Team Geek: A Software Developer’s Guide to Working Well with Others – Solid advice and career tips – #bookreview

Team Geek: A Software Developer’s Guide to Working Well with Others
Brian W. Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman

You’ve worked hard to become a software developer, and now that you’re there, you’ve learned that proficiency in several different computer languages is not enough.

In today’s insecure, competitive, and overly demanding job market, you also have to know how to work as part of a development team. And that team may be unlike any group you have been a part of before.

Some of your co-workers may be in nearby cubicles, and some of them may be on different continents – and you know them only by email and perhaps a few Skype conferences. Some of them may be employees desperate to hang onto their jobs. Others may be hired-gun contractors with no real loyalty to anything except themselves, their current assignment, their paycheck, and their next contract. Some members of your team may be angling constantly to advance, and others may be trying as hard as possible to stay below the radar.

And you – where do you fit in? And what do you hope to achieve by giving your employer a sometimes-outrageous total of hours, both at the office and at home when you technically are not working yet actually are?

And – yes, there’s always another and – what if you go to work tomorrow and your team leader has just been fired or quit and you are now in charge of your project and 15 other people?

Team Geek: A Software Developer’s Guide to Working Well with Others is a solid, useful handbook that can help you become a better, more productive team player and, if necessary or if you desire, also help you rise to the challenge of leading a software-development team.

Many of the principles and tips in this book can be adapted to almost any modern office setting where people work in groups and teams.

For instance, don’t avoid playing the “promotion game,” the authors caution, even if you really want to just focus on your current job and doing your best at it. “This can leave you vulnerable in many situations – for example, your company reorganizes and you get shuttled to a new team, you get a bad manager, or you wind up under the thumb of the office politician.”

They advise: “The higher in the organization you can get (either as an individual contributor or as a manager), the more control you’ll have over your destiny inside the company. Putting a modicum of effort toward getting promoted when you’re comfortable in your position is a great way to invest in your security and happiness when something bad happens to your company or team.”

Most importantly, the authors aim to show their readers how to cultivate and embrace three key principles – humility, respect, and trust – that are “the foundation on which all healthy interaction and collaboration are based.”

Trusting others may be the toughest to accomplish, they concede, particularly “if you’ve been burned in the past by delegating to incompetent people” or if you have spent a lot of time working alone and relying only on yourself and now, suddenly, you have to be a team player.

Si Dunn


  • Si Dunn is a novelist, screenwriter, photojournalist, and book reviewer. His published books include: DARK SIGNALS, a Vietnam War memoir; ERWIN'S LAW, a private-detective novel; and JUMP, a novella about a combat veteran suffering from PTSD and alienation while trying to work for newspapers as a journalist. Several of his feature screenplays recently were under option to movie producers. He spent nearly 15 years working as a technical writer and software tester in the telecommunications industry. His current programming interests include Go, JavaScript, Python, R, Angular, and other languages and frameworks. He is a U.S. Navy veteran and a graduate of the University of North Texas.

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