TECH PEOPLE LEADERSHIP NEWSLETTER
Every week or so I collect a set of articles that have caught my eye about leadership and management in the tech industry.
The articles cover a wide range - everything from the basics of running meetings, to the subtleties of managing remote teams, to the underpinnings of giving feedback and difficult conversations.
Articles I circulate in the newsletter are collected below in the archive. Feel free to browse, and free to sign up!
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Will breaks down one of the thornier recurring decisions software managers have to make: build vs buy.
“My rule of thumb is to first understand if there are any sufficiently high risks that you simply can’t move forward. If the risks are acceptable, then perform a simple value versus cost calculation and accept the results!” But it’s usually not that simple! Take a read.
A question of the moment - or the next decade, anyway, as the bulk of the investment in most companies becomes software development of some kind. How do we know if the money is being well spent? Can we know if the money is being well spent?
“The industrialist in me doesn’t want to admit that there’s no way to measure software developer productivity. As much as I believe that creativity is important in software, I’d also love to be able to tell a customer that we’re halfway done and actually mean it” Exactly!
This is pretty great. I’ve posted selections from Jeff Bezos’ shareholder letters occasionally because he writes clearly and describes simple, clean models for management frameworks - decisions, delegation etc etc. This is a much more complete list. Great reading.
Somehow this single tweet caught, for me, the huge impact that the situation is having on families working from home. If you’re managing a team right now, might be good to have this up on the wall somewhere to glance at, both to calibrate your own situation, and that of others you are working with.
This originally had the much more intriguing title of “Dev Productivity is Way Down at LinearB”, but I guess the marketing folks got to it :-) So how is eng productivity changed by being distributed? And how would you measure it?
(disclosure: I know the LinearB folks a bit, and I realize that there’s a marketing angle to their posts. But I like that they are explicitly wrestling with a significant issue: how to really measure software engineering productivity. More than happy to post from others who are similarly tangling with the problem).
A quick update to the “five whys” changing the perspective from (implicitly) seeking blame, and therefore getting excuses, to engaging in problem solving. I’ve written before about the issues with “why” questions - this is a neat modification of an already powerful tool to address the issues with “why”.
Disagreeing is necessary, vital even. But much harder to do with remote tools. “Silences” can be misinterpreted, facial expressions hard to read etc etc. The Zapier team have thought about it and suggest a ton of practical tools for disagreeing productively in a distributed team.
I’m not a huge fan of the “wartime” metaphor for leadership (and, to be fair, neither is Ed), but if there ever was a time to engage with it, it’s now. A typically thoughtful, careful and insightful article.
“And it’s the determined, persistent, calm leader who can take forceful, vigorous action to mobilize people while avoiding panic”
Ed also has several insightful articles about working from home on his site.