tau-conf #4

We run internal conferences every 6 months. Next one is big enough to have 2 days conference. Here is the program:

tau 4 #all (10 sessions) / day 1
10:00 Gamification. Using game elements in management, marketing, etc. Personal experience from support team / S. Gnedin
10:30 Professional deformation / A. Kovaleva
10:50 coffee break
11:00 Feedback Loops / U. Petriko
11:45 Value-Driven Development (How I run my cozy project using tp3). How to do the right things / A. Parasiatsyeu
12:30 lunch
13:30 Probability Theory for Dummies / A. Shnyukova
14:30 coffee break
14:45 Agile Portfolio Management / D. Borovsky
15:15 Enneagram as a tool of right communication / N. Yadrentseva
16:15 coffee break
16:30 Intro into Game Development / V. Gaidukevich
17:15 coffee break
17:30 How to choose the right chart for your data / O. Seriaga
18:00 Visual Specifications. Why most specifications suck and how to improve them / M. Dubakov

tau 4 #dev (6 sessions) / day 2
11:00 Nature of concurrent and distributed programming. Basic principles of concurrent and distributed programming, their formal foundation, examples on programming languages / A. Shotkin
12:00 coffee break
12:15 Applicative Functors, Monoids and Monads — who are they? With examples in haskell / S. Truhtanov
13:00 lunch
14:00 JavaScript VM / K. Krivlenia
14:45 coffee break
15:00 Intro to Lambda-calculus. Theoretical foundations of functional programming / U.Abramchuk
16:00 coffee break
16:15 New APIs in your browser. Less known features of modern browsers (DOM traversing without jQuery, CSS selectors, Web Components, a little of ES6) / A. Shytkin
17:00 coffee break
17:15 Formal verification. How to write programs to verify other programs / A. Famin

A Curious Company

Recently I’ve got an interesting question: “Do you hire people who learn new things or do you create an environment where everyone starts learning”? Who is this mysterious “everyone”? These people are not very active. These people prefer to adopt to existing conditions and follow the rules. I answered almost immediately “both”, but what really is more important?

I’ve always learned new things. Sure, my self-education style is far from perfect. I jump from subject to subject and read quite random books from disciplines barely related to my actual work. I know that and trying to fix that. I’m 33. Right now I try to gain fundamental CS knowledge (while I don’t actually need to). I’m a CEO of a small 35-people-company. Bootstrapped. Profitable. And curious.

The spirit of curiosity was always inside me. It was inside our company in early days, but depleted. Novelty darkened and goals blurred. The company started to look like “just one more place to work at”. I hated that feeling. We did common tasks, released common features. It was two years ago. Two years ago we’ve changed everything.

What is the right goal for the company? Do something incredibly cool, something that you can honorably call “the best in the world”. Why the hell spend your time on boring, common staff? Fuck it. You don’t want to create “yet another twitter client”. You want to create “best in the world twitter client”. If you can’t, learn and try or die trying. We set the goal to create “the best in the world agile project management softwarefor small and medium companies”. And suddenly everything started to look sooo simple.

What do you need to do something best in the world? More precise, “who” do you need? You need the best people. Most likely you don’t have them yet, but there is a good chance you can grow them. Why not? You don’t need people who hate changes. You don’t need people who hate learning. You need curious, hungry and intelligent people.

If you have best people, you should provide best place to work at. You should provide productive working environment, best equipment, free food, large tables. You should create an atmosphere that encourages creativity, tolerates failures and punish mediocrity. People should feel that they REALLY can learn, try new things, explore ideas and make intelligent decisions THEMSELVES.

You should not track time, you should not estimate effort, you should not set deadlines. You should trust people, set ambitious goals and help them learn. We did that.

Looking back I see the outstanding difference. Today we run internal conferences twice a year and the level of sessions is very good. People may spend 5 hrs each Friday on personal learning and several side projects were started like in-browser RPG, prototyping tool, iPad apps. They read more books and visit more conferences. And if you hear intense discussion about monadin a kitchen, you know the spirit of curiosity is back.

I don’t know whether we succeed as a company in a long term, whether we will create the best in the world agile tool. I believe, oh yes, but I can’t be certain. I personally not the best CEO. What I know is that work is a real fun here again. We are improving every single detail of our company with passion. Not as fast as I often want, but speed follows skills.

So what is more important? I think environment and culture is more important than people. Initially you have a few who learn and push the train forward. If you have the right environment and right hiring, you’ll have a critical mass of curious people eventually. Then there is no difference — this core of active people will do everything and build-in curiosity and learning inside a company DNA. All you need to do as a CEO is set goals, maintain trust, support people and sometimes kick-start activities to keep things going in rare low-mood times.

And please stop motivate people, they hate it.

Taucraft Conference #2 is coming

June 17

10:31 Agile Development Trends     …Michael Dubakov /ALL

11:55 How to Use Twitter Effectively     …Olga Kouzina /ALL

12:25 Coffee Break  

12:35 REST     …Alex Fomin & Alla Pogotskaya /DEV

13:20 Lunch  

14:05 TRIZ     …Alex Tsayun /ALL

14:55 Problem Frames     …Valentine Palazkov /DEV

15:55 Coffee Break  

16:05 Book Review. Interface. J.Raskin     …Nadia Bulynia /ALL

16:25 Continuous Delivery     …Eugene Khasenevich /DEV

17:25 Coffee Break  

17:35 Video. The best stats you’ve ever seen     …Hans Rosling /ALL

17:55 Video. Language as a Window into Human Nature     …Steven Pinker /ALL

18:05 Munchkin 2. Beer. After-party (sex, drugs & rock-n-roll)