Interviewing senior engineering leaders.

February 18, 2020. Filed under management 129hiring 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 129

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 129

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?"

How to partner with an executive assistant.

January 28, 2020. Filed under management 129

One of the magic moments you’ll experience as a senior leader is the first time you get support from an executive assistant. Starting at that moment you’ll slowly uncover more and more possibilities that you had -- in order to preserve your sanity -- intentionally blinded yourself to. It is, you’ll gradually relearn, actually possible to reschedule large meetings, get all those one-off meeting requests scheduled in a timely fashion, and to plan good offsites that bring the team together.

Some rough notes on running learning circles.

January 18, 2020. Filed under management 129

I’m experimenting with putting together a couple of learning circles, and someone who wants to run a similar program within their company reached out for advice on structuring groups for success. I’ve organized a couple and participated in a couple others, but honestly I don’t think I have a great handle on best practices here, but I’ll jot down what I’ve learned nonetheless as a reusable, referenceable artifact.

How to build your company's engineering brand.

January 16, 2020. Filed under management 129

If you end up working in an engineering team that wants to accelerate hiring, at some point you’ll hear the dreaded statement, “We need to grow our eng brand.” The method to accomplish that aim isn’t always clear, but the goal: what can we do so that candidates enter our process thinking highly of our engineering efforts?

Your first 90 days as CTO or VP Engineering.

January 13, 2020. Filed under management 129cto 1

Whenever I transition to a new opportunity, I think about how to “start well.” How can I ramp up as effectively as possible? How do I balance the urge to “show value” immediately with making the right decisions?

How to navigate and/or survive your acquihire.

January 2, 2020. Filed under management 129acquisition 2

As I wrote up the story of SocialCode’s acquihire of the Digg team, I had to keep editing out meta-commentary about the process. It’s hard to tell a coherent story when you keep slipping into tips and observations, so I pulled them out and collected them here.

"Good Process is Evolved, Not Designed" in 97 Things Every Engineering Manager Should Know

December 20, 2019. Filed under management 129writing 33

Earier in the year, I got the chance to contribute an article to Camille Fournier's latest book, 97 Things Every Engineering Manager Should Know, and jumped at the change to write something.

Mailbag: When your team wants your job, personal brand, and service registries.

December 9, 2019. Filed under management 129mailbag 5

Thanksgiving week started well, and then took a hard pivot towards influenza, which meant that I haven’t had much energy to write or think over the past bit. I did get a handful of interesting questions emailed in though, so I figured I’d do an email grab bag of three anonymized questions that came in over the past week and an answer to each.