Make timeline tradeoffs using iterative elimination tournaments.

May 25, 2019. Filed under management 128

Years ago I found myself in a small room with large glass double doors that didn’t quite close properly, and were leaking crescendoing frustration into an office furiously avoiding any acknowledgement of the dispute happening therein. I was trying to mediate a disagreement between two teams about our approach to collecting data from Facebook Ads APIs. The API provided the necessary data, but didn’t provide a sufficiently granular time series of changes over time, which we need as an input into a budget rebalancing algorithm.

Magnitudes of exploration.

April 6, 2019. Filed under management 128infrastructure 34

Standardizing on a given platform or technology is one of the most powerful ways to create leverage within a company: improve the tooling a bit and every engineer will get more productive. Exploration is, in the long run, an even more powerful force, with _successes_ compounding over time. Developing an investment thesis to balance the ratios and timing of standardization and exploration is a core challenge of engineering strategy.

Fire fixation.

March 23, 2019. Filed under management 128

Of the early Stripe lore I've encountered, my favorite is that it managed to accomplish a tremendous amount with a small team because folks moved so rapidly from one project to another project that, leaving an afterimage behind them, it appeared that they were everywhere simultaneously.

Rules of thumb for org design.

March 17, 2019. Filed under management 128

While writing 'How to evolve an engineering organization', there were a bunch of org design rules of thumb that are interesting to discuss but didn't fit into the article well, so I've written them up here instead.

How to evolve an engineering organization.

March 5, 2019. Filed under management 128

I recently had the opportunity to present to a small group of early-stage founders about evolving their engineering organization as their company scaled. While preparing, I realized that the most relevant piece I've written about organization design was about running reorganizations.

Paying the predictability tax.

February 24, 2019. Filed under management 128

The core observations from Fred Brook's The Mythical Man Month is that assigning more folks to work on a project often slows down delivery. Part of that is the predictability tax.

Why limiting work-in-progress works.

February 17, 2019. Filed under management 128systems-thinking 6

Several years ago, my friend Bobby showed me an article about a CEO who used systems thinking to understand their company's bottlenecks, which eventually lead to him buying out his cofounder, who had been leading their sales team. As is the case for most stories about ourselves that we decide to publish widely, this decision turned out to be the right one, and their business flourished.

Notes on Soul of a New Machine, Messy Middle, Crazy at Work, Company of One.

February 2, 2019. Filed under management 128book 14review 13

Every year or two I spend a month or two reading some general business and management books. On average, these are not my favorite books, but they usually have a couple interesting ideas and are imminently skimmable. Recently I've read through The Soul of a New Machine, The Messy Middle, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and Company of One.

Growing with your company's complexity.

January 29, 2019. Filed under management 128career 21

When finishing up a difficult project, sometimes I pause to dream about how it'll extend [my career](/career-narratives/). If I bundle this project with a few others, mix in supporting a healthy and impactful team, add a dash of time for the flavor to deepen, and undoubtedly this will get me to the next level.

Meeting people.

January 26, 2019. Filed under management 128career 21

In the earliest bits of my career, I spent a lot of time worrying that my lack of pedigree was holding me back. How much easier things would have be for me, I imagined, if only I'd attended a feeder school like Stanford or started out at a prestigious company like Google. Memories of that angst bubbled up when I was chatting with someone at a recent conference, and they asked how I knew so many of the people nearby. My first reaction was that I don't know very many folks, but it's also the case that I know meaningfully more folks today than I did just a few years ago, and that change isn't entirely accidental.