Hack.Summit() Notes 02222016: Floyd Marinescu

02222016 – 3 pm EST

Floyd Marinescu

CEO, InfoQ


Slack virtual teams

Wisdom to impart to the world

Humble man, very pure at heart

Talk about running virtual teams and companies


Talk is about how awesome all-virtual teams can be run, practices, tips, human stuff

Dream, whole world be more virtual, let people form small towns

What is team culture, the emotional feeling you get from working there

There is already a culture in your team

There is a default culture, how do we design a good culture?

Consciously designed culture

Be a culture hacker

Own the feeling you are creating

Alignment and commitment to structure, practices, and mindset

Dan Pink


The Surprising Science of Motivation

TED talk

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Purpose, mastery, autonomy

Saying in context of virtual teams,

Culture as code

Culture is a shared mental model of “normal”

Tribal Leadership

The 5 Stages of Tribal Culture

Stage 1 to stage 5 tribes

Lower 25% sucks, quietly sarcastic

49% are stage 3

Trying to be competitive, it really sucks

Stage 4, relation to other people is stable partnership

Shared core values, people act within expectations

People do not let you down

Stage 5, people compete with their own-selves

Virtual teams cannot be stage 3 or below

How to get to stage 4 in a virtual setting

Attributes of great virtual teams

Clear purpose and shared values


All programmer content

Help software teams adopt new software technologies and practices

In 5 languages, QCon, speakers who are top engineers at Google, Facebook, etc.

Completely distributed, how to have 70 staff members distributed all over the world

Mindset, patterns in all-virtual companies

Synchronous world: slack, skype channel, hipchat, IM heavy

Asynchronous – lots of intentional meeting rhythms, instead of unplanned interruptions

Email is a tool for eventual alignment

Email should not be expected to respond to by 48 hours

Whatever comes through via IM is high response rate

All virtual teams need to be results oriented

Seeing someone at a desk, someone can be at the desk on Facebook or just stating at the screen

Clear dashboards

Transparency and trust

Trust without transparency is foolishness

Trust with transparency is empowering

It is okay to start out trusting people, it is a responsibility to create an environment

Everything in life is opt-in

Everyone has to opt-in

If you are a manager then you should get what you want out of the team

Especially in a virtual environment

Delegate responsibility, give ownership

Do not hire assistants hire process managers

Distinct api, they should own a process so people are responsible for it

Not just one layer of the stack

They need to see it through end to end

All virtual works better than partial

Hybrid companies, make sure all communication channels are consistent and open

Consistent channels, organized way

Slack, etc. things beyond email

In results oriented environment, easier to be diverse

Results oriented

It is about qualifications, virtually it is even easier

You side step common advice

Distributed over 5-6 countries

Quick cheat sheet

Minimal set of practices to run virtually?

1.  Daily standup

2.  Weekly meetings

3.  Kai’s and api dashboards reviewed weekly

4.  Statement of group’s purpose, values, and key priorities

Now we are getting into details

What does it mean to be in the office virtually

Be visible in Skype and Slack

Lowers the barrier

If not online do not bug them

A signal api like I am available

That is how we use IM

Wiki’s for reference material and best practices

Yammer social network, or private Facebook group

Like that Slack is not threaded

Yammer is nice because it is understood that it is asynchronous, it is a feed paradigm

Having a social network is important to capture things too small and too fine grained for email, it is the water cooler


Not knowing what is going on is poison

Effective use of social networks

Informal and small, like FB and Twitter:

Situation rooms/dashboards

Objectives dashboards, objective, who is accountable for it

Colored objectives

This could port to higher level developments

Just an indicator

Track who is speak which track

Scoreboard for transparency and alignment

Be creative to create dashboards to visualize where the company is going

Create transparency on where things are going

Dashboards important for self-motivation

Alignment of a team

Anything that creates metrics, situation awareness

Metrics, every team, sub-team, dept – should be tracking key metrics

What are the higher level priorities?

Best metrics should be criteria for decision making

If not actionable, why are you making it?

Increase revenue, not leading indicator, following indicator

Separate goals, from keep trains running,


Dashboards and metrics are only as useful as your meeting rhythms to review them as a team

Any unit should be accompanied by a meeting weekly or monthly

Ever person should be accountable

Amazon, are tracking all kind of …

Netflix the same

Meeting rhythms

daily standup

routines can set you free

What are the rhythms that keep things aligned

Get a low interrupt culture

Stand ups in a virtual context

Daily personal retrospective

Sense of connectedness, daily or bi-weekly

Skype, Google Hangouts

Feeling of connectedness

we’re all in this together

Daily or twice a week

A must have

How can we replicate meeting in a room

We use Hangouts

People go to the same URLs for meetings

Great free method for free meetings

You have to show up

Stand up agendas

What have I done since the last meeting

Weekly department call

team calls

Create culture with feedback

One on Ones

15five – tool that automates questions from the employer to employee


One on One call

Stand ups for daily status

Annual and quarterly planning rhythms, quarterly objectives

Put on dashboard which you look at weekly

Create structures as to what is important and fully aligned

Quarterly review

Quarterly themes

All these practices can give you super-transparency

Annual all-hands meetings

Regular face to face meetings

Schedule a daily check in for the first month or two

Agenda is for them to pool questions from you

Core values

The DNA of the group

Great teams hire and fire by their core values

Shared sense of normal






You need a method for talking about them

Yammer and Slack

Create posters, make #corevalues story telling with posters at the annual meeting

In terms of virtual teams are:




Sense of accountability and that they standby what they say they will do

Accountability to the group

Purpose – the why?

Software is changing the world


C4Media (InfoQ and QCon) Purpose

Apple, Nike, Sony, Wal-Mart

Zappos – delivering happiness

Consciously designed culture, be a culture hacker

Own the feeling you are trying to create.

How do you estimate the timeline for a new task you are not familiar with?

Famous underestimator…

People do not put enough effort on the brainstorming process…

How can you keep up with all the new languages?

Read InfoQ

Are you listening to QCon?

Stack Overflow topics, follow them…

Follow a trend closely…

Is there is bigger demand for full stack developers?

Every company needs a software strategy

Small companies want apps too…

Full stack developer, …

Big data scientist

Or back end Java

Software development is exploding and it is possible to be gainfully employed for the rest of your life…

Being full stack helps in any job interview…

Go to the polls, ask them some questions

First question, do you work on a virtual team?

61% of people work on traditional team,

1/3 of people are working in a virtual team

1/3 Slack daily



Slack is not a replacement for social networking tool

Use Facebook or Yammer

Will Slack eventually do all this stuff…

Interup drive day,

87% allow interrupts

13% do not allow interrupts

Culture is your shared model of normal…

Github was built around a cat

Deploying code is a metric

Challenge you to consider that there are metrics in play

It is hard to know if your are successful

Best KPIs align a team on what is important

Transparency and alignment is important

Having a timeline is a metric

What are the leading indicators for the lagging indicators?

All case by case


Amazon book list



Track Time


About kayaerbil

I am a Berkeley educated chemistry Ph.D. who is moving into the area of working on developing appropriate technology for communities that are subjected to socio-economic oppression. The goal is to use simple and effective designs to empower people to live better lives. Currently, I am working with Native Americans on Pine Ridge, the Lakota reservation in South Dakota. I am working with a Native owned and run solar energy company. We are currently working on building a compressed earth block (CEB) house that showcases many of the technologies that the company has developed. The CEB house is made of locally derived resources, earth from the reservation. The blocks are naturally thermally insulating, keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Eventually, a solar air heater and photovoltaic panels will be installed into the house to power the home and keep it warm, while preserving the house off the grid. A side project while in Pine Ridge is a solar computer. I hope to learn about blockchain encryption software for building microgrids. In addition, it is an immediate interest of mine to involve local youth in technology education.
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