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TWH#S12: What I Read This Week
The Sunday Edition #12
Welcome to another TWH Sunday Edition. 👋
As usual, here are my top five reads of the past week. I hope you enjoy them. And if that’s the case, please consider hitting the ❤️ button and sharing this issue. It’d much appreciated. 🙂
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(Total reading time: 14 min)
(Matthew Law • 9 min read)
I once explained this to a manager who responded: “But what if I need to start other work?” This is often the argument I hear against pull (and WIP limits in particular). The counter-argument I present back is a simple one:
What is more important: starting work or finishing it?
I suspect the number of people who talk about Agile and have no idea about push vs. pull systems is quite significant. While it’s important to distinguish lean manufacturing from lean product development, it’s still crucial IMO to understand “pull.” This piece by Matthew Law is a great primer for that.
(Sorrel Harriet • 3 min read)
“Career progression frameworks risk bias in favour of the neurotypical employee, while, at the same time, those with neurodiverse conditions are likely to be overrepresented in tech . For example, employers may expect a basic minimum level of competency across a broad 'vanilla' framework, rather than flexing to the strengths of the individual , or they may place positions where the employee has responsibility for managing and developing others at the top rung on the ladder when this transition doesn’t work well for everyone (neurotypicals included.)”
One of the biggest issues I observe in companies (and lived through myself earlier) is the precisely this disconnect between learning and progression that Sorrel concisely highlights here. Career ladders are often merely solving HR problems (compensation, promotions, etc), rather than helping people become their full potential. I sense a future Hagakure post on this in the near future.
(John Cutler • 2 min read)
“But I noticed that adding the next step makes the assumption real and salient and less existential and open-ended. The next step doesn’t need to be a demand or pitch, either—it can be a proposal to do more research, consider another perspective, etc. In a sense, the next step helps make the assumption real (similar to how a proposed option makes an outcome real).”
I often coach my clients in moving past assumption and into fact. And part of the coaching ethos is also to take action beyond having a nice coaching conversation. I feel the pattern here is similar: surface assumptions, and then act on them. Otherwise, what’s the point?
(Paul Tevis • 7 min read)
“When you share information about an ambiguous or uncertain situation, you can reduce people’s anxieties by saying, ‘These are things I do know, and these are things I don’t.’ Enumerating what is known gives people something to work with. This technique is another example of taking something vague and making it clearer and more approachable.”
One of my biggest frustrations in the early days of engineering management career was a boss that would keep me in the dark about important decisions affecting my team. And later a boss that couldn’t help download his own anxiety on his direct reports—myself included. Maybe that’s why this level-headed advice by Paul Tevis resonated so much.
(Mike Fisher • 4 min read)
“He stated, ‘It’s all about layering. The reason I can build a house is because I know what goes first, second, third, and fourth…so on and so forth.’ I think this is the same thing with great engineering organizations, it’s all about layering, knowing what goes first, second, third, and fourth. Kind of a maturity model.”
I’m a huge fan of simple frameworks that really help understand what’s intrinsically deep and complicated. There’s so much to building a great engineering organization, but I’d be hard pressed to find a better high-level view to help one reason about the task than this layer-based model by Mike Fisher.
That’s it for this week’s Sunday Edition. Thanks for reading! Until the next edition, I wish you a great week ahead. 🙌