It’s Not Your Team, It’s You

When you learn a language, you think of words in it differently than how you think about words in your native tongue. I like the word “deflect.” I don’t know why, but it just has a nice ring to it. I like it so much that I worked on a (shuttered) developer-tool SaaS by that […]

CTO + VP Engineering: Needed or Redundant?

I was recently asked whether the common distinction in startups between a CTO and a VP of Engineering is justified or not. My thinking is that for most organizations with less than 200 engineers, this separation isn’t a rule of nature and that you might be better off without it. It’s not needed unless it’s […]

The Traits of a Great Engineering Culture

Given that it’s my mission to help companies create world-class engineering teams, I often get questions along the lines of, “how does a world-class team behave?” In my mind, that’s a trivial question. The fascinating question, though, is to think about how you would tell that your team is on track to become remarkable. Teams […]

IC Growth Paths

As a tech leader, you probably have heard a lot about the importance of holding regular 1:1s to hear feedback from your reports and help them grow. However, you may have been burned in the past from this concept of prompting your employees to overthink their personal growth. “They all want to be managers!” I’ve […]

Own It

A scenario I’m sure you can relate to is that you grab a coffee with friends and having the conversation quickly drift to the regular work rants. You know those people. They always seem to have the same kinds of stories: the boss never listens to what they say, things are not being done right, […]

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 […]