Issue #321, 18th January 2019

This Week's Favorite


Engineering Management: The Pendulum or the Ladder
8 minutes read.

Charity Majors is spot on, as always. I'd add a couple of things to it: (1) invest the time reading books, blog posts and watching videos covering the fundamentals of software and team building, e.g. what are the building blocks of the new lib/concept you just heard of (this rarely change) and how to create alignment of incentives for people, and then (2) Take Charity's checklist under "Let’s run a quick test:" and add a few ideas of your own. Some ideas: "Build an internal tool that would speed up development work" or "Create visibility (dashboards) into areas where usage and benefits are not clear" etc.

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Culture


This Year My Family Decided That Each of Our Presents Had to Be Handmade, So This Is What I Made for My Dad.
1 minutes read.

My humble effort to help you start the weekend with a smile on your face. Check the entire thread as it covers the DIY of this masterpiece.

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I Didn't Want to Be a Manager Anymore—and the World Didn't End
5 minutes read.

"Our engineering organization doesn’t treat the different hats as promotions or demotions." -- Noa Elad from Gusto shares her transitions between individual contributor (engineering) and manager, and what you should do to maximize for the ability to explore areas of interests and happiness. I highly recommend setting a calendar reminder for yourself with the content Noa shared under "If you want a career change," so you could read it at least once a quarter, and make sure you're in control of your career.

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1/ I Became "CEO" at 20. I Dropped Out of College. I Had Only Interned Somewhere Prev. Looking Back, I Couldn't Imagine the Journey That Would Occur From Writing Code All Day to Scaling to 300 People. I Got Lucky, I Screwed Up a Lot, & Had a Lot of Help. Here's What I Learned... (Thread)
3 minutes read.

Suhail (CEO of Mixpanel) shares the lessons he took running a VC-backed company at such an early age. These lessons apply to anyone who's serving a relatively large group of people, e.g., "Control your mood meeting-to-meeting. Sometimes you will have a bad/devastating meeting but try to remember that the next set of people don’t have that context & may be excited/stressed to meet with you." or "You will royally screw it up with people in your company even if it wasn't your decision. They may even dislike *you* for a long time. The words “I am sorry. I screwed up.” are some of the most powerful words you can ever say to someone. It won’t always fix it though."

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Incident Response: Trade-Offs Under Pressure (Video)
35 minutes read.

John Allspaw (ex-CTO of Etsy) will help you optimize the way you run production incidents. The minute this process becomes a blame game, or zero-sum game between different departments, people will stop trusting each other. You cannot create a safe environment and let people learn without constructively handle incidents.

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Peopleware


Being a Great Engineering Mentor
5 minutes read.

I think that using the “who to be in this situation” rather than “what to say” or “how to act” can be a powerful mental model, as it reminds you your role (and goals) in the conversation. Share this post with Senior ICs (Individual Contributor) in your company, so they'll know how to become better mentors to others.

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The First Two Questions to Ask When Your Team Is Struggling
4 minutes read.

Cate Huston's observations made me pause and think hard on where I should create more clarity for my teammates: "Here’s the thing about the “vision” problem: It’s a comfortable one. No one on the team feels threatened by it, because it’s largely someone else’s problem. [...] Clarity involves hard conversations, hard truths, and defining one, then two, then three steps ahead. It is hard work that looks small from the outside—a “no” here, a “no” there, a refinement of this and that."

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Ask HN: Going From Developer to Manager. What Should I Know or Learn?
5 minutes read.

Over 180 comments on this Hacker News thread, with tips, content (Books, posts, lectures) worth reading and the obvious trolls here and there you'd expect. I spent 5 minutes there skimming for recommendations of books and interesting takeaways such as: "I say this in complete seriousness, but group therapy was probably the most important helpful training in my transition from developer to manager."

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Inspiring Tweets


@karen_meep: Retention Is Achieved By: 1. Genuinely Caring About a Person, on a Personal Level (Start With Empathy) 2. Genuinely Caring About a Persons Professional Growth. 3. Taking Appropriate Action to Accommodate for Their Personal and Professional Needs. and No, You Can’t Pick 2.

@practical_works: A Lot of Disagreements Between Depts and Disciplines Boils Down to Misaligned Incentives. For Instance, When: PMs' Goal Is Shipping Designers' Goal Is "Quality" Engineers' Goal Is Not Breaking Prod You're Going to Have a Bad Time. Get Aligned!

- 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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