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Managing Einsteins

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the keep-the-brain-jars-upright dept.

The Almighty Buck 345

In many workplaces, especially high-tech ones, managers and those they manage are operating on parallel tracks, with different sets of motivations, expectations and rewards. How to keep tech workers happy, given that they likely don't want the same things as their bosses, and certainly would choose different ways to achieve them? The long-suffering Jim Richards submitted this review of Managing Einsteins, a book which attempts to inject some sanity into the situation by clueing managers in on what it is their programmers and other tech workers might actually want in a workplace. Read on for his review.

This book doesn't use terms like "nerd" or "geek" to describe IT workers: the authors hold that the stereotype of pocket protectors and coke-bottle glasses just doesn't fit any more. This is a book written for managers, and so the terminology and style (almost) always refers to Einsteins as "your workers," to the point that with the summary at the end states:

Referring to super-intelligent, curious, passionate, often introverted, talented individuals as "geeks" is outdated. Although Einsteins can call colleagues "geeks," it is not appropriate or cool for non-Einsteins to refer to computer, technology, systems or software geniuses as geeks. (page 217)

These are the difficult to work with, yet life-saving employees who can come up with answers when most people don't understand the question.

Several themes run through the book, so it can be summarised in a few simple statements. Many of which (to Einsteins) may seem pretty obvious. The book is written by "Management Professionals," though, so there's hope that managers may actually accept some of its wisdom.

The book is divided into three parts:

  1. Realities of the Twenty-First Century - a brief summary covers the basic themes of the book and introduces the concept of an Einstein, the nature of Einsteins and how they fit into the work environment and the world.

  2. Managing Einsteins: Challenges and Actions - this section, the bulk of the book, covers everything from recruiting Einsteins through to managing them on a daily basis, by paying attention to communication, teams and tribes, remuneration, etiquette and discipline.

  3. Building for the Future - includes humour and fun at work, telecommuting and a final summary.

The book describes IT workers as highly motivated, intelligent (often more intelligent than their managers), introverted, tribal and independent.

The mains themes throughout the book are:

  • Managers should be honest with their workers about the company's successes and failures
  • The point of management is to guide and suggest not to be autocratic (the metaphor of herding cats was used to illustrate this)
  • Let the Einsteins have freedom in work environment (location - there is a whole chapter on telecommuting, hours and style)
  • Einsteins are project-focused, not job-focused
  • They value training and education highly
  • They require a stimulating and fun work place.

The issue of remuneration is covered -- and expanded to include the idea that Einsteins are not solely motivated by money (as sales people may be), and that other considerations should be taken into account (such as training, location, work conditions). Also that the traditional notion of promotion does not always work. An Einstein may not want to become a team leader, or move any higher in the management hierarchy. A manager should be wary of their Einsteins burning out, a temporary demotion or other measure may be in order to take the stress off an Einstein for a while.

The book includes short examples and case studies from various workplaces, and excerpts from newspapers and trade journals to help illustrate points. There are also highlighted points categorised as "Influence Tips," "Black Holes" and "Einstein Wisdom." which emphasise important things, such as:

Managers should be very cautious not to introduce projects that have a low likelihood of getting started. Einsteins abhor routine and crave novel projects. But they abhor being misled and crave honest leadership all the more. In staff meetings, when managers talk about upcoming projects, they should attach a probability of launch along with the projected launch date. The common term for this is "managing expectations." (page 70)

One good description of the nature of how Einsteins work is the concept of flow.

Flow is reported by individuals as a satisfying state they reach when they are completely absorbed in challenging yet achievable projects. (page 54)

Flow is an important concept for managers to understand. Once an Einstein starts a project, and becomes fully involved, there is nothing worse than being pulled off to attend a sales meeting, or other time consuming function. It interrupts the flow.

One pitfall: the book seems to have been started before the tech slump of 2000-2001 really started to dig in. So the book wavers between promoting how IT workers are highly mobile, but also that the job market is not that strong.

The other major shortcoming is the chapter on Etiquette and Manners. Now, I can understand the mannerisms and habits of Einsteins can be a little unpleasant at times, but it begs the question, why would a manager take one of these people out to a client dinner in the first place? If the client needs to meet the tech people to be convinced that a company can do the job, why not at the place of work? Or, take an Einstein who you know you can trust to behave and present well.

As this is the only book at the moment that deals directly with managing this class of workers, also get your manager to read Jon Katz's Geeks. Managing people is no longer about direct, micro-management or process line working. The nature of work has changed with the influence of new technology and so a new way of managing people should also be introduced. These books together will help management, or anyone, understand the mind set and working modes of IT workers.


You can purchase Managing Einsteins from bn.com. Want to see your own review here? Just read the book review guidelines, then use Slashdot's handy submission form.

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Who should the global community support? (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284583)

The hardest question in relation to the Middle East conflict is how the global community should perceive the world-changing events in Israel and the Occupied Territories.

A brief history of the past decade

In 1993, Israel and Palestine signed the 'Oslo Accords', both sides admitting they were wrong, and vowing to make amends. This was a historic occasion for World Peace, made most significant by the 'Doomsday Clock' being moved back to 15 minutes to midnight. (I'm afraid I do not have the link here, so use Google)

What followed surprised and shocked every decent living person in the important countries. Whereas most right-thinking folk would regard a cessation of hostilities to be a sign of hope, the Palestinian terrorists began their perpetual waves of suicide bombings.

This can be traced back to one root cause. Islam. The Koran teaches muslims that when an enemy yields, they should be struck down for good. Israel yielded. Israel admitted they made mistakes. Israel offered the olive branch...

Only to have their hand cut off in the name of 'allah'. Repeatedly, Israel tried diplomacy, attempted to rescue some kind of peace out of the accords, now strewn in tatters across the broken bodies of Jewish civilians. Their reward? More violence. More terrorism.

It is the nature of muslims to destroy. Their beliefs are systematically geared towards the eradication of all non-muslim life on the planet. Presuming their religion to be peaceful and productive, like Sikhism, Hinduism and even Judaism, the western authorities let this cancer spread.

Israel faced a perpetual struggle, both within and outside its borders. For each attempt at rightful defence was rebuked by condemnation from the World Council. In the end, something had to be done. And Israel began fighting back.

What followed was a tit-for-tat exchange of hostilities. Israel advanced. The Palestinians capitulated. Peace was discussed. Israel withdrew. And then the Palestinians attacked again. A perpetual cycle of hatred.

The Israelite Jew is an embittered, harrowed person. Even though they may not agree with the actions of their government, they are perpetual targets of Islamo-racist terrorism. But at least they still have the right to disagree.

Islam does not permit disagreement with the holy jihad which their deluded sub-human footsoldiers are playing out every time they throw a grenade into a Jewish schoolyard.

So, where should the global community stand? Clearly, Islamic terrorism is a world-wide crisis. Be it in New York, France, or the streets of Britain during last year's rioting. Where should we stand? Ask yourself this:

How many countries lost citizens in the name of Islam on September 11th, 2001?

Re:Who should the global community support? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284859)

Fuck you. We Arab and Muslims will kill you all jews, and take your land.
We hate all westerns, christians and jews, and we will kill you all.

I hate westerns as well (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284901)

Although admittedly Sam Peckinpah had his moments.

Ummm... (4, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284591)

Alright, I know tech workers tend to have absurdly high opinions of themselves, especially on slashdot, but EINSTEINS? That's going a bit far, don't you think?

Re:Ummm... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284607)

No, the book is specifically about managing Einsteins. The decendants of the great physicist have spread throughout the world and are working in most major corporations. Unfortunately, they are notoriously difficult to manage, and this book aims to rectify that.

Or something.

Re:Ummm... (-1, Offtopic)

saforrest (184929) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284639)

Argh... and I used up all my mod points just a few hours before...

Please, someone, mod this AC up.

Re:Ummm... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284680)

And mod your off-topic ass down?

Re:Ummm... (2, Funny)

einstein (10761) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284729)

Yes, and am I ever thankful!
---

niche market (1)

Krimsen (26685) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284790)

Talk about a niche market... whoa.

Re:Ummm... (4, Funny)

Noctivago (216743) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284625)

No kidding, i work with techs all day long and there are no einsteins that i can see. When a sysadmin is asking you what "ping" means, then i'm afraid the boundaries of astrophysics are not even within sight.

Einsteins defined (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284628)

sure... each slashdotter is going have a project on par with a nuclear physisist and impliment an atomic bomb or equivalent project that can level all of creation.

Re:Einsteins defined (5, Funny)

jc42 (318812) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284723)

> sure... each slashdotter is going have a project on par with a nuclear physisist ...

Well, there was the new order-N sort algorithm that was described recently.

It was based on the concept of a quantum computer. The idea was that in to sort N items, you use quantum indeterminacy to choose a random permutation of the items. This will cause the universe to split into multiple copies, one per permutation. You test the resulting list (an order N operation), and if it's not sorted, you destroy the universe. In the remaining universe, the list will be sorted.

Destruction of the universe was left as an exercise for the reader.

If this isn't on a par with nuclear physics, I don't know what is. And it's Just a Matter of Programming ...

Re:Einsteins defined (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284792)

You're not funny.

Re:Einsteins defined (2)

JanneM (7445) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284924)

Except, of course, that you get one universe per permutation, not per element. Which means it's an O(N!) algorithm. Unless, of course, each universe is able to decide by itself whether it is sorted and destroy iteslf, in which case it's an O(1) algorithm. In neither case is it O(N).

/Janne

Re:Ummm... (5, Funny)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284695)

I think he means that techs are Einsteins "relative" to the management.

(sorry)

Re:Ummm... (5, Funny)

markmoss (301064) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284736)

I think he means that techs are Einsteins "relative" to the management.

My dog is an Einstein relative to the management...

Re:Ummm... (1, Flamebait)

MisterBlister (539957) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284751)

Alright, I know tech workers tend to have absurdly high opinions of themselves, especially on slashdot, but EINSTEINS? That's going a bit far, don't you think?

Yes. In my 8 years of experience as a programmer the vast majority of people in high tech (especially programmers and IT people) seem to be functionally retarded. And even the best of the best (who are doing tech work professionally) are far from Einsteins.

Re:Ummm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284923)

it doesn't matter anymore. in the "new economy" thre are more techs than there are tech jobs. you do what your managmeent says, how they say it and when they say it and deal with the things you don't like -- or you can look forward to living on the street. The age of making your employees content and happy so they'll stay is over. It's back to the normal century-long "work here out of fear -- not out of pleasure"

What about the sequel? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284605)

I'm waiting for the sequel:
"Managing Programmers who Think They're Einsteins
(but who are really idiots)"

you beer-bong shit (-1)

Sexual Asspussy (453406) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284638)

you herpetic gumball.

#!HEY LISTEN UP FAGGOTS
posting AC is for fucking QUEEEERS | | / /
"MEN" who want to fuck other "MEN" ( ( |=D ( ( =D
mmmmmmm the sweet taste of BALL SAP | | |@ | | @
can't get ENOUGH can you FAGGOTS??
right over here -- this is your "LOVER" --^^^ ^
and THIS HERE is your ASS about to get FUCKED ------|

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Re:you beer-bong shit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284690)

That isn't very nice. Would you show your post to your mother?

I could use this (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284841)

I could use this. I'm in charge of the tech group at work. Given, this is a small company and the tech group just consisted of me up until 4 months ago. Now I've got 3 people under me. I'm always inclusive and I always talk about "us", "we", etc... One day I said something like "Yes, the owner should be able to call on any one of us to perform a given task and we should all be able to do it with no problems." And this one guy pipes up "Yeah, tell me about it. John doesn't seem to trust me, but he has to understand that I'm just as good as you." To understand the irony here, you must understand that he said this despite the fact that every time there is an issue that requires a little bit of critical thinking skills or that is not already spelled out in easy-to-understand steps he comes to me, out of breath and panicking, asking "what do I do now? How does this work? I don't know what to do. Please tell me how to fix this." Even worse on top of that, he takes the credit afterwards. I've been trying to play nice, but I'm going to need to beat him with a cluestick real soon.

So I guess this whole long story was to validate a need for your book.

first post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284608)

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Makes sense (2, Interesting)

Dead Penis Bird (524912) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284611)

When dealing with highly intelligent employees, it's counter-productive to put them on a regimented schedule, in a cramped cube and expect them to turn out quality work.

Though I'm not an "Einsein" in the typical sense used in the review, I find that a lot of the ideas presented can apply to people in my field of accounting. It's another highly specialized field requiring a certain type of worker, and a quirky lot at that.

Way offtopic.... (2, Funny)

L-Wave (515413) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284613)

But could you imagine managing a bunch of cloned einsteins?? This could be in interesting project, perhaps collectivly the beowolf cluster of einsteins could figure out many of the worlds perplexing questions =) anyways, thats my random thought for the day...

Re:Way offtopic.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284717)

OH WOW!
You made a witty comment about a beowulf cluster or something!!!
Nobody has ever done that before!!! EVER!!!

YOU ARE SO ORIGINAL AND WITTY!!!!!!

EINSTEIN WAS BLACK (-1)

Proctal Relapse (467579) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284614)

KEEP THE RUMOR GOING

#!HEY LISTEN UP FAGGOTS
posting AC is for fucking QUEEEERS | | / /
"MEN" who want to fuck other "MEN" ( ( |=D ( ( =D
mmmmmmm the sweet taste of BALL SAP | | |@ | | @
can't get ENOUGH can you FAGGOTS??
right over here -- this is your "LOVER" --^^^ ^
and THIS HERE is your ASS about to get FUCKED ------|

FAGSFAGS ho mo FAIRY GA Y! AC= GAY#! !
gay ho mo fa GA y! A C Yo !
gaylord ho mo GG gays A C ur !
gay ho mo ot GA y! AC=GAY eG `
gay QUEER FAIRY GA Y! A C AY$!# .

Try to get your PHB to read this (1)

egileye (530756) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284617)

The problem with this book could be trying to get your PHB to actually read it. Acknowledge that the people that work for him/her are actually smarter than them? Much less "Einsteins"? I can't see it.

Re:Try to get your PHB to read this (3, Funny)

banda (206438) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284886)

You've hit the nail on the head.
My boss, for instance, really believes that he is "solving the problems when others don't understand the question." In reality, he is often the problem that must be solved by his subordinates. He would never believe that he is not part of the "engine of change." He's really more like the "wheel chocks of ignorance."

4 Posts in one! (5, Insightful)

dmorin (25609) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284619)

Moderate at will.
  1. Recruit Einsteins? How old is this book? Who the hell is recruiting anybody anymore? :)
  2. Exactly how much of a cocky bastard does it make me if I tell my boss we should get a copy of this book?
  3. Didn't seebs write something about managing hackers (and/or herding cats) that has much the same advice, has been around longer, and is more "truer to the cause" since it was written by one of us instead of a bunch of management professionals who claim to understand us?
  4. Is there a chapter about how we still want beanbag chairs and free soda?

Re:4 Posts in one! (0)

kefoo (254567) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284663)

Exactly how much of a cocky bastard does it make me if I tell my boss we should get a copy of this book?

In my experience you have about a 50/50 chance of getting smacked. I've had some bosses who were (at least somewhat) receptive to this sort of thing, and some who think they can do no wrong.

Re:4 Posts in one! (1)

jlower (174474) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284677)

Who the hell is recruiting anybody anymore?

We are! There are still lots of good jobs that demand very specialized or obscure knowledge. If you have that kind of experience you can expect to be recruited agressively.

We could use a couple more developers *right now* but they just aren't available. Our choices are to use contractors (which we are doing) or spend 6 months or more training someone in-house before they even begin to be productive.

Where are you? (2)

drew_kime (303965) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284748)

Who the hell is recruiting anybody anymore?

We are!


So where are you located, and where do I submit my resume?

Re:4 Posts in one! (2)

Suidae (162977) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284714)

Is there a chapter about how we still want beanbag chairs and free soda?

I hope so, I won't work anywhere that doesn't have free soda.

They only listen to each other (3, Insightful)

drew_kime (303965) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284722)

Didn't seebs write something about managing hackers (and/or herding cats) that has much the same advice, has been around longer, and is more "truer to the cause" since it was written by one of us instead of a bunch of management professionals who claim to understand us?

Managment types don't listen to geeks. If they did, we wouldn't need books like this in the first place.

Re:4 Posts in one! (2)

Binky The Oracle (567747) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284742)

Didn't seebs write something about managing hackers (and/or herding cats) that has much the same advice, has been around longer, and is more "truer to the cause" since it was written by one of us instead of a bunch of management professionals who claim to understand us?

Perhaps the Seebs book is "truer to the cause" (I haven't read it, so I can't comment), but assuming that the majority of this new book is accurate (and the review makes it look pretty good), wouldn't you rather have a PHB read a book from a source they trust?

A book written about a geek by a geek will be suspect in management's eyes... a book written about a geek by a management professional will have much greater credibility.

Re:4 Posts in one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284756)

Maybe slashcode could add a button like "Anonymously Mail This Article->" so we can share the knowledge with management (who dont read slashdot) without looking like a cocky bastard.

Amen! Try this exercise: (2)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284760)

How old is this book? Who the hell is recruiting anybody anymore?


Go on Craig's List or some other job board and place a bogus ad for Java or VB coders, or some other mid-range skill position.

You will receive one hundred resumes within six hours.

What tech workers want? (1)

angst7 (62954) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284623)

Here are my current list of demands for a livable tech working environment:

1. Climbing Wall
2. Chalk Bag
3. Pop Tarts
4. Wearable PC
5. Free tickets to Star Wars movies.

Don't need much else, thanks.

-------
Jedimom.com [jedimom.com] , ph-balanced, for women.

Re:What tech workers want? (3, Insightful)

carm$y$ (532675) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284657)

Wake up, 1999 was over two years ago; nowdays you'll get a cubicle.

Re:What tech workers want? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284700)

1999 is *STILL* over.

Re:What tech workers want? (1)

carm$y$ (532675) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284731)

Ok, let me rephrase that: "1999 ended more than two years ago".

Re:What tech workers want? (2)

aminorex (141494) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284745)

Maybe *you* will, but I telecommute or I don't
take the job. Skills and talents determine
the perks you can demand.

Re:What tech workers want? (1)

carm$y$ (532675) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284789)

I personally *hate* working from home. This, and... who's going for a beer with the guys afterwards? ;)

Re:What tech workers want? (1)

southpolesammy (150094) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284673)

Stealing unashamedly from Dilbert:

"People may think that IT is built on silicon and transistors, but foam rubber and plastic toys are equally important."

Re:What tech workers want? (1)

pokeyburro (472024) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284743)

Great list! But you forgot a few:

- T1 link
- choice of OS to develop in
- bookshelf (I can supply the books)
- marker board
- no #!$@ dress code

Not required, but definitely appreciated:
- microwave
- TV with VCR
- a good chair, dammit!
- sofa for naps
- massage therapist

Re:What tech workers want? (4, Interesting)

David Kennedy (128669) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284920)

Maybe I'm weird. I don't want toys. My list:
1) Upper quartile pay for my work location and expertise.
2) Pension scheme.
3) Health insurance.
4) Bonuses/options.
5) No dress code.
6) Novel and interesting work domain.
7) Access to powerful development and test machines.
8) Choice of technologies for projects.

Disgusting arrogance (-1, Offtopic)

pong (18266) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284627)

'nuff said

Re:Disgusting arrogance (2, Insightful)

carm$y$ (532675) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284704)

Actually, there is something to say about this: this kind of books are allegedly written for managers, but the intended audience doesn't have neither the time nor a particular drive to read it

It's like karma-whoring on /. : you say what you have to say to make the *real* audience happy, and make it sound you're not even targeting this audience. In other words, the book seems to be a book "for managers" - but to be read and paid by the techies...

Re:Disgusting arrogance (2)

aminorex (141494) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284764)

Indeed, I'm quite pleased if I get a manager who
can *read*.

Important point (5, Insightful)

jlower (174474) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284635)

The review touched on it but I think it's important to note that being smart doesn't make you a good manager. In my career I've seen great programmers promoted to management positions simply because they (the company) couldn't think of any other way to reward them for being good.

In a department I used to work for, the best programmer is now riding herd on all the programmers. He's a great coder but not a great manager. But, the culture is that you have to keep getting promoted or there must be something wrong with you so up the ladder he went.

Now, when he fails as a manager what happens? He can't really go back to being a coder - too much like a demotion.

The root of the problem is the concept of a salary range for a given job. People can't get a raise because they are max'd out for their job. Want to make more? Leave the job you're good at and move to management. It ain't right but that's the way it is.

True enough. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284778)

That's why my business model is you're hired at a base salary and get quarterly bonuses based on performance of the company as a whole. Company goes to shit no bonus. Company does well you've got tons of cash to burn.

Paying this way brings two important factors to conclusion. #1 the what's in it for me if the company gets these extra 300 clients (as opposed to just more work). and #2 it forces the employees to take a close look at their financial situation and plan accordingly (this helps them to save because they only have a limited idea on how much then next bonus will be).

The employees are given incentive and rewarded for helping the company. In turn they take part of the risk.

Treat employees well and your company will prosper.

Re:Important point (3, Informative)

psin psycle (118560) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284796)

You've just described the Peter Principle [vub.ac.be]

Re:Important point (0, Redundant)

Asprin (545477) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284817)

There's a name for this - I think it's called the "Peter Pan Effect" or "The Peter Principle" or something to that effect. Basically, everyone rises to their own level of incompetence.

Re:Important point (2)

disappear (21915) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284845)

I think it's called the "Peter Pan Effect" or "The Peter Principle" or something to that effect. Basically, everyone rises to their own level of incompetence.

The Peter Principle, yes.

Unfortunately it's not entirely true: I know a number of people who have risen far beyond their level of incompetence.

This is typically because the manager doesn't want this person working for them --- the employee is a total idiot, of course, and usually grating, too --- so the manager gets said employee promoted to the same level as him or herself, thereby no longer "getting" to manage said employee.

Re:Important point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284848)

It's probably because a good coder can only do so much. No matter how much code you produce, you are not having that big of an impact on the company's bottom line (unless its an 100 person company). A person that can effectively manage a team of 20 developers ulitmately has more effect on the well-being of the company. Just as the manager of all the managers has that much more of an effect.

That being said, how much more code can the greatest code produce relative to someone just out of school? 2x? 3x? 4x? Whatever point that is, when the greatest coder makes more than 4x the amount of someone out of school, it's time to fire him/her and hire 4 new people.

Re:Important point (1)

einstein (10761) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284857)

I've heard that IBM is really good a preventing this. They have two promotion paths, one technical, one managerial. you can go up the tech path, take a lateral promotion to the managerial side, same pay, go up a few rungs as a manager, decide you'd rather be a tech, take another lateral transfer back to being a tech. It sounds like a beautiful solution. I'm afraid it would only work for organizations that are as big as IBM though. most smaller companies probably just don't have the sheer number of positions to allow such shuffling back and forth.
---

Elitism, oh so tasty (2, Insightful)

DohDamit (549317) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284643)

I was looking for something, anything, in the review that said this advisory text was specifically targetted at a super-intelligent audience. Not a bright audience, mind you. After all, Einstein wasn't merely bright(like me.) He was a genius for the ages. Of course, I was curious as to where all these super-geniuses were when the business plans were being drawn up, but ahh well, who am I to question them.

There was nothing that was targetted specifically at said employee subset. Not a thing was said that wouldn't apply to every employee.

On the plus side, this book doesn't even have to be read to be helpful. This book is a standard management text with the marketing built into the title of the book and nowhere else.

Re:Elitism, oh so tasty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284820)

>> After all, Einstein wasn't merely bright(like me.) He was a genius for the ages.

Einstein's genius wasn't really related to what most people consider being smart/bright. The genius of Einstein was in being able to ask questions that on the surface look silly/trivial, but are deeply profound. That kind creativity can be more closely related to really great tech workers than you seem to think. But as you point out they are the rare ones... and in most operations you won't see them because they don't show up to write code... they are more interested in working on the fundamentally hard problems.

>>Of course, I was curious as to where all these super-geniuses were when the business plans were being drawn up, but ahh well, who am I to question them.

Simple, they were thinking about problems that interested them ... business plans were not perceived as interesting.

Hacker Employment FAQ (1)

lightray (215185) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284887)

I find it ironic that the point is specifically made that one should avoid the term geek, yet in its place, the author selects the term Einstein. It sounds like elementary school all over again.

Anyway, I wanted to point out an internet resource I found long ago called The Hacker Employment FAQ [splorg.org] which pretty much addresses the same audience as this book, except it uses the much more appropriate label Hacker rather than resorting to names of great physicists of the twentieth century.

Another theme (0)

kefoo (254567) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284648)

Here's another theme to add to the list: When a manager mismanages a project (i.e. witholding some requirements until the implementation is done), don't blame the programmer. It just makes them bitter and less agreeable on future projects. My department has lost some good people because of this sort of behavior. Don't assume you're always right just because you're a manager.

All I ask from my manager: (5, Insightful)

knewman_1971 (549573) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284658)

1. Please don't micro-manage me - give me a goal, set my paramters, then get the hell out of my way. I promise that I'll amaze you in short order. 2. Don't lie to me about the state of the company. If we're in the crapper, let me know. I know you're scared that if you paint a less-than-rosy picture, I might just leave. But if you paint a rosy picture, and I find out that you're blowing sunshine up my ass, you can rest assured that I'm going to leave. 3. Remember the cardinal rule - if you hire adults, and treat them like adults, they'll probably behave like adults. (Of course, if you tell me that I can shoot Nerf guns at my cube-neighbor, don't be surprised when I do...) 4. Don't make me play any of those stupid touchy-feely games at meetings. I'm not at work to bond by force. If I need to get in touch with my deeper self, I'll do it on my own time. See rule 1. Course, that's just my opinion...yada yada.

How To Respond to 'Touchy-Feely' Games @ work? (2)

idonotexist (450877) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284766)

I am curious to hear how others respond to meetings or 'parts of meetings' requesting you to imagine things such as: "a circle, with the line colored in your favorite color, but not red because red is too negative. Now, think of the moment of your life you felt best where you felt like you were number one! You felt confident and ready to challenge anything in the world. Now, insert that moment in the circle. The circle with your favorite color, other than red or, I forgot to mention, black, is in front of you. Go ahead and take a step forward into the circle. Go ahead! Now, how do you feel!?!"

This is the type of shit I must confront in the work-place and entirely agree with parent: " I'm not at work to bond by force. If I need to get in touch with my deeper self, I'll do it on my own time." But, how do I respond to such requests, instead of taking a deep-breath and doing it, again? Any template responses to share?

Re:How To Respond to 'Touchy-Feely' Games @ work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284912)

Well, you could excuse yourself to go to the men's room, and go back to your desk instead of returning to the meeting.

But that's a chickenshit method. Me, I just say, "I have several projects that are due next week. Is my participation in this exercise *truly* necessary?"

The PHB doesn't dare say yes.

replace (4, Funny)

zephc (225327) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284670)

s/Einstein/People obviously smarter and more talented that you/g

Stick THAT in your MBA PHB pipe and smoke it, Mr.!

Not that I'm bitter =]

I'll tell you how to keep us happy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284672)

How to keep tech workers happy, given that they likely don't want the same things as their bosses, and certainly would choose different ways to achieve them?

Barrels and barrels of Red Vines. Breakfast burritos, pizza, snickers bars, egg mcmuffins, and microvave popcorn. And keep the fridge full of soda. Also, try not to say anything bad about Hobbits or Linux. Finally, take us seriously when we request 4 months of vacation to camp out for the next Star Wars movie.

Re:I'll tell you how to keep us happy (5, Insightful)

David Kennedy (128669) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284897)

I know you're being funny...I hate this self-stereotyping of technical staff.

I don't want free sodas at work (I do like the subsidised canteen to be decent quality though), I don't want junk food, I don't want trash all over cubicle, I don't obsess about [Monty Python|Star Wars|LoTR], I don't want to fire Nerf Guns at fellow employees - I want to be treated like a mature professional doing a professional job.

I want money not some novelties scattered around the room. I want a quiet office, not a playpen. I agree that I want to know when the business is on the slide. I want influence and respect from people in suits. I want to be understood when I talk at project meetings. I want an understanding in the manager's head of why what I'm telling matters.

Tricking out your cubicle with action figures etc is just begging to be treated like a child. No wonder your boss seems like the PHB; to him/her you probably seem like a child. Or worse, a social misfit, a weirdo. Someone who's useful but fundementally unreliable.

Secondly, I don't see much "geek attitude" or reviews of Episode II trailers in mainstream trade journals (Dr Dobbs, Appication Development Advisor, Software Development) or in more seriously coding forums. In my experience, and I know this is pressing buttons, those who most loudly beg for ping-pong tables in work are those with the most inflated egos and least developed skills. Lets face it /., there's an opinion among many developers that the crowd here is nothing but a bunch of schoolkids with delusions of knowledge; don't feed them.

RePher3nce JoHN K4+z ? FUcK!! (-1)

Dada Troll (550459) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284679)

FUCK J00 opHPH, J0HN K@Tz 5uCk5 my 5hit!!1

huHyhUhVHYHU!!

Just like a bunch of Einsteins (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284691)

Here we have a serious topic, and you're all making light of the matter

Training and Education? (2, Insightful)

Johannes (33283) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284702)

While I'm not sure I would qualify myself as an "Einstein", I would say that I'm a geek.

While I can agree with some of the themes, I generally view training and education as worthless most times. I'd much rather have a piece of software dropped in front of me and give me 2 days to play with it than go off to some training course somewhere else to have it explained to me like I'm a toddler.

Am I the only one?

More like "Think They're Einsteins" (4, Interesting)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284716)

And thats the crux of the problem. Often you have to deal with people who are not only immodest about their own abilities, but are often falsely immodest. I cannot begin to tell you how many Valley types think they are precious, irreplacable little snowflakes who wake up every morning knowing something new that us mere mortals simply could never divine.

Re:More like "Think They're Einsteins" (2)

JimPooley (150814) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284810)

I'll drink to that. The bloke I replaced thought he was god's gift, and far more clever than anyone else could ever possibly be.
I thought he was a useless tosser who was all mouth and no trousers, and everyone hated him.
Once I came to go through some of his work, I discovered that he'd spent the majority of his time adding pointless non-functional complexity to his scripts to make things look more difficult (and himself more clever) than they really were.
Arse!

The Golden Rule of Management (2)

dgroskind (198819) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284721)

His advice: Managers should be honest with their workers about the company's successes and failures, the point of management is to guide and suggest not to be autocratic, let the Einsteins have freedom in work environment, Einsteins are project-focused, not job-focused, they value training and education highly, they require a stimulating and fun work place.

So how does this advice apply to Einsteins more than any other kind worker in any other department?

This advice could be summarized by the Golden Rule of Management: Do unto your staff as you would have your manager do onto you.

He could have also said, when all else fails, raise their salary.

nerf guns. (1)

Innomi (566928) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284737)

Require a daily nerf war and geeks will flock to the job.

Re:nerf guns. (2)

aminorex (141494) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284798)

I've heard of this culture, but I've never seen
it in reality. I have always suspected it was a
creation of the ooh-aah gawking tech press during
the internet stock market bubble.

Is that what it's like in your neck of the woods,
or is it just what you've read about in Wired?
Most of the intelligent people I know are very
interested in accomplishing things, and tend not
to appreciate nerf arrows any more than sales
meetings. They usually don't kick it out until
they are stuck or wiped out or pissed off.

Re:nerf guns. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284871)

This has the added side benefit of getting all the geeks out of the way so the intelligent, sociable, talented technology professionals can actually gets some work done instead of being harassed by the local Beast-Bearded Dirty GNU Hippy for running Linux on our alarm clocks.

the best managers (3, Insightful)

dolphin558 (533226) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284738)

The best managers(especially in this field) are probably those who listen to their employees and actively work with them to find the best solutions. To all managers: stop asking other managers on tips on the most efficient ways of finishing projects...ask your own employees!

Just because you _can_ doesn't mean you _wanna_ (4, Insightful)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284750)

My main pet peeve with the IT generation of managers is that they equate what is technically possible ("Hey, programmer, can we do this?") with what their minions actually want to do.

I dont think you'll find many construction workers that like to build useless buildings (where the mgmt. in this scenario would cry, "Why not! You're building stuff! You're a builder!". In my mind, management tends to ignore the social aspects of project planning. I always like to say that I could write a scalable distributed inventory management solution in binary, if I really had to, but because of how utterly soul sucking and unfun that would be, I promise no matter how self-disciplined I might be, it will suck. Simply because I won't believe in _what_ I'm building, and thus my work will reflect that.

Management needs to do a better job of understanding why programmers and techies often seem to resentful when being assigned projects - as the .com flop showed, those grumblins and skeptical snide remarks by your programmers are often going to be the first sign that what you're building might not be worth the social and technical trouble that the project will cause.

Now, much of the IT industry is about spurring people against their will using rewards such as high salaries and job perks (nerf guns anyone?) to entice them to building things that businesses want. Programmers and techies can spot and sniff the 'empty promises' in technology (and there are tons), and it is a sign of bad management that ignores those types of hesitations and flies on the basis of what is 'techically possible' alone.

I Am Not Einstien (-1)

Rock 'N' Troll (566273) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284765)

NOOOOOOO don't mod me dowN :((((((((((

I cen barele make a livin like this Dont you take the last peace of bread away from me and my poor childeren :(((((

A Milestone? (1)

ath0mic (519762) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284767)

As this is the only book at the moment that deals directly with managing this class of workers, also get your manager to read Jon Katz's Geeks

Perhaps the only recommendation I have ever seen to read Katz.

What about reverse? (5, Insightful)

garver (30881) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284773)

Where's the book "Working for PHBs"? Seriously, isn't that the other half of the problem? The word "Einstein" is used derisively, I think, to say IT workers are arrogant asses that assume all those above and around them are idiots. So, "Managing Einsteins" would be a book about appeasing these Einsteins while getting them to do what you want (e.g. herding cats).

On the other hand, the Einsteins derisively refer to management as PHBs because they don't completely understand technical issues and make decisions on loose technical-ground. Sure, we could blow this issue off as management being stupid, or we can learn, for example, how better to comminucate the issues so the PHBs can make better decisions. It might also enlighten us to the fact there is more to a decision than just the technical side, such as marketing, customer acceptance, product portfolio, etc.

Bottom line, its two different cultures. To get them to work together requires efforts and respect on both sides.

Salesmen are only motivated by money? (2)

The Wing Lover (106357) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284775)

I know it's a cool Dilbert-esque thing to make fun of salesmen, but it's a rather stupid assumption to assume that salesmen are any more or less motivated by money than "Einsteins".

The last time I checked, salesmen are human too, and as such have a fairly wide range of motivations, from workplace comfort to a good peer group to flexible hours to money.

Or maybe the sales guys at my company are just weird...

Re:Salesmen are only motivated by money? (1)

zhrike (448699) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284894)

I know it's a cool Dilbert-esque thing to make fun of salesmen, but it's a rather stupid assumption to assume that salesmen are any more or less motivated by money than "Einsteins".

Everyone is motivated by money to a certain extent. For me, it is a means to an end, and nothing more. Money could never get me to relax my principles, or act as I would not normally. Looking at it in that light, and having worked both in sales and IT, I think that salepeople are far more likely to be motivated by the thought of accruing money and material things, whether it be for them personally, or for an organization.

my .02

Re:Salesmen are only motivated by money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284899)

Or maybe the sales guys at my company are just weird...


yup.

Only IT workers? (4, Insightful)

zeus_tfc (222250) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284785)

At the risk of reminding people that there are more ner...ah, "Einsteins" out there than Computer "Einsteins", I think this has more applications than just in the IT industry. The IT industry has been heavily stereotyped, but so have engineers. I work in the Plastic Injection Molding industry, designing automotive parts. How much less does this apply to me? Our Engineers need to feel at ease in office. We need the freedom to be creative and imaginative. This benefits the company as well as the engineers. How?
1)Patents. The company gets a patent with the Engineer's name on it.
2)Money. Our new ideas could potentially save tooling costs, material, or cycle time, all of which means we can save our customer money, and make more money.

Slashdot may be "News for Nerds", but I think people need to be reminded that all nerds aren't computer nerds

just an opinion

Pukeola! (2)

JimPooley (150814) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284793)

Holy moly! What a pretentious load of wank this book is. 'Managing Einsteins', indeed. I love this bit: "a stimulating and fun work place" No. Stimulating and Fun is what I do when i'm NOT at work!

Gross generalizations (2)

joshv (13017) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284795)

Who doesn't hate it when a promised project get's shitcanned?

Who likes to be constantly interrupted from productive work?

What percentage of *all* employees are interested in promotion management? In my experience IT people are no less likely to want to be promoted to management.

Who doesn't like work that is challenging, but achievable?

And as far as IT workers enjoying a "project focus" - doesn't everyone? It's nice to have some structure, a beginning, a middle and an end. I don't think a desire for such structure is unique to geeks.

The points the book makes are very general management principles, and don't apply to only "Einsteins".

-josh

bu? (4, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284801)

tribal and independent.

But that..err..

Wouldn't--?

Nevermind.

how to keep me happy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284831)

Don't micro-manage me.

For example, don't lecture me on supposed "inappropriate" behavior, like farting loudly during meetings or picking my scabs with the stylus of my palm pilot. Also, if I want to wear my Wrath of Khan t-shirt every day, that's my business. Along with keeping my collection of "Tomb Raider" action figures in the crotch of my sweat pants.

Katz Tie-In (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284846)

It looks really tacky for Slashdot to tie-in Katz's book into this review. Please, have some journalistic integrity.

It's a shame... (1)

Omnibus (1831) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284850)

that 99% of tech workers and programmers are utter idiots. The last thing I would say about managing tech workers is that I "manage Einsteins"

I'm sure the true Einsteins of the tech world know this is fact also.

Those who read it area already clued in (5, Insightful)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284864)

Here's something about managing: the people who take the discipline of leading an organization seriously (yes, it's a discipline, and a difficult one) are always searching to learn more. They want to be better managers.

Most managers, however, are not necessarily trying to become better managers. In organizations both large and small, management training often consists of a 30-minute exit interview with the person you're replacing (if you're lucky).

Someone's a good accountant? Make them head of accounting. Got a really kick-ass salesperson? Make her head of sales. One of your Java programmers knows more than the rest of the team? Make him your CTO. After being promoted to such a position, with no real leadership training, how could you not assume that you're just a natural born leader?

Unfortunately this approach just doesn't work. Cultivating leadership in any organization is difficult, time-consuming, and doesn't offer immediate dollars-and-cents results that the bean-counters can quantify. The fact that there is so much literature on leadership shows the very real dearth of good organizational leadership training in the corporate world.

The managers who read this book are likely improving their management skills, but they're not the ones who need to read it. Unfortunately, the ones who do need to read such books never will, because they know they've already got that "management thing" all figured out.

The book is wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284865)

To keep technical people happy you give them the following;
1. Lots of pron.
2. A fridge full of free cokes.
3. Keep their hardware up to date.
4. Have a few girls in the office for them to try and chat up.

oh and pay them lots, they like that the best :)

New Book (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3284867)

Soon the much anticipated, "Managing Einstens For Dummies," will be released. This one should really sell.

nerdy are admired for their computer programming (0, Offtopic)

thaths (12644) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284874)

Brought to mind a Homer quote:



When will you Australians learn? In America we stopped using corporal punishment, and things have never been better! The streets are safe. Old people strut confidently through the darkest alleys. And the weak and nerdy are admired for their computer-programming abilities. So, like us, let your children run wild and free, because, as the old saying goes, "Let your children run wild and free."

How to motivate AI Al. (-1, Offtopic)

Mentifex (187202) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284876)

Physics Einsteins are r-e-l-a-t-i-v-e-l-y cheap (das ist die Relativitaetstheorie), and it is much more difficult to garner a Visual Basic AI Einstein [virtualentity.com] or a Java Robot AI Mind Einstein. [angelfire.com] So how do we motivate the extremely rare AI Einsteins? Here is how.

We whisper sweetly [sweetcode.org] here on Slashdot the tide-in-the-affairs-of-men call for Your Majesty the Great and Skillful Coder [resentment.org] to join in the distributed, speciating creation of the Robot AI Mind. [scn.org] The rest is history.

Managing technical people (5, Insightful)

thesparkle (174382) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284882)

I have been a manager in different capacities for the past 5 or so years and here is my take on this:

1) Treat people the way you want to be treated. Nobody likes working for a taskmaster or driven to the point of burnout. Treat people (especially people you are responsible for!) with respect and they in turn will respect you and the organization.

2) Make goals, plans, project, expectations, etc clear. Vague, mushy, "changing target, shifting paradigm BS" does not encourage or motivate people.

3) Be flexible in what you do and your people will be as well. If you want someone to fix something at 2 AM, offer them the opportunity to work business hours from home, or from another suitable remote location on a regular basis.

4) Train, educate, teach. Send people to offsite classes. Buy them books and software if they request it. Subscribe to magazines and journals. Send people to conferences and conventions. Invest in your people and they will bring back knowledge and stay for more. If you are worried that CCNA you just paid for will leave after certification than you either hired the wrong person or you have a crappy workplace. Good people stay at good places for more good training and investment.

5) Be honest. If things are bad at the company and there will be layoffs or bancruptcy, let your people know as soon and with as much information as soon as possible. People have mortgages, families, bills. Show some respect.

6) Remember personal lives. Tech workers are no different than other people. What we have all found out in the past few years is that tech workers don't want to sleep under their desks for 10 years. Send them home. Let them spend uninterrupted time with friends, family, and other non-work beings.

7) Free cokes, toys, games, and other fluff is just that - fluff. In today's "Enroned", recessionary times, people want stability, reliability and honesty more than a foozeball table, rollerblade court and hiking trips. Tech workers (for that matter all workers) should not have to worry if paychecks will bounce or be non-existant, if their 401k or pension scheme is solvent, or if their payroll taxes are being filed correctly.

8) Finally, have technical people with leadership qualities lead. I was a sysadmin and network admin before being tapped for a management role. I understand what my people are talking about from experience, not from a book or training class.

Just some thoughts from the last few years. All lessons learned from experience.

I won't be buyin it (0)

Henry_Doors (472185) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284890)

I'm an IT team leader so I guess this book is aimed at me but I won't be rushing out to buy it.

Firstly there is the stupid title (the cover is even worse) - as an ex-geek (or should that be lapsed?) I think it is midly insulting. I'm sure no programmers were involved in writing the book -

Secondly it doesn't seem from the review to be saying anything new. Most of this has been well covered in a variety of books and articles.

For instance there is a section in Steve McConnels Software Project Survival Guide which covers many of the points mentioned in the review.

The 'herding cats' anology has been used a lot - I first picked up on it in Close to the Machine by Ellen Ullman 5 years ago.

The bottom line is applying the title of Einstien to most tech workers is such a stupid idea that only a management consultant could have come up with it.

If you want to find out how to manage programmers read books written by (ex)programmers.

Don't lie to me about deadlines (5, Insightful)

revbob (155074) | more than 12 years ago | (#3284904)

I may or may not be an Einstein, but forget about not lying to me about the health of the company. I can figure that out by myself. But never lie to me about a deadline.

If you say "I absolutely have to have this by such-and-such a date," I'll sacrifice my mind and body to make the deadline.

But if I turn my work in and discover that you weren't serious about the deadline, it'll be a cold day in hell before I do it for you again.

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