Issue #310, 2nd November 2018

This Week's Favorite


Empowered Product Teams
13 minutes read.

Marty Cagan covers many important aspects of leadership (not only of product members). The three questions at the bottom were surprising to me as I learned things that I believe I should do better, and I never thought of framing them like that: "(1) Are you staffed with competent people with character, that are skilled across the range of competencies you need? (2) Are you assigned problems to solve, rather than given lists of features to build? (3) Are you accountable to deliver business results (outcomes) rather than shipping features (output)?" -- questions two and three can be perceived as obvious, but very few companies actually do it.

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Culture


A Really Easy Job—be a Psychic to Founders: (Thread)
1 minutes read.

My humble effort to help you start the weekend with a smile on your face.

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8 Mistakes We Made in Our Company’s First 8 Years
10 minutes read.

I really enjoyed reading Brennan McEachran thoughts and lessons learned from running his company SoapBox. My favorite takeaway was "Thinking it will get better" where this lesson took me too many years to learn: "Don’t keep waiting for there to be more time. I have racked up so much relationship debt, so much personal debt, so much family debt because I’m waiting for things to be less crazy. It’s never not crazy. You have to make the rest of your like work at the same time — and if you can’t do that at 10 people, you’re not going to do it at 100 or 1,000 people."

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Introducing SREs, TPMs and Other Specialized Roles.
8 minutes read.

This post by Will Larson should be used as a mental framework when considering introducing new specialized roles in your company. Asking the questions Will suggests can better prepare the organization, and new hires, for this transition. I've bookmarked it for the next time I'm thinking of creating such a role (currently on my mind: having a System Resilience Engineer.)

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Why Do Things Go Right?
8 minutes read.

"This means that focusing on people as a problem to control—increasing surveillance, compliance and sanctioning—does little to reduce the number of negatives" - when you do a Postmortem (or a BetterNext, as I like to call them) remember that we all suffer from the Survivorship bias, looking only on the exceptions (or failures) instead of learning from the entire spectrum of events, good or bad. We should ask ourselves not only where we failed, but also what we did to enable success so far. One tip I'd share: read about KFI (Key Failure Indicator) as it provides a nice way to balance the wrong kind of optimizations or learning when choosing KPIs.

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Peopleware


Letting Go: From a Senior Engineer to a Junior Manager
4 minutes read.

This is an important mindset shift by Ajahne that can be useful for first-time managers. I wish someone would have told me that when I just started leading a small team for the first time: "The first rule (in my book) of being a good manager is caring. Care about your people... So when I said I had to let go, it wasn’t (just) the jealousy or my immaturity. Nah. I had to let go of my ego."

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A Weird but Cool Combination of Jeff Bezos and Aging Studies That Will Make You Think Differently About (Learning And) Aging.
9 minutes read.

One of my favorite read this week by Michael Simmons, taking a few notes into my Anki so it would shape my thinking for the next few years: "As a result of applying the Day One Philosophy to my own life, I currently spend 4–5 hours per day in deliberate learning. When I think about my future self, I think of someone who will be much wiser and who will think in ways that I can’t even understand or predict now. It helps me look forward to the future, despite gray hairs and crow’s feet, to know that my biggest growth spike is yet to come."

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You’re Not Managing a Team of Software Engineers, You’re Managing a Team of Writers
6 minutes read.

Read Joe Dunn's "Tight Processes, Loosely Held" as it encapsulates so beautifully the power and dangers in structure and rituals: "Your job is to balance loose and tight process. Deadlines are good. Deadlines at the expense of a brilliant burst of creativity aren’t. Brainstorming is good. Too much brainstorming moves away from the real work. A small team working with only a notional idea of a goal may produce terrific results. A large team without a clear destination will fail. A well-designed process allows a writer the freedom to create by limiting their boundaries. An unduly “stiff” process chafes, and rubs against the organic business of creating."

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Inspiring Tweets


@hosseeb: Don't "Work Harder." Instead: Cut Away Distractions. Stop Doing Fake Work. Ask for Help. Plan. Solicit Criticism. Automate What Can Be Automated. Engage Your Mentors. Exercise. Get More Sleep. Whatever You Do, Don't "Work Harder." It's Pretty Much Never the Answer.

@Johnny_Uzan: Align Your Work With Your Interests. Align Your Environment With Your Desired Habits. Align Your Relationships With Your Values. Align Your Self-Expression With Who You Truly Are. in Any Long-Term Game, Alignment Is the Only Way.

- Oren

P.S. Can you share this email? I'd love for more people to experiment and improve their company's culture.

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