Recommended Reading 3/7-17/7 2021

A weekly compendium of the best articles I read online (plus an update on books in progress). 

How to Have Difficult Conversations – Shared far and wide already. Excellent exploration of the difference between thoughtful discussions and, on the other end of the spectrum, social media and cable news, which tend to pretend to be places for thoughtful discourse but are, of course, simulacra of discourse created to show more ads. Also reminded me of this book I read earlier this year, Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985), about the effects of TV replacing print as the most important medium of civilization. 

Sharing our Engineering Career Framework with the world – Dropbox shared their internal engineering career framework (think of it like making your job profiles public). Mandatory reading for developers and their managers. Compared to older versions, for this review Dropbox focused on being ‘more explicit about the “what” (i.e. business impact made)’. There are more behaviors in there, for example, which is always better than abstract ‘responsibilities’. 

Did the pandemic really show we can be just as effective working from home? – The future of work is an ongoing discussion/investigation in the Impala Studios management team, as it probably is in your company. I’ve been reading a lot about the benefits of remote work; Green lists some reasons why remote can also be hurtful. Good to remember. Also still thinking about last week’s Protocol article about Dropbox treating the office as a meeting space: that only works if every one lives nearby enough to meet there, right? Am I missing something? 

Your Team Structures Ain’t Working. Let’s Apply Team Topologies – A concept like ‘the DevOps team’ reveals something inherently broken in classic thinking about organizing software development. How can DevOps be the responsibility of one team? Yet, at the same time: is it really efficient to make DevOps everyone’s business? This article goes into one approach for new ways of organizing software development teams with overlapping interests, taken from Skelton and Pais’ ‘Team Topologies’ book.  

How to find your writing “voice.” – Just as I’m getting back into writing more outside of work hours, this piece from Rachel Jepsen (The Long Conversation) floats into my timeline. Serendipity!

Books in progress: 

  • Neal Stephenson, Seveneves: Tip from a friend, was on my list for years, finally got around to it. More of a page turner than I expected, and more like The Martian than I care for. Was expecting something a bit more cerebral and poetic. But still good fun. 
  • Frans Wilms, Groeien in Leiderschap: homework for the Leading Others course I’m participating in. I tend to be very task-oriented, and Wilms makes clear how to change that behavior, and why you should.