Hello there, and season's greetings! Hope you're getting ready for some peace as the 2020 winds down
What an amazing but difficult year this has been - we've seen huge organisations realise that their ways of working and management styles simply don't work in a completely remote team, and we've seen some thrive as all the effort they put in to ensuring a remote-first order pays off in incredible fashion. Whether your organisation has thrived or not, the way we work (and live) has changed, probably forever.
2020 has been a bumper year for CTO Craft - at the beginning of the year we introduced our online Mentoring Circles, which now have 58 members across five groups, and another Circle of 12 beginning in January. We also began our weekly Bytes events, as well as hosting our first, incredibly successful CTO Craft Con, which saw 475 participants joining us for three afternoons of sessions with some amazing leaders from Github, Headspace, CircleCI, Just Eat and a load more.
We're looking forward to seeing you all in 2021 - until then, stay warm and enjoy the break; next year is going to be fantastic!
Andy @ CTO Craft
Reads of the Week
A self-taught technologist with a storyteller's voice, Kelsey Hightower defied the enterprise tech sector's notorious diversity problems to become one of the industry's leading figures. Now he wants everyone's voice to be heard.
From our Partners
A huge, huge thanks to our partners for supporting CTO Craft Con 2020 - you’re all amazing!
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Culture & People
You finally have your dream team in place. You’ve hired selectively, waiting for just the right fit for each role. These are people with stellar backgrounds and proven track records of success.
Andy says: "Awesome HackerNews thread about Google's experiment with assigning time to extra-curricular work"
I think it's fantastic. The whole 120% thing is up to the individual: there have been times I've made it a 120%, and there are times when it's been just "take a Friday off to work on other stuff". You end up getting less of your "job" done but my managers have always been supportive.
Mental health in the workplace is not a new topic. It is well documented by now that an investment of US$1 into workplace mental health yields approximately US$4 in return.
This tweet got me thinking about change, and how software engineers (and especially, Platform teams) can drive cultural change throughout companies. First, let’s take the question. You want to change the engineering values that your company is expressing.
A popular goal-setting framework, Objectives and key results (or OKRs) are an effective method for planning and measuring success on a team level. They fall short, however, when companies attempt to apply them to individual contributors.
Leadership & Self-management
The most damaging thing about the ego is how it limits us. It focusses on the appearance of things rather than the truth and possibility of things. It will have us seeking confirmation and asking for input only from those who already agree with us. It will stifle our creativity. It will keep us on the safe side of controversy.
There’s an oft-repeated phrase: “People don’t quit a job, they quit a boss.” Certainly if you want to go the manager route, it’s critical to become a trusted captain in order to retain a top crew.
Mary Poppendieck covers some of the early principles behind great software engineering that are as true today as they were a half century ago, and some mistakes made that do need to be repeated.
Being a new manager can be an exciting, and stressful, opportunity. It’s a great promotion, with new responsibilities, added prestige, and the pay bump to match. It’s also a major career change to a world very different than what you learn in any school or classroom.
All too often, promising employees fail to step up when leadership opportunities arise.
Agile, Engineering & Product
My friend Jeff Patton recently introduced me to a TED talk that I found to be one of the best descriptions of the power of collaborative visualization. The best part? It’s only 9 minutes long — half the length of standard TED talk, twice the potency in this case.
Imagine that you’re a principal at a small K-8 school who’s looking to hire a new teacher. As you have less than 20 teachers, you have to ensure that each person you hire can teach any of the grades.
I recently overheard two software engineers discussing a feature they were developing. They had two options: developing the feature specifically for the task they had at hand, or do something more generic that could fit future possible use cases.
We’ve all seen this: a backlog composed of at least 2 to 3 months of commitments, and a seemingly endless supply of issues and requests coming in from internal and external stakeholders.
In some ways, learning to program a computer is similar to learning a new language. It requires learning new symbols and terms, which must be organized correctly to instruct the computer what to do. The computer code must also be clear enough that other programmers can read and understand it.
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Have an amazing week!