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Assholes are killing your project (MDC 2017)


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The strength of your team is the best predictor of its long-term viability. What happens when that group is gradually infiltrated by assholes, who infect everyone else with their constant negativity and personal attacks? Although someone may be a valuable technical contributor, that person will never contribute as much to a product as the many others who are scared away and demotivated.

This talk will teach you about the dramatic impact assholes are having on your organization today and will show you how you can begin to repair it.

Published in: Technology
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Assholes are killing your project (MDC 2017)

  1. 1. Assholes are killing your project
  2. 2. It's all about barriers to entry Wikipedia: Smokefoot
  3. 3. Community is critical Reputation Contributors Results
  4. 4. Your ability to get results depends on your community.
  5. 5. What makes a great community? Assholes The best Most of us
  6. 6. Ubuntu launches 3 developers start receiving complaints Developers removed Black Duck Open Hub
  7. 7. Lead maintainer inactiveMove to Git Black Duck Open Hub
  8. 8. Same developer forks projectCore developer asked to resign Black Duck Open Hub
  9. 9. What isn't an asshole? Conflict is good
  10. 10. What is an asshole? A simple test After talking to the asshole, does the target feel oppressed, humiliated, de-energized, or belittled?
  11. 11. What is an asshole? Look for patterns
  12. 12. How many good interactions does it take to cancel out one bad one? Sutton
  13. 13. Sutton
  14. 14. Sutton
  15. 15. Sutton
  16. 16. Sutton
  17. 17. Fight Flickr: undergroundbastard Men tend to Pearson & Porath
  18. 18. Flight Flickr: noeluap Women tend toward Pearson & Porath
  19. 19. TCA: Total Cost of Asshole Team lead Developer relations team Project leadership Recruiting & training new developers Targets & witnesses __________________ Total Cost of Asshole + + + + Sutton
  20. 20. Problems assholes cause to targets ● 48% decreased their effort ● 47% worked less time ● 38% dropped their quality ● 66% declined in performance ● 80% lost time worrying ● 63% lost time avoiding ● 78% became less committed ● 25% quit; 20% of witnesses quit! Sutton
  21. 21. Cascading effects amplify the problem Flickr: wsdot
  22. 22. Problems assholes cause to projects ● Reduced innovation & creativity ● Reduced cooperation & cohesion ● Cost of targets' retribution toward project ● Impaired cooperation from external projects & people ● Impaired ability to attract the best & brightest ● Recruiting more assholes Sutton
  23. 23. An asshole is incompetent Flickr: escapo
  24. 24. How do you fix it? Flickr: trp0
  25. 25. Flickr: kalandrakas
  26. 26. Flickr: hashir
  27. 27. How do you prevent it? Flickr: redefyne
  28. 28. Flickr: koenvereeken Be quantitative
  29. 29. Flickr: mount_otz Provide expectations
  30. 30. In the long run, dealing with assholes is never worth it.
  31. 31. Want to learn more? Read these
  32. 32. Donnie Berkholz @dberkholz Questions? Some content in this presentation falls under Creative Commons licenses: CC-BY, CC-BY-SA, CC-BY-SA-NC