Five Links: Culture Is the Way We Do Things Edition

Happy Friday, everyone.

True story: I was at an OpenStack conference a couple of years ago, and on a whim, I signed up for a contest to install OpenStack in a certain configuration. I did it on a whim because I wanted the T-shirt, but I found out later that this was a huge deal — guys had been prepping their automated installs for weeks leading up to the event. I went to the organizer and tried to back out, and he got this panicked look and begged me to stay, just to show up — he had already told his manager that they had their first woman in the competition ever, and if I just showed up, no matter how badly I did, I was guaranteed the “diversity prize.” Long story short, I did terribly, but I got a T-shirt and a Venue 8 Chrome tablet.

I mention this, because I have stumbled across probably a half dozen stories on diversity in IT departments in the past couple of weeks, which seemed like an oddly-specific trend in articles. But that’s not all I’ve been seeing! I have hit a lot of really great articles on team work and productivity in general — attributes of healthy teams, setting effective priorities, and managing your talent.

cio_talent_5

Companies delay diversity reports (CIO.com)

This is a really interesting article, which attacks several high-profile companies for a lack of transparency in their hiring outcomes and touches on two more (Google and Facebook) which have made little progress in “diversity hiring,” despite corporate commitments. The author’s most effective line, to me, was “it sounds to me like they’ve failed to make diversity, inclusion and equality a priority and thus, missed their goals.” While the writer is talking about diversity, it opens up, to me, a much broader question about team (and ultimately corporate) structure. What are the priorities in identifying, recruiting, and retaining staff? How do individual contributions feed into the corporate strategy?

 

How is your community promoting diversity? (OpenSource.com, a Red Hat blog)

This is another interesting look at teams and diversity. Open source communities are, largely, self-selecting. You can choose to join, or not. Yet building communities is also critical; there’s usually a core, devoted development group and they can either encourage people to come in through transparency and meritocracy or, slowly, freeze people out. This highlights the efforts of Python to actively recruit more female contributors and its success.

 

Stop Setting Goals you Don’t Care About (Harvard Business Review)

I love this article! The idea is to narrow priorities down to one or two things that actually energize you (as the author says, the things that you must do, not the things that you feel like you should do) and then prioritize your time and projects in ways that align with those goals. I read Gallup’s Strengths Finder 2.0 book  last year, and the theme was focusing energy in areas where you are already naturally strong, and those can turn into the areas where you excel. This article is in line with that theme, and has practical guidance on how to apply it within your daily time management.

 

Team Health Monitors (FirstRound.com)

We often on this blog look at industry disruptors like Netflix and Uber in the way they use technology. Which makes sense — this is a technology blog. But one thing that DevOps and agile processes show us is that technology and team dynamics are intertwined, and a successful project is usually the result of success technology deployed by a successful team. In this, the president of Atlassian (Jay Simons) looks at hallmarks of successful teams. It is worth reading the whole thing because the hallmarks of a successful team did not include “communication” or “collaboration.” In a word, it came down to clarity — a clear purpose, open and understood ways to track success, and understanding around external dependencies. This also includes a checklist for evaluating team health, so it covers my two loves of “strategic theme” and “practical application.”

 

Competing for IT’s most elusive resource: Talent (EnterprisersProject.com, a Red Hat blog)

Just a warning, this is a PDF download, but I don’t think it requires registration. (At least it didn’t for me.) This is a perfect distillation of all of the previous articles — recognizing traits of effective teams, working with (or recovering from the loss of) rockstar talent, recruiting in both traditional and untraditional avenues. This is a round-table interview, so it has three different CTOs in different industries that talk about how they address universal IT talent challenges.

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