Care and feeding for your engineering strategy.

November 7, 2020. Filed under management 128strategy 7

If by some act of perseverance and skill you write an engineering strategy that’s well-received by your organization, then you’re faced with the next challenge. How do you keep this living document alive past that initial burst of excitement?

Things that aren't engineering strategy.

November 7, 2020. Filed under management 128strategy 7

When you’re writing an engineering strategy, what you put in is important, but it’s almost as important to be deliberate about what you choose to leave out. The full list of things to exclude is uncountably vast, but there are a few worth emphasizing in particular.

A survey of engineering strategies.

November 7, 2020. Filed under management 128strategy 7

Before attempting to document what an engineering strategy ought to be, it’s useful to sharpen a related problem statement: why do engineering teams decide to write an engineering strategy?

Engineering strategy.

November 5, 2020. Filed under management 128staff-plus 26strategy 7

One of the projects from my time at Stripe that I’m proud of was writing our engineering strategy, which I later sanitized into a public version in Magnitudes of exploration. The strategy was an elegant document that carefully reconciled two worldviews that had initially appeared incompatible within the engineering organization. While it was both a conceptually pure and utterly pragmatic document, in the end, it wasn’t particularly useful. It reflected how we described making tradeoffs as opposed to how we genuinely made tradeoffs.

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.

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.

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.

External office hours.

July 7, 2020. Filed under management 128

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.

Where do Staff-plus engineers fit into the org?

June 28, 2020. Filed under management 128staff-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.