Prioritization, multiple work streams, unplanned work. Oh my!

On development teams, balancing priorities while keeping focus is hard. Without an intentional approach you can quickly find your team submerged in a lot of different work, hurting progress on your most important goals. But the real world is messy. Prioritization is hard. Work comes in many shapes and sizes. Unplanned work pops up at […]

I can’t get started! try an execution-based goal

When it comes to professional development, many engineers struggle to put concrete plans into action to achieve their goals. They know what they want; they just can’t get started. When you think about it, this isn’t surprising. Many professional development goals are intangible. “Improve communication” or “become expert in technology X” have no real endpoint. […]

The middle slump: the power of weekly project goals

There’s a thing writers call the middle slump. It’s that period in the middle of writing something when the author has lost initial momentum, feels stuck and has difficulty making forward progress. A post in the writing subreddit frames it well: “The beginning of your story is so far behind you and yet the end […]

Time management wins for the busy engineering manager

As engineering managers our time is always in short supply. Most managers I know complain about never having enough time. We are busy people! At some point in your management career you realize you just can’t get more accomplished by working more hours. When it comes to time management, there is no panacea; but there […]

The work-centric standup

Have you heard of zombie standup? If not, there’s a good chance you’ve been part of one at some point. Zombie standup is just what it sounds like – a lifeless meeting where people go around a room and talk about what they are working on but nothing much useful happens as a result. When […]

Deadlines are a good thing.

In a previous post, I talked about what makes a good goal. Once you’ve done the hard work of setting the right goal, it’s time to start thinking about execution. A goal without a completion date is a wish [1]. Now if you want to actually accomplish that goal, you are going to need a […]

What makes a good goal?

John Allspaw has a great tweet on problem discovery: Reminder that it takes just as much effort (time, money, staff, etc.) to build the wrong thing as it does the right thing. Problem discovery is under appreciated as a practice in software engineering, especially when compared to problem solving. — John Allspaw (@allspaw) April 27, […]

Working Thoughts

I’ve recently begun the practice of maintaining a working thoughts document. The idea behind this document is to work through difficult or interesting problems I’m dealing with on a day-to-day basis at work through writing.