Business

What open source taught me about management

I was a manager of developers in an organisation for a few years, and during that period I learned a lot. But if I’m honest, I learned far more about being a manager from leading a large open source project for 10 years, because that taught me a lot about what makes developers tick. Of course, I’ve always been a developer myself too, but you often don’t think that clearly about your own motivations.

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You probably underestimate yourself

For the purposes of this post, I’m going to assume that the reader is a relatively normal person, and not a raging egomaniac, or a nihilistic sociopath - investment bankers, you might want to stop reading now ;). Still with me? OK. So, I don’t know precisely what you do for a living; given my usual readership you’re quite likely to be a software developer, but I believe this applies pretty universally.

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Playing both the long and short games

I’m an avid believer in the value of ‘playing the long game’ - that is, the concept that it’s worth foregoing short-term benefits, or indeed enduring short-term pain, in pursuit of a more significant long-term gain. This kind of thinking is a basic requirement of anyone who has chosen to run their own business at some point, because it’s always easier and more immediately financially beneficial to take a ‘safe’ job offer rather than to leap into the unknown, a place of short-term cash flow issues and uncertain future gains.

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Scale isn't everything

If you limit your reading material to articles on TechCrunch and similar sites, you’d get the impression that to succeed in business requires that you plan to scale to a massive level. The received wisdom is that if you’re not targeting a user base of several million, and are not raising capital in Silicon Valley commensurate with that aim, then you’re not doing it right. This is nonsense, of course. It simply reflects one end of the spectrum of business ventures - that which is high-risk and high-reward.

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Oh no, not a 'Best of' collection?

Well, yes - and my apologies if you’ve already seen these. In celebration of the new blog and before I’ve polished any new entries for it - I often write & refine my posts over several sessions, I find the content is better that way - I thought I’d flag up three posts from this blog that I’m particularly satisfied with, and that I think resonated well with people. Work 2.

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On being acquired

A lot of you will already know, but SourceTree, a Mac client for Git and Mercurial I created over the last 18 months, has just been acquired by Atlassian. There’s a press release, articles on TechCrunch and VentureBeat, and an official FAQ on the SourceTree site. But this is my personal blog, and I’ve had a few requests for a personal angle on this, so here you go. I said in a previous post that in my experience, the best opportunities often come along when you’re not looking for them, and that was certainly the case here.

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Why 'software engineering' is a misnomer

These days I’m a free agent, and I’m lucky enough to be able to choose what projects I work on, but in a past life, I was what I suppose is properly referred to as an ‘enterprise software developer’. Yes, I once functioned in an environment where terms like ‘mission-critical’, ‘project life-cycle’, ‘stakeholders’ and ‘change management’ came up quite a lot. I’m grateful for the experience I gained over 12 years of doing that, but I’m also very glad to be free of it now.

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Sales work - who knew?

Business sales sourcetree

The SourceTree 1.2 launch sale is now over, and I thought I’d post some indicative results. I went for a fairly large discount of 40% over a full week, and some people I know commented to me along the lines of ‘what about all that money you’ll be losing on each sale?’. I decided on a large discount because SourceTree 1.2 was a major update that I was actually quite proud of, so I wanted to get it in front of as many people as I could.

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SourceTree, your Mac Git & Mercurial GUI, is 40% off this week

Since I’m trying to spread this news as far and wide as I can, I might as well say it here too 😀 Since the approval light just went green on the Mac App Store, I’m happy to announce the launch of SourceTree 1.2! In celebration, I’m having a crazy-bonkers 40% off sale just for one week, so get it while it’s hot! There’s loads of things that are new or improved in this release, but here are the headlines:

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How to make decisions

Decisions are hard. Well ok, not all decisions are hard - given the choice of whether or not to receive a swift kick to the gentleman’s area, most of us would politely decline without having to give it much thought. So let’s rephrase - making an important decision for which there is no clear optimal answer is hard. And yet, making these kinds of decisions, in a theoretically unbounded possibility space with uncertain and/or unknown variables, is the one thing we humans still do considerably better than machines, and it forms the basis of pretty much every important event in our lives - who your partner is, what you do for a living, what projects you work on, what your hobbies are, where you live, and so on.

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