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petdance (2468)

petdance
  andy@petdance.com
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I'm Andy Lester, and I like to test stuff. I also write for the Perl Journal, and do tech edits on books. Sometimes I write code, too.

Journal of petdance (2468)

Tuesday September 17, 2002
02:05 PM

John Madden, department manager

[ #7786 ]
Today at lunch I watched an NFL Films show on the 1976 Oakland Raiders. They were coached by John Madden, who had never coached a pro team, was a virtual unknown, and was a young 32 years old. He had a 112-39-7 record in his 10 years from 1969-78, including a win in Super Bowl XI.

Madden said he had only three rules for his guys:

  • Be on time
  • Listen and learn
  • Play like hell when I tell ya to

Each of his rules applies to each of us as professional programmers.

  • Be on time

    Timeliness for meetings in the workplace is only the most basic respect you can pay your teammates. Nothing pisses me off more than someone traipsing late into a meeting, and chances are, the meeting might well have broken up because that person isn't there. "Be on time" is really just "respect your teammates."

  • Listen and learn

    As programmers, we are constantly learning or we're left behind in the wake of the young upstarts out of school. If you're not able to make the commitment to learning new skills, even to the point of reinventing yourself, you're in the wrong business. Plus, that learning means listening to others, even to people you don't like, even to the competition. Any football team analyzes their opponents successes as much as their failures when they watch the game films. The real learner searches out voices to listen to.

  • Play like hell when I tell ya to

    We've got some pretty cushy jobs, us programmers. Chances are you're reading this at work, in between glances at Slashdot (or Fark or ESPN or whatever), or cans of soda, or reading your email, and I certainly won't begrudge anyone that freedom. But when it finally gets to be Sunday at 1pm, you damn well better get your ass out there and win some championships.

Coaches of programmers would do well to follow his example in simplicity of rules.

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  • Be on time, because being on time is better than not being on time. The better programmers are generally more on time than those programmers who aren't on time. Now, Johnny X there is the most on time programmer I've ever seen for a programmer that's on time.