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Adam Bosworth's Talk at the MySQL Developer's Meeting, Six F's

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Mar. 29th, 2006 | 02:12 am

We were fortunate to have Adam Bosworth come to the MySQL Developer's Meeting. Of the different topics he spoke on, one was on his six F system (and we are about to see how badly I can misremember the system more then a week later).

The six F's are:
Fame
Fortune
Family
Fun
Freedom
Force

He measures new hires on these and believes that companies are directed by two of these. The point is to find out where the developers are with their life in regard to these six points during interviews. Companies should define what their two F's are and hire people based on these. The idea is to align both company and people so that there is a clear set of goals. It is all about optimizing and setting the right expectations.

Fame is self explanatory, the same with Fortune (and this is really only possible with those first few employees, after that the measure of this shrinks along with the number of options available). Family is having the ability to have time and relationships outside of one's work time. One clear question that came up during the discussion on these was whether or not people who were focused on family were really right for a startup. There was no collective answer on this.

Fun was defined by having a job that one has fun at. Freedom was the ability to set the work one wants to do. Force was the opportunity to change the world around you through your work.

On a personal note, the most rewarding jobs I have ever had have been the ones where I could say that Force was involved. I can only think of one job where I haven't had force, and frankly I never really felt a part of the work I did there (and I believe I spent more time while at that job doing open source then I have at any other job). I only stayed there a year.

So what should a startup concentrate on according to this system? Adam thought it should be be "Fame" and "Fortune" in the very beginning.

A company like Microsoft? Adam thought it was defined as "Family" and "Force". I pointed out that the games groups were a bit different, and he agreed.

The one thing about living in Seattle is that I gain an insider view into how Microsoft works since it surrounds me. At some point I should really blog on that a bit more, that is what its like to be an open source guy living in the heart of Microsoft country.

Where does MySQL fall into this? Force is our common definer :)

Hopefully if I blow my description of this system, Adam will just correct me in his blog!
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Comments {8}

DayGlo Tigerlily

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from: singingnettle
date: Mar. 29th, 2006 11:08 am (UTC)
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That's interesting, and I'll have to think about it.

Personally, "force" has been a major factor in anything I loved, and lack of it has always led to my being unhappy. I think one of the reasons I declined a "blue badge" at MSFT is that I didn't feel forceful as it's being defined here; while the company is high-profile, I felt personally like just a little cog in a big wheel, which is just a terrible match for my personality.

I think any mature company needs to have "family" as one of its factors, as you're defining it here. You can't hold employees over the long haul if they are so unsocialized and unstable as to have no life outside work. If you want people who will work with you for years, they need to have a work/life balance, or they will burn out. It's always good to have a few people who WANT no life outside work, but a whole company of 'em is a pretty rocky place.

Now, startups...perhaps that is a different kettle of fish. In startup mode, people don't expect to have a life outside work. Personally, I love the energy of start-up mode, but eventually I have to take a breather. And once I got married, it stopped being a good life fit. I think even in start-up mode, it is good to think about where one wants to go in terms of priorities, and get a few people on board whom you want to keep on in the long term. If you don't think about where you eventually want to be, you will indeed end up with employees whose personal style is no longer a fit for the company.

I think Microsoft is perhaps in the fitful place of having hired people for a different time in its lifecycle, and not now having a clear match between its priorities and those of its employees. Or perhaps an inability to fathom the current nature of its workforce's goals.

What I do now is so isolated, it's hard to see how it fits this model at all. Certainly I bailed on fame and fortune, which I actually was sort of approaching before I left New York City. But I suppose I am still fulfilling Force, because as a private editor I make a huge difference to the individuals I work with. It's sort of a microcosm of the design, though.

So on the whole, I've really always had Force and Freedom as priorities, and even with all the compromises I've had to make in my worklife, I'm still fulfilling those things.

Hmmm.

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