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Pizza & Leadership: 4 Lessons
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David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
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5/30/2014 | 10:58:56 AM
Nice comparison, but ...
I like the way you translate the findings of the study into those a project manager or other leader applies. Just as long as you don't forget one important principle: when projects run late, it should be the boss (or the company) that buys the pizza.

Yes, I know I'm missing the point of your essay. I just wanted to get that on the record.
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
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5/30/2014 | 12:17:56 PM
Re: Nice comparison, but ...
My quibble is with "Be One Of The Gang." Yes, leaders must build a rapport with their people. They musn't lead from on-high. But leaders must make tough, sometimes unpopular decisions, so the "be one of the gang" metaphor goes only so far. They need to command respect and project authority.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
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5/30/2014 | 12:30:59 PM
Re: Nice comparison, but ...
Agreed, RobPreston. The higher up in the organization that leader is, the more she/he has to evaluate tough decisions from a holistic organizational perspective rather than based upon their direct workgroup. Sometimes what appears best for my people in the short run ends up hurting the organization (and then my people as it trickles down) over the long run.
cafzali
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cafzali,
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5/30/2014 | 1:11:42 PM
"thank you"
One of the interesting things I've noticed -- especially in contrasting the experience at large organizations versus small -- is how much more common it is in larger organizations to get a "thank you" occasionally in the course of your work and how much that does for morale.

Sure, people prize salary/rate, benefits if they're getting them and other tangible things chiefly because those help keep a roof over your head. But once you're there, one of the things that can keep you going the most costs the company nothing -- it's a simple "thank you" and comes primarily from picking people for management-level positions that aren't only successful in handling the tactical aspects of their job, but are also people you actually like working for.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
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5/30/2014 | 4:08:08 PM
Pizza and leadership: the unmentioned rule
I think it was PayPal that told me that it doesn't want any development teams larger than those which can be fed by two pizzas. I kept waiting for that rule of thumb to come up in the discussion of pizza and leadership. Effective teams are committed, enthusatic and enjoy short lines of communications -- because they are small.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
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5/30/2014 | 5:06:15 PM
Re: Nice comparison, but ...
@David- Agreed. I actually think companies should always buy the pizza. 

But I heard a very interesting counter argument recently. At the GDC, there was a presentation about mental disorders and the IT profession. Accoridng to the talk, 1 in 4 Americans suffers from disorders including anxiety and depression. The number is definitely 1 in 3 and some estimates have it as much as 1 in 2 in IT. The presenters argument is that the Silicon Valley style of offering free food, in-office gyms, dry cleaning, etc creates the sense that you are never allowed to leave because you don't need to. 

His argument waqs that if you don't offer the food, the gym, and the other perks and instead offer vouchers to local gyms or to buy lunch out, it encourages them to leave which is healthier.

So, while I support the company ordering the pizza, I think they should not have it delivered. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
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5/30/2014 | 5:09:00 PM
Re: Nice comparison, but ...
@Rob- I think we agree. I tried to stress the notion of being relatable without necessary always relating. Think of it like a politician. Every politican has moments where they wear the power suit and talk policy, but they also make sure they have a photo op where they are in work clothes chopping wood on a ranch or having a beer in a local tavern.

You project your authority, but when it is time to ask for something (like a vote or for staying late) it is time to put on the "I'm one of you" face. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
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5/30/2014 | 5:13:12 PM
Re: Nice comparison, but ...
@jagibbons- There is no reason, in my mind, that this is an either/or proposition. If you make a tough decision that puts one group at risk or forces them to do something they don't like, then it is real leadership to go in and help them dust themselves off.

A real leader shares what they can about the decision using the same concepts I listed to build engagement and a sense of altruism from the team, but still makes the tought choices. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/30/2014 | 5:15:30 PM
Re: "thank you"
@cafzali- I think you really hit the nail on the head. Gratitude is free. And it goes really far. The fact that managers don't get this is really sad to me. Thank you should be at the center of every culture because no matter what else your culture is, it fits in. 

I personally think we get so caught up in how busy we are we often forget to be polite.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/30/2014 | 5:17:25 PM
Re: Pizza and leadership: the unmentioned rule
@Charlie- Wow, that's really interesting. I've known some developers who can really pack away the pizza though. That might mean teams of one. :)

Seriously though, I really like the strategy because it implies at the heart of it that a team is going to need to meet over pizza and long hours at some point and they need to know how to keep that team together. 
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