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Описание товара

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September 14, 2013
It takes great courage for an expert to leave the comfortable vantage point of being a consultant and author, and jump back into their field and try out their advice. Disguised as the story of Scott's time at Automattic (the company behind WordPress.com), The Year Without Pants is a critical commentary exploring the intersection of workplace culture, modern collaboration tools, and how to create an environment that allows creative professionals to shine.

The book explores 2 key points:
1. The often overlooked value of the personalities of a team, its morale, and how the interaction styles between team members impacts the team's output almost as much as the technical skills of the team
2. How an organization's communication systems, tools, and documentation practices reflect and impact the culture of and organization, and the products they create.

Scott weaves these key points into the story of his time at Automattic. Unlike most first-person project narratives, The Year Without Pants focuses on the personalities, hopes and aspirations of his team - rather than the cold, technical realities of the project. Scott's ability to connect the reader to the day to day activities of Automattic and to feel its culture with every pass page enables him to use that understanding to critically examine the role of culture and collaboration tools in a modern working environment.

Any manager, leader or technical professional who is interested in creating a workplace that inspires the best work from a creative professional should read this book. It's a masterful bit of storytelling illustrating the value of culture, collaboration, and friendship within technical teams, and how that creates a vibrant and successful business.
December 5, 2013
Don't let the underwear cover fool you, The Year Without Pants is not about a guy sitting in his apartment ordering pizzas for fifty-two weeks straight.

Scott Berkun is a lightening-in-a-bottle type, he recounts his time as Team Social lead at Wordpress through a unique lens of a savvy-veteran returning to the front lines to disrupt conventional thinking. Not only is he entering a management position at Automattic, where workers work remotely, he's trying to assimilate on a team that doesn't even have a lead and is already firing on all cylinders. The addition of Berkun to the team is an experiment.

The book directly challenges the way we've been told that business works. So many businesses follow a common pattern of mandatory collared shirts, dress pants and 9-5 work weeks because that's what they were told was the way to run a business. This type of premeditated structure suggests a company that does not take the time to be thoughtful and see what works best for the company and its workers. What's proven at Automattic is that if you have faith in your employees, and they can work autonomously and have a real stake in the direction of the company, you will be able to trust them and they will go all-in for you.

In an interview with Wordpress.com, Berkun reiterates something powerful:

The single most important lesson is you have to dig deeper to be good.

What struck me most while reading the book was the significance of the message. There's a sense of urgency to it, as if to say to people as a whole, it doesn't have to be this way. You can take big risks and experiment and effect sweeping change.

I was out for drinks recently and a buddy asked me how my job was going and I said, "Awesome..." to which he said, "you don't hear that very often."

That's the whole point. It struck a chord in me not because I dislike my job (the web is both a passion and a craft for me) but because it allowed me to appreciate the importance of meaningful work. Dead-end tracks can break a man's spirit. Lofty ambitions can tackle the impossible.

I finished The Year Without Pants walking home from the "L" train, reading the last few pages as I glanced up to check crosswalk signals. I read the last page a couple of times to let it sink in, and was sad that it was over as you would be with any good book.

The nerve it hit was the one it was supposed to.
December 3, 2013
I found Scott's book a great read, so much so I was excited to share it with as many other people that I could.

I work for a very traditional brick and mortar company that is currently experimenting with work at home. Personally, this has been something I've wanted to do for awhile and read this book to help me in perhaps building some ideas about what is all involved.

What made this book so great is that it truly gives a balanced insight into a staff and management perspective in working remotely. The challenges and issues that come into play for both nurturing a culture that works this way and integrating traditional management styles. If you are a company considering doing this, this book is definitely worth the read. If you are an HR department looking for some balanced arguments on both sides, this is also a good read.

What really appealed to me most is the gems of management philosophy that Scott sprinkles through the book. There are some parts of the book that really spoke to me and just those portions alone make this a great read for management.

I would have loved to give this book 5 stars, but I held a star back because I felt that the writing style seemed a little casual, almost blog-like in some spots and the narrative seemed a tad bit anti-climatic. The character development probably could have been excluded from the book all together. Granted, these characters are real life people but their stories seemed kind of flat and faceless despite the names.

After reading this book, I was very inspired to work for a company like Automattic, as I truly feel that this is the real future of work. Based on the how the book was written, written in between the lines, you an get a real feeling of how difficult it is to form relationships in the office-family space. Perhaps that was a benefit that one could take away, but do not expect any super juicy details about the inner workings of this company other than maybe the way they monitor the efficiency of their Happiness Engineer with the dashboard.

I would be quite content in my current position if I was marginally attached to the office. We would really only need to come into the office for some face to face meetings, equipment upgrades or meeting with vendors. My whole job takes place in front of a computer. The common response I receive about working from home is that they are concerned about how to monitor my efficiency while I am working from home. Well, my question is.. how are you monitoring me now? The approach and philosophies employers fear about employees taking advantage, are considered in this book as well.

I originally learned about this title from a sample of Chapter 4 provided to me at Wordcamp. Wordcamp is a annual localized conference for Wordpress users, designers and developers. If you are any of the three, I highly recommend going if you are a fan of Wordpress. You brain will explode leaving there and you may even bump into someone written about in the book.

Overall, this is a great read and rather you are company considering remote work, management or a staff employee, you will glean something useful from this book.
December 2, 2013
Can you name a company that hires employees without formal interviews and instead gives prospective job seekers a real assignment to see how they deal with it? Or a company that has a headquarters but whose international workforce hardly ever works there? Or that requires every new hire to spend their first weeks at the company working in customer support?

It’s the same company that hosts nearly 73 million blogs, and the platform on which this blog runs: WordPress.

Scott Berkun, a former project manager at Microsoft and now an author of some fine books, wanted to find out more about what it would be like to work at an organization with an entirely distributed workforce. So he spent a year as a team manager at WordPress and then wrote a book about the experience. Hence The Year Without Pants.

I’ve read Berkun’s books on project management and public speaking, and am a regular reader of his blog. He’s typically insightful, provocative, and funny. When I saw that he’d be doing a book on WordPress, which I’ve used for about seven years now, I figured it would be worth the read.

What: The book is structured chronologically, running from the initial arrangements that led to Berkun’s hire through end of his year+ of employment with WordPress. Berkun offers a look at the dynamics of his team and the projects on which they worked, as well as how that work and the team fit into the larger WordPress structure. There’s also some reflection on larger management, culture, and leadership issues as well as Berkun’s thoughts on “the future of work” in a world where a computer and an Internet connection can link almost anyone anywhere in the world.

Audience: Anyone who wants an inside look at how WordPress works as an organization, project managers, and HR and business types who are curious about how a distributed workforce can really get stuff done. I’d also recommend it for anyone who wants to do better at leading teams–you’ll get the vicarious experience of watching Scott Berkun lead his team and get a glimpse at the thinking and motivations behind his decisions.

Nuggets: Here are few bits that I underlined (well, highlighted on my Kindle version).

No technique, no matter how good, can turn stupid coworkers into smart ones. And no method can magically make employees trust each other or their boss if they have good reason not to. (p 29)

Product creators are the true talent of any corporation, especially one claiming to bet on innovation. The other roles don’t create products and should be there to serve those who do. A classic betrayal of this idea is when the IT department dictates to creatives what equipment they can use. If one group has to be inefficient, it should be the support group, not the creatives. If the supporting roles, including management, dominate, the quality of products can only suffer. (p 38)

Every tradition we hold dear was once a new idea someone proposed, tried, and found valuable, often inspired by a previous tradition that had been outgrown. The responsibility of people in power is to continually eliminate useless traditions and introduce valuable ones. An organization where nothing ever changes is not a workplace but a living museum. (p 76)

Morale isn’t an event; it’s the accumulated goodwill people build through work together. (p 206)

Application: After reading the book, I decided to try an experiment in one of my Lincoln Christian University classes. The marketing class is working on a project in teams. In the past, I’ve always met with each team to check on their progress and address problems. For a class with four teams, this meant scheduling multiple meetings with each team–a significant logistical challenge at the end of the semester.

For this class, I asked each team to select a project manager. Instead of meeting with all of the teams, I’m meeting only with the project managers. So far this has created two improvements: fewer meetings and more collaboration. Instead of scheduling four meetings with four teams, I have one meeting with the four project managers. And the teams are sharing ideas more than I’ve seen in the past. The semester isn’t over yet, so the plan could still flop but I like what I’m seeing so far.

This upcoming spring semester, I have two of my LCU students working on a human resource management independent study. I’ll have them read The Year Without Pants as one of their texts. I also want to use more project management ideas in future classes, passing more responsibility along to the students with the hope that it better prepares them for life after LCU.
October 10, 2013
The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work by Scott Berkun is an excellent book about what Scott learned as an old dog in a futuristic workplace. Scott promised to provide a first person narrative of an author who returns back to his old roots as a team lead. Can he apply what he has written in his books? Will this experiment work? Can a former employee of a fortune 500 organization work remotely in a distributed team? What is it like to work for Automattic?

Scott accomplished his goals for this book by explaining to us via storytelling how the culture of Automattic worked. Automattic is the company behind the WordPress platform which was founded by Mark Mullenweg. I was surprised to discover that more than 20% of the internet traffic go through WordPress sites. Scott shared many anecdotes and visually stimulating stories that allowed us to imagine what it felt like to be an automattician - employees at Automattic. Scott shared his frustrations that he faced when working with a distributed remote team. For instance, sometimes Automattician's not using the right communication tool for particular situations. For example, a five minute sketch can communicate a UI design better than a long P2 post or IRC chat session. But, he also explained the secret sauce that made Automattic work; they do a great job of hiring that it compensates for the other issues.

My favorite parts of the book were the experiments that Scott ran. He provided lots of ideas that I will plan to use on future projects. This is the main lesson that I took from his book - managers need to run more experiments. As members of a team, we need to continue to try new things in order to learn. My only gripe with this book is that I wished Scott would've spent more time on how to feed what he learned from his experiments back into Automattic. Why wasn't he more forceful with Mullenweg (founder of Automattic) in applying some of the low hanging fruit changes?

My favorite story in the book was when Scott worked with Noel to move the signup button to the left for Wordpress. They made a change within 10 minutes that impacted millions and increased WordPress signup rate by 10%. Scott and Noel were discussing their pet peeves and Noel took the initiative to do something about the signup button. Scott was concerned about the short attention span of Wordpress employees and noticed that ideas that demanded deep thinking were overlooked in favor of ones that were easy to respond to. When Noel pushed out that change, it reminded Scott of how open the playing field was at Automattic and at the same time how few were willing to grab the ball and run with it.

Scott is uniquely qualified to write about the future of work because of his background. He worked at Microsoft during the browser wars: which was a time when Microsoft was forced to be more agile in order to catch Netscape. Scott worked as a program manager for internet explorer and lead a number of teams. He wrote a book called Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management which I read twice. Based on the stories Scott told about his stay at Automattic, I was surprised to discover that he followed the ideas in his previous books. In chapter 22 of The Year Without Pants, Scott pulled a large number of techniques out of Making Things Happen in order to have his team think about how all of the features of WordPress should fit together. He helped them create a project plan for the future. It was his last big experiment at WordPress.

The last sentence of the book leaves the reader the following question: How willing are we to make the trade? This was about long-term commitments demand versus short-term sacrifices. From my work experience and discussions with friends in other industries, it seems that most of the time we are not making the right trade, i.e. we primarily focus on short term gains.

I highly recommend this book to everyone especially managers of teams. Let's take Scott's advice and run more experiments!
October 6, 2017
For the last few months, the book "<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Year-Without-Pants-WordPress-com-Future-ebook/dp/B00DVJXI4M/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work</a>" by Scott Berkun has come across my radar. It was recommended by several articles and posts. I finally bit the bullet and bought the book (Kindle edition).

This book is - without hesitation - the best business book that I have read. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Berkun writes about his year (and a few months) working for Automattic, the company behind WordPress and WordPress.com. He writes about business strategy, culture, teams, projects, software development, remote work, and many other business topics. But, unlike most business books, Berkun presents the business ideas in a story form. You will not find a chapter on the four reasons for working remotely or the five ways to develop software. Instead, he peppers his story with what he learned about each topic during his tenure at Automattic.

And, perhaps the most important aspect of this book, Berkun does not present his findings as THE answer for all businesses. In fact, he recognizes that culture as well as business strategy will most often (should) dictate HOW businesses answer the questions related to teams, projects, work, etc.

For example, he writes near the beginning of the book (pg 29):
<blockquote>Rarely do the consultants championing, and profiting from, these ideas disclose how superficial the results will be unless they're placed in a culture healthy enough to support them. No technique, no matter how good, can turn stupid coworkers into smart ones. And no method can magically make employees trust each other or their boss if they have good reason not to.</blockquote>
And again near the end of the book (pg 230):
<blockquote>Here in the last chapter of the book, I can't tell you to simply copy what Automattic has done. It'd be foolish to tell you that since every company and person is different. But I can tell you this: they have answered many important questions the working world is afraid even to ask</blockquote>
I enjoyed reading how Berkun, his team, and the wider Automattic staff made decisions and moved into a team-based project management (although it probably didn't look like what most people call project management).

Finally, since I started using WordPress about the time that Berkun started working for Automattic, I enjoyed reading about projects, features, and events that directly related to my blogging, including IntenseDebate, JetPack, and WordCamps.

Again, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you are in any kind of business... read it.

<strong><em>Disclaimer: I purchased this book myself. I was not provided a review copy. I was not asked to review this book.</em></strong>
May 30, 2015
The read was "okay". I originally bought this book, because it came up in multiple conversations so I said to myself "why not see what everyone is talking about". I enjoyed the first few chapters and blasted through them, however half way through the book I was just done. I wanted to gain an understanding of what they did to become successful and if they ran into any hurdles along with having suggestions for other companies. It just fell short.

Not to mention the author was at the company for a very short term, I felt as though he was not genuine in his own work. It seemed as though he needed to worked for a company who had a recognizable name [WordPress] to gain credibility. This fell short of my own expectations; I wanted to walk away with something useful and I just didn't get it.
July 26, 2017
In May 2017 I celebrated my 10 year anniversary of working remotely! When I first started working from home, people typically called that type of work arrangement "virtual" or "work at home" (WAH). In 2013 Jason Fried published the book Remote, which really popularized that term ("remote") and brought it to the forefront of communication among companies where people work from home (or are "distributed"). As a remote worker, I am often very interested in other distributed companies and how they do things, so when I heard about "The Year Without Pants," a book about how Automattic runs an entire company with 120 employees completely distributed all over the world, it piqued my interest.

My book club selected this book for the month of June and I thought it might be fun to share some of the discussion we had (as a group of remote workers) about the book. We met recently and I asked some questions to get the conversation going. We had a great discussion!

Below are a few of the questions I asked and our responses:

* What do you think was the purpose of this book?

- Sharing insight into a world that's different from the norm
- Comparing remote work to traditional work
- Sharing unorthodox management
- Discussing team (and project) management in a remote environment

* Was there a specific passage or quote that left an impression on you?

- "This is one big problem with working remotely: no one believes you have a job at all." (pg. 11)
- "No technique, no matter how good, can turn stupid coworkers into smart ones. And no method can magically make employees trust each other or their boss if they have good reason not to. The best approach, perhaps the only approach, is an honest examination of culture." (pg. 29)

* After reading this book, what did it make you want to learn more about?

- Job postings at Automattic! 😊

* What did the book leave unanswered for you?

- How Automattic handles things like finance and paperwork.

We also got into a side-discussion about what makes someone good at working remotely and here were some of the thoughts folks shared about the type of person who would be a good fit:

* doesn't need face-to-face interaction
* open to technology
* willing to learn from others
* good communication skills
* used to doing work (and not just being somewhere during specific hours)
* has clear goals
* takes ownership/responsibility

Everyone seemed to have really enjoyed the book. One person specifically said she liked the "storytelling" aspect of it. The author, Scott Berkun, provides insight into remote work (good and bad) through his own personal experiences working at Automattic for about a year. We all did joke, though, that Berkun sure did seem to travel to a lot of work retreats in that time period!

Personally, I thought "The Year Without Pants" was cute. If you're interested in, or curious about, remote work and/or want to learn more about Automattic (or Wordpress), I recommend it!
September 11, 2013
Berkun's new book not only takes readers behind the scenes at Automattic, the company that champions WordPress.com and its open-source software WordPress, he also hands readers examples what's wrong with your life and how to get out of the bureaucratic software release cycle and endless department heads meetings that are more about turf wars and arbitrary key performance indicators - and almost never about the customers whose problems you are supposed to solve.

Berkun starts out where Daniel Pink left us with his book, "Drive". Pink boiled productivity and motivation down to three things: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

If you, as a team leader, are able to provide and sustain those three things for your employees, you increase your chances to reach high productivity and excellence. What Pink couldn't tell you is how that actually works.

This is the point at which Berkun's book picks you up.

With great data, anecdotes and structured knowledge, Berkun takes readers on his journey from a 90s software development company to a 21st Century software company. He describes philosophy and methods in precise examples to help readers understand what works and what doesn't work.

In a software company, management/leadership's purpose is, among other things, to keep the knuckle headed stuff off the programmers' desks and out of their minds so they can create, test and release brilliant work. Of course, that kind of approach takes self-motivated, autonomous, passionate people who keep an eye on what's good in the world. Sounds like heaven, right? Well, almost.

Consider this: WordPress has over 150 employees, 50 teams in 80 countries and no central office. Let me repeat: no central office.

Working in a distributed environment where all communication is public about the product, including decisions about the product, bug reports and customer service tickets, not only keeps low the personality wars in emails but also keeps everyone in the loop.

The distributed, autonomous, self-motivated and most of the time insulated programmer, or designer, who often in the past has failed while learning new technologies, is given time to learn and adapt to new team members.

Berkun looks at each part of the WordPress organization and analyzes, in precise language, the up and downside of a process - or the lack thereof. He lets you in on the struggle to bring team members together when they are used to working alone. He takes you on his journey from corporate management junkie to leader of a team of mature members. The broad experience of a 90s software developer at Microsoft and other Fortune 500 companies made Scott Berkun the best time travel guide into the 21st Century workplace, if you're bold enough to take that journey. .
August 24, 2013
If you want to understand how management really works, then this is an important book to read. Scott Berkun ditched his consultant/writer hat and went back on to the management frontline for a little over a year with WordPress.com, and this book reports on what he learned. Berkun is a terrific writer, and I find him worth reading even on topics that I find inherently less interesting. However, there is nothing uninteresting about this - he goes right to the heart of what makes good managers.

For me, there are three big ideas in this book:

1. You can only evaluate management in the context of culture. Here is a quote from the book that outlines this issue: "I'm certain that to learn from a place, you have to study how its culture functions. A great fallacy born from the failure to study culture is the assumption that you can take a practice from one culture and simply jam it into another and expect similar results. Much of what bad managers do is assume their job is simply to find new things to jam and new places to jam them into, without ever believing they need to understand how the system--the system of people known as culture--works." This explains the title of the book - it references an inside joke within his team. I can see why he would use this as a title, but I'm not sure it reflects the content or quality of the book. However, within the WordPress,com culture, it makes perfect sense...

2. Experimentation is an essential management skill. Berkun experiments throughout his time at WordPress.com. This is a central skill for innovating, and it is not practiced widely enough. He has great insights into the roles that data and judgement play in managing, and how experimenting and learning can contribute to both.

3. How do you manage if everyone is a volunteer? One of the interesting features of WordPress.com is that it originated in a open source programming project. Everyone that works on such a project is a volunteer, and this requires a much different management style than the more traditional command and control approach. Berkun's time at WordPress.com was part of a big experiment - introducing work teams and hierarchy into an open source style culture. The outcomes tell us a lot about how to manage effectively.

Scott Berkun has a great business mind, and he is a very engaging writer. This is an important piece of work, and if you are interested in what good management looks like and how it might be changing,you should read this book.