June 20, 2020.
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.
June 18, 2020.
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.
May 25, 2020.
Years ago, the company I was working with hired a new Director of Engineering, and the CTO was talking about why the new Director was an amazing hire. The new Director’s clinching accomplishment? The best ever explanation of the distinction between leadership and management. This turned out not to be a particularly effective way to evaluate hires, but it is an interesting topic.
May 5, 2020.
Some years back I had the strangest meeting in my career. Andrew (not real name) was my new manager, it was his first day on the job, and we were having the standard “get to know you” one-on-one meeting. My outgoing manager and I had been heavily involved in assessing and hiring Andrew, his interview performance was excellent, and I was legitimately excited to work together. So I was surprised when Andrew sat down, cradled his head in his hands, and lamented how much he regretted taking the job, how inept _his_ new manager was, and how terrible our engineering team was relative to his previous experience. What?!
April 9, 2020.
Most career ladders define a single, uniform set of expectations for Staff Engineers. These career ladders attempt to identify the commonalities across many folks performing similar roles in their organization, but in the end these ladders are a tool that apply better against populations than people. In the case of Staff-plus engineers, career ladders paper over a number of distinct roles clustered under a single moniker.