Like a month ago I gave a talk at the University of Valladolid about how Liferay does Open Source. Here are the slides and the video:
I lied a lot on that talk. There are a lot of absolute statements that are not so black and white, there are things that don’t apply to all Liferay or the engineering team, lots of exaggerations and blatant lies.
I also timed the talk really bad (and I did indeed time it earlier) and I only mentioned about 60% of the things I wanted to talk about :’(
So… where are the facts? what are those lies? and why?
These are (I think) all the exaggerations and lies:
- Watching the talk I feel like I’m judging the other types of companies… that was not my intention. I do believe that there is value in all types of companies and one can thrive in the worst environment.
- Only part of engineering organizes in cross-functional teams but it’s the goal we’re pursuing. The team I work on, for example, mobile infrastructure, is not a cross-functional team but the idea is to serve as the pillar of other, cross-functional, teams. It’s true that most of Spanish engineers work in cross-functional teams but I don’t know the organization of the teams in the USA, for example. In brazil, there is a mobile infrastructure team and other cross-functional one.
- The benefits of cross-functional teams, removing silo mentality and iterating fast are true. We are iterating faster but I’m not happy with the speed yet. There is still a lot of silo mentality in Spain but way less than other companies I’ve worked on.
- The release train is a goal that we’ve pursued several times, and still trying, but I don’t think, at least yet, that can we count it as a success story.
- We are not as self-directed as I like to think. There are teams, like mobile, that are very self-directed but others have lots of boundaries.
- I do not work in the main product, the portal, and I know the purpose of the multi repository organization but I don’t use it. I do know a team that works in this model but I don’t think all them do yet.
- Support doesn’t work as closely as I would like in the existing cross-functional teams, product managers and designers do, though.
- I do not know if other guilds have a manifesto, the mobile guild does.
- Who reviews the PR? is the team? yes, in our case and others. But definitely not in the majority.
- We have a loose policy on remote work but it depends on who wants to do remote. It’s true some people are almost completely remote but the rest work remotely occasionally.
- We all work remotely… sometimes. For example, there were a lot of people remotely attending on the cucumber workshop I mentioned, but not all. And we don’t have that culture yet, the same applies with the slack channel mentality.
- Being async isn’t as explicit and discussed as I mentioned in the talk.
- Liferay has a really strong (the strongest I know) focus on helping others. But the global policy for helping an NGO is 1 week, not 2. But I do know people and special circumstances where that time is longer.
The rest is true, the founder reviewing talks, transparency about sales and the sense of purpose in Liferay just to mention a few.
So, why did I lie?
I was discussing about lies the other day and someone mentioned the difference between lies in the English language: white, blue and black lies. Black lies only benefit yourselves, white are the ones you tell to not worry someone or for the benefit (mental or real) of another. Blue lies are the ones you tell for the benefit of an organization you belong to. The backfire effect is a more scientific explanation of that behavior.
Were those lies blue or black? or just over simplifications? I think that a mix of everything. It’s easier to talk in absolute terms that explain all the (complex) details. It’s also tempting to decorate something intertwining it with the goal you have in mind.
flipper83 mentioned in his talk in codemotion16 that speakers have a huge responsibility because they influence other people and they have to speak the truth. So here are all the facts, I don’t need to lie to show what a great company Liferay is :D