4 min read

The Leadership Garden Newsletter – #48

The Leadership Garden Newsletter – #48

Hello friend, I’m Csaba from Leadership Garden, and this is a weekly list of interesting articles that I come across that help me grow my thinking.

I hope you find something new to think about and share it with your friends.

And, if you forgot, this is in your inbox because you asked me to send it to you. You can always unsubscribe by clicking the link at the bottom of this email.

Embrace Complexity; Tighten Your Feedback Loops

Fred Hebert, a staff SRE, shares his talk transcript with many important insights on the complexities of building companies, sharing how they approach on-call at Honeycomb and the tradeoffs they made that impact delivery vs. maintenance and sustainability. A few takeaways:

  • 👥 Non-compliance may indicate a lack of understanding of workers' challenges, highlighting the need to adjust how work is prescribed rather than blaming the workers.
  • 🔍 Shifting perspective to understand how different parts of a system interact is important for addressing the underlying pressures that drive decision-making.
  • 🌍 Creating the right environment and culture change is more effective than relying on incentives and rewards to change behavior.
  • 🔄 Small local changes can be made to improve feedback loops and then expanded across the organization.
  • 🗣 Focusing on the behavior triggered by an indicator rather than just the reported outcome can lead to more meaningful discussions and decisions.

The Rule of 3: A Game-Changer for Your Communication Skills

Discover how to amplify your communication skills with these 3 game-changing strategies. Effective for personal, work, and social contexts.

  • 🧠 Limit the number of important points to 3 or less in order to improve retention, focus, clarity, decision-making, and prioritization.
  • 🌟 Explain non-trivial concepts from 3 different angles to enhance understanding, appeal to different learning styles, provide redundancy and reinforcement, anticipate and address misunderstandings, and build a more complete picture.
  • 🔁 Repeat important points 3 times during a conversation to capitalize on the primacy and recency effects, strengthen memory traces, clarify and emphasize the message, and cater to different attention spans.

Atlas:Sequoia’s interactive guide to Europe’s technical talent

Significant contribution by VC Sequoia to the tech recruitment landscape – an interactive website talent mapping the tech talent across Europe, which adds in the additional value from offering some observations of the candidate expectations such as erosion of location-based pay, ubiquity of hybrid and top priorities of tech candidates.

How to make difficult technical decisions you and your team won't regret

  • 📖 TL;DR: Write out all possible options, cross out what won't work, write pros and cons, come up with a preference, and discuss with the team. If unsure, act as the end-user, have discussions with senior and junior engineers, and consider reversibility, cost, and room for extension.

What Drives Adoption of Internal Developer Tools?

Key findings:

  • 🛠️ For build automation tools, the highest priority adoption factor is configurability.
  • 🔄 For continuous integration tools, the highest priority adoption factor is compatibility with developers' technologies.
  • 🏢 For infrastructure as code tools, the highest priority adoption factor is visibility within the organization.
  • 📝 For version control tools, the highest priority adoption factor is compatibility with developers' work style.
  • 💡 Compatibility and observability-related factors have relatively more influence on tool usage.
  • 🏭 The paper suggests actions to improve compatibility and observability to drive tool adoption.
  • 🛠️ Design or select tools that fit well with developers' usual work style and can be easily customized.
  • 🌐 Consider showcasing tools through developer-led blog posts, demonstrations, and events to increase adoption.
  • 🧠 Platform teams should understand developers' existing workflows before designing solutions to improve adoption.
  • 📚 Education-related strategies alone may not be sufficient; iterating on tools to align with developers' work style is crucial.
  • 🗣️ Developers are more likely to adopt tools used by their peers or community.

What Slows Us Down

John Cutler analyses why most companies go so slow, while stating speed is key.

  • 🏭 Survival: Companies prioritize speed to survive, often sacrificing finesse and focusing on immediate goals such as closing deals and making forecasts. Survival situations involve potential payroll issues, loss of investor confidence, or competition threats.
  • 🍽️ Gluttony: Some companies experience gluttony, where they focus on rapid growth and adding features to attract more customers. The momentum can be intoxicating, but it can lead to bloated products and accumulated debt.
  • 💡 Mental Models: Many people have warped mental models of software product development, such as viewing it as manufacturing or construction. These inaccurate models can hinder long-term speed and effectiveness. Product development should be seen as iterative, collaborative, flexible, and persistent.
  • 📚 Experience Matters: Understanding and internalizing effective mental models and principles often comes from experiencing both bad and good mental models in action. Leaders who have learned from their mistakes tend to grasp the importance of mental models.
  • 📝 Impact of Success: Success and inertia can have a significant impact on a company's speed. Without aligning quality, customer value, and sustainable velocity, success can lead to a bloated product, accumulated debt, and team members leaving.
  • 🧠 Principles and Models: Mental models and principles can't be taught directly but are better learned through experience. Rationally understanding them is not enough; they must be experienced first-hand to be internalized.

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