Phase 1 of Hiring, Getting from 0-30

Towards the end of 2017, we reopened hiring on the mobile team at Automattic which had been shut since the start of the year as we got things in order. I think of this as phase 1 of hiring on the team – nailing the basics of the process, and making some progress with diversity […]

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Why you can’t manage humans like they’re software

My latest in Quartz… Early on at Amazon, CEO Jeff Bezos famously issued a memo about how software was to be built at the company. Teams would share their data through service interfaces, or APIs, the same way that they would share it with an outside customer. That meant that a developer on one team […]

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The four layers of communication in a functional team

My latest in Quartz… Functional teams have four layers of communication:– A mission (also known as a vision)– Strategy (made up of proximate objectives)– Tactics and process– ExecutionThis list might seem like it includes categories of action—it does. But it’s not just doing these things, but also communicating them that ties teams together. Communicating the items on this list plays […]

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Answer these 10 questions to understand if you’re a good manager

My latest in Quartz… Something I struggled with as a new manager was finding a sense of accomplishment, and as I’ve moved on to manage managers, I’ve seen this become a challenge for them, too. It’s hard to find the right success metrics upon which to judge our work because our output is to make […]

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The first two questions to ask when your team is struggling

My second article in Quartz… I’ve never stepped into a leadership role without it quickly becoming clear why a new leader was needed. I think it’s normal for companies to hire new leaders when there are problems that need to be addressed. So I suspect that as the congratulations die down, it’s also normal to […]

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Understanding how process impacts outcome can help avoid useless meetings

My first article in Quartz! Earlier this year, when I was learning how to facilitate a specific type of workshop, a colleague revealed the secret to making it great: understanding the outcome and keeping it in mind throughout the entire process. If the team isn’t focused on the outcome, than they’re just performing a process. […]

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Estimations and Orders of Magnitude

Call me a cynic, but I don’t expect software estimations to be accurate. Because software is built by humans – and they take sick days, and vacations, time to help their colleagues (hopefully), have off days as well as good ones. But I still think estimations are worth doing. Firstly, because if we don’t have […]

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On Boiling Frogs and Drowning Rats

Today's management lesson: "You have to boil people like frogs, not drown them like rats" — @catehstn — Beau (@beaulebens) June 25, 2018 Beau recently tweeted an observation I made to him, which people reacted to… Something to do with “plague animals” all “ending up dead”. And well… maybe it isn’t my best management metaphor. […]

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Towards Productive Technical Discussions

Note: I wrote this post for an internal team blog, but thought it was worth sharing more widely. Part of getting to good code reviews is some up front discussion about trade-offs and implications for bigger architectural changes. I think of code review as when “my” code becomes “our” code – for architecture, those conversations […]

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Creating Success, Together

This is the final part of a 6-part series of blog posts based on a talk I prepared called Successfully Derailed Product. It’s about the ways in which we define and talk about “success” influence what – and how – we build. See part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5. We want to […]

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