Getting in the room.

March 28, 2020. Filed under management 111staff-plus 10

One of the most common frustrations I’ve heard from engineers is that they’re not in the room where important decisions are being made. They don’t understand the company decisions, and have important context that seems to be missing or ignored. Staff-plus engineers frequently cite access to “the room” as a major benefit of their level, and titles do increase the likelihood that you’ll be involved in decisions that impact you.

From one to two: how to start a successful distributed engineering office.

March 3, 2020. Filed under management 111

Recently it feels like companies are moving beyond the single office model earlier and earlier in the lifetime. Maybe it’s improvements in video conferencing, perhaps it’s the increasing costs of operating in Silicon Valley, perhaps it’s just a fad, but in any case, effectively supporting additional company offices is an important and increasingly core skill for engineering leaders.

Interviewing senior engineering leaders.

February 18, 2020. Filed under management 111hiring 9

A friend recently reached out for advice on interviewing and hiring senior engineering leaders. I’ve spent a good deal of time on this topic over the last couple years, starting with partnering with Laura Hilton to design Stripe’s interview loops for engineering leadership, and more recently going through a search for my own role. Leadership hiring is particularly interesting as a window into an organization’s psychology: for the highest stake decisions, do they turn to structure or to intuition?

Crowdsourcing CTO/VPE learning circles.

February 11, 2020. Filed under management 111

As part of moving into a CTO role, I wanted to take a stab at putting together learning circles for folks in CTO, VP Engineering and Staff+ Engineering roles. This is the sort of thing I've done interally within a company before, but most companies only have one CTO or function-leading VP Engineering, so this sort of learning circle needed to happen beyond the scope of a single company.

Share stories, not advice.

February 4, 2020. Filed under management 111

A few years ago I was trying to figure out how to incorporate product management techniques into infrastructure engineering, and I had the very good fortune of having Astrid Atkinson answer a few of my questions. I explained a challenge I was having and asked for her advice, and was surprised when instead of answering Astrid asked, "May I share a story?"