January 19, 2019 As organizations grow more complex, the folks running them interface with reality through increasingly incorporeal abstractions. On the smallest teams, leadership might be deep in the code on a daily basis. A bit larger, and you're talking about tasks in sprints. Larger still, and you're talking about collections of tasks, and adopting fancy terminology like 'epics.' At a hundred plus engineers, you're likely talking primarily in themes of work with focus on several key initiatives. Next, you might be talking about the investment frameworks for making prioritization decisions.
January 1, 2019 Time management is an ongoing challenge for managers: so much to do, so little time. The early-career manager, learning to balance being pulled in so many directions, is a sympathetic figure. Empathy for senior managers, dashing between back-to-back meetings and five minutes late to each, can be hader to summon.
December 30, 2018 I'm working on a presentation for the SFELC Summit 2019 on the topic of designing effective process. There is so much worth saying here that I initially had some trouble narrowing it down. I think the best piece I've written on this topic is "Work the policy, not the exception", but hey, that's about policy not process.
December 9, 2018 Technical infrastructure is never complete. System processes can always run with less overhead or be bin-packed onto fewer machines. Data can be retrieved more quickly and stored at a cheaper cost per terabyte. System design can broaden the gap between failure and user impact. Transport layers can be more secure.
November 15, 2018 When I was four, I won a cake walk. For thoes who haven't partaken, a cake walk is when a group of folks walk around a path on the floor, and then stop when they are told to stop. Whether you win or lose a cake is entirely out of your hands, it's a matter of timing and position, both of which are out of your control. I've been reflecting lately on the forces which make headcount planning--really just a specialized form of resource allocation--difficult, and perhaps sthe cake walk has something to teach us.