Irrational Exuberance!

Saying no.

September 23, 2018 Some years back, I was sitting in a room with my manager, our CTO and a crisis. An engineer on my team had mishandled two alerts, which had cascaded into plausibly the worst production incident the company had experienced to date. There were three root causes: alert fatigue, a lack of velocity context for out-of-diskspace alerts, and relying on a centralized database with little support for vertical scaling. At that moment, though, we were no longer talking about root causes. We were discussing whether to fire the oncall engineer, and I was saying no.

Work the policy, not the exceptions.

September 23, 2018 At an early job, I worked with a coworker whose philosophy was "If you don't ask for it, you'll never get it", which culminated in continuous escalations to management for exceptional treatment. This approach was pretty far from my intuition of how a well run organization should work, and it grated on my belief that consistency is a precondition of fairness.

Introduction to systems thinking.

September 4, 2018 Many effective leaders I've worked with have the uncanny knack for working on leverage problems. In some problem domains, the product management skillset is extraordinarily effective for identifying useful problems, but systems thinking is the most universally useful toolkit I've found.

Designing interview loops.

September 2, 2018 Anyone who has flipped through Cracking the Coding Interview knows that evaluating folks for a new role is a coarse science. Most interviewers are skeptical of the accuracy of their interviews, and it's hardly the rare interview retrospective where folks aren't sure they got enough signal on a candidate to hire with confidence.

Communities of learning.

September 1, 2018 I've always preferred learning in private. Got something difficult? Sure, leave me alone for a few hours and I can probably figure it out. If you want be to figure it out with you watching, in that case I'm not even sure how to start. This is partly introversion, but altogether I'm pretty uncomfortable making mistakes in public. Like a lot of folks, my brain still helpfully reminds me of public errors I made decades ago, and they still bother me.