Reading the “No Rules, Rules” book about the Amazon feedback culture is making my British self squirm.
While many of the examples are positioned as “Radical Candour” I’m getting very little sense that the people giving said feedback “cared deeply” about the target of said feedback. As such a lot of it comes across as “obnoxious aversion” or simply rudeness, to my British ears.
I’ve always worried that “Radical Candour” favours people in power. I’ve actually done product management consultancy at companies where their adoption of this practice borders on management bullying.
That being said there was one idea I took from the book which was for leaders to normalise receiving feedback from their reports by putting it as an agenda item on 1:1s.
The Radical Candour approach requires navigating the line between “caring deeply” while avoiding being a “brilliant jerk”. However I suspect the latter is affected by cultural norms and anchored to a US definition of Jerk like behaviour.
I know a lot of Northern Europeans who have upset sensitive Californian tech workers by their abrupt but well meaning feedback. Similarly I know plenty of Brits who have felt that the feedback they received from a US manager was unintentionally rude.
The wonderful @heyfarai gave an excellent talk at @UXLondon on the role cultural difference can play in managing designers from different backgrounds, if you’re interested.
Of course this book is about Netflix, not Amazon. Appreciate my friend @bensauer for candidly and we’ll meaningly pointing that out. Must have been a Freudian slip. Can’t think why!
Super telling case study in the book about a french employee given feedback that their french approach to positioning an argument wasn’t direct enough from American colleagues, and how it caused her to change her style. Sounds like forced code switching to me.
All the examples seem to come from the perspective that the person giving the feedback is correct and the person receiving the feedback is expected to change.
In the above example it feels equally reasonable to expect people at a a multi-national company to be able to make accommodation for a variety of different, culturally specific, communications styles rather than choosing one culture as right.

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More from @andybudd

24 Nov
Now on the section of “No Rules, Rules” about the Netflix unlimited vacation policy. It’s good that their senior leadership attempt to “model good behaviour” by taking lots of time off work…
However I’m my experience executives are often responsible for their own diaries and workloads so can do this easily. More junior staff often have their workloads set externally by managers, PMs or just the throughput of work.
It’s easy for the factory boss to step away, but when too many workers step away from the production line, work starts backing up and effecting everybody. As such taking holiday becomes a complex negotiation.
Read 5 tweets
24 Nov
I see a variety of reasons why designers and developers switch jobs every couple of years 🧵
1. There’s an old saying that “people don’t leave jobs, they leave mangers” and this can often be true. Being looked after by a poorly trained, inexperienced or under performing manager can be deeply frustrating.
So in order to improve staff retention, companies should provide better support and training to both new and experienced managers alike. Senior managers should also be hired based on their managerial skills rather than their craft skills.
Read 32 tweets
23 Nov
The primary role of company leadership is to create alignment 🧵
Most companies go through several phases of growth, each with their own predictable challenges. In my experience most startups slowly move from being clans or adhocracies towards more process oriented companies.…
This happens because alignment is usually implicit within smaller groups, but needs to become more explicit as teams grow and develop their own perspectives.
Read 16 tweets
22 Nov
I’m really liking @gilescolborne’s formulation that design research (aka discovery) is about charging the opportunity battery, rather than delivering value. I think is explains a lot of behaviour designers find frustrating 🧵…
Designers have been taught they need to understand the context of a problem before they can come up with the ideal solution. The whole “understanding the room to design the chai, understanding the house to design the room etc”
However I think a lot of designers get hit by discovery inflation. Essentially for every piece of research they do, they discover a new unknown. As such you often find designers getting draw into understanding problems at a city wide level, forgetting about the chair altogether.
Read 8 tweets
16 Nov
I see a growing disconnect in our industry between companies wanting to hire the most talented people, and the experience the most talented people I know have during the interview process. A short thread 🧵
I see a lot of company leaders complaining that they can't find people with the right skills and experience to fill their open roles. Roles will often go unfilled for months, and when they do finally fill those roles, the person will be a poor fit and leave within months.
At the same time I hear from so many objectively talented people about being on the job market for 9 months, having countless interviews and being continually ghosted by companies.…
Read 28 tweets
29 Oct
Please complete the following sentence.

"I know I'm listening to a 'thought leader' because..."
I'll get you started.

"I know I'm listening to a 'thought leader' because they've included that William Gibson quote in their talk"
"I know I'm listening to a 'thought leader' because they've referenced Moore's Law"
Read 4 tweets

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