StartupCTO: Optimize your Learning Velocity
Here’s a podcast interview I did with the great guys over at StartupCTO.io.
Here are some of their favorite quotes:
- You hear a lot that “it’s all about the people,” but you don’t really get it until it kicks you in the shins.
- I think a lot about communication through a company in the context of dynamic systems and controls. You can have an input of information where someone’s unaligned or there’s some dissonance, and you’re not going to feel the full impact of that until it works it’s way through the organization.
- In the early days, I felt like I needed the “best” engineers. That came out as needing Stanford Grads. But what I realized very quickly was that they had very different expectations and needs. I couldn’t provide for them the right kinds of challenges because we were still hunting for product market fit.
- I’ve found that in hiring I should look for “potential” and not “pedigree”.
- We created a culture of really customer focused engineers. Engineers that would really own their parts of the product. They really care about it’s usability.
- Friction rises in communication when information doesn’t have a place to settle.
- Chat is a tool. I’m sold on it. It’s a tool that is necessary but not sufficient. You need the tool to be able to create the behavior you want, but you need a cultural change or a behavior/belief change to use the tool effectively.
- Chat allows us an always on meeting in its worst form. At best, it’s an asynchronous tool to keep everyone in sync.
- On chat, my top belief is “Get everything into public channels”
- The health of an engineering team is: How many issues are raised and resolved, and how fast is that iteration?
- Finding out how to have the right focus for a conversation in a chat channel is important.
- When I first started doing 1:1s, I totally didn’t want to do it. I’d make up excuses. Every 1:1, there were engineers who would complain and I just wanted to avoid that. But it turns out 1:1s are invaluable because you’ll always discover something important that you don’t know.
- If you’re having problems in your organization, a 1:1 is like taking a knife to that problem and sinking it a little deeper.
- When I first joined an organization with an existing engineering team, the first 1:1s were very much “clearing out the backlog” — Figuring out the existing problems.
- I have a passion for developing people’s potential.
- How do we measure someone’s learning velocity – how quickly they’re picking up new skills?
- The killer problem with distributed teams right now is white boarding. It’s just so hard to do remotely.
- Distributed teams are about trust. How do you get the information you need? How do you communicate outward & upward so that we have trust at all times? We need to know we’re all pushing in the same direction.
- Whats really incredible about software development is that the people who are building the applications have a lot more information about the problems they’re solving than you do. You really want most solutions coming from the bottom up.
- I like to focus on how I can expose business problems to the team.
- Zone of Proximal Development is the Goldilocks Zone for Learning — It isn’t too easy, it’s not too hard.
- Customer relationships and ownership of your work are really important for engineers.
- The height of collaboration is really direct feedback.
- The most generous thing you can do is give really good critical feedback.