“Rationalize and solve” doesn’t help someone who is venting

If you’re doing the whole servant leadership thing, you’re gonna hear some people venting frustrations. Yihwan Kim, When a 1:1 turns into a vent session: As an engineering manager, I’m learning that a big part of my job (perhaps my only job) is to help people solve problems. I happen to enjoy solving problems myself.… Continue reading “Rationalize and solve” doesn’t help someone who is venting

Planning focuses our ideas

Planning is essential. But, not too much. Mostly in the next 90-day window (with apologies to Michael Pollan). Humans are, with few exceptions, awful at planning. It’s impossible to see the future. We rely on our previous experience over data too often. Or, not enough. Or, in the wrong combination for this scenario. Beyond a… Continue reading Planning focuses our ideas

Working, directly & small

Omar Rizwan recollects that one of the original selling points of React was that you could consolidate all the HTML, CSS, and JS for a single component in one file. No navigating across large directory trees to find the one line of code that implements the behavior you want. Far less worrying “if I change… Continue reading Working, directly & small

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.

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