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.

External office hours.

July 7, 2020. Filed under management 127

While I was taking some time to rest before starting at Calm, one day I had an appointment downtown and decided to run an experiment to see if I could grab coffee and lunch with folks I didn’t know. The day before I typed up a tweet asking if anyone would be interested in meeting.

Does the Staff title even matter?

June 28, 2020. Filed under staff-plus 26career 20

If you’re safely nestled within the comfortable clutches of the Senior Engineer career level, you might wonder if you ought to pursue the Staff title. It’s a considerable investment of time and energy, along with requiring a good amount of luck, is that investment worth your time?

Where do Staff-plus engineers fit into the org?

June 28, 2020. Filed under management 127staff-plus 26

When I work on the organization design of an engineering organization, I think a lot about "organizational mathematics", the guideline that each team should have one manager and six to eight engineers, and each manager of managers should support four to six managers. From those numbers you can rapidly determine an appropriate structure for your organization that’ll work fairly well. It might not be perfect, but it’ll work.

StaffEng Updates, June 2020

June 23, 2020. Filed under staff-eng 5

I'm on parental leave for four weeks (after which Laurel and I are siwtching off, so I'll be taking more later when she returns to work), and in addition to learning how to change diapers, read hunger and exist in a world of constant sleep deprivation, I also wanted to push forward a couple of lingering projects, one of which was StaffEng

Stuff I've learned about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion over the past few years.

June 20, 2020. Filed under management 127inclusion 4

When I wrote An Elegant Puzzle, I wanted to document some of the structured ways I’d learned to foster inclusion within the organizations, which surfaced in a number of sections, including Opportunity & Membership, Selecting project leads, Inclusion in the first shift, and Work the policy, not the exceptions. Those pieces continue to reflect my values, but they often operated on an aspirational level without acknowledging the grittier, more ambiguous layers beneath the ideals where you spend most of your time attempting to effect change. In these notes I want to focus on what I’ve seen work over time.

How to practice backend engineering.

June 20, 2020. Filed under architecture 30interviewing 4

On a recent call, I chatted with someone about backend roles in software engineering, and what folks actually do in those roles. More than just what do these folks do, how would you practice for this kind of role or prepare for interviews?

Trapped in a Values Oasis.

June 18, 2020. Filed under management 127

Learning to influence without authority is the keystone leadership skill to transition from early to mid career. It becomes an even more important skill later in your career as you need to partner effectively with your peers, executives and board members.

My career story.

June 14, 2020. Filed under career 20stories 9

As I’ve had more early career folks reach out about mentorship, the most frequent question they have is learning about the story of my technology career. I genuinely don’t think my story is a good one to learn from because I’ve had a path dependent on a great deal of privilege and luck. That said, at some point it’s easier to simply write the story and let folks decide that for themselves.