Amazing CTO Newsletter
by Stephan Schmidt
Welcome to the 25th newsletter! Hurray to this milestone.
This week’s insights include
- 8 Productivity Experiments You Don’t Need to Repeat
- John Carmack struggles with distractions like everyone else
- How to communicate why your startup is worth joining
Good reading, nice weekend ❤️ and until next week,
Tweet of the week: Discipline and Focusing
John Carmack - coder god
“I do not have “magical” discipline and focusing ability — I struggle with distractions like everyone else. Often it is better to just remove the option to distract yourself instead of fighting the urges. […]
I love Twitter, and I learn a lot from my feed, but starting an experiment running and switching to a Twitter tab is not ideal, so I killed the DNS route to twitter”
Graph of the week
Something to show to over-eager founders.
Daniel Cook, “8 Productivity Experiments You Don’t Need to Repeat.” - a presentation that is with me for a very long time
I was often asked as CTO “Stephan, when I go through development, at 18:00 everyone is gone, don’t they know we’re a startup?” But I have been in that game too long. Once in a startup, I worked till 7 am, went to bed, got up, showered, had breakfast, back to the job for another 20 hours. First thing when I arrived: Fixing all the bugs I wrote in the night. Coding is not the same as sitting 80h a weeks in meetings.
The other laws:
- There is Always a Cost to Crunch
- Repeat experiments on knowledge workers, not factory workers
- Teams on overtime feel like they are doing more, but accomplish less
- Productivity is maximized in small teams of 4-8 people
- Seat People on the Same Team Together in a Closed Team Room
- Cross-Functional Teams outperform siloed teams
- Scheduling at 80% produces better products
Stories I’ve encountered last week
Devs don’t want to do ops
The backlash is gaining momentum. Since time immortal developers don’t want to do ops. They don’t want to be paged at night or at the weekends. As CTO you can get developers to do operations for some time if the startup is small, but you need to find SREs soon - and plan them in your budget with the CEO.
Developers’ Diverging Perceptions of Productivity
Interesting read about top-down vs. bottom-up productivity perception. A thorough read on productivity - and if you ever discussed development performance with the CEO, a must read.
From the free open access book
Big Problems and Small Problems under load
Small problems grow into big problems. A crisis is when several problems overlap. You’re standing in the water at the beach, each wave splashing your knees. Two overlap and the combined wave splashes your face. This article is another call to deal with small problems.
How to communicate why your startup is worth joining
A discussion I have with nearly every coachee is about recruiting, and how they can start employer branding. Excellent advice on your value proposition in this article:
How leaders should invest their time: Walters’ Lever of Improvement
Many CTO’s struggle on how to invest their time. Very good read, also see how high “Giving context” (Storytelling and explaining the world) and “Why” rank? Whereas “How” has the lowest lever.
Global Code Time Report
Yikes! “Based on data from 250K+ developers in our global community, developers code 52 minutes per day — about 4 hours and 21 minutes during a normal workweek from Monday to Friday.¹” ¹calculated as types and edits, so take this into account.
When we discuss development performance, I always stress the point developers need to code. If they don’t code (think, read, type, etc.) they are not producing things the company wants.
Very interesting read!
Why your website should be under 14kB in size
1kb fits in the first rush of TCP/IP packets the server sends out. Getting in there makes the website sharply faster - now only how to put a website into 14kb?
How product design works at PlanetScale
“We don’t have product managers.” I’m always reminded about the iPhone keyboard development, where an engineer and a designer worked on the problem, and Steve OKed the result without a product. CTOs need to take back control.
Does high velocity lead to burnout? That may be the wrong question to ask.
“Without fail when velocity alone becomes the goal, you hear two things mentioned less and less: quality and morale.” Some very good insights on how to deal with this challenge.
When 5-minute jobs turn to days
Funny read, and true. And yeah, Blog with GraphQL, I know.