brian on 2003.01.16
at 07:39 pm
Joel Spolsky knows what makes a good software company. I think a lot of what he mentions in these outakes make sense for any company designing websites or software. He outlines a job description that sounds literally written for me: A Program Manager:
A program manager also needs to coordinate marketing, documentation, testing, localization, and all the other annoying details that programmers shouldn't spend time on.
Program managers are invaluable. If you've ever complained about how programmers are more concerned with technical elegance than with marketability, you need a program manager. If you've ever complained about how people who can write good code never do a good job of writing good English, you need a program manager. If you've ever complained about how your product seems to drift without any clear direction, you need a program manager.
Rule 1. Don't promote a coder to be a program manager. The skills for being a good program manager (writing clear English, diplomacy, market awareness, user empathy, and good UI design) are very rarely the skills for being a good coder. Sure, some people can do both, but they are rare.
Program managers study UI, meet customers, and write specs. They need to get along with a wide variety of people -- from "moron" customers, to irritating hermit programmers who come to work in Star Trek uniforms, to pompous sales guys in $2000 suits. In some ways, program managers are the glue of software teams. Charisma is crucial.
This he talks about in a piece about writing Specs. (These snippets are from Part 3 Here's the link to Part 1) Lastly, if Joel was hiring in Boston, and he interviewed me along the lines to this story on how to interview, I would pass with flying colors. It's unfortunate that Joel's company (based in NYC) writes software only for Windows.
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