is not a time to be smiling.

The least you can offer as a manager in times like this is empathy. An inappropriate grin in situations like these is an indication that you still see a grin as an act of aggression or intimidation.

And no, developers don't like working with monkeys.

When you are leading teams, your smiles, your body language, your tone and a whole lot of other aspects are being judged implicitly and automatically by the people you work with.

So, if you are wondering why no one tells your about their quitting plans or why no one ever invites you to team parties, maybe that is because you give us that stupid grin when you should be empathizing with your developers.

Just saying.

posted on Sunday, July 3, 2011 9:50:49 PM UTC by Rajiv Popat  #    Comments [0]
Posted on: Sunday, June 26, 2011 by Rajiv Popat

Your Detail Orientated Mode.

He is detail oriented. He takes care of every single little detail while writing his code. He sees slightest of deviations between the design and the implementation. He is the kick ass alpha geek in the team.

Attention to detail is a major  plus in his professional life and that is a GOOD thing, till the time he starts leading a team as a technical manager.

Then before you know it, he is knit picking on how many days people in his team should be taking time off. Why do you need eight days for a vacation?

He is estimating how many man hours an engineer should take to get a task done because he himself could have done it in a day.

The same attention to detail that makes you an amazing engineer usually ends up making you an amazing asshole when you start managing people.

There are two lessons to learn from this. 1) Before you promote someone and give him a team to work with, measure their ability to detach themselves from the level of detail that they should not be bothered about. 2) When you are working as a technical manager most of the time your ability to trust others, empathize with their problems, helping them out when they are stuck and your ability to provide intrinsic motivation which makes people want to excel and do the right thing is much more important than your attention to every single insignificant piece of information floating around in your universe.

I'm not saying switching attention to detail is essentially always a bad thing. When you are a geek attention to detail comes naturally to you. But when you are managing teams sometimes "actively forgetting" that an Engineer said he was going to check in his code today but ended up taking one extra day to do an awesome job, is also equally important.

Just saying.

posted on Sunday, June 26, 2011 9:41:57 PM UTC by Rajiv Popat  #    Comments [1]
Posted on: Sunday, June 19, 2011 by Rajiv Popat

Installing Good Habits Into Your Brain.

As programmers we spend countless hours getting thrilled by tweaking small things which have huge impact on the applications we build. You want to run the same application, with the same hardware and load, 10x faster? Put a kick ass programmer on the problem and give him all the time in the world. Chances are that he will come up with better code that takes lesser memory, lesser processing cycles and runs blazing fast. And he would have done it by tweaking small things here and there. Tweaking things to make them better is fine grained in our brain as a programmers. We cannot resist the temptation of tweaking things when we know that they are going to have a huge impact on the overall product.

Practitioners of positive psychology do just  the same kind of tweaking but with your brain which is why I find books on positive psychology hugely fascinating. Shawn Achor in his book the Happiness Advantage talks about understanding the tweaking the human mind to cultivate new good habits and to turn your resolutions of changes into success stories rather than stories of failures with a tragic end.

Shawn's premise is two fold. 1) That we are creatures of habit and habits are how our brains are wired to work. 2) we have limited amount of will power in our brain. He explains the first premise that we as human beings are bundles of habit:

In my mind, though, the greatest contribution William James made to the field of psychology is one that was a full century ahead of his time. Humans, James said, are biologically prone to habit, and it is because we are “mere bundles of habits” that we are able to automatically perform many of our daily tasks—from brushing our teeth first thing in the morning to setting the alarm before climbing into bed at night. It is precisely because habits are so automatic that we rarely stop and think about the enormous role they play in shaping our behavior, and in fact our lives.

After all, if we had to make a conscious choice about every little thing we did all day, we would likely be overwhelmed by breakfast. Take this morning as an example: I am guessing that you didn't wake up, walk into the bathroom, look quizzically into the mirror, and think to yourself, "Should I put on clothes today?" You didn’t have to debate the pros and cons.

You didn’t have to call on your reserves of will power. You just did it the same way you probably combed your hair, gulped your coffee, locked your front door, and so on. And, excepting the exhibitionists in the reading public, you did not have to remind yourself all day to keep these clothes on. It was not a struggle. It didn't deplete your reserves of energy or brainpower. It was second nature, automatic, a habit.

None of this seems particularly groundbreaking to us today. But what William James concluded was indeed crucial to our understanding of behavioral change. Given our natural tendency to act out of habit, James surmised, couldn’t the key to sustaining positive change be to turn each desired action into a habit, so that it would come automatically, without much effort, thought, or choice? As the Father of Modern Psychology so shrewdly advised, if we want to create lasting change, we should “make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy.” Habits are like financial capital forming one today is an investment that will automatically give out returns for years to come.

Shawn also goes on to explains how our brain uses our practice and habits to form neural pathways which ultimately make us really good at an activity:

This is also how we become skilled at an activity with practice. For instance, the first time you try to juggle, the neural pathways involved are unused, and so the message travels slowly. The more time you spend juggling, the more these pathways get reinforced, so that on the eighth day of practice, the electrical currents are firing at a much more rapid pace. This is when you’ll notice that juggling comes easier, requires less concentration, and that you can do it faster. Eventually, you can be listening to music, chewing gum, and having a conversation with someone else, all while those three oranges are flying through the air. Juggling has become automatic, a habit, cemented in your brain by a solid new network of neural pathways.

Armed with this new knowledge Shawn sets out to form a new habit of playing Guitar every day and encounters a humongous failure.

I decided to take up the guitar once again, since I already owned one and knew that I enjoyed playing it. Because common wisdom has long proposed that it takes 21 days to make a habit, I decided to make a spreadsheet with 21 columns, tape it to my wall, and check off each day I played. By the end of the three weeks, I felt confident that (a) I would have a grid full of 21 check marks, (b) daily guitar playing would have become an automatic, established part of my life, (c) my playing would improve, and (d) I would be happier for it.

Three weeks later, I pulled the grid down in disgust. Staring up at four check marks followed by a whole lot of empty boxes was more discouragement and embarrassment than I needed. I had failed my own experiment, and worse, I was no closer to telling potential dates that I was a musician. Worse still, I was shocked, depressed even, at how quick I had been to give up. A positive psychologist should be better at following his own advice!  (Of course, the feelings of failure only deepen when you realize you’re now a depressed positive psychologist.) The guitar was sitting in the closet, a mere 20 seconds away, but I couldn't make myself take it out and play it. What had gone wrong? It turns out that the telling words here are make myself . Without realizing it, I had been fighting the wrong battle one I was bound to lose unless I changed my strategy.

This failure of course leads Shawn to a second realization that we as human beings have limited will power with us.

The point is that whether it’s a strict diet, a New Year ’s resolution, or an attempt at daily guitar practice, the reason so many of us have trouble sustaining change is because we try to rely on willpower. We think we can go from 0 to 60 in an instant,  changing or overturning ingrained life habits through the sheer force of will.

In one of many studies on the subject of willpower, Baumeister and his colleagues invited college students into their lab, instructing them not to eat anything for at least three hours prior to the experiment. Then he split them into three groups.

Group 1 was given a plate of chocolate chip cookies, which they were told not to eat, as well as a healthy plate of radishes which they were welcome to eat to their heart’s content. Group 2 was presented with the same two plates of cookies and radishes, but they were told they could eat off whichever plate they liked. Group 3 was given no food at all. After enduring these situations for a significant length of time, the three groups were then given a set of “simple” geometric puzzles to solve.

Note the quotes around simple. In truth, this was another one of psychology’s favorite tools: the unsolvable puzzle. As I learned the hard way through my Help the Elderly experience, psychology researchers love using impossible games to see how long participants will persevere at a task.

In this case, individuals in Groups 2 and 3 long outlasted those in Group 1, who quickly threw up their hands in defeat. Why? Because the students who had to use every ounce of their willpower to avoid eating the enticing chocolate chip cookies didn't have the willpower or mental energy left to struggle with a complex puzzle—even though avoiding cookies and persisting on a puzzle are seemingly completely unrelated.

The point of these experiments was to show that no matter how unrelated the tasks were, they all seemed to be tapping the same fuel source. As the researchers wrote, “many widely different forms of self-control draw on a common resource, or self-control strength, which is quite limited and hence can be depleted readily.” Put another way, our willpower weakens the more we use it.

Armed with this new knowledge of how we are creatures of habits and  how our will power weakens with time Shawn now decides to reduce the activation energy it takes to start something and experiments with his own mind to see how it reacts:

I thought back to that initial experiment. I had kept my guitar tucked away in the closet, out of sight and out of reach. It wasn’t far out of the way, of course (my apartment isn’t that big), but just those 20 seconds of extra effort it took to walk to the closet and pull out the guitar had proved to be a major deterrent. I had tried to overcome this barrier with willpower, but after only four days, my reserves were completely dried up. If I couldn’t use self-control to ingrain the habit, at least not for an extended period, I now wondered: What i f I could eliminate the amount of activation energy it took to get started?

Clearly, it was time for another experiment. I took the guitar out of the closet, bought a $2 guitar stand, and set it up in the middle of my living room. Nothing had changed except that now instead of being 20 seconds away, the guitar was in immediate reach. Three weeks later, I looked up at a habit grid with 21 proud check marks.

This is a profound discovery for anyone who has ever made a new years resolution and broken it in days. Anyone who has been on a diet regiment or anyone who has ever promised himself that he was going to get more effective starting next week but the next week never came.

The book has pages full of interesting advice on how you can reduce choices that bog you down and how you can make preemptive decisions way  in advance by changing defaults.

Planning on learning how to play an instrument? Just reduce the activation energy by having the instrument handy.

Planning on going to the gym every morning? Sleep in your gym clothes to reduce the activation energy of heading out the next morning.

Planning on quitting television? Take the guitar experiment described above. Flip it by taking the remote batteries out and keeping them in a closet twenty seconds away.

Planning on being more productive at work? Close your mail client and hide it's shortcut inside 4 levels of folders such that it takes you multiple clients to activate it.

The basic premise that Shawn works with is that we are creatures of habits with limited will power. So if you are trying to form a habit don't just rely on your will power. Use your brains creatively to reduce the activation energy to do something and once you do it for sometime it will automatically become a habit forming new neural pathways in your brain that will not even require any will power to keep doing it. So if you're often faced with a blank wall on how to start your day, why not just put the visual studio shortcut on your startup list and have your computer boot to open a project you should be starting your day with?

Once you have done that why not making starting anything else that much more difficult.

Do it long enough and then distractions like Facebook and Twitter would suddenly stop being distractions. They will eventually become tools of forming connections that you use wisely during limiting times and not addictively.

The experiments and the insights that Shawn provided in this book are huge. The real question you need to answer is, how are you going to use these insights in your life to become a better programmer and a better human being.

Go tweak your life and program yourself to pick up some good habits. I wish you good luck.

posted on Sunday, June 19, 2011 7:53:53 PM UTC by Rajiv Popat  #    Comments [0]
Posted on: Sunday, June 12, 2011 by Rajiv Popat

Intriguing Research On Learned Helplessness.

(And Why Most Programmers Don't Start Something New)

If you've landed with a safe job the excuses for not blogging or not starting a side project are numerous.

No one is going to read what I write so why blog? No one cares about what I build so why build? I don't get enough opportunities in my organization so I am out of shape. And the best of them all, I am just too busy to start anything.

The real answer as to why you don't start initiatives outside of your work life however, may be hidden in the experiment on dogs that Martin Seligman, now the father of positive psychology observed in his years as a graduate student. Shawn Achor talks about this experiment in a rather intriguing fashion in his book The Happiness Advantage. He explains:

To understand the psychology of failure and success in the modern business world, we need to step back briefly to the tail end of the Age of Aquarius. In the 1960s, Martin Seligman was not yet the founding father of positive psychology. He was only a lowly graduate student, studying the opposite of happiness in his university's laboratory.

Older researchers in Seligman's lab were doing some experiments with dogs, pairing noises, like a bell, with small shocks to see how the dogs would eventually react to the bell alone. Then after this conditioning was complete, the researchers would put each dog in a “shuttlebox,” a large box with two compartments, separated by a low wall. In one compartment, the dogs would get shocked, but on the other side they would be safe from shocks, and it was easy to jump over the wall.

The researchers predicted that once the dogs heard the bell, they would immediately jump into the safe half of the box so they could avoid the shock they knew would follow.

But that's not at all what happened. As Seligman now tells the story, he remembers walking into the lab one day and overhearing the older researchers complaining. "It' s the dogs," they lamented. "The dogs won't do anything. Something’ s wrong with them."

Before the experiment started, the dogs had been able to jump over the barriers just fine, but this time they were just lying there. While the researchers contemplated what seemed to be a failed experiment, Seligman realized the value of what they had just stumbled upon: They had accidentally taught the dogs to be helpless.

Earlier, the dogs had learned that once the bell rang, a shock was sure to follow, no matter what. So, now, in this new situation, they didn't try jumping to the safe half of the box because they believed there was nothing they could do to avoid the shock. Just like the workers at the Johannesburg construction company, they essentially figured, "why bother?"

A follow up experiment by Seligman talks about how this idea of learned helpless translates to offices and work environment of today. Shawn explains:

The fact is that in our modern, often overstressed business world, cubicles are the new shuttleboxes, and workers the new dogs. In fact, one study shows just how closely we humans resemble our canine counterparts.

Researchers took two groups of people into a room, turned on a loud noise, and then told them to figure out how to turn it off by pressing buttons on a panel. The first group tried every combination of buttons, but nothing worked to stop the noise. (Another example of devious psychologists at work!)

The second group, acting as a control, was given a panel of buttons that did successfully turn off the noise. Then both groups were given the same second task: They were put in a new room, the equivalent of a shuttlebox, and were once again treated to an obnoxious noise.

This time, both groups could easily stop the noise by simply moving a hand from one side to the other, just like the dogs could easily move to the other side of the box. The control group quickly figured this out and stopped the blare.

But the group that had first been exposed to a noise they couldn't stop now just let their hands lay there , not even bothering to move them or try to make the noise stop.

As one of the researchers said, "It was as if they’d learned they were helpless to turn off noise, so they didn't even try, even though everything else the time and place, all that had changed. They carried that noise-helplessness right through to the new experiment."

These experiments educate us that each one of us is vulnerable to learned helplessness. Understanding it, is the first step to avoiding it, both in your personal and professional life. 

So the next time you think of working on changing the culture within your organization, or starting a blog or taking up a side project during the weekend, or starting that product that you always wanted to start and there is a voice in your head which starts talking about those excuses or telling you how helpless, non-talented, busy or tied up you are, remember the helpless dogs.

Maybe (and I am just saying maybe) the real reason why you are not starting is that deep down inside you probably know that you're going to fail. The voice full of doubt is just your way of telling yourself, "why bother?".

Are you really prepared to fail early fail often or are you just letting your learned helplessness get the best of you? Just a little something to think about.

posted on Sunday, June 12, 2011 8:10:59 PM UTC by Rajiv Popat  #    Comments [3]
Posted on: Sunday, June 5, 2011 by Rajiv Popat

Lessons To Learn From Gates And Jobs Sharing A Stage.

PC and Mac arguments have existed since the beginning of the software development world. Zealots have spent countless decades arguing about who will rule the world, the PC or the Mac. Jokes about Windows and Mac have also existed for a long time. Videos of both Windows crashes and Mac crashes have been out there for years.

With a strong community of Zealots on both ends of the spectrum you're often left to wonder what the relationship between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs would be like. Arch enemies wanting to get each others organization destroyed like you see in movies? Not really.

In a series of videos on youtube (links provided at the end of the post) you see both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs on the same stage sharing an interview. The amazing thing about the videos is that they provide a deep insight the pragmatism that both these leaders of two rival organizations share.

The even more amazing thing about the videos is that you can see a strong unspoken respect for each other that both these individuals share. For example when asked to talk on one thing in Bill Gates that Steve Jobs admires Steve has this to say:

Bill built the first software company in the industry. I think he built a software company before anybody in our industry knew what a software company was, except for these guys and that was huge. That was really huge. And the business model they ended up pursuing turned out to be the one that worked really well for the industry.

Building a company is really hard and it requires your greatest persuasive abilities to hire the best people you can and keep them at your company and keep them working doing the best work of their lives and Bill's been able to stay with it for all these years.

Gates on the other hand has deep rooted respect for the contributions Steve Jobs has made to the industry. He explains:

Steve gave a speech once which is one of my favorites where he talked about, in a certain sense we build the products that we want to use ourselves so he is really pursued that with incredible taste and elegance that has had a huge impact on the industry and his ability to always come around and figure out where that next bet should be has been phenomenal. You know, Apple literally was failing when Steve went back and re-infused the innovation and the risk taking that have been phenomenal. So the industry has benefitted immensely from his work. We've both been lucky to be a part of it but I'd say he has contributed as much as anyone.

If you listen closely enough the interview is full of pragmatic moves these leaders and their organizations have taken in spite of their age old rivalry.

For example Jobs tells the story of how Apple seeks help from Microsoft in their early days.

Jobs interrupts Bill Gates in a fit of excitement and the words, "Let me tell this story!" and goes on to tell it in his classic story teller style:

Waz, my partner, the guy I started out with Steve Wozniak, brilliant brilliant guy. He writes this basic that is like the best basic on the planet. It does stuff that no other basic has ever done. You don't have to run it to find your error messages, it finds it for you when you type in stuff. It's perfect in every way. Except for one thing which is that it is just fixed point. It is not floating point. And so we're getting a lot of  input that people want this basic to be floating point and we're begging Waz, Please Please make this floating point and he never does it. And so Microsoft had this very popular floating point basic that we ended up going to them and saying "help".

To which Bill Gates adds:

It was thirty one thousand dollars for the floating point basic and I flew out to Apple; I spent two days there getting the cassettes. The Cassette tapes were the main way people stored things in those days. That was fun but I think the most fun is later when we worked together. The team that was assembled to do the Macintosh was a very committed team and there was an equivalent team on our side that got totally focused on this activity. And we really bet our future on the Macintosh being successful and then hopefully graphic interface in general being successful. First and foremost the thing that would popularize that would be the Macintosh. And we were working together and the schedules were uncertain, the quality was uncertain. And so we had made this bet that the paradigm shift would be graphics interface and particularly the Macintosh would make that happen.

The video shows how objectively and closely the two companies and their leaders worked to shape the industry and make it what it is today. When asked about what both would like to learn from each others Bill Gates is quick to respond and say "I'd give a lot to have Steve's taste". What Bill Gates is referring to is this video of a young Steve Jobs floating on YouTube where Jobs is seen ranting recklessly on Microsoft and why they have no taste in his early adamant days. The audience roars into a laughter at Bills Gates joke on Steve Jobs to which Gates adds:

(I'd give a lot to have Steve's taste) No, this is not a joke at all.... I think in terms of intuitive taste of both people and products. I mean we sat on Mac product reviews where there were questions about software choices, how things would be done that I viewed as an engineering question and that's just how my mind works and I would see Steve make the decision based on his sense of people and product that is even hard for me to explain. The way he does things is just different. And you know, I think it is magical.

The videos are an inspirational insight into a rich rivalry which is not just about brutal fights but also about helping each other in the times of trouble and making the most pragmatic decisions beneficial for the industry.

Steve Jobs for example tells his story of seeking help from Microsoft during his comeback where he  also talks about how descriptive and stupid the whole Apple is superior in everything or the whole Apple Vs Microsoft mindset is:

You know, Apple was in very serious trouble and what was really clear was that if the game was a zero some game where for Apple to win Microsoft had to loose then Apple was going to loose.

A lot of people's head were in that place at Apple and even in the customer base because Apple had invented a lot of this stuff and Microsoft was being successful and Apple wasn't and there was jealousy and there were just a lot of reasons for it that don't matter.

But the net result of it was that there were too many people at Apple and the Apple ecosystem playing the game of 'For Apple to win Microsoft has to loose' and it was clear that you didn't have to play that game. Because Apple wasn't going to be Microsoft. Apple didn't have to beat Microsoft. Apple had to remember who Apple was, because it had forgotten who Apple was. And so for me it was pretty essential to break that paradigm. And it was also important that Microsoft was the biggest software developer outside of Apple developing for the Mac.

So it was just crazy, what was happening in that time and apple was very weak and so I called Bill (Gates) up and we tried to patch things up.

The relationship between the Mac development team at Microsoft and Apple is a great relationship. It's one of our best developer relationships.

Then there are excellent displays of pragmatism on both sides. For example, Microsoft ordering Mac processors for their XBox 360 and Steve Jobs being realistic about the Apple market share. He explains:

We don't have a belief that the Mac is going to take 80% of the PC market. We become really happy when our market share goes up a point. And we love that. We work real hard at it.

By the time the interview ends both these Stalwarts come out sounding as not just rivals with deep respect for each others but friends who have fought just as many battles together as they have fought with each other.

The video is a good watch not just once but every time you find yourself bitching about either Windows or Macintosh. The videos act as a gentle reminder that real people who do real work and solve hard problems have equal level of respect for other people who do the same irrespective of the path they take.

On the other hand, those who do nothing, bitch or become Zealots and stupid fan boys who fail to see the downsides of the company or person they follow and continuously bitch about the other side.

So go out there, pick a platform you love working on. I don't care if you pick a Windows or a Mac. Just stop bitching about how bad the other side is, stop comparing the two and get down to doing some real work. Jokes or random criticism about the other platform are just not as funny as they used to be once. Besides, we are getting bored of these anyways. I am just saying.

And just in case you want to see the videos back to back here are the links:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11.

posted on Sunday, June 5, 2011 6:16:30 PM UTC by Rajiv Popat  #    Comments [0]