Issue #315, 7th December 2018

This Week's Favorite


Software Engineering - A Philosophical Activity (Video)
44 minutes read.

An incredible and inspirational talk by Tom Enden, with powerful ideas and outstanding delivery. I've watched it and then listened to it again a few days later on my commute, as it helped me frame some of my thoughts on how to build teams that can build software. As an example, "The world is the totality of facts, not of things" is why I believe safe (canary testing, blue/green deployments, low MTTR etc.) and fact-based testing of our software should be in production, where real customers can tell us the truth about the usage, usability, and stability of our propositions ("as truth-functions").

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Culture


This Is Your 1500ms Latency in Real Life Situations
1 minutes read.

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

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The Power of Incentives: Inside the Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior
8 minutes read.

"Sometimes the solution to a behavior problem is simply to revisit incentives and make sure they align with the desired goal." -- Use this post by Shane Parrish (his podcast is one of my favorites) to think about the type of incentives are being used in your organization, and which reinforcement schedules are applied. One must-have element in a working place is to add a clear and explicit definition (in writing!) of roles and responsibilities. People shouldn't try to guess what is considered a desired behavior.

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Developer on Call
6 minutes read.

On-call rotation on the entire team is a must have to produce skin in the game and align incentives (i.e. build a system robust enough so no one will need to wake up at night), we just need to make sure that as leaders we allow for the right practices to take place: provide the time to invest in monitoring, alerts, good deployment systems, good system tests coverage, have relevant workshops and expertise in place etc. Managers should have skin in the game as well - without providing the above, great people will leave. Organizations should fire managers (and openly discuss it as an explicit expectation when hiring) who fail to nurture and promote such environment.

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Some Notes on Running New Software in Production
5 minutes read.

Understanding the limitations of what would be considered as “safe playground” vs. production incident is an interesting skill to practice while trying new stack. This is heavily dependent on the business we have, but also on the safety measurements we have in place (e.g. feature flags, canary testing, blue/green deployments, DLQ, Circuit Breaker, retry mechanisms etc.) -- this is true for everything new you try, not just around technology. Do people feel comfortable to try things out without the weight of "I might kill the business"?

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Peopleware


The Calculus of Grit
16 minutes read.

"Is it possible to systematically do things to put yourself on a path to mastery, and know you’re on one, without actually knowing what that path is until you’re already far down it?" -- the "The Grit Gyroscope" offered by Venkatesh Rao is a powerful personal growth framework, one that I believe better fits to our information era than the "10K hours to mastery" view: "All you have to do is to look for an area in your life where a lot of rework is naturally happening, maintain an adequate density of internal referencing to your own past work in that area, and release often enough that you can forget about timing the market for your ouput."

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In the Literature of Growth & Marketing, There Is This Concept Called “loops” I’m Curious to Explore “loops” in the Context of How People Make Career Decisions and Think About How to Build Career Capital Over Time. (Thread)
4 minutes read.

I've read about Growth Loops a few months ago (comparing it the usual funnel people often use), and I like Erik Torenberg's observation on using loops as a way to compound value for our careers. In a way, having this newsletter is a career loop - it opens up opportunities to know more people (good "networking" for an introvert like myself), earn money (sponsorship & hiring offers), be invited to talk in conferences and it forces me to keep reading and improve my delivery. Having a knowledge-market fit is required before you build a network: "In 99% of cases, you don’t need to grow your network as much as you need to elevate how highly your existing network thinks about you -- by developing rare & valuable knowledge / skills... You want to refine the knowledge / skills loop so that when you do get coffee w/ them, they’ll get value out of it, and they’ll want to do it again—and refer you to others — or they’ll even reach out to you for coffee."

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The Purpose of Life Is Not Happiness: It’s Usefulness
4 minutes read.

Darius Foroux shares a good motto to live by: "happiness is merely a byproduct of usefulness." -- what other than writing these emails every Friday can I do to help you more? Send me an email with your ideas or have a conversation about it in our Slack channel.

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Inspiring Tweets


@patio11: A High Leverage Pattern I See Over and Over Again: Designing Processes/Tools/Etc Such That They Capture Implicit Knowledge and Make It Explicit, Legible, and Enduring.

@mijustin: MailChimp Was a Side-Project for 6 Years. Todoist Was a Side-Project for 4 Years. Basecamp Took 2 Years Before It Was Paying Their Salaries. Maybe the Rest of Us Shouldn't Be in Such a Hurry.

- 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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