Pat has collected a list of resources for learning about product management.
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.
Anyway, Zuckerberg is in the news along with News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch, in a heartwarming generational fight between billionaires for who gets to say: “Bitch, I’m not IN the news, I OWN the news.”
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.
In every conversation you’re part of, create clarity and reduce chaos.
With more advice on how to do that in the linked thread.
A series of posts from Hillel Wayne resulting from interviews with people who have worked as both traditional engineers and software engineers.
I appreciate that this is based upon the views of folks who’ve actually worked on both sides of the fence.
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.
An inspection of how values affect software through the lens of text editors.
Because I was burned out and didn’t want to think about working any more than I needed to, I instituted a no-meeting, no-deadline culture.
For me, it was no longer about growth at all costs, but “freedom at all costs.”
At some point, it clicked: Creators make money so they can make stuff, instead of the other way around. Why not adopt this framing at Gumroad, too?
This is what working in the creator economy should feel like.
A look at the unorthodox way Gumroad operates.
No. 26 (Montemerlo’s Law) Don’t do nuthin’ dumb.
A Campaign is a long-running effort to enact global change safely within a sociotechnical system.
Campaigns work well to address:
- Technical changes with large social components.
- Technical changes that require everyone to do a little bit of work.
- High-value or inevitable future worlds
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.
RC has four social rules. They help create a friendly, intellectual environment where you can spend as much of your energy as possible on programming.
The social rules are:
- No well-actually’s
- No feigned surprise
- No backseat driving
- No subtle -isms
One thing that often confuses people about the social rules is that we expect people to break them from time to time. This means they’re different and totally separate from our code of conduct.
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
Paul McCartney has been writing and performing music more or less continuously since 1956. That’s sixty-four years.
There are three moments in the yearlong catastrophe of the COVID-19 pandemic when events might have turned out differently.
Kent C. Dodds:
- 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.
My system for processing email is similar to Xavier’s.
Though, I use the Things Helper app to add links to emails directly to my Things inbox.
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.
Feedback is someone is trying to help. Listen. Then ask questions - to gain understanding of their point of view.
I also enjoyed the idea of treating Slack more like Twitter.
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.
Ken Kocienda tells stories of how Apple built the iPhone and iPad: a small team (less than twenty people) charged with delivering on direction set by executives.
- Viewing product development decisions as economic tradeoffs.
- Shifting from deterministic planning models to a stochastic perspective.
- Managing the Fuzzy Front End: the time from opportunity identification to commitment.
- Assessing the reserve buoyancy of a project.
- Using loss of safety margin as a leading indicator of project deterioration.
- Becoming more rigorous about how we think about technical debt.
Dashboards are the human-facing views into our systems that provide concise summaries of how the system is behaving by displaying time series metrics, logs, traces, and alarms data.
A look at how Amazon do dashboards.
Below is a list of some lessons I’ve learned as a distributed systems engineer that are worth being told to a new engineer. Some are subtle, and some are surprising, but none are controversial.