Building Teams: A Series

Approaches to leading and serving a team.

The Dangers of Curiosity

March 31, 2024

On the risk, and power, of wondering.

Legends have long warned about the dangers of curiosity. Curiosity led to a bargain with the devil for Faust. Pandora cursed all humanity when she opened a jar full of evils. And we all know what curiosity did to the cat. In unsafe environments, curiosity really can be dangerous. An...

3 min read →

Do Something, So We Can Change It!

July 31, 2023

A habit for addressing two-way decisions.

Sometimes teams get stuck on a decision. My favourite trick for getting unstuck comes via Pixar’s Michael B. Johnson. In 25 years there, he helped Pixar build the production workflows they use to make and iterate their stories, and was tasked with helping teams “fail as quickly as possible.” To...

3 min read →

Dungeons & Developers

December 1, 2022

How to simulate tricky conversations.

You open the door and see three orcs. They’re seated at a fine oaken table watching a glowing rectangle on the west wall, which displays the ominous text “2023 Strategic Planning”. The orcs look up at you, and one says “You’re late.” What do you do? Depending on your perspective...

4 min read →

You Should Propose More Things

November 1, 2022

A habit for getting decisions made.

One of startups’ superpowers is quick decision-making. Early on, this might just mean decisions are made rapidly by one person. Of course, this doesn’t scale. If you don’t find ways to scale up good decision-making, your company will slow down and – eventually – die. There are a lot of...

4 min read →

A Password Autofill Surprise

September 1, 2022

On psychological safety.

A lot of things turn out the way they do because of how we safe we feel. Let me give one example. Some time ago my wife Karen asked me for help with her computer. Ever since she’d migrated to a new Mac, Chrome’s password autofill feature would no longer...

4 min read →

How to Go Over Budget

August 1, 2022

On working within an estimate.

Assembling a good project estimate can be hard. Unless you’ve shipped something similar before, you’ll probably need to consult experts, investigate risks, do product definition work, and gauge a thoughtful “iteration and surprises” buffer that considers the chance of external surprises, scope grenades, and shark attacks. There’s a reason many...

6 min read →

Beyond Optimism

January 1, 2022

On a mindset for doing hard things.

We’re often called on to consider future events. While you may endeavour to be a realist – evaluating what may come based on the facts and odds – the future is inherently uncertain. Whether we like it or not, gut judgement drives a lot of how we anticipate and prepare...

4 min read →

Fight for Outside Perspective

October 1, 2021

The case of too many team meetings.

To build a product, you need to talk to people. You need to talk to potential customers, and to potential employees. People whose expertise you could use, and people who could use yours. Any leader that isn’t getting outside perspective is going to eventually get stuck. Unfortunately, with our own...

5 min read →

The Teams You Worked on May Have Sucked

June 1, 2021

On who we compare ourselves to.

As we grow at Steamclock – we’re now at 14 and hiring our 15th – we’re getting more intentional about how we do things. I worry less about how to do the work, and more about how to build the team and our processes. Which is great. But it’s a...

2 min read →

Don't Drink the Cream

February 28, 2020

Social etiquette proves hard to navigate.

As I was told, some years ago a team of contractors were visiting the office of a big potential client. Hoping to impress, the sales lead on the deal brought a skilled product designer along to the meeting, as well as a software developer who was well versed in the...

3 min read →

Leadership Mode Activate

November 30, 2018

On taking the controls of a powerful team.

Congratulations, you’re getting promoted! You have excelled at the Thing You Do to such a degree that you’ll now be leading a whole team of people who Do That Thing. Very responsibility, much excite. Okay wait, you may say. That’s cool, but I like Doing the Thing. I’m pretty good...

4 min read →

People You Want to Work With

May 31, 2017

We assemble a team.

“Do you know Sarah? What do you think of her?” “Oh she’s super smart. She’s on my Hire List.” “What? You have a Hire List?” “Of course. You don’t have a Hire List?” You should have a Hire List. Companies are people. Families are people. Crowds are people and markets...

4 min read →

Feedback Mountain

February 28, 2017

I get religion about 1:1s.

“Hire great people, and trust them to do good work”. I’ve always liked that idea. It feels right. Hiring great people is critical, and nobody likes to be micromanaged or criticized. So it seems simple – hire great people, and trust them to do good work. Try to stay out...

5 min read →

Working Title

September 30, 2015

A junior developer wants to rule the world.

We recently interviewed a developer who was a new grad, brimming with enthusiasm. They answered our interview questions deftly, did well on our coding test, and presented a side project app that was sophisticated for somebody only six months out of university. Even better, their primary language was Swift. They...

6 min read →

© Allen Pike. 👋🏼 You can contact me, or check out Steamclock.