Software Development is pretty much about the Team

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But Linus Torvalds wrote Linux all by himself, right?

That’s not exactly true. Linus wrote the first Linux kernel. But he didn’t work all by himself even in the beginning. After he started, he asked the community for suggestions and ideas for the new features:

Hello everybody out there using minix –

I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I’d like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things).

I’ve currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that I’ll get something practical within a few months, and I’d like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I won’t promise I’ll implement them 🙂

Linus (torvalds@kruuna.helsinki.fi)

PS. Yes – it’s free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs. It is NOT portable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that’s all I have :-(.

— Linus Torvalds (source: )

Writing the first Linux kernel by Linus himself was an impressive achievement, but the kernel, as it is now, was developed by hundreds of smart people from Linux kernel development team(s).

The power of the team

The constant evolution of tech makes it impossible for one or two people to know everything about the software development. Even the team superstar doesn’s know everything. The best teams make brilliant use of their superstars, but the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts:

  • Projects are better when a team with multiple perspectives works on it.
  • Teams increase the quality of projects they are assigned to work on.
  • Teamwork maximizes strengths and brings out the best in every team member.
  • In a good team, individual strengths are complimented and enhanced by other team members strengths.
  • Teams find problems faster.
  • In a team, you often find problems that may be overlooked by just one person.

How does one build a great team?

In the team, there are people who have different personalities, different capabilities. All mixed together.

It’s not that simple to glue together with such a diversity. But this diversity is also what makes the team great.

In the book “Debugging Teams” Brian Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman wrote how successful teams work together. All of their wisdom and anecdotes, however, comes down to Humility, Respect, and Trust. Those principles are called HRT  and pronounce as “heart” and not “hurt” because it’s all about decreasing pain and not about injuring people.

Three pillars of social skills.

According to Brian Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman all healthy interaction and collaboration are based on:

Humility

You are not the center of the universe. You’re neither omniscient nor infallible. You’re open to self-improvement.

Respect

You genuinely care about others you work with. You treat them as human beings and appreciate their abilities and accomplishments.

Trust

You believe others are competent and will do the right thing, and you’re OK with letting them drive when appropriate.

Collaboration will become more natural and your productivity will begin to increase when you incorporate these strategies into your everyday job (and also in your life)

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