4 min read

The Leadership Garden Newsletter – #52

The Leadership Garden Newsletter – #52
The Leadership Garden Newsletter – #52

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.

Rigorous thinking: No lazy thinking

  • 😎 Rigorous thinking is crucial for leaders to increase their impact and develop smarter, sharper teams.
  • 🤔 Rigorous thinking involves asking critical questions about tactics and making decisions systematically.
  • 🧠 Lazy thinking involves making assumptions without realizing they are assumptions, leading to decision fatigue and half-baked ideas.
  • 💡 Rigorous thinking empowers employees to advocate for their ideas and defend them with data and thoughtful planning.
  • 🏢 Rigorous thinking requires a foundation of psychological safety within the team.
  • 🤝 Leaders should ask strategic questions in a supportive and curious manner to encourage rigorous thinking in their team members.
  • 🤓 Leaders can use the Socratic method to help team members think critically and articulate solutions.
  • ⏰ Investing time in training the team to think rigorously yields better quality work and frees up time in the long run.

7 Telltale Signs You Have a Toxic Engineering Manager

I wouldn't necessarily call all of these toxic behaviors but hey, who can resist a clickbait-y headline? Great content nonetheless.

  • ☣️ Your engineering manager lacking communication skills can lead to frustration, confusion, and inefficiencies in the team.
  • 😞 An engineering manager who doesn't care about your well-being may fail to provide necessary resources, leading to burnout and decreased job satisfaction.
  • 🤝 If your engineering manager doesn't want to mentor you, it can create a stagnant environment and hinder your growth opportunities.
  • 🙉 An engineering manager who doesn't take your opinions, ideas, or feedback seriously can lead to disengagement and resentment in the team.
  • 🧑‍💻 An engineering manager's lack of technical understanding can hinder project progress and negatively impact team productivity.
  • 🕵️‍♂️ Micromanaging by your engineering manager can demotivate the team, limit autonomy, and inhibit creativity and innovation.
  • 🤷‍♀️ An engineering manager who doesn't have your back or advocate for your career growth can be a problem, but self-advocacy and proving your worth can help.

Right-sizing your technology team

Five questions you should stop asking and what you should be asking instead

  • 😕 Asking how many developers are needed may lead to unnecessary hiring or downsizing decisions. Reframe the question to focus on whether current development teams are effectively meeting business outcomes.
  • 🔍 Look for levers to improve development team efficiency without adding more developers. Paying attention to ROI is important, but avoid focusing solely on cost as it may lead to talent retention issues.
  • ⏩ Focus on the speed of delivery, waste reduction, and empowering development teams to add value autonomously. Avoid blaming individuals for software outcomes and instead explore user needs and effective communication.
  • 🛠️ Attend to the hidden value of different development work types, not just new projects. Ask how internal software can drive more value and how legacy software can be evolved for easier maintenance.
  • 💡 If the value of software is declining, reframe the question to better understand gaps in attention and user needs. Effective questions lead to better solutions and ensure technology teams are aligned with organizational goals.

Build Times and Developer Productivity

Even modest improvements to build times are helpful.

  • 😊 Every improvement in build latency contributes to developers staying on tasks and returning to tasks more quickly.
  • 🕰️ Providing developers with estimated build times can improve productivity by helping them make better decisions on how to use their time while waiting.
  • 📈 Even modest build latency improvements are helpful, leading to increased self-reported productivity, velocity, and satisfaction with build tools.
  • 💡 Developers need to be aware of faster build processes to optimize their workflow around them.
  • 🔄 If a process can't be made faster or easier, making it more predictable can still improve developer productivity.

Effective Agile Release Planning: Prioritizing Value, Mitigating Risk, and Optimizing Delivery

Great advice, now go and convince your stakeholders ;)

  • 🎯 Maintaining a clear and straightforward planning process is a critical challenge for software development organizations.
  • 🔄 Agile recognizes software development as an empirical process requiring adaptability throughout its lifecycle.
  • ⏳ Predicting time and effort required for software products is essential in today's competitive landscape.
  • 📈 Lean estimation suggests investing a small amount of time yields similar results to excessive estimation efforts.
  • 📊 Use relative estimation techniques like T-Shirt sizing to estimate large backlogs efficiently.
  • 📐 For iteration estimation, estimate in Story Points to promote cross-functional behavior and teamwork.
  • 📆 Agile planning should provide an iterative/incremental plan with target releases and room for adjustments.
  • 🚀 Prioritize feature delivery to gain quick feedback, measure progress, and remain flexible in adapting plans.
  • 🔑 Define clear release goals and consider business value, risk, and effort to prioritize backlog items.
  • 🔄 Continuously adjust the plan by incorporating insights gained from each iteration.

New study finds an unstructured 5-minute break can help restore attention

  • 🧠 Taking a 5-minute unstructured break can help restore attention and concentration.
  • 🌳 Spending time in nature has been found to be restorative, but even watching a video of a natural scene can have similar effects.
  • 💡 Rest is important for performance, well-being, and learning; short breaks can be beneficial in classrooms, workplaces, and home settings.
  • 🕰️ Building in five-minute breaks after 20 minutes of complex cognitive work can improve attention and learning effectiveness.
  • 🍅 The Pomodoro Technique, where people work for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break, may be an effective productivity hack.
  • 📚 Cognitive resources become depleted when engaging in challenging tasks, and short rest breaks can help replenish attention levels.
  • 📺 Scrolling through social media during breaks does not count as rest; it's important to take a complete break from devices.
  • 🔬 The study showed that both unstructured breaks and nature-based rest (watching a nature video) improved attention and problem-solving abilities.

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