Managers versus makers

Paul Graham wrote a great article many years ago about the Manager schedule versus the Maker schedule.

It talked about the challenge in the VC world of bringing together the usual approach managers have to scheduling meetings in a way that suited them rather than giving consideration to the creative people building software, designing products and creating great user experiences. Meetings would be scheduled in 15/30/60 minutes chunks and they would often go back-to-back, or worse, with 15/30/60 minutes in between meetings.

The problem with this is that building truly great products requires time to get into a flow of work. It’s estimated that it takes at least 15 minutes to get your mind focused on the task in hand and closer to 45 minutes to get into a flow. Because software and product development can be hard and taxing work, it often requires quiet periods of uninterrupted effort. Noisy work environment impacts people who need quiet – open spaces are great for collaboration, but how much of that is required during a day? Are there things that are interrupting flow on a regular basis?


Can you make a policy that will help people get longer, concentrated times working on the hard problems without lots of noise and interruptions? Is it possible to create a few hours dedicated to writing, coding, designing (or any other taxing, creative task) and keep the meetings, calls, collaboration time and emails outside these times?

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