Amazing CTO Newsletter
by Stephan Schmidt
It is sunny again here 🌞 and I’m listening to
Magic Fly - there is no song that makes me more productive.
I’ve been searching long and wide on Spotify, but there is no other such song.
Getting back to the newsletter after a small, stress-induced hiatus.
No burn out yet I guess.
Thanks for staying with me.
And again, trying to be more productive. This week I told a coachee
he shouldn’t look for sneakers all the time to make his developers run faster on their hamster wheels.
This week’s insights
- 🦹 Deciding to leave your (executive) job
- 🤖 Managers, Stop Distracting Your Employees
- 💻 ‘Managers are human too’: leaders left lonely by hybrid working
Good reading, have a nice Sunday ❤️ and a great week,
CTO-Coach and CTO-veteran
PS: First newsletter checked with Grazie instead of Grammarly
If you only read one thing
Managers, Stop Distracting Your Employees
“The rise of remote work has made corporate leaders paranoid, thinking they must monitor their employees’ every digital move in order to maintain productivity.” Managers will need to learn to live with their angst about their employees not being productive. Even if more and more employees have a second job without telling you. Spying on developers will only drive them away. Some good tips on how to adapt to remote as a manager (Hint: Give this to your CEO, it’s from HBR, they might not listen to you, but they will listen to HBR)
Graph of the week
The tech downturn seen through Hacker News comments
It shows the downturn and the narrowing gap of remove/office-only jobs.
Stories I’ve enjoyed this week
Deciding to leave your (executive) job.
Some of you might want to leave.
If you care about people, leaving as a manager is tough.
Here is help.
“We’ll walk through:
Succession planning before a transition
/ Making the decision to leave / How to think about short executive stints / Whether to line up another role before leaving
/ Telling the CEO /Negotiating the exit package / Transitioning out and actually leaving”
Again excellent, from the currently greatest thinker on managing technology.
‘Managers are human too’: leaders left lonely by hybrid working
From the lefty Guardian.
It makes the correct point that remote work is most difficult for managers.
“There’s a gathering awareness that there is a cost to an entirely remote workforce,
and it’s the social trust and social bond element”*
When Everything is Important But Nothing is Getting Done
Focusing means “A not B” and not—as many CEOs think “A, then B, then C”.
After some weeks there is D and E. How do they fit in?
Add to the long roadmap?
Adding E is easy after you have finished A.
“We learned the hard way
that there was a direct relationship between the number of concurrent things
you were trying to do and the increasing inability to complete any of them.
This is called the “Work In Progress” (WIP) problem.”*
Prompt Engineering Jobs
Not a word in 2022 and one of the hot jobs in 2023. Now there is a job board.
I’m amazed at how fast this develops.
Did you already hire a prompt engineer? Why not?
Society’s Technical Debt and Software’s Gutenberg Moment
I have seen the progress of AI linked to the iPhone moment, but not yet to the Gutenberg moment.
Particularly this is a great idea *“Software production has been too complex and expensive for too long, which has caused us to underproduce software for decades,
resulting in immense, society-wide technical debt.” — Of course, solved by AI.
Uh Substack, I know.
But the idea is great.
SaaS Jenga - the time-bomb at the centre of your stack
“As it stands, many businesses rely on not only one, but frequently a handful or more SaaS products. Some of these products are so central to a company’s business, that they would not survive without them. Unlike with Commercial off-the-shelf software (“COTS”), if the company behind the service goes away, you don’t get to keep running the software.”
A Simple Framework for Architectural Decisions
One of the topics of my CTO coaching is architectural decisions.
And as important as they may seem, they are one of the least important things for a CTO
(Why can’t a senior in your team make them?).
But it’s even worse if you block them by too much thinking.
So here is a framework to speed them up (And I approve using a Techradar and Architectural Decision Records)
Dungeons & Developers
Yes, we need more role-playing in people development.
I didn’t know this one, neat. Take a look.
Nearly 40% of software engineers will only work remotely
My guess the number is higher.
The 24 Hour “Do Nothing” Challenge
“Like everyone in the modern world, I’m hopelessly addicted to little dopamine bursts provided by algorithmically optimized technology “ - I couldn’t do that. Although once, as a kid, I wasn’t talking for 8 hours straight because people said I could not do it.
React Is Holding Me Hostage
Why developers on your team will push for something new every few weeks.
And you need to say no.
“And then people start speaking too positively.
It feels like everybody is happy with their new things and less happy with the old thing”*
This is a longer look into React though, and worth reading if you use React.
In doubt use HTMX https://quii.dev/HTMX_is_the_Future
Developer marketing for early-stage startups – what we’ve learned
“Trying to go head-to-head with much larger competitors on content output is a losing game, so focus on quality instead. You are not Cloudflare (yet). 1 great article »> 25 mediocre ones.”
How To Survive Your Project’s First 100,000 Lines
Many startups I see struggle at some point from piling up code. “This is an article about how we kept it from collapsing under its own weight and exploding, as many projects do.”
Scaling up the Prime Video audio/video monitoring service and reducing costs by 90%
This is not about the core of Prime Video but killer quote incoming: “Moving our service to a monolith reduced our infrastructure cost by over 90%. It also increased our scaling capabilities.”
Two Approaches To Decoupling
What is hypermedia API decoupling?
“Yes, this is an API response.
It just happens to be a hypermedia-formatted response, in this case HTML.”
vs. JSON API and GraphQL API calls.