Book Notes: Ask Your Developer


I just finished reading (or rather listening to) "Ask Your Developer: How to Harness the Power of Software Developers and Win in the 21st Century" by Jeff Lawson. I saw this book lying on a colleague's desk, it piqued my interest and after reading the reviews I decided to purchase the audiobook.

The author is the CEO and founder of Twilio, a cloud messaging company based in Silicon Valley that became famous for its billboard "Ask your developer" (pictured above). The point of the billboard was that if companies would ask their developers which service they should use, they would certainly recommend Twilio. This approach of "developers know best" is what made Twilio hugely successful and a great place to work, at least according to the book. Funnily enough, the day I started to read this book, this article appeared on HN, lamenting the fact that Twilio had lost its way.

Key Takeaways

Here are my main takeaways and how I will try to apply them to my daily work:

Other notes


In summary, the book is a collection of principles about from the usual classics: Working backwards, The Mythical Man Month, High-Output Management, Only the Paranoid Survive, the Agile literature. It talks about how they were applied at Twilio and what the author learned while doing that. While nothing grondbreaking, it gives yet another practical example and confirmation of these principles. I'm glad I read it, if only to be reminded of things I already knew but forgot to pay attention to.

Buying the audiobook allowed me to listen to the book while commuting and running, but it made it very difficult to go back to the book and review the key points, for example to write this post. I wish there was a way to buy audiobook and e-book together and switch seamlessly between the two.