New addition to the Engineering Manager's Bookshelf: Never Split The Difference

I maintain a short list of books that I call The Engineering Manager’s bookshelf. I’ve just updated it with a new entry

Never Split The Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss with Tahl Raz

Link To Never Split The Difference on

Chris Voss was an FBI negotiator and developed his skills and techniques by talking to kidnappers, hostage takers, employers, and car salesmen. I think the techniques in this book - calibrated questions, focusing on the issue, treating the people you’re negotiating with as partners, observing how people act, building trust - are essential to having a successful career as manager, and to ensuring you and your team are set up for success. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Monday Links 20

Even Xero isn’t immune to layoffs

Breccan McLeod Lundy on the pressure to come up with a snappy mission statement or purpose for his company:

You have the choice between saying something that sounds great but isn’t quite true or saying too much and being asked why you didn’t just stick with “Our purpose is to make the world a better place”.

Companies, like people, have a hierarchy of needs - they need to make a certain amount of money to even be able to think about broader social purpose. I think for us we’d have to do a prioritized list of purposes which doesn’t sound as cool as “purpose” but is necessary to be functional in the long run.

What happens when the US Army needs 36,000 kettlebells, fast

LeadDev: Riding the ever-changing waves of front-end development

Will Larson: Writing an engineering strategy

Once you become an engineering executive, an invisible timer starts ticking in the background. Tick tick tick. At some point that timer will go off, at which point someone will rush up to you demanding an engineering strategy. It won’t be clear what they mean, but they will want it, really, really badly. If we just had an engineering strategy, their eyes will implore you, things would be okay. For a long time, those imploring eyes haunted me, because I simply didn’t know what to give them: what is an engineering strategy?

Making the most of your manager, a talk by Katrina Clokie

One thing about being a manager yourself is that you can tend to forget that you have a manager, and that you need to practice the advice you might give to your own reports. This talk by Katrina Clokie is an excellent reminder of the value of maintaining a good working relationship with yours.

I was lucky enough to work and talk with Katrina for a couple of years and I’m so much the better for it. Katrina has a gift for framing things slightly differently than you’d expect, generally towards more effective outcomes and Making the most of your manager is a great example: it’s not about managing up, it’s about what you can do to make sure you have an effective advocate in the workplace.

Monday Links 19

Vicky Boykis on What should you use ChatGPT for?

What is clear to me is that we are in a new paradigm for the way we navigate content, whether through this model or other ones that are released soon. Upon prompting, the new universe gives us results, but those results are more directional vibes than concrete answers. It is up to us to figure out how to direct them in ways that we want for the best results and navigate the noise.

The print versions of Julia Evans’s Pocket Guide To Debugging look great. Buy some for folks you know who are learning to code, getting started in their careers, or, y’know, just need the help.