July 20–24, 2015
Portland, OR

Debugging Teams

11:10am–12:10pm Monday, 07/20/2015
Cultivate Portland 256
Average rating: ****.
(4.74, 19 ratings)

Prerequisite Knowledge

We assume that the audience are (a) makers and (b) work in creative teams to build things. Nothing more.


Software engineering is a team sport, and a team’s culture deeply affects each contributor’s productivity and happiness. We’ll discuss specific best practices for building strong, self-sustaining cultures. We’ll also talk about how to lead your reports rather than “managing” them, and exactly what sort of things great leaders do and don’t do in building high-functioning teams. You’ll learn why investing in these soft skills are at least as important as technological factors when it comes to success.

Photo of Ben Collins-Sussman

Ben Collins-Sussman


Ben Collins-Sussman is the engineering site lead for Google’s Chicago office. A founding developer of the Subversion version control system, Ben co-authored O’Reilly’s Version Control with Subversion book as well as Team Geek. Since joining Google in 2005, he ported Subversion to Google’s BigTable platform, led engineering teams for both Google Code and Google Affiliate Network, and now manages engineers working on the DFP advertising platform. Ben collects hobbies that explore the tension between art and science. He has given numerous conference talks about the social challenges of software development. He writes interactive fiction games and tools, and was the co-winner of two different independent game competitions. Ben has co-authored several original musicals and shared multiple awards for theater composition in Chicago, L.A., and Philadelphia. He has an Extra-class FCC license for amateur radio, and also spends time doing semi-professional photography, singing in barbershop quartets, sketching in colored pencil, and playing bluegrass banjo. Ben is a proud native of Chicago and holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of Chicago with a major in mathematics and minor in linguistics. He lives in Chicago with his wife, kids, and cats.

Photo of Brian Fitzpatrick

Brian Fitzpatrick


Brian Fitzpatrick is founder and CTO of Tock. Brian started Google’s Chicago engineering office in 2005 and led several of Google’s Chicago engineering efforts, including the Data Liberation Front and Transparency Engineering. He also served as internal advisor for Google’s open data efforts, having previously led the Google Code and Google Affiliate Network teams. Prior to joining Google, Brian worked as an engineer at CollabNet, Apple, and a local Chicago development shop. Brian first started contributing to open source software in 1998 and was a core Subversion developer from 2000 to 2005 as well as the lead developer of the cvs2svn utility. He is a member of the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) and former VP of public relations for the ASF. Brian has written numerous articles and given dozens of presentations, including co-writing Team Geek: A Software Developer’s Guide to Working Well with Others, Version Control with Subversion (now in its second edition), and chapters for Unix in a Nutshell and Linux in a Nutshell. Brian has an A.B. in classics from Loyola University Chicago with a major in Latin, a minor in Greek, and a concentration in fine arts and ceramics. Brian resides in Chicago.