Reading List: Leadership, Management, Communication & Hiring

Strategic Planning, Visioning, Measurement and Estimating
Culture
Scaling
Effective Communication
Presentation Tips
Encouraging and modeling Innovation
Intrapreneurship
Professional Development / Motivating
Performance Evaluation and Reviews
General Leadership and Management
Hiring
Interviewing

Strategic Planning, Visioning, Measurement and Estimating

Culture

  • Tips for running effective meetings (infographic)
  • Liane Davey: The Right Way to Start a Meeting – clear purpose, specific about each agenda item, balanced contribution, emphasize one ground rule, raise issues during not after meeting, be careful with roundtable statusing
  • Steve Denning: The Age Of Agile: What Every CEO Needs To Know (interview with Julian Birkinshaw) – working on a book called “Fast Forward”; bureaucracy (roles & rules); meritocracy (knowledge-based / big-data); adhocracy (action-based); agile as a manifestation of adhocracy, operationalizing adhocracy; related skunk-works, design-thinking, lean startup; adhocracy is opportunity-focused; any org has these three sides of the triangle (formal structure, knowledge / competence, action-oriented behavior); riot games, spotify are well-known adhocracies; “what are the scarce resources in a world of too much information?…the scarce resource is human attention. Our capacity to attend to the right things. A deficit of attention is much more likely to be the challenge, rather than not having enough information”; “organizations that will succeed in the future will have all of the information that everyone else has. But they will also have the capacity for decision action. They will know when to stop gathering data and when to start acting on it”; “If in our board meetings and our conversations we emphasize only our rational numerical knowledge, if everything has to be boiled down to what it says on the spreadsheet, then we are going to make very sterile decisions, decisions which risk being completely devoid of understanding”; “in addition to having all the data in a rational, logical sense, we also need more emotional conviction and belief to go with our rational side. The two parts of course come together to make a whole that is more valuable than an organization that is good at one or the other”; “we should fighting complexity with simplicity. We should be creating organizations that are deliberately moving away from trying to manage and pre-program everything”; detailed breakdown of bureacracy (assumption person at top knows more), meritocracy (person who knows most / makes best argument calls shots, bias toward discussion and debate), adhocracy (when in doubt do something rather than meritocrocracy-style discuss / debate or defer to bureaucratic boss) models; “all organizations have all three elements… It’s key that we protect the bits of the organization that are action-oriented”
  • Matt Cronin: How to Lead a Caring Company Culture – discover their why; keep your door open and welcome interruptions; be a sounding board; support mentoring
  • Joel Trammell: 4 Ways to Balance Company Rules With Values – 1. create values to guide behavior and apply consistently;  2. employees own the rules; 3. align corp-level policies with values; 4. build transparent work env.
  • Paylocity: Three Tips for Improving Your Organization’s Transparency – post important information where everyone can access  it; straight communication at goal-setting meetings; empower employees to think like an owner
  • Carly Guthrie: This is Why People Leave Your Company – you don’t respect their time, etc.; how to keep: build a community with purpose; managers trust their employees (including related to WFH); structure a mentorship program that people actually want (needs to be organic); hallmark of a healthy culture is that people feel comfortable bringing up problems with and offering feedback to their leaders and vice versa; When employees leave because of their boss, it rarely comes from personality mismatches, it stems from a lack of confidence.
  • Christopher Hannegan: Does your company have a culture problem? – emphasizes actions related to culture including what’s valued, seen, communicated, measured, and held accountable
  • Phyllis Korkki: Be Direct and Low-Key to Defuse Discord at the Office – points out ineffectiveness of “low directness” behaviors like not saying what you mean, withholding info
  • 1871: Howard Tullman: 4 Reasons Democracy Adds Up to Mediocrity – Inclusion can be a delusion…. risks of too much democracy in decision-making, meetings, design
  • LinkedIn: Fred Kofman: Culture: Key to Organizational Success (3.1) – 5 conditions: strategic, integrative, cohesive, innovative, adaptive; Supports execution: uplifts, shapes behavior, aligns efforts
  • Thoughtworks: Org Chart Debt: A A Risky, Off-Balance Sheet Liability – refers to Steve Blank article; manifestations; servicing it
  • Robert Laing: You are incurring HR debt – examples of HR debt; how to eliminate it; preventing it
  • Steve Blank: Organizational Debt is like Technical debt – but worse – org debt occurs during early stage build, just before growth; seven things: plan for hiring; evaluate salaries to keep key people; refactoring original hires and their roles; relook at company culture; disseminate information by repeating; evaluate how customer communication should change from talking to just one person; advisory board of other CEOs who have recently grown; good comments on the article
  • Brian Scudamore: 3 Tips To Create A Workplace Culture That Employees Love – tip 1: create a high-energy workplace; tip 2: give employees space to dream on and off the job; tip 3: share the wealth with your employees
  • Tim Stevens: 12 Signs your Company has an Enviable Workplace Culture – 1. people are waiting in line to join your team; 2. turnover is low; 3. top leaders are not insecure about other leaders succeeding; 4. gossip isn’t tolerated; 5. lateral leadership is outstanding; 6. team members are energized by the mission; 7. it’s not just a job; 8. the team believes they are more important than the task; 9. people are smiling; 10. fear is missing; 11. communication is strong; 12. change is welcome
  • Mary Shapiro: Help Your Team Agree on How They’ll Collaborate – rules of conduct; cultural audit
  • Steve Blank: Innovation @ 50x in Companies and Government Agencies – Success creates Organizational Debt (people / process shortcuts), Technical Debt, need to refactor each by restructuring; org that executes *and* innovates is an ambidextrous org; achieve breakthrough innovations while relentlessly improving they way they execute and serve existing customers; three horizons of innovation; intrapreneurs are (good) rebels; horizon 3 protects mavericks, horizon 1 fires mavericks; if there are no horizon 2/3 incentives in the company then there is no real commitment to innovation; transition plan: make sure that $’s, people and infra are in place to cross tech transfer “valley of death”; need Chief Innovation Officers; horizon 1 uses “innovation” to reinvent what works; communicate big idea, strategy, tactical implementation; lean innovation mgmt is about developing capabilities not about efficiency
  • Rob Lambert: Follow the work – bad news for Test Managers? – follow the work (value stream) to determine what functional-area groups are needed; good managers will always be needed, but specialist managers (like test managers) are becoming less required
  • Kim L Chandrow: What Cultivating a High-Performance Company Culture Means to 8 Business Leaders – ensuring everyone is aligned; hiring and cultivating people that believe in your mission; focusing on your employee’s needs; allowing employees to take ownership of the company’s culture; removing as many constraints as possible; creating a community that fosters your values; highlighting how you approach and conduct business; determining the right goals for your company
  • Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility – actual company values shown by who gets rewarded, promoted or let go; most valued nine behaviors and skills: judgment; communication; impact; curiosity; innovation; courage; passion; honesty; selflessness; the “rare responsible person” thrives on freedom and is worth of it; why do most companies curtail freedom and become bureaucratic as they grow?; avoid chaos as you grow with ever more high performance people – not with rules; the key: increase talent density faster than complexity grows; minimize complexity growth via few big products vs many small ones; good process focuses on rapid recovery, helps talented people get more done, bad process tries to prevent recoverable mistakes; flexibility is more important than efficiency (process) in the long term; best managers figure out how to get great outcomes by setting context rather than trying to control; three models of corporate teamwork: tightly coupled monolith, independent silos, highly aligned, loosely coupled; highly aligned, loosely coupled requires high perf. people and good context, goal is to be big, fast, flexible; pay top of market is core to high perf. culture; formalized development is rarely effective (mentor assignment, rotation through roles, multi-year career paths), people should manage their own career growth
  • Scaling Company Culture: 6 Lessons from HubSpot’s Katie Burke –  #1 take culture seriously; #2 connect culture to metrics; #3 write it down (see “culture code” below); #4 obsess over employee experience; #5 think about culture early on; #6 make it aspirational
  • The HubSpot Culture Code: Creating a company we love –  1) Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing; 3) Solve For The Customer — not just their happiness, but also their success; 4) Power is now gained by sharing knowledge, not hoarding it; 5) “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”; 6) You shouldn’t penalize the many for the mistakes of the few (“just because someone made a mistake years ago doesn’t mean we need a policy, we only protect against big stuff”); 7) Results should matter more than when or where they are produced; 8) Influence should be independent of hierarchy; 9) Great people want direction on where they’re going — not directions on how to get there; 10) “Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.”; 11) We’d rather be failing frequently than never trying; “would you recommend this meeting to a colleague?”; “the interest rate on culture debt is crushingly high”; “don’t just hire to delegate, hire to elevate”; “we want to be as proud of the people we build as we are of the company we build”; “two ways to progress: 1. gain mastery and make magic, 2. provide spectacular support to those doing 1.”; “amazing people don’t like average goals”; “organizations should be frequently refactored – improve internal structure without changing external behavior – remove unnecessary rules, stop generating unused reports, automate, cancel unproductive meetings, prune extraneous process”
  • Valve: Handbook for New Employees – Why do I need to pick my own projects? But how do I decide which things to work on? How do I find out what projects are under way? Short-term vs. long-term goals; Someone told me to (or not to) work on X. And they’ve been here a long time! How does Valve decide what to work on? Cabals; Team leads; Hours; What if I screw up? Peer reviews; **Hiring**
  • Etsy: Kellan Elliott-McCrea: Five years, building a culture, and handing it off – (now former) Etsy CTO describes scaling Etsy
  • Elizabeth Doty: Why Leaders Need to Ask, “Is that a Promise?” – creating a culture of commitment
  • ERE: How To Keep Teamwork From Becoming Group Think – And Make Smart Decisions, Too – groupthink rubberstamping; group decision-making via work from a template, gather info, limit choices, limit debate time, ensure acceptance of decision, implement immediately, include error-checking & exit strategies
  • Zingtrain: Five Steps to Building an Organizational Culture – 1. Teach it (stories); 2. Define it; 3. Live it; Measure it; Reward it
  • Jez Humble: Risk Management Theatre
  • David Lee: How To Keep Your Awesome Culture Awesome As Your Company Grows – teachable moments, stories
  • Rightpoint: Ross Freedman: Engaging Millennials in the Digital Workplace – emphasizing personalization of workplace communications (think wiki home, blog), social media
  • Chad Perry: How Old-School Management Kills Work Culture – focuses on the constant feedback millennials value
  • Sam Altman: How to Start a Startup: Lecture 10: Culture
  • Alex MacCaw: What it’s like to work for Stripe
  • Jack Welch: How Those Totally “Useless” Meetings Can Make or Break your Career – even if your company has too many meetings, make the ones you attend count
  • Centro: Shawn Riegsecker: Centro at 4As: Happiness is the New ROI (30min vid) – happy and engaged employees – facilitating creating of camaraderie, friendships in the workplace – maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. good points about feedback, transparency
  • Joyent: Brian Catrill: Leadership Without Management: Scaling Organizations by Scaling Engineers (1hr vid) – Mission and purpose as motivator; list of demotivators as org scales; 50-200 size orgs face scaling inflection point; ineffectiveness of annual reviews; hierarchical titles are corrosive; perils of purple robes club; noones’s job should be to go to meetings (e.g., architectural review boards); non-tech mgmt. does not understand unknown unknowns; the most dangerous mgmt. is that which is formerly technical, mgrs.. need to stay technical, such as by helping with debugging; a bit part of focus is saying no; developing leadership in engineers minimizes need for middle mgmt., err on the side of flatness not hierarchy

Scaling

  • 16 lessons on scaling from Eric Schmidt, Reid Hoffman, Marissa Mayer, Brian Chesky, Diane Greene, Jeff Weiner, and more – 3. top consideration of scaling is when to scale; 7. the reason to scale in the first place; Dunbar’s number (150); 9. recruiting becomes the #1 priority when scaling; don’t hire generic people; when you are trying to get to 150 people you need dedicated recruiters; what is the biggest scope and responsibility you can give someone, without any “training wheels”?; use a list of 4-5 people and use them as a hiring bar for future candidates; 11. even at scale, great products come from small teams; 12. Hiring from the outside vs. promoting from within; the art is to balance between these two; 13. Have a strong culture; strong culture – a shared mission, a way things are done, beliefs we share; one of the strongest levers of culture is hiring; culture at scale is all about repetition – repeating over and over again the things that matter; if the leaders of the company are not living the values, are not recruiting people against these values, are not evaluating performance against these values — the values are not worth the paper it’s printed on; one of our tools we used to great effect is an all-hands meeting every other week; 15. Scaling is moving away from problem solving to coaching; 16. The role of a CEO during blitzscaling; executives confuse themselves when they think they actually get to do things; CEO’s listen and help clear the path to make their team and company more effective
  • Griffin Caprio: Engineering at Scale (17min vid) – 100+ size team; entrepreneur background person who went to Enova as Dir of eng.; eng teams structured as mini-startups (including owning their own P&Ls); at this scale you become “big M” MANAGEMENT; “Quantum Management” – your presence affects things going on; “diving into details is the worst thing to do”; “always balancing macro vs micro decisions”, often choosing macro over micro, may be unpopular; rethink your personal contributions: “New contributions: decision making, people, culture, happiness, smiling faces, retention”; “you are your #1 direct report”; edgar schein: “… it can be argued that the only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture”; Culture: “Basic Underlying Assumptions: Failure is required for progress”; Andy Grove: High Output Management: “meaning scales, people don’t”; “build amplifiers to radiate your desired cultural model”; “organizational behavior follows leader behavior”; building a culture is a brownfield project (see Reinventing Orgs infographic below); “am for progress not perfection”
  • Michael Sahota: Frederic Laloux: Reinventing Organizations (infographic) – engagement / trust diagram: start with power & structure model -> achievement -> people -> shared power decentralized network

Effective Communication

  • Michael Bremer: What Type of a Leader Do You Choose to Be? – use simple tools to create pictures; understand why; make it visual
  • Josh Bernoff: Bad Writing Is Destroying Your Company’s Productivity – “vague writing dilutes leadership”; “Clear leadership, expressed in writing, creates alignment and boosts productivity. For example, in writing email, managers from the CEO on down must set an example by communicating exactly what they want, clearly, in the subject line or title and the first two sentences of everything they write”; “Fuzzy writing allows fuzzy thinking. Clear writing uses well-organized, active-voice sentences to explain what is happening, what ought to happen, and what people need to do. Conversely, inexact and passive language reflects gaps in thinking”; “spend effort changing the culture to one that prizes brevity, clarity, and directness”; moral foundations theory; “it’s all about politics”
  • Howard Tullman: This Common Communication Mistake Is Destroying Your Productivity – “Quality of information deteriorates as it rises in the organization”; “Your system needs to turn data into information and information into knowledge. Knowledge only becomes power when it’s used…”; “only two words matter today: transparency and efficacy”; “it’s what you don’t know that you don’t know that can kill your business…”
  • Steven Pinker: The Source of Bad Writing: The ‘curse of knowledge’ leads writers to assume their readers know everything they know
  • Simon Sinek: Start With Why (18min vid) – golden circle: why, how, what, in *that order*; “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”; this is where gut decisions come from (the why); “the goal is not just to hire because they need a job, it is to hire people who believe what you believe”; “if you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe”; “what you do simply serves as the proof of what you believe”; “he (Dr. King) gave the I have a Dream speech, not the I have a Plan speech”; “we follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to”
  • FiveThirtyEight: Not Even Scientists Can Easily Explain P-values – “Try to distill the p-value down to an intuitive concept and it loses all its nuances and complexity, said science journalist Regina Nuzzo, a statistics professor at Gallaudet University. “Then people get it wrong, and this is why statisticians are upset and scientists are confused.” You can get it right, or you can make it intuitive, but it’s all but impossible to do both.” (applies to other concepts as well – need to be careful in choosing when to use intuitive descriptions which sometimes are over-simplified to the point of losing important meaning as in this example)
  • Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are (21min vid) – fake it ’till you make it / become it, power poses
  • Ron Westrum: The study of information flow: A personal journey – the continuum of cultures: Pathological -> Bureaucratic -> Generative
  • Unless you’re Oprah, Be Yourself is Terrible Advice – “… Nobody wants to see your true self. We all have thoughts and feelings that we believe are fundamental to our lives, but that are better left unspoken.”; high self-monitor vs. low self-monitor; “With your romantic partner, being authentic might lead to a more genuine connection… But in the rest of our lives, we pay a price for being too authentic. High self-monitors advance faster and earn higher status… these high self-monitors spend more time finding out what others need and helping them…”; “merely believing that there’s a fixed self can interfere with growth… Children who see abilities as fixed give up after failure… managers who believe talent is fixed fail to coach their employees… . When we’re looking to change our game, a too rigid self-concept becomes an anchor that keeps us from sailing forth.”; “ … sincerity. Instead of searching for our inner selves and then making a concerted effort to express them, Trilling urged us to start with our outer selves. Pay attention to how we present ourselves to others, and then strive to be the people we claim to be… Rather than changing from the inside out, you bring the outside in.”; “… high self-monitors were more likely than their authentic peers to experiment with different leadership styles. They watched senior leaders in the organization, borrowed their language and action, and practiced them until these became second nature. They were not authentic, but they were sincere. It made them more effective.”; “Next time people say, “just be yourself,” stop them in their tracks. No one wants to hear everything that’s in your head. They just want you to live up to what comes out of your mouth.”
  • Our Overrated Inner Self –  “Trilling: Sincerity… requires us to act and really be the way that we present ourselves to others. Authenticity involves finding and expressing the true inner self and judging all relationships in terms of it.”; “What matters is that they behave with civility and tolerance, obey the rules of social interaction and are sincere about it. The criteria of sincerity are unambiguous: Will they keep their promises? Will they honor the meanings and understandings we tacitly negotiate? Are their gestures of cordiality offered in conscious good faith?”;
  • Blog Tyrant: How to Write the Perfect Blog Post: A Complete Guide to Copy (infographic) – generate your idea; develop headline; write intro; list out main points; write a base of 2k-2.5k words; add bonus mat’l; don’t finish topic, pose question; select main photo
  • Eric Siu: Content Marketing: Blogging for Growth (1h21min skillshare vid) – buzzsumo shares / linkers analyzer; copyblogger, quicksprout “the formula for a perfect headline”, portent content idea generator; canva, pablo for image annotation and generation
  • George Saunders: what writers really do when they write

Presentation Tips

  • Raheel Retiwalla: My personal journey evolving into a confident presenter and a meeting participant – 1) tell them why you; 2) know the subject inside and out; 3) don’t be afraid to show your passion / voice your opinion; 4) stand up and talk; 5) create your own content; 6) face the audience all the time; 7) genuinely want to help
  • Storytelling That Moves People (interview with Robert McKee) – “The other way to persuade people—and ultimately a much more powerful way—is by uniting an idea with an emotion. The best way to do that is by telling a compelling story”; “A good storyteller describes what it’s like to deal with these opposing forces, calling on the protagonist to dig deeper, work with scarce resources, make difficult decisions, take action despite risks, and ultimately discover the truth”; “Stories are how we remember; we tend to forget lists and bullet points”; “how do you imagine the future? As a story. You create scenarios in your head of possible future events to try to anticipate the life of your company or your own personal life”; “Great storytellers—and, I suspect, great leaders—are skeptics who understand their own masks as well as the masks of life, and this understanding makes them humble. They see the humanity in others and deal with them in a compassionate yet realistic way”
  • Andy Raskin: The Stinky Cow Principle: How to Tell Stories that Make People Trust You – strategic storytelling to structure pitch narratives for companies, products, and ideas; McKee’s “inciting incident”; “stories are a “write API” for humans — that is, a channel for inserting beliefs into other people’s brains”; “Tell inciting incidents as scenes, not summaries”
  • Andy Raskin: Why Leadership = Storytelling – “Leadership is the art of inspiring others to make a story come true”; “Very literally, leadership is storytelling and leaders are storytellers”
  • Andy Raskin: Want a Better Pitch? Watch This – example – Elon Musk’s Tesla powerwall battery pitch; five things to do right: 1) name the enemy; 2) answer “why now?”; 3) show the promised land before explaining how you’ll get there; 4) identify obstacles – then explain how you’ll overcome them; 5) present evidence that you’re not just blowing hot air
  • ECHO: Storytelling Fundamentals: Tell Better Internal Business Stories – “Story is how we make sense of data”; “Consider starting a weekly meeting with a storytelling session — kick it off yourself and then put a colleague on point”; “Authentic storytelling can be hard. However, story can be how you explain your mistakes — and what you learned from them”
  • ECHO: Storytelling Fundamentals: 5 TED talks to make you a better storyteller
  • ECHO: Storytelling Fundamentals: Core elements of a great business story – “A great business story–like any great story–is memorable, persuasive, moving, engaging, immersive and surprising”; core elements: get to the point; get over your conflict aversion (and check your 5Cs checklist); get emotional; find your hero; prize the details; don’t start at the beginning; challenge your audience
  • Brian Burkhart: 10 Presentation Trends to Look for in 2016 – 1. slideless; 2. large screen touch interactivity; 3. mini-talks: 10-min or less; 4. personalization: no more, “this is wendy, she’s a busy mom”; 5. Total elimination of panel discussions; 6. audience poll-driven content; 8. interactive workbooks; 9. less “uber-ization of dry cleaning”; 10. audience revolt
  • Eric Hultgren: The process – when presenting: don’t read off notes ever; process: visualization -> writing -> editing -> practice -> audio visualization; “processes are sh*t, execution is key”
  • Brian McCarthy: Delete the “Thank you!” slide – how to end your presentation – 1) Repeat something from opening; 2) Show how main points support overall arg.; 3) Don’t show a Thank-You slide (best reason: people often take a photo at the end); 4) Finish with energy and enthusiasm;  5) Summarize after Q&A

Encouraging and modeling Innovation

Intrapreneurship

  • Alexander Osterwalder: How Big Companies Can Make The Intrapreneur Sexy Again – it’s still a rarity to see really empowered entrepreneurs inside of a large company–they’re seen more as pirates or rebels; The intrapreneur doesn’t exist in most companies because people who manage new growth initiatives, especially in senior levels, have more execution based roles. The “entrepreneur” in an organization is usually responsible for or associated with R&D; R&D is generally focused on technology or product innovation that helps improve the existing business model; it rarely prepares the company for future business model environments; Intrapreneurs deserve to benefit a lot more from the potential they create for a company; Big companies need someone who has the power to act fast, to be agile and make quick decisions like an entrepreneur. Intrapreneurs have to be able to make the pivots and necessary changes when required. That power also has to be coupled with new processes and incentives that reflect the role
  • Alyson Krueger: The rise of the Intrapreneur –  “What do I want to create that is going to fill a white space? What doesn’t exist that needs to exist?”; not all companies are embracing intrapreneurialism… “There are so many reasons. One is that there are strong cultures of ‘this is the way it’s always been done.’ There are also cultures that fear failure . . . or have very real reasons to be cautious. It can be right down to the personality of the leader itself”; not all employees are cut out for intrapreneurship, either. You have to be aggressive and push a company, often set in its ways, to embrace change. You also have to work after hours and forgo full recognition or credit for your work; if companies give their talent something to focus on, projects to own, they will stay and help their company move forward; What is going to get you fired up to do what you came here to do?
  • Kelly & Medina: 5 Mistakes Employees Make When Challenging the Status Quo – 1) fail to prioritize ideas; 2) go solo; 3) flunk the pitch meeting; 4) give up too soon; 5) ignore personal danger signals
  • Linda Rising: Meeting Resistance and Moving Forward (54min vid): author of “fearless change”; behavioral economics; confirmation bias, our narrative, the backfire effect, cognitive dissonance; “skeptics are useful”; covey’s “listen with intent to understand with skeptics”; “personal touch”; innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, laggards (first two are only 16% of population); “the people in your org will never all be in the same place at the same time”; trial run – if you try something you are much more likely to buy / agree; “silence is good, short responses are good”; to influence = move them, share the same point of view, go for a walk; ending the discussion: “the key question: is there something i can prove or demonstrate that will make you stop believing in <whatever>”
  • Twitter: #intrapreneur

Professional Development / Motivating

  • Oren Ellenbogen: Who should own your engineering team’s skill debt? – “skill debt starts when people prefer to stick to existing solutions because they don’t have faith in the possibility of applying newly gained knowledge in a beneficial way”; “Increasing skill debt is an outcome of an organization where trust is deteriorating”; “When people do more of the same for too long, without an option to change that, it could kill any form of innovation or people growth”; “Technical Leads should spend at least 20% of their time in teaching other teammates or other teams in the organization”; “Are other teams more comfortable working with us? Do they feel more relaxed and confident in our ability to deliver or own a big transformation? You can find out a lot by doing 1:1’s with Engineering Managers from other teams and ask for their view from the outside”
  • Howard Tullman: How to Locate–and Motivate–Your Most Influential Employees – “If you can’t find the people who have the most impact, you won’t be effective in making critical organizational changes”; “what gets measured is what supposedly gets managed. Most people do what you inspect and not (sadly) what you expect”; “Only when we have a new and clear perspective on the employees who can directly and indirectly be the most helpful in promulgating the attitudes and behaviors required for the desired changes can we identify the people who can help us get the critical messages across to the remainder of the team”; “It just so happens that a movement can be started or a systemic change effectively initiated and grown within an organization just as easily by a mere mortal with a strong set of internal connections (and a powerful message) as it is can be by some superstar orator, politician or other impassioned advocate”; “Top down communications in business today are largely a waste of time and breath. Treating your employees as a homogeneous population to which you can broadcast a single message won’t work any better for your business than it has for the TV networks of old. Peer to peer, customized communications to and from people we are directly and regularly connected with, and whose opinions we value and respect, are the only ways we want to learn today. People don’t commit much of anything to companies today – they commit to other people”
  • Carter Murray: Giving Talented People Room to Bloom – “entitlement is the kiss of death for the soul of a human being”; “When I work for someone, I have to either like or respect them, or both”; “You want to work for people you can relate to and be inspired by, and believe in”; “I think leadership is fundamentally changing… you say to someone, “Look, I think you’re amazing, incredibly talented and you can do even more than you think in your wildest dreams. And I’m not going to manage you to do that. You will determine that yourself. What I can promise you is I’ll create a culture where that happens.”

    The challenge I’ve learned with that type of leadership is you’ve got to hire triple-A talent, and you need to have even stronger checks and balances in the cultural infrastructure”; “if I look at the leaders I’ve had to change out, 50 percent of the time it was because of their inability to make decisions”

  • Enova: Career Ladders (OSS) – individual contributor, manager tracks
  • Building a technical career path at Spotify – a set of four steps; a map of career growth; a group editing process; see also second segment and third part
  • 7 Keys to Creating the Best Work Environment (infographic) – 1. be flexible; 2. communicate; 3. recognize success; 4. offer development opportunities; 5. build trust; 6. give and receive feedback; 7. provide a sense of purpose
  • Harvard Business Review: Tours of Duty: The New Employer-Employee Compact – importance of encouraging networking etc.
  • Sarah Mei: Pairing with Junior Developers – don’t type; let them make mistakes; take breaks; be prepared to say “I don’t know”; find what they can teach you; “Another advantage is that bringing them on increases your code quality. You read that right. And I agree, it’s surprising. That’s the opposite of what I expected at first, since I was, after all, hiring less experienced people. But when you bring in your first junior developer, it forces you to make explicit a lot of knowledge that was previously implicit between more experienced developers. The experienced folks may find it tedious at first, but this process always ends up surfacing inconsistencies and design flaws that otherwise you wouldn’t have caught until much later”
  • Kevin McMahon: Management is Dead! 5 Reasons to Adopt a Leadership Culture – mgrs ask when / how vs. leaders ask what / why; you manage things, you lead people
  • Dan Pink: Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us (10min vid)
  • David Loftesness: This 90-Day Plan Turns Engineers into Remarkable Managers – own your education -> find your rhythm -> assess yourself (do you actually want this?) – Eng. Mgr. Daily / Weekly / Monthly Event Loop checklist – People, Projects, Process, Me
  • Chad Halvorson: How to train your Employees to become Managers – Culture of Learning, Time Mgmt., Team Comm.
  • Mark Murphy: Are SMART Goals Dumb? – top 8 predictors of goals resulting in great things: vividly picture great feeling of achieving; have to learn new skills; absolutely necessary to help company; active participation in creating goals; access to any formal training needed; will be pushed out of comfort zone; enrich lives of someone beyond me; aligned with org’s top priorities for year; two key ones that differ from SMART are learn new skills, leave comfort zone; HARD: Heartfelt, Animated, Required, Difficult
  • Zillow: Spencer Rascoff: 9 ways to recruit extraordinary employees – Create a company culture that rewards innovation, rather than success, set vision, value efficiency over time spent
  • Sam Altman: How to Start a Startup: Lecture 15: How to Manage (50min video, transcript)
  • Abraham Zaleznik: Managers and Leaders: Are They Different? – timeless 1977 article describing the natural tension between management and leadership, the need for both – and keys to cultivating and keeping leaders
  • Josh Bersin: HR for Humans: Welcome to Behavioral Economics – The Power of the Nudge – principles: Loss aversion; Status quo bias; Anchoring; Optimism bias; Hindsight bias; Herd behavior; Reciprocity; Choice overload; ref’d book themese: In choice architecture, everything matters; People do not make optimal decisions; People avoid hard work; Data and A/B testing do wonders
  • Swipely: How to Make OKRs Actually Work at Your Startup – (Objectives and Key Results); high level objective, a more detailed description of why that objective is important, a summary of how the objective aligns with the broader goals of both the person’s team and the company, and the three to five key results that will help them achieve that goal; When personal objectives are directly and clearly connected to the broader goals of the company, they’re suddenly more inspiring, less myopic. Make them public so everyone can see what’s on their co-workers’ plates and employees no longer feel like they’re toiling in a vacuum, or for their manager’s approval; high-perf OKR system commonalities: track results quantitatively; make it something people look at ever quarter, week, day; they have to be a stretch (70% is just about perfect)
  • Joe Apfelbaum: Do you know a Connector? – thoughtful questions; offer to introduce; deeper connection

Performance Evaluation and Reviews

General Leadership and Management

  • Simon Sinek: When we tell people to do their jobs, we get workers. When we trust people to get the job done, we get leaders – managing / directing vs. leading
  • The Iceberg of Ignorance (image) – 4% of probs known to top mgrs… 100% known to front line workers
  • Gusto: Joshua Reeves: Directing without Dictating – lead by achieving alignment rather than dictating – and remember heroism doesn’t scale
  • Collins & Porras: Building Your Company’s Vision – Truly great companies understand the difference between what should never change and what should be open for change, between what is genuinely sacred and what is not; Vision provides guidance about what core to preserve and what future to stimulate progress toward; A well-conceived vision consists of two major components: core ideology and envisioned future; Core ideology, the yin in our scheme, defines what we stand for and why we exist. Yin is unchanging and complements yang, the envisioned future. The envisioned future is what we aspire to become, to achieve, to create—something that will require significant change and progress to attain; it is more important to know who you are than where you are going, for where you are going will change as the world around you changes; Any effective vision must embody the core ideology of the organization, which in turn consists of two distinct parts: core values, a system of guiding principles and tenets; and core purpose, the organization’s most fundamental reason for existence; Core values are the essential and enduring tenets of an organization; Companies tend to have only a few core values, usually between three and five; To identify the core values of your own organization, push with relentless honesty to define what values are truly central. If you articulate more than five or six, chances are that you are confusing core values (which do not change) with operating practices, business strategies, or cultural norms (which should be open to change); A company should not change its core values in response to market changes; rather, it should change markets, if necessary, to remain true to its core values; Core purpose, the second part of core ideology, is the organization’s reason for being. An effective purpose reflects people’s idealistic motivations for doing the company’s work. It doesn’t just describe the organization’s output or target customers; it captures the soul of the organization; Core purpose is a raison d’être, not a goal or business strategy; 3M defines its purpose not in terms of adhesives and abrasives but as the perpetual quest to solve unsolved problems innovatively—a purpose that is always leading 3M into new fields; Hewlett-Packard doesn’t exist to make electronic test and measurement equipment but to make technical contributions that improve people’s lives; One powerful method for getting at purpose is the five whys. Start with the descriptive statement We make X products or We deliver X services, and then ask, Why is that important? five times; As Peter Drucker has pointed out, the best and most dedicated people are ultimately volunteers, for they have the opportunity to do something else with their lives; You do not create or set core ideology. You discover core ideology. You do not deduce it by looking at the external environment. You understand it by looking inside. Ideology has to be authentic. You cannot fake it. Discovering core ideology is not an intellectual exercise. Do not ask, What core values should we hold? Ask instead, What core values do we truly and passionately hold? the role of core ideology is to guide and inspire, not to differentiate; The authenticity, the discipline, and the consistency with which the ideology is lived—not the content of the ideology—differentiate visionary companies from the rest of the pack; You should therefore focus on getting the content right—on capturing the essence of the core values and purpose. The point is not to create a perfect statement but to gain a deep understanding of your organization’s core values and purpose, which can then be expressed in a multitude of ways. In fact, we often suggest that once the core has been identified, managers should generate their own statements of the core values and purpose to share with their groups; Once you are clear about the core ideology, you should feel free to change absolutely anything that is not part of it; envisioned future consists of two parts: a 10-to-30-year audacious goal plus vivid descriptions of what it will be like to achieve the goal; You must translate the vision from words to pictures with a vivid description of what it will be like to achieve your goal; Think of the core purpose as the star on the horizon to be chased forever; the BHAG is the mountain to be climbed. Once you have reached its summit, you move on to other mountains; dentifying core ideology is a discovery process, but setting the envisioned future is a creative process; What’s needed is such a big commitment that when people see what the goal will take, there’s an almost audible gulp; To create an effective envisioned future requires a certain level of unreasonable confidence and commitment. Keep in mind that a BHAG is not just a goal; it is a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal; The basic dynamic of visionary companies is to preserve the core and stimulate progress. It is vision that provides the context; in thinking about the envisioned future, beware of the We’ve Arrived Syndrome—a complacent lethargy that arises once an organization has achieved one BHAG and fails to replace it with another; Many executives thrash about with mission statements and vision statements. Unfortunately, most of those statements turn out to be a muddled stew of values, goals, purposes, philosophies, beliefs, aspirations, norms, strategies, practices, and descriptions. They are usually a boring, confusing, structurally unsound stream of words; Building a visionary company requires 1% vision and 99% alignment. When you have superb alignment, a visitor could drop in from outer space and infer your vision from the operations and activities of the company; Creating alignment may be your most important work. But the first step will always be to recast your vision or mission into an effective context for building a visionary company. If you do it right, you shouldn’t have to do it again for at least a decade
  • Gokul Ramaram: Square Defangs Difficult Decisions with this System — Here’s How – for important, difficult choices, consensus approach is often ineffective and impractical; consensus means no ownership; What’s important is not that everyone agrees, but that everyone is heard and then the right person makes a decision; use a covey-like quadrant to categorize decisions along importance and urgency; use this framework only for important decisions, whether urgent or non-urgent; SPADE – Setting (What, When, Why), People (consulted, approves, responsible), Alternatives (Pros & Cons), Decide and Explain (including Commitment meeting); listening matters much, much more than you think, people want the option to chime in and be listened to
  • Sydney Finkelstein: What Amazing Bosses Do Differently – manage individuals, not teams; go big on meaning; focus on (frequent) feedback; don’t just talk… listen; be consistent
  • Eric Garton: HR’s Vital Role in How Emplo9yees Spend Their Time, Talent and Energy – “Systematically eradicate the factors that steal time from employees and make it harder for them to do their jobs; Redefine ways of working, and build a working environment that thoughtfully balances the twin performance-enhancing goals of accountability and autonomy; Help employees link their roles to the broader company’s insurgent customer mission, one that is espoused and modeled by inspirational leaders. We believe that inspirational leadership is within the reach of all management and can be learned and developed”
  • Steve McConnell: Seven Unbreakable Rules of Software Leadership – 1hr webinar vid; contrasts keys to effective software leadership with generic bestseller leadership books; the seven: 1) be sure you’re going somewhere; 2) take responsibility; 3) make decisions in the face of ambiguity; 4) put the organization first; 5) be passionate about your company’s biz; 6) become a student of communication; 7) treat your staff as volunteers
  • Shivani Bhagi: Better to be LIKED or RESPECTED? – the more responsibility, the more u need to detach from need to be liked by all; if u don’t believe in yourself, respect own decisions, stand by own values, no one else will even if you are likable; honor yourself, trust your decisions and be respectful to the people around you
  • Steve Jobs Knew How to Run a Meeting: Here’s How He Did it – article summary and 20min vid of 1985 Next retreat meetings; Show your passion; Focus on creating value; Challenge your team “I don’t see that startup hustle”; Keep everyone on course; Define the right priorities
  • Trina Isakson: 5 Habits of Effective Introverted Leaders – treat others as individuals; provide oppys for others; be role model; big-picture; both strong-willed & humble; quality vs quantity balance; follow up like mad
  • Ralph van Roosmalen: Delegation Boards – Combining Traditional HR with Management 3.0 –  7 levels: Tell, Sell, Consult, Agree, Advise, Inquire, Delegate
  • Why Every CEO Needs an Accountability Partner – admit struggles & weaknesses; know and challenge; blind spots; ideas listener
  • Travis Bradberry: Are You an Ambivert?

Hiring

Interviewing

  • Grokker: Lorna Borenstein: Invest in People for the Long Term – “When I interview people, I always want to know what their ultimate ambitions are”; “I always start with sharing life stories. I want you to know where I’m from, and how I got to be where I am, and then I want to hear that from you… I also want to understand why you really want to work here – what is it that we’re going to do for you, and what are you going to do for us? And I also what to understand your long-term aspirations.”; “I want the candidate to show their best self. And I think if you’re generous, and you put them at ease by being somewhat vulnerable in opening up first, and modeling the behavior you’re expecting, it really does put people at ease to let them show you who they are, and all that they can do. I think it’s a really poor interview style to try to catch people or trip them up”; “It really is about enjoying it every step of the way. So you better like what you’re doing, and don’t view everything as a steppingstone.”
  • Do Difficult Job Interviews Lead to More Satisfied Workers? Evidence from Glassdoor Reviews – optimum seems to be 4/5 on difficulty scale; analysis: level-1 too-easy interview results in too many hiring mistakes / poor job matches; level-5 interviews may indicate company dysfunction such as aggressive work culture
  • Cass Sunstein: Job Interviews Are Useless – advocates for more data-based approach, including intelligence & aptitude tests
  • 6Q: How to hire employees for cultural fit – 7 proven steps; ensure you have a set of values and how they translate to role; include website page about company values; reference values in any advertising for the role; discuss values and culture during initial interview; ask questions that relate directly to values; ensure solid induction process that involves cultural induction;  sched meeting within first month in role
  • Quora: How do you interview for culture fit – use behavioral-based questions; managers need to understand what they are looking for in a candidate; include at least one interviewer more junior than the candidate; include at least one interviewer who would be a peer; include a member of a non-engineering team who’s a customer of the team; invite them to lunch and ask your team to hang out with them a bit to see if they think it’s a good match
  • TrialPay: Interviewing at TrialPay 101:  Nice brief outline of what this highly selective employer (extends offer to 1 in 50 interviewed, 1 in 500 who apply), focuses on in the interview process for engineers. They generally do a phone screen -> live coding round -> onsite FTF.
  • Patricia Carlson: Screening for Personality: Finding the Right Fit for Your Culture – don’t expect change; learn some corporate culture clues; define your culture

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