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Should direct reports interview their new potential leader?

Having a potential new leader be interviewed by their would-be direct reports (subordinates) can be useful, but can also come with potential issues. There is no cut-and-dry answer, but I suggest at least giving serious thought before proceeding.

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2023 Books

A list and some review of some of the books I read in 2023…

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Blog post summary: Periodic Face-to-Face by Martin Fowler

I remain a big fan of Martin Fowler’s writings, and his most recent “Periodic Face-to-Face” article struck a chord. Some highlights below but the tldr:

Remote teams benefit from face-to-face gatherings every few months, to build trust and rapport. During those gatherings, focus on that tasks that require input from many people with rapid feedback, such as debates about product strategy and explorations of systems architecture. View the travel expenses as an investment and a cost effective way to set direction, reduce conflict and increase motivation.

Read on for other highlights…

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Why to avoid Mean Time to Recover (MTTR)

The 2022 Void Report came out in late 2022, It is a recommended read, and I previously summarized it here. This article focuses on one aspect of the report: why mean time to recover (MTTR) is not an appropriate metric for complex software systems.

The takeaway are:

  • Do track time to recover (TTR) for each incident. It can be a useful exercise to think about when an incident started and stopped. That can help when calculating the cost of an incident.
  • Don’t report those times in aggregate, such as MTTR. Systems fail in non-uniform ways and averaging numbers to represent their reliability (or the performance of the supporting teams) is likely to be misleading.
  • Instead, use:
    • Post-incident learning reviews to learn (and share!) everything you can from an incident
    • SLOs to help align technical system metrics with business objectives
    • Consider sociotechnical incident data too

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Summary: The SPACE of Developer Productivity

The SPACE of Developer Productivity is a 2021 paper by researchers at GitHub, University of Victoria, and Microsoft (including Dr Nicole Forsgren, co-author of Accelerate) that looks into ways to measure and predict productivity for both individuals and teams.

The following is a summary of the paper. The original is ~5400 words. This is ~2000.

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Leadership lessons from our road infrastructure investments

I loved this article in the Washington Post. It is ostensibly about how “We fixed I-95 in 12 days”, and “lessons for U.S. infrastructure”, but I think it is really invaluable lessons about leadership in general…

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Blog post summary: Accountability in Software Development by Kent Beck

A summary of Accountability in Software Development, by Kent Beck

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Blog post summary: Quality Assurance is Not About Testing

The following is a summary of Quality Assurance is Not About Testing by Matt Lievertz. I have also incorporated some elements of his earlier The Death of the Non-Coding QA Role post too.

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Software Laws

Some “laws” that are particularly relevant in software development…

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2022 VOID Report Summary

The following is a summary of the 2022 VOID report.

The original is ~10,000 words. This is ~1500.

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2022 Books

A short review of some of the books I read in 2022…

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Your team is not a democracy

TLDR: During a difficult team discussion, holding an impromptu vote to resolve the issue is rarely the right move. Trust your team but, as the manager, you may have critical information that your team does not and you are ultimately responsible. It is OK to make decisions that go against the majority view.

 

Imagine you are a manager on a team. The team is debating a thorny issue. There is disagreement on the best way to move forward and someone suggests putting it to a vote. As the manager, should you let the majority decide?

My own personal take is that as a manager, putting it to a vote is rarely the right move.

It is certainly your duty to stimulate debate. Encourage everyone to speak up, and ensure anyone who can’t seem to get a word in is given space. You should challenge the team into creative and out-of-the box thinking.

Ultimately you, as the leader of the team, need to make the call however. Why?

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ThoughtWorks Technology Radar v26

The latest, 26th, Tech Radar version from the folks at ThoughtWorks is now available.

As usual, it covers a range of technologies across 4 categories (Platforms, Techniques, Languages & Frameworks, Tools), rated on a scale of:

  • Adopt: Strongly recommend
  • Trial: Worth pursuing
  • Assess: Worth understanding
  • Hold: Proceed with caution

I’ve picked out some of the things I found most useful/interesting/relevant for me below, but I recommend checking it out in full at thoughtworks.com/radar.

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Blog post summary: Maker vs. Manager

Someone pointed me to this Maker vs. Manager: How Your Schedule Can Make or Break You post recently. There is no published date, but I don’t think it is new (but it is timeless). It is only a 10 minute read itself, but some notes…

“A woodpecker can tap twenty times on a thousand trees and get nowhere, but stay busy. Or he can tap twenty-thousand times on one tree and get dinner.”— Seth Godin, The Dip

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2021 Books

Some short reviews of some of the books I read in 2021…

“Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.”

― Sir Francis Bacon

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