Let them go their own way

A mistake many newly minted (and some experienced) engineering managers (EMs) make is listening to their team (good!), discussing potential solutions and tradeoffs (good!), and then telling them how to solve the problem. Whoops!

Hire based on outcomes instead of role descriptions

The first time I hired someone, I wish I’d known it’s much better to think about the outcomes you’re hiring for. With that in mind, work backwards to the experience and skills required for a person to succeed in this role.

The unreasonable effectiveness of checklists

Checklists are a fantastic tool for thinking. This despite the existence of GTD, Kanban, PARA, and any number of ways to organize projects and figure out how to finish them. When I’m starting a project or when the going gets weird, checklists are usually how I end up thinking my way through.

Failure = entropy due to adding humans

Here’s a real dinger of a sentence from Michael Lopp’s latest, The Art of Leadership: Small Things, Done Well: Failure is created by the increasing entropy of a growing number of humans running around the building, good intentions in hand, breaking things. Growing an organization requires rethinking trust, coordination, and collaboration. The breakpoints where things… Continue reading Failure = entropy due to adding humans


The project management corollary to Hofstadter’s Law

Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law. Corollary: It always takes more repetitions to tell people what you’re doing, how you’re going to do it, why you’re doing it, how much progress you’ve made, that you finished doing it, etc. even when you take into… Continue reading The project management corollary to Hofstadter’s Law