At HashiCorp, we’ve grown from a few hundred to over a thousand people, so the goal is to build scalable systems that enable employees to do their best work and contribute to the outcomes of the company. For us, that’s shaped up into three specific systems: strategic planning, knowledge management, and communications.”
They also run a simluation to give their leaders a chance to practice.
“Using a firm called BTS, we run a business simulation where leaders get to ‘run’ the business for three years. Taking a simplified view of the company, we essentially build a game board based on our five-year financial model and this year’s three executive focus areas,” says Fishner.
Stephen Covey explained that “trust is a function of two things: competence and character. Competence includes your capabilities, your skills, and your track record. Character includes your integrity, your motive and your intent with people. Both are vital.”
Great teams are comprised of ordinary people that are empowered and inspired.
Truly empowered teams that produce extraordinary results don’t require exceptional hires. They do require people that are competent and not assholes, so they can establish the necessary trust with their teammates and with the rest of the company.
Truly empowered teams also need the business context that comes from the leadership – especially the product vision – and the support of their management, especially ongoing coaching, and then given the opportunity to figure out the best way to solve the problems they have been assigned.
The fourth role is by far the most important. It’s the role the vast majority of engineers will follow in their careers, and I’m going to call it “This. Forever.” The role you have right now is the thing you are going to do be doing forever.
A depressing thought? Not when you remember you’re on a quest.
Most explanations of organizational success or failure are crap.
an organization doing work is just an incredibly complex, dynamic, distributed, parallel process.
As with writing highly-concurrent applications, building high-performing organizations requires a careful and continuous search for shared resources, and developing explicit strategies for mitigating their impact on performance.
The only scalable strategy for containing coherence costs is to limit the number of people an individual needs to talk to in order to do their job to a constant factor.
There are so many quotable sections in this piece.
Go and have a read if you think about organisations, how they work, and how to improve them.
I don’t need areas or projects to do my work effectively. I don’t need complex chaining rules and sequences. I don’t need start dates or tags. In late November I realized that while Things still worked fine for me, I was using it not for task management any longer — but instead I was using it as a reminder engine.
I think all I need is a Reminder engine, I am pretty good at getting my tasks done once I am reminded of them.
I’ve been thinking about how working as a manager differs from working as an individual contributor. One thing I’ve noticed is that my day to day work as a manager has become more asynchronous.
Projects tend to be composed of a series of pings and responses with the odd timeout when I haven’t heard back from someone.
This post from Ben resonates with me because I feel that my productivity system is more useful when it reminds me to do things rather than helps me break down the steps of a particular task.
Convincing someone to change their mind is really the process of convincing them to change their tribe. If they abandon their beliefs, they run the risk of losing social ties. You can’t expect someone to change their mind if you take away their community too. You have to give them somewhere to go. Nobody wants their worldview torn apart if loneliness is the outcome.
The word “scalable” has a mystical and stupefying power over the mind of the software engineer. Its mere utterance can whip them into a depraved frenzy. Grim actions have been justified using this word.
Clarity enables patterns of coherent action across the organization. Contextual understanding supports initiative–people don’t have to wait to be told what to do. It speeds decision-making as people closer to the work have the information to make more decisions in a reasonable way. Clarity reduces the need for supervision.
Smoothing the flow of work, organizing work and teams to reduce dependencies and handoffs, is management work.
Sadly, or perhaps luckily, most experimentation isn’t all that dramatic. It mainly means trying something new and using the results to decide a further course of action. You can experiment with a more efficient route to the office, with a new dinner recipe, or a new vacation destination. The element that distinguishes an experiment from serendipity is that you have a hypothesis that you are looking to verify or falsify based on data that you glean from running the experiment.
But the point is, in just a few short weeks on the job, I had already realized that because every tough decision came down to a probability, then certainty was an impossibility — which could leave me encumbered by the sense that I could never get it quite right. So rather than let myself get paralyzed in the quest for a perfect solution, or succumb to the temptation to just go with my gut every time, I created a sound decision-making process — one where I really listened to the experts, followed the facts, considered my goals and weighed all of that against my principles. Then, no matter how things turned out, I would at least know I had done my level best with the information in front of me.
Alright folks, gather round and let me tell you the story of (almost) the biggest engineering disaster I’ve ever had the misfortune of being involved in. It’s a tale of politics, architecture and the sunk cost fallacy
Not everything in your application needs to be in a single state object. Keep things logically separated (user settings does not necessarily have to be in the same context as notifications). You will have multiple providers with this approach.
Not all of your context needs to be globally accessible! Keep state as close to where it’s needed as possible.
TL;DR “Microservices” was a good idea taken too far and applied too bluntly. The fix isn’t just to dial back the granularity knob but instead to 1) focus on the split-join criteria as opposed to size; and 2) differentiate between the project model and the deployment model when applying them.
There are build patterns that give us total control over the relative visibility between components and over how they compose into deployables. One build to many deployables, many to one or anything in between is possible. Shifting concerns left helps us build better software. An earlier error is a better error. Constraints liberate.
The tensions and constraints that shape the arrangement of our projects, modules and dependencies are of a different nature than those shaping the arrangement of our deployables. A little build-fu goes a long way in combining development friendliness with mechanical sympathy.
Danish values also provide a three-step prescription to turn the day around: “In Denmark, we have sort of a mental health [checklist]: Do something active. Do something together with other people. Do something meaningful.”
Great scientists tolerate ambiguity very well. They believe the theory enough to go ahead; they doubt it enough to notice the errors and faults so they can step forward and create the new replacement theory. If you believe too much you’ll never notice the flaws; if you doubt too much you won’t get started.
Peter Naur’s classic 1985 essay “Programming as Theory Building” argues that a program is not its source code. A program is a shared mental construct (he uses the word theory) that lives in the minds of the people who work on it. If you lose the people, you lose the program. The code is merely a written representation of the program, and it’s lossy, so you can’t reconstruct a program from its code.