Issue #314, 30th November 2018

This Week's Favorite


Scaling Engineering Teams via Writing Things Down and Sharing - Aka RFCs
5 minutes read.

Writing things down is still an undervalued skill in our industry (at least in the software engineering field), and one of those things that if you align incentives (titles and compensation), it can help scale the organization: "Writing and sharing that writing with others creates accountability. It also almost always leads to more thorough decisions. A simple way to increase code quality? Do code review in writing, before merging. A simple way to have a meeting be less of a waste of time? Have a written agenda before the meeting, then write up and send out decisions and actions afterwards. A simple way to run projects with fewer surprises? Have the team write down what they are planning to do and share it with others."

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Culture


It’s Not an App, It's AI
1 minutes read.

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

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Adam Grant on Interviewing to Hire Trailblazers, Nonconformists and Originals
14 minutes read.

It took me a few years into my career as a manager to understand that building a team should be structured like a puzzle. You need to understand the business needs and how your team fits into that, which roles and expertise are required, and how each individual will feel they are utilizing their strength to push forward and grow. Hiring what Adam Grant calls Originals is difficult as you need to have a solid narrative that requires a different mindset. They need to feel that you appreciate their unique skill and you will be there to help them build trust with others so they could challenge the status-quo without destroying their relationships in the organization: "Originals are constructive contrarians. They're not just pointing out that the emperor has no clothes; they're also tailors."

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Building Distributed Engineering Teams
5 minutes read.

Bruno Miranda shares invaluable tips on setting your team to success as a remote company: "once you have one remote employee, you need to think of everyone as being a remote employee" -- for those of you who consider joining a team or starting a remote-first company, I'd also recommend testing for writing skills practiced in different situations: design review, providing feedback, communicating progress and struggles (raising flags) etc. Don't assume that if they know how to deliver it will suffice in this setup.

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Hiring for Commitment, Not Fit
5 minutes read.

Aaron Skonnard (CEO of Pluralsight) with a post that made me stop and think about the way I hire today, and how I'd like to try and improve it as we grow. These two takeaways served as an excellent brain food: "We feel confident that shifting to a focus on “commitment to culture” — as opposed to “culture fit” — is impacting Pluralsight in positive ways." and "we check to see if they’re willing to have their performance measured on those value behaviors. In other words, we create clear agreements around what performance looks like in terms of results and the behaviors demonstrated to produce them"

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Peopleware


What Do Software Architects at Khan Academy Do?
5 minutes read.

Kevin Dangoor explains the Software Architect role at Khan Academy: ״an architect acts as a sort of product manager for the system in which software is built״ -- while there are many debates about whether or not such role should exist, I think it's helpful to understand the purpose and solutions that it can serve. Using the DACI framework can keep separate effectively between Owner and Consultant roles.

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9 Most Useful Pieces of Advice I’ve Received
4 minutes read.

Mathilde Collin (Front CEO) with many insights tips as a founder, many of them applicable to every leader who tries to build a scalable organization. My favorites were: "Before you make an offer to someone, think about whether you’d like to have 10 times as many people like them in your company." and "There are 2 types of decisions: 1-way door decisions and 2-way door decisions. Be involved with the former, but less and less in the latter."

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Are You a Manager? Shut Up!
3 minutes read.

I think the best value of your "Manager talk time" is when you provide context and then let the communication flow without you (as long as it's constructive). Gal Zellermayer with a post that all managers should read and try to act on more often. The only time not to follow that guideline is during "wartime" where the company is struggling, and you want to instill confidence and build momentum quickly. This is rarely the case, so watch out and remember your role.

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Inspiring Tweets


@Leandro8209: It's Funny How You Be Stuck on a Problem for Ages When It's Late, Then Go to Sleep and Solve It in 5 Minutes the Next Morning. Sleep Is a Superpower.

@eriktorenberg: Optimizing on Building Your Network Before Having a Rare & Valuable Skill/Knowledge Base Is Like Focusing on Growth Before Product-Market Fit.

- 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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