Build a network of peers.

September 4, 2020. Filed under staff-plus 26

As I talk to more and more Staff-plus engineers about career advice, the most consistent recommendation was to develop a personal network of peers doing similar work. Not every person emphasized this approach, but more than half mentioned it and for those who did it tended to be their first and strongest recommendation.

Performative leadership.

August 23, 2020. Filed under management 128

Earlier this year, I realized that I had been using the term "performative" incorrectly. This led to an interesting discussion, with Laura sharing the proper definition, and Julia pointing out that literally no one uses the term as it's "properly" defined.

The Grand Migration.

August 13, 2020. Filed under architecture 30anti-pattern 2pattern 1

Shortly after a senior leader joins a new company, sometimes you’ll notice them quickly steer the organization towards a total architectural rewrite. Perhaps this is a switch from batch to streaming computation, perhaps a switch from a monolith to a services architecture, perhaps it’s a rewrite into a new programming language. If you take a few minutes to reflect, I bet you can identify several times where you’ve had this experience. Regardless of the proposed technical change, it’s always coupled with the promise of fixing a broad swath of organizational and technical challenges. I’ve coined a name for this pattern of proposing a sweeping technical shift to address a multitude of organizational challenges: The Grand Migration.

Promotion pathologies.

August 9, 2020. Filed under management 128

As I was working on the Staff promotion packets article, I originally included a section on 'Promotion pathologies' to (attempt to) avoid when going up for a promotion to a staff-plus engineering role, but it ended up making the article less cohesive so I scrapped it there and have pulled it out here as a separate post.

Staff promotion packets.

August 8, 2020. Filed under staff-plus 26

Some folks think of their promotion packet as the capstone of reaching a Staff-pus role, but I’ve seen many folks succeed by taking an opposite approach: starting to write their first Staff promotion packet long before they think they’re likely to be promoted to Staff, much the way they might use a [brag document](https://jvns.ca/blog/brag-documents/). Used this way, your packet becomes the map to accomplishing your goal.

The Saint-Exupéry of metrics.

August 6, 2020. Filed under management 128metrics 5

Recently we were working on the engineering section of Calm's monthly All Hands meeting, and were trying to fit a recap of the past six months, and our plan for the following six months, into a seven minute slot.

Some common hiring manager mistakes.

August 2, 2020. Filed under management 128hiring 9

There’s a lot to say about engineering hiring, and I’ve written a fair amount about it, but as I was chatting with a few folks over the past couple weeks, I realized one thing I haven’t written about is the recurring challenges that you’ll often see new hiring managers encounter.

Customizing screen and screenrc.

July 26, 2020. Filed under screen 1

While my professional development has moved to VSCode (and don't get me wrong, I write effectively zero code as a CTO), I still do my personal work in a combination of Screen, Emacs and shell commands. I recently bought a new home computer to replace my aging iMac, and decdied to try something different: what if I left auto-update enabled instead of clicking 'Remind me tomorrow' every day until this computer, too, is replaced?

Create space for others.

July 26, 2020. Filed under staff-plus 26

One of the best measures of your long-term success as a Staff-plus engineer is that the organization around you increasingly benefits from, **but doesn’t rely upon**, your contributions. Because many folks reach their first Staff-plus role by being the “go to” person for the organization, it can be a difficult transition from essential to adjacent.

Staff-plus interview processes.

July 12, 2020. Filed under staff-plus 26interviewing 4

When we talk about designing a Staff-plus engineer interview loop, the first thing to talk about is that absolutely no one is confident their Staff-plus interview loop works well. Many loops end up looking for a senior engineer who’s _really_ fast at solving problems, which doesn’t reflect the actual role. Others focus on communication skills, which _are_ a key part of the role but certainly not the entirety of it. A few companies even construct their process to assess whether the candidate _feels_ like a member of their existing senior engineering team, conflating excellence with familiarity.