Amazing CTO Newsletter
by Stephan Schmidt
Happy ☀ Friday,
This week’s insights
- 👑 Leaderless Teams
- 💡 Why Your First Ideas Aren’t Always the Best
- 🐛 Debugging teams with the Lencioni Model
Good reading, have a nice weekend ❤️ and until next week,
PS: I’m now on Mastodon firstname.lastname@example.org
Best thought of the week
What You (Want to) Want
Paul Graham. Enough said. Also: Most CTOs don’t know what they want, and part of the coaching is - surprisingly - finding out what they want. After quite some years with a tech career, shouldn’t they know what they want? But with bosses who don’t coach, people don’t find out. And then it’s me. But also read Paul Graham (who is clever but don’t listen to his ideas about programming languages).
Video of the week
Job Application Process in Data [video]
Many of my CTO coachees need to hire data scientists and data engineers. And while they - and I - are good at recruiting developers, not so with data scientists. What to ask? How to structure the process?
Watch the video and you can recruit data scientists with a breeze.
Stories I’ve enjoyed this week
Only Solve One New Problem At A Time
Also: Solve one problem by maximizing solutions to keep it stay put. The default mode of most companies to solve problems is applying the most minimal solution. So the problem comes back. And brings its friends. And people go under.
Keep ’Em Coming: Why Your First Ideas Aren’t Always the Best
YES YES and Y……ES! “What’s the secret to coming up with good ideas? For Jeremy Utley, it’s about generating as many as possible.” For a long time now I argue that we need more product managers. The standard setup of one PM for 5 or 10 developers (one or two teams) is broken! We need one PM per 2 developers. The PM should throw away most of their ideas. Work on some and then throw them away too. Because not every idea is a good one. And when business pressure (go go go!) is the primary driver, PMs will bring every idea to development. And so 80% of features are crap. For CTOs one of the best things they can do is demand more product managers and better ideas.
So the title got you, but “What emerged from this exercise is that social class, education, gender, and athletic ability were less important for leadership than the capacity for an individual to attend to others in the group.” The biggest time spent in your calendar as a leader should be attending to your reports.
Debugging teams with the Lencioni Model
Never heard of “The Lencioni Model”. If focus on the five dysfunctions of a team: “Absence of trust. Fear of conflict. Lack of commitment. Avoidance of accountability. Inattention to results” I see these all over the place. And teams are the core to getting things done and delivering. Dysfunctional teams will stop every effort. I need to dig deeper into the Lencioni Model. So should you, I bet you have at least one dysfunctional team (with one of the dysfunctions from above)
Scaling Mastodon is Impossible
I was on that side, “Scaling Mastodon is impossible”, after a week of usage I think the exact opposite. But there are some interesting thoughts: “Let’s ignore Twitter for a second and let’s talk about software engineering. Specifically dependency management. I think dependency management is an interesting proxy for the problem here and there are some lessons to be learned from it.”
A brief interview with Common Lisp creator Dr. Scott Fahlman
“So the best languages very rarely take over, if ever […] Java is an example – not nearly as good as Lisp on many dimensions, but it appeared at the right time for a language with some good properties for creating downloadable Internet apps.” This is the sad state of our industry. A professor of computer science with no clue about programming languages, what makes them good or bad or why people use a programming language. Especially “creating downloadable Internet apps” is so laughable. Don’t listen to professors of computer science, most of them have no clue. Read the interview as a cautionary example.
Changing times (or, why is every layoff 10-15%?)
And you wondered “10-15% seems to be the number that reflects “big enough that I can tell myself and my investors or board I am doing it, but not so big that it causes truly uncomfortable conversations for the team” - Contrary to that belief I think, if you cut, cut deep. Perhaps not us deep as Twitter.
People don’t want to hear the truth. Estimations are one of the key problems between every one of my CTO coachees and CEOs. Most CEOs reject every estimate that is not fitting their estimate, which they did without any base or experience *“Finally, we made our primary recommendation, which was to slip the project 12 months to cover the newly-discovered work and provide margin for any additional remaining work. […] The managers absorbed our report in silence for a moment or two. And then one of them said “It would be career limiting if the client were to hear this. And that was the end of that.” Take that into account when someone thinks your estimates are wrong.
Writing Greener Java Applications
I have no car. I need no meat. I don’t consume clothes. I have had eco power for 15 years. I don’t fly. But I’m on the edge of that one and haven’t formed an opinion yet. Have you? But I do use Go now. At least worth a read.
Find All You Need For AI Art
Lost the overview? So did I. “Find All You Need For AI Art”
Fractal Tasks and the Journey through the Forest of the Infinite.
Must read about why things take so long. Also don’t forget: Estimates are fractal too.