technology, productivity, and labor

Reflections on Breaking Smart

A few weeks ago Venkatesh Rao (@vgr) released his 20-part essay series, Season One of Breaking Smart. After many discussions with Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) of Andreessen Horowitz about how “software is eating the world” and how it has changed human habits, Rao was hired as a consultant to focus solely on this topic and put our current condition in perspective, while making the case for an optimistic future.

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If you haven’t read this series yet, stop what you’re doing right now and take ten minutes to read the introduction and first essay. Just to get your toes wet. The essays build on each other as Rao methodically walks his readers through a history of the software development world and its changes, while at the same time comparing the human reaction to these recent changes to technological evolutions throughout history. What Breaking Smart does best is force the reader to critically analyze the current trends in the relationships between technology, productivity, and labor. Our world, and more specifically, our economy, is changing at such a pace that it is hard to perceive.

After finishing Breaking Smart, I tried to think of ways the series relates to the work we are doing here at Jobsity. Of course, the concept of Agile software development is an integral part of what we do here, as it has proven to be the most effective way – when applied correctly – to approach development projects, but the concept permeates through much more than just our development process. In the last year alone, our hiring process has been subject to a few pivots that have helped us find better talent. By identifying a few key metrics that have helped us consistently find quality candidates in the past, we were able to set goals to hit every month so that we are constantly vetting quality developers. The small tweaks to our hiring process have paid off and we have had the pleasure of adding some all stars to our team.

One of the things we have realized after many years is that not all wisdom comes from within. We have gained invaluable insights over the years from working with many clients around the world. Each client brings with it a specific project management style, coding practices, and internal processes. Rao describes the hacker ethos of “rough consensus and running code” throughout the series. This ethos, again, applies to much more than software development. Here at Jobsity we have tried to learn as much as possible from each client, taking what we like about their processes and incorporating it into our culture. We have a “rough consensus” of the culture we are trying to cultivate and are always “running code” to see what works best for us, deciding what doesn’t, pivoting, iterating as we see fit. Complacency is not an option in our business, there is always something to tweak, improve, or throw out all together. Working with a multitude of clients has helped us realize this and adapt accordingly.

I suggest anyone reading this post take some time over the weekend (if you haven’t taken my advice from the beginning of the post yet) and read a few of the essays. Rao’s writing and storytelling throughout the series will have you questioning your outlook on the future and your position in the workforce. The least it will do is have you analyze your current workplace culture and whether or not it is built to adapt as we move into a more connected and rapidly changing future.



Nov 20, 2017



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