Issue #365, 22nd November 2019

This Week's Favorite


Deploys to Production: It's Not Actually About Fridays
7 minutes read.

“My entire point is that the behaviors and practices associated with blocking Friday deploys are in fact hurting your engineers… It’s not about Fridays. It’s about having a healthy ecosystem and feedback loop where you trust your deploys, where deploys aren’t a big deal, and they never cause engineers to have to work outside working hours.” — To support the production needs, the team has to be able to trust the supporting systems: CI/CD and anything that goes between them. The more you practice, the more you can test the system and make it more stable and predictable. Charity Majors with a good reminder of our responsibility to our teammates. Rules and guidelines are helpful, but there are many ways to get there. Figure out a path that works for your team.

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Culture


Me Showing Up to Sprint Planning After Finishing Nothing Last Sprint
1 minutes read.

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

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How to Build a Startup Engineering Team
10 minutes read.

Bookmark Kevin Stewart's post, and use it next time you need to build a team from scratch (or as a good practice before you join a new startup). Some of my favorite takeaways: "Your job is to provide the founders leverage", "take the time to flesh out and document your recruiting strategy and interviewing process. Winging it is all too common, but it’s destructive and shortsighted", and "As the organization grows, modify engineering reviews as needed in order to help them scale with your company... So long as the primary goal—facilitating communication and awareness of technical decisions within engineering—is preserved, there’s plenty of room for creativity with the format."

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Surprising Insights From Talking to Hiring Teams in Silicon Valley
11 minutes read.

A lot of useful observations by Jared Tame for all companies (not just SV-based), with this one as my favorite: "The candidate asked me how to prepare for the interview, so I shared the interview structure, the stack we use, and sent suggested readings. This person never used Ruby or Rails before, which was what we used. I sent a YouTube video explaining how to refactor code. This is especially difficult for junior candidates because colleges won’t teach you this, but CTOs and engineering managers will drill it into your head over time using hundreds of git commit comments. Guess what happened? The candidate crushed the onsite and went on to be a great hire. She eventually went on to work for one of the unicorns, and she’s now out of grasp for most startups. But we were able to step in early enough because we offered prep material."

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Culture Balances: Intro
3 minutes read.

I like the "Working With Balances" Tom Sommer suggests, helping you figure out and write down where you want to be and why, based on the edges of the spectrum. This is an exercise you can share with a few employees and see how they'd define the Pros & Cons, and where they'd aim the team to achieve.

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Peopleware


Peacetime Productivity, Wartime Productivity
6 minutes read.

This post is a must-read for managers and senior IC, helping you focus on the tasks at hand without the guilt (mostly during wartime). Your job during wartime is to get out of it - It shouldn’t be pretty, scalable, repeatable or efficient - It needs to be effective and immediate. Figure out where you stand now (this week), and which strategy you want to apply to help you push towards the right direction. Some talented people love to remain in wartime as they enjoy the rush. This is a dangerous place to be at if you care about burnout, both for you and your teammates.

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If You Were Interviewing a Bunch of Staff/Principal/Distinguished Engineers (To Learn, Not Evaluate), What Questions Would You Ask Them? (Thread)
4 minutes read.

Will Larson started a thread on twitter that got many useful suggestions. I took a few of those and wrote them down, as I’d like to start asking them more during 1:1s and when talking with experienced engineers outside of my company. Some of my favorites: “How do you get people to do things when they don’t report to you?”, “How do you learn?” and “Give an example of a project you participated in that you felt was a failure. Why did it fail and what did you learn from it?”

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Planting Ideas 🌱
3 minutes read.

Ideas can be practical internal projects you’d like to promote, side-project you’re playing with, or a new process you’d like to try out. Corey Gwin shares the right state of mind I think you should have. Figure out the right environment to plan that idea. Who will appreciate it? Who will benefit from it? How can you share it in a way that will get people to help you promote this idea?

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Inspiring Tweets


@zackkanter: Startup Comp Is Simple. Either: 1) Become Among the Best in the World at Identifying Mispriced Assets, 2) Convince Incredible People to Work for Less, 3) Pay Top of Market, or 4) Build a Mediocre Team. ~Everyone Thinks They Are Doing 1/2; Nearly Everyone Is Actually Doing 3/4.

@ajlkn: Every Time You Pass a Captcha a Terminator Gets Its Wings

- 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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