Leadership Risks

Every person has a different propensity regarding taking risks and the associated anxiety or excitement. You might be wholly risk-averse or get a thrill out of trying something out. Further, it is common to have a certain risk-aversion in some areas in your life and a completely different take in others. For example, I know […]

Code Apes

We all know that creating a team filled with code monkeys is a bad thing. Paying a small fortune for engineers to merely follow precise orders doesn’t make sense, and most of them object to being micromanaged and being deprived of any autonomy. Your intent is to form an engineering team that has ownership and […]

Intention, Inertia, and Introspection

The best tech leaders I’ve seen and who remain remarkable over the years are those who are never “done.” They evolve, learn, experiment, and change their minds routinely. The constant need to undergo personal growth is both the most fascinating thing about leadership and a source of anxiety and fatigue. It can feel like a […]

The Titles Zero-Sum Game

“Titles don’t cost money.” I’ve heard that more than once from executives who were trying to justify different promotions and structures they’ve arrived at. Titles might not require a budget and indeed do not require cold hard cash to pay for. Nevertheless, I’ve seen them wreak havoc in teams in the long term. That is […]

The Fallacy of Meeting Expectations

Coding is magic. Leading an engineering organization is like being in charge of a cadre of brilliant wizards. At least, it should be. The experienced and calloused tech executive has learned—often the hard way—that things are not as easy as they seem. As the team grows, complexity prospers. The intrinsic perfectionism engenders a vicious negative […]

Ego Check: Tech for Tech’s Sake

People in R&D are sometimes unaware of the great power they hold over the company. Can you imagine the VP of Sales saying, “We have so much sales debt that we have to redo our playbook for three months and only then get back to selling”? Want to wager how long it would be between […]

You Don’t Need a “Tech Strategy”

One of my pet peeves as a consultant is being approached by prospects asking for help with establishing their tech strategy. At first glance, it might seem an obvious fit: I work with tech executives, and I offer Sentient Strategy® workshops. The crux of the problem is that by the time you’ve decided to compile […]

Fast Iterations, Slow Progress

“Sorry, can’t talk on Friday, it’s really tight. We have our sprint planning.” How often have you said that to someone? The sprint planning and wrapping up ceremonies at many companies end up taking almost a full day every couple of weeks. That’s 10% of your time! Despite that huge investment, after all of that […]

Less Principal Engineers, More Product Engineers

We’re obsessed with amassing more and more senior engineers. I don’t think I’ve talked to a single tech executive in the past year (and I’ve spoken with hundreds) that wasn’t bemoaning the lack of senior talent. I get it: when you onboard someone that already masters the tools and stack that you’re using, it can […]

Transparency or Anxiety

I’m guessing you’ve heard the story about Sheryl Sandberg and PowerPoint before. She was getting tired of meeting after meeting with slides and said she wanted “no more PowerPoint.” She naturally meant this just for internal meetings with her, not an overarching ban, but her team understood her wrong. They grew frustrated as they tried […]