GeekWire Interview with Joel Spolsky

Joel Spolsky, CEO at the Stack Exchange Network, CEO at Fog Creek Software and co-founder of Trello, talks about a few topics in this interview. He explains why developer don’t like open floor offices, talks a little about the favorite languages and explains the Joel Test.

I totally agree with him about the open floor office. It’s horrible, you can’t focus on your work and get a flow going. It’s important to get in the state of mind where you can let the creativity flow, imaging software development as writing book, without the right state of mind you won’t be productive.

When it comes to office designs, distractions are a big nuisance when trying to get into the flow. When you get interrupted during the flow, it takes some minutes to get back into the flow again. Open offices tend to create interruptions.

I was once working in a small scale open floor office. It was a pain to teach the sales force to not simply come into the room and interrupt everyone. Sales persons tend to need input and they need their input now. Teaching them to prepare their questions in an ordered way and inviting the technician to a meeting does wonders in that regard.

That behavior is understand able, but could break a good flow of code. Joel notes that developers get 2 hours of uninterrupted coding time. During that time, I think the team I’m working with didn’t get that time at all.

How can you help your developers?

It should be easy to get your developers the uninterrupted daily flow time. The first step is to plan your office time well. Introduce a stand up meeting and enforce the a time constrain. Next start to use your meeting planing tools, block a fixed time slot every day. Figure out the most productive time for every of your developers and let them block that time in their calendar.

So when you see some issues in your current workforce, look at the environment they are working in. It might actually be that your workforce simply needs some flow time to get back on track. When you think your team lacks other issues as well feel free to contact me. It might be easy to get you back on track and make your team deliver great software in time. When you currently not able to answer 12 of 12 questions of the Joel Test with yes, contact me as well and we will figure out how to proceed.

This post is also available in: German