Week 36

Here are some highlights for leading into Week 36 🙂

  • “Collaboration at scale” by Ranganathan Balashanmugam

    If a bridge can be built with 10 people in 100 days, can a similar bridge be built with 1000 people in 1 day?

    Collaboration at scale needs management and that is the reason why Peter Drucker calls management as the most important innovation of the 20th century.

  • “Collaboration at scale” by Ranganathan Balashanmugam

    The findings concluded that as a team, a group of smart people optimized for peak individual efficiency, may not be collectively more intelligent than a group of relatively less smart people. They found that the first most important setting was psychological safety as written here — ‘a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up’. The other four were dependability, structure and clarity, the meaning of work, and the impact of work.

  • “Making Engineering Team Communication Clearer, Faster, Better” (Author unknown)

    Most engineering teams rely on design documents to describe, scope, and approve projects or features. Those aren’t new in and of themselves (they’re just the foundation of what we’ll talk about here). Kicking off a project without one would be like a hiker heading into the forest without a map. Engineering teams don’t have that kind of time.

  • “My New Calendar System” by Phin Barnes

    Each of these meetings represent a product that I am putting in the market. Each of these meetings require preparation and follow-up — and the very best first meetings with founders not only force me to get smart on their industry, vision and solution, but also require me to convince them that partnering with me and First Round should be their first choice. My calendar did not allow room for any of this work and the product I offered suffered.

  • “My New Calendar System” by Phin Barnes

    I tried to figure out how many days into the future I could predict my priorities with high confidence. To do this, I wrote down my top 5 priorities each day and realized that within 7 days, none of the original 5 were on the list. This helped me see that if I wanted to align my time with my priorities, I could not schedule anything beyond 7 work days. Now, I manage my calendar by the basic principle of never schedule meetings beyond your ability to predict your priorities.

  • “My New Calendar System” by Phin Barnes

    The calendar audit also showed me that the top priority for any given day was usually less than 24 hours old. This realization helped me limit my set meetings to 4 to allow time to tackle the highest priority stuff in any given day, but also motivates me to try to keep at least one slot open on each day as long as I can. I never know what will bubble up to fill it, but so far my days are full and I feel really good about being able to make the time to handle my top priorities without blowing up previous commitments. It is counter intuitive, but the longer I wait to fill my days, the more productive my days become.

  • Radical Candor by Kim Scott

    Fred Kofman, my coach at Google, had a mantra that contradicted the “just professional” approach so destructive to so many managers: “Bring your whole self to work.” … This often means modelling the behaviour yourself by showing some vulnerability to the people who report to you—or just admitting when you’re having a bad day—and creating a safe space for others to do the same.

  • Radical Candor by Kim Scott

    Challenging others and encouraging them to challenge you helps build trusting relationships because it shows 1) you care enough to point out both the things that aren’t going well and those that are and that 2) you are willing to admit when you’re wrong and that you are committed to fixing mistakes that you or others have made.

  • Radical Candor by Kim Scott

    To keep a team cohesive, you need both rock stars and superstars, she explained. … The rock stars love their work. They have found their grove. They don’t want the next job if it will take them away from their craft. … Superstars, on the other hand, need to be challenged and given new opportunities to grow constantly.

  • Radical Candor by Kim Scott

    At first I wrote “the truth” instead of “the best answer.” “The truth” implies permanence, a notion that can be dangerous to “learning” and, as described in the previous section, can promote arrogance, which is disastrous for Radical Candor.

  • Radical Candor by Kim Scott

    One of the reasons that people find debate stressful or annoying is that often half the room expects a decision at the end of the meeting and the other half wants to keep arguing in a follow-up meeting. One way to avoid this tension is to separate debate meetings and decision meetings. Another way to ease the anxiety of the people who want to know when the decision will get made is to have a “decide by” date next to each item being debated.

  • Radical Candor by Kim Scott

    Then I attended a class and heard the questions: “OK, you guys, who knows what four plus one is?” No wonder the girls weren’t raising their hands! Children are literal, and girls are not guys. I told Dick that story, and confessed that I’m literal too and felt annoyed whenever somebody addresses a mixed group as “guys,” or “you guys.” Most people look crossways at me when I launch into my “you guys” diatribe, but Dick smacked his forehead. “Of course! There’s nothing worse than being invisible. I can’t believe I never thought of that! There’s no worse way to make a group of people feel excluded than to use language that pretends they are simply not in the room.

  • Radical Candor by Kim Scott

    At some point, a team at Google decided that it would be good hygiene to have regular management fix-it weeks. (Later, another team did a similar thing but called it “bureaucracy busters.”) Here’s how it worked: a system was created where people could log annoying management issues. …

    The management bug tracking system was public, so people could vote to set priorities. Somebody was assigned the job of reading through them all and grouping duplicates. Then, during management fix-it week, managers would have bugs assigned to them. They’d cancel all regularly schedule activities (or most of them) and focus on fixing the management issues that were most annoying to the organization.

  • Radical Candor by Kim Scott

    Giving guidance as quickly and as informally as possible is an essential part of Radical Candor, but it takes discipline—both because of our natural inclination to delay/avoid confrontation and because our days are busy enough as it is.

  • “That’s not our code” by Norberto Herz

    We could re-think this by considering ownership as an organizational concept, but not necessarily an operational one. … We should be more strict when working on something planned (like our roadmap) and more flexible for unplanned situations (like emerging bugs).

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