BIF and Jack Hughes

Jack Hughes  Founder and Chairman, TopCoder, Inc.

Hughes is founder and chairman of TopCoder. TopCoder is the recognized leader in identifying, evaluating and mobilizing effective software development resources. Through its proprietary programming competitions and rating system, TopCoder recognizes and promotes the abilities of the best programmers around the world. Hughes also co-founded Tallán Inc. a provider of web-enabled business solutions.

  • I want to talk a little about TopCoder.  generally we are trying to do a number of things, the biggest is culture, the nature of work
  • Work is going to become much more like plat.  to keep people interested and happy, it will not be the same paradigm.  there was little leeway before in how people did things, they got told
  • we think the work will not be done for any particular org, and people will do things for many
  • we have tried to create a community that does work in a collaborative format.
  • the community is a diverse group that has a common interest.  For a work community, there has to be some kind of structure to accomplish things.  what we do is do it, figure out what works and get rid of the rest
  • there has to be some set of common values.     there’s a huge role for education, for fun, we weave them all together
  • Diversity is a good thing, allows different points of view.  But you are dealing with many differences, so you end up in a herding cats problem, the structures have to help this
  • Topcoders main theme is competition, this is the thread that runs through it.  Competition lets people find what they are good at.  it is competitive in that there are players at the top of their game and those who wan to learn
  • We have to diverse, large products, so we have a project management methodology that helps this, to define a problem that can be broken up.  Then can be done to standards  we have people who define a problem, then a factory that can break it down, spread the pieces and bring it back together.
  • We do not manage the workforce, it manages itself.
  • members get excited about the competition.  people want to see who they do over time, so we have all sorts of stats to help drive the behaviour.  Work becomes a game and the competition is how well they do at the game,
  • it is all open. the solutions to how to do things often come from the members., how to manage the competition comes from the members
  • something is built across the world from multiple places.  if you structure the world correctly, model the problem, you can get many people quickly from all over the world.
  • we learned a lot by trial and error, ways emerged to manage the process
  • we bring people together as well, to connect

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