#BookReview: No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer

Interesting Look At Business Practices Less Common Than Many Claim. Let me be clear here: I am a 14+ year professional software developer in my “day job”. I’ve worked for very small companies with barely 100 people and owned by a single person all the way to one of the largest companies on the planet (Fortune 50). And because I’ve had a 14 year career in this field as of 2021, that means this has all been done since NetFlix has been doing its thing.

And yet while I’ve heard that the Valley works a bit differently than the East Coast / Southern companies I’ve worked for, I’d never heard of several of the policies Hastings and Meyer discuss in this text. For this developer, most of them sound *phenomenal*, and I would *love* to work in environments that had them. Though there are others – “Adequate performance is given a generous severance” in particular – that would exacerbate issues I’ve already had at times in my career. Here, Hastings explains the reasons he adopted these policies at NetFlix and how they have grown over the company’s existence. Meyer provides a degree of “outsider feedback” going around interviewing people at all levels from Hastings to the janitors and examining the claims Hastings makes.

Overall, this is a solid business book explaining these policies, why NetFlix chose them, why other businesses should – or should not, in certain situations – and how they can begin to be implemented in any company. More for Executives than heads down coders or low level team leads, though there are some interesting points even at those levels. It is absolutely something business leaders should read and ponder, and it is a good primer for those who may want to push for similar changes in their own companies. Very much recommended.

This review of No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer was originally written on June 18, 2021.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Husband Material by Emily Belden

This week we’re looking at a book that features a view of my own “real life” industry, software engineering. This week, we’re looking at Husband Material by Emily Belden.

As a romantic comedy, this book falls into the “zany/ WTF” kind of mold. A “numbers girl” who has recreated herself as a software engineer following the death of her husband after just a single year of marriage in her mid 20s finds out that sometimes life itself isn’t nearly so clean as numbers and code. And sometimes that is actually a very good thing.

From a more technical standpoint… it is pretty clear that the author herself is not a coder. Much of the plot revolves around our main character constantly “tweaking the algorithm” to match certain desired outcomes. Including using the same program designed to demo-mine social media to help companies target their advertising to also attempt to determine whether or not potential dates match her own desires. From a non-programmer perspective, I can see where a non-techie would think the two ideas are close enough that it would be plausible that the same code and algorithms could do both tasks. As an experienced Senior Developer with now 20 years of programming knowledge and 13 years of professional corporate level experience… yeah, no. Doing both is very doable, and in fact I’m aware of real world programs that do either/ or. And while yes, the actual algorithms themselves are at least superficially similar – you’re scanning a particular thing and looking for matches to a given set of criteria – the actual implementation details would be too dissimilar to keep even within the same project and likely even within the same database. (Though *perhaps* a strategy could be arranged that they could share at least the same database but with only a few tables referenced by both projects.)

Regardless of the technical inaccuracies though, the overall point of the book is that our lead character has dived into the programming side specifically because she is running away from living in the actual real world of breathing human beings, and that is something that many of us in this field come face to face with at some point in our careers – particularly after long and detailed projects that force us to dive deep for a while. And in that scenario was very much relatable indeed to many of us, and in the particulars of what is going on in that real world is at least somewhat relatable to many beyond our field.

Ultimately a story of actually healing long after you had thought you had healed from a tragedy, this is a story that is very much recommended for all.

As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
Continue reading “Featured New Release Of The Week: Husband Material by Emily Belden”