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articles and talks from a software engineering leader

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How I Roadmap

A few years back, I took over an engineering team that was failing to meet the needs of their customers. One of the many complaints leveled was that the team did not effectively communicate their plans. It became apparent to me that I needed to find a way to share the work the team planned to do over the short and long term. I began searching for examples that were simple and effective. This is when I began experimenting with visual roadmaps.

Discovering culture through artifacts

In a previous post, I shared my approach to visualizing and understanding the culture of an organization. Assuming you agree with my approach to understanding culture, you might find yourself asking the question, "Great! How do I get started?" In my experience, I tend to look for an organization's cultural artifacts as a starting point for understanding their culture. So what are cultural artifacts and why are they useful?

Thank you Netflix

It wasn’t an easy decision, voluntarily choosing to leave Netflix after 4 and a half years. It was a decision I mulled over for months. I mulled over this decision because Netflix is the MOST AMAZING place I’ve ever worked. I know that I will compare all future employers to the Netflix culture and the experiences I've had here. I am forever grateful for being able to experience Netflix for as long as I did. For this, I give thanks.

How I share information with my team

As an engineering manager at Netflix, I spend most of my time in meetings and one-on-ones. During these meetings, I collect a lot of information that’s valuable to the members of my engineering team. When my team was only four people, disseminating information was easy. It usually involved a quick hallway chat or was covered during a regular one-on-one. But late last year my team doubled in size. With the larger team, I struggled to keep everybody informed in a timely way. It became obvious that I wasn’t effectively scaling team communication and I needed to make a change.

That's right. That's right.

Two simple words, repeated. I have come to appreciate how powerful these words are. They don't come naturally to me, but then again they aren't my words. Delivered correctly and with the appropriate tone, these two words encourage the recipient to continue asking questions. These words validating and yet they also encourage the recipient to be vulnerable, and to feel that it is okay to be uncertain. These words create a fertile environment for collaboration.

Understanding culture

In my review of the Phoenix Project, I mentioned that the organizational change that Parts Unlimited experienced seemed magically. Many of my own attempts to lead organization-wide change have not been as successful that quickly. I would encounter resistance throughout the organization I found success couldn’t be achieved overnight. It was always frustrating to find the obviously better solution get shot down time and time again.

Older posts are available in the archive.