Managing Non-Feature Work: Part 3—Suggested Approach

After listing conventional failed approaches and the guiding principles in the previous parts, this part will bring this short series to a close with a suggested approach to start managing your non-feature work in a healthier manner. This is not the one approach to rule them all and should not be treated so. It’s a […]

Managing Non-Feature Work: Part 2—Guiding Principles

In the previous part, we listed common failed approaches for managing non-feature work (i.e., architectural changes, bugs, tech debt). Following up, this article will delve into the principles that should guide tech leadership in coming up with the right way to keep these under control. Principle: Impact First and Product Involvement The failed approaches often […]

Managing Non-Feature Work: Part 1—Failed Approaches

A question that occupies many tech executives is the proper time allocation in their teams for tasks that are not trivial feature development. Fixing bugs, handling technical debt, making architectural changes, creating new tooling (which I’ll group under “non-feature work” in this article). These are all vitally important for a growing team to stay productive […]

The Professionalism Snowball

I’ve found a calling in helping as many companies as possible create world-class engineering teams. That is why the matter of cultivating a culture of professionalism is often on my mind. Some companies have no such problem. They easily hire incredibly talented people all around. Highly motivated people that come equipped with the knowledge of […]

Shoving Square Engineers in Round Holes

When helping companies rapidly improve their teams, a common issue is understanding why some people are not performing as expected. These are usually great engineers with a solid track record and experience. You and your managers might be trying all sorts of things to motivate them or help them to no avail. And the most […]

Soliciting Upward/Chutzpah Feedback

I love a good argument. Approaching decisions with a debate-like mindset that allows you to weigh and consider all options and their advantages genuinely is essential for coming up with novel ideas and not just going with your kneejerk reactions. For leaders, it is invaluable to hear from your team where you might be doing […]

Stop Being a Floating Leader

I recently talked with a cofounder CTO I have not spoken to in about two years. “What have you been up to?” I asked. Turns out—not much. Same team size, similar challenges, no advancement in the bigger picture challenges he had reached out to me years before. I cringed, imagining how I would have felt […]

The Most Important Partnership

One of the most common complaints I hear when coaching and advising tech executives is about Product. Either about the VP Product or individual product managers, it seems that we tend to criticize their professionalism and approaches quite a lot. They don’t know the product well enough. They don’t understand how software development works. They […]

Fostering Creativity In Engineering

I recently co-hosted a webinar about the intersection of creativity and tech with creativity strategist Natalie Nixon. While “creativity” is not a word used often when describing R&D organizations, “innovation” is. Deciding to put aside semantics and focus on the actual value, I will use creativity, innovation, and novelty interchangeably in this context. When companies […]

Moving Upstream

A common fallacy for tech executives is not accepting their role in the company, at least not in its entirety. Advising, coaching, and talking with dozens of executives, I’ve seen this issue creep up again and again. I don’t care if you’re the CTO or “just” the VP of Engineering, nor whether you’re a cofounder […]