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Almost all of the engineers I have worked with have played some role in defining the to-do list of a project. Some engineers are more disciplined, some are laxer. Some like granularity others just want the big picture. Ultimately the team has to have a shared approach. Each member having a role on the team helps the team get to that shared approach.

Finding the perfect role may not always come naturally. This is the heart of developing talent. …

Lead Positions

This may come as a shock, but some engineers don’t want to be promoted. They’re happy being an engineer. They want to focus on code and building, not on leading, or mentoring, or helping define process.

I’m speaking from experience. As an engineering manager, I’ve been surprised many times by engineers bluntly stating they “are happy with their current role”. Some proactively. Some during career growth discussions. I was impressed every single time. There was an undeniable clarity.

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Key thoughts:

  • don’t force people into roles, they won’t stay in the role long
  • having to pull people back from a promoted…

Engineering Team Roadmaps

Most roadmaps for engineering teams commit the sin of only including new features and functionality. This does a major disservice to the engineering team.

  • how do you balance engineering wants and needs vs. product demands?
  • how do you get engineers to focus on meeting priorities?
  • should roadmaps include technical investments?
  • should sprints have allocations to both product and technical investments?

I had a colleague that used to repeat a phrase about 90% of the cost of software was the operating and maintenance rather than the building. The number may be wrong, but the point can’t be ignored. A large part…

Reframing Failed Software Projects

The word failure comes with a negative connotation, but should it? I’ve been grappling with this question the last few weeks. If an attempt isn’t successful, is it therefore a failure? Is there no middle ground? Does failure imply a boolean?

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A few years ago, I built an app that I never followed through on. Needless to say, it never became an overnight success, or really anything close to a success. It’s a given you have to tell people about a thing before they’ll even know a thing exists. But yet somehow, some bots found it and I had to…

I spent the better part of two decades as an individual contributor on teams resisting the management career change until I felt I was ready. So, this is a question I can directly relate to. I’ve mentioned this topic before. I’ve seen this come up a lot lately in industry circles so I’ll share a few more thoughts. Charity Majors has written a great article capturing many of my thoughts.

My experience at smaller companies tends to be that the managers were at one point in time technical. Not always, but was typically the case. …

Book Review — Ego Is The Enemy

I’ll admit I had a lot of enthusiasm going into this book. I’d listened to a number of podcasts where Ryan was interviewed. I was excited to read him as an author. Many of his books look interesting to me. I selected Ego Is The Enemy as the first of his to read for a few reasons.

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First, I recognize there are periods of my life where my ego got in the way. It got in the way professionally and personally. As well as the relationship with myself. I think most people that know me would agree that I’m not…

The Craft Of Engineering And Leadership

Being in leadership is a craft of its own. I’ve been an informal leader, a Tech Lead on a few teams, an Engineering Manager to quite a few teams, and a Director of Engineering a few times. The roles and responsibilities are different in every company I’ve been a part of. I’ve been told I stand out as a manager. I’ve been nominated for awards and recognition. The biggest testimonial I have ever received came from an engineer that said “thank you, I’ve never had a manager that cared”. I’ll never forget that.

With that said, I not a manager…

Book Review: Four Patterns Of Healthy People

Disclosure: I was asked to review this book and given a free promotional copy from the publisher.

Matt Norman has written a concise set of stories and questions focused on four habits that are shown to help people lead healthy lives. The one thing that sticks out to me with Matt’s writing is it feels like a conversation between friends. It feels less like a teacher and student, or coach and player type of conversation. Matt mentions a peer group of men he participates in near the end of the book. Imagine the type of conversations that happen in those…

Atomic Habits — Book Review

A number of people have recommended James Clear’s Atomic Habits in recent months so I was excited to pick it up. I ripped through it pretty quickly. It’s a great read! Not pretentious. Not condescending. Just a good collection of observations about habits and human behavior. There is a key sentence in the book that summarizes it perfectly in my opinion.

Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.

The Japanese have used the word Kaizen to describe the process of taking small actions to improve overall. I believe James is saying…

Most teams have a juggler–some may call this person the Swiss Army knife. They jump around from discipline to discipline as needed. They can juggle any component of a system or work inside any technology. A jack of all trades in a way.

Previously, I’ve discussed teams being made up of multiple roles and responsibilities. I’m not talking RACI matrixes, but rather personalities. Today, I want to talk about the person that is able to adapt and handle whatever is thrown at them. …

Michael Krisher

Reader of books Writer of code.

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