Amazing CTO Newsletter
by Stephan Schmidt
This week again, the topic of technical debt came up with a coachee.
So I thought I’ll put an article in the newsletter.
Technical debt is the biggest own-goal we created as engineers.
If you mutter “technical debt” to the CEO, the only thought they have is “Is my CTO of any use?”
It sounds like you’ve screwed up.
And the CTO thinks this explains to the CEO why things are slow.
Au contraire mon ami.
It just makes you look incompetent.
Use the term technical debt with developers, but never use it outside engineering.
How does technical debt go away?
Don’t create it in the first place.
If it’s already there?
Use every feature for refactoring and reducing technical debt.
This week’s insights
- 🦹 Psychological Safety: A Prerequisite For High Performing Teams
- 🤖 Maintaining Productivity as Engineering Teams Scale
- 💻 11 Principles of Engineering Management
Good reading, have a nice Sunday ❤️ and a great week,
CTO-Coach and CTO-veteran
If you only read one thing
10 Years of Technical Debt Research and Practice : Past, Present, and Future
Our understanding of what good code means, and what technical debt means is still weak, so I appreciate all research.
We need to get away from slinging around terms where we have that weak of an understanding of.
Observation suggests that people are switching to using ChatGPT to write things for them with almost indecent haste [..] I warn you now, this is going to have unfortunate consequences, just as switching to living in suburbia and driving everywhere did. When you lose the ability to write, you also lose some of your ability to think. — Paul Graham
Stories I’ve enjoyed this week
Psychological Safety: A Prerequisite For High Performing Teams
“To innovate together, team members need to feel they can talk openly and candidly to each other without fear of judgement or reprisals. Such climates are described as “psychologically safe” environments.”
Maintaining Productivity as Engineering Teams Scale
This is also what I experience in coaching:
*“But what struck me more was the fact that there were no issues even remotely related to technology.
People highlighted annual reviews, processes,
team structure etc. But none of the usual SQL vs. NoSQL, Node vs. Go, or AWS vs. GCP.
Even in the entire five hours of intense interaction after the introductions, not a single tech issue came up.”
We have the same topics, very seldom do we talk about technological challenges.
11 Principles of Engineering Management
All of them are good.
And because we still don’t have a good understanding of what tech management means,
these are going in the right direction.
How to Create a Technology Vision & Strategy
Coachees sometimes ask me about leadership.
If you want to be a leader, you need to lead.
If you want to lead, you need to know in what direction to lead.
If you need a direction, you need a vision.
My take on visions: The need to be self-explanatory and self-evidently is something everyone wants to reach.
If you need to explain or motivate a vision, you’re doing it wrong.
How To Design Software Architecture For Startups
A very long read, but worth it.
Also, it makes the point that you should be able to scale for a long time without rewrites.
I listen to too many CTOs who want to rewrite their apps after two years.
What have you done?
Why You Might Fail with DDD
DDD is one of the things I do not see often enough looking into startups.
Architecture is still too often technologically driven.
“Would you rather show / discuss something technical or business-related if asked for the architecture?” And of course, the slides are excellent, they are from Eberhard Wolff.
The Leverage of LLMs for Individuals
We will see an explosion of one person startups.
Delimiters won’t save you from prompt injection
Prompt injection remains an unsolved problem. The best we can do at the moment, disappointingly, is to raise awareness of the issue. As I pointed out last week, “if you don’t understand it, you are doomed to implement it.”
EVA AI-Relational Database System documentation
EVA is an open-source AI-relational database with first-class support for deep learning models. It aims to support AI-powered database applications that operate on both structured (tables) and unstructured data (videos, text, podcasts, PDFs, etc.) with deep learning models.
Google launches a GitHub Copilot competitor
I think Google dropped the ball.
What a laugh, with everyone at Google reading “The Innovator’s dilemma” and laughing at the idiots in the examples.
Second or third in place, you need to be 10x better to dethrone the king,
something Google profited from for 20 years and now experiences itself.
Don’t you laugh when you read that book but look in the mirror?
Stackoverflow loses to ChatGPT
Copilot and ChatGPT are killing Stackoverflow.
Who would have thought.
And while I’ve enjoyed SO, and it helped me during my coding a lot,
I’m not sorry for the many self-righteous people there who closed my questions as not relevant.
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman says the remote work ‘experiment’ was a mistake—and ‘it’s over’
He’s right, I’m an office person and think innovation and performance happen in tight teams onsite.
But he’s wrong, the ship has sailed.
Developers won’t go back to the office.
Fortune I know, but there might be an archive somewhere.