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daily-writing

If only I’d had more time

I was having dinner with some colleagues last night, and toward the end, one of them said to me, “I’ve noticed a theme when you describe your life. You seem to make time to think.” “That true, but it wasn’t always so,” I replied. “Most of my working life I only made time to do,…

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”Grown up” issues

I believe 99% of issues which get people fired were “no big deal” at one point. But then, the issues “grew up.” Pull the weeds while they’re small, and you’ll need weed killer less often. TL;DR When a manager sees something that concerns them, they may turn a blind eye, hoping the issue will resolve…

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What Jack (probably) thought about being fired

On Wednesday I mentioned that I’d fired Jack out-of-the-blue rather than put him on a PIP. He didn’t pick up on my “performance hints”, so he never really knew there was a problem. Or, at least, he didn’t know how serious the problem was. I didn’t use any formal warning processes (e.g. formal verbal, written…

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Use a PIP, or just fire them?

If you’ve been on my list for a while now, you know I want to help you become a better tech manager. One way I do this is by helping you see situations from new perspectives, often your team’s perspective. Because it’s easy to forget that there are other perspectives. So easy that I committed…

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My haunted closet

There is a tiny closet in the front room of the beach house where I’m staying this week, in Santa Cruz, CA. The closet has no light switch. Instead, the inside light is on a motion sensor. At 2 am, I got up for a drink of water and froze in my tracks. I could…

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”Nah” – Rosa Parks

I shuffle when I walk, which means I kinda drag my feet on the ground. This results in ’scuffing’ along, as my father put it. You can think of this shuffling as a system that’s balanced when my action (shuffling feet) is met with a particular reaction (dirt or gravel which give way) in a…

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Let’s play “name that bias”

My sister has twin 4-year old kids, a boy, and a girl. Both have autism and are on different points of the ASD spectrum. I was having lunch with them on Sunday, for Fathers Day, and I noticed something interesting. Our waitress happened to mention that her two-year-old son doesn’t like loud noise. My sister…

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Mental Model Machinations

Over the past two weeks, two ideas have been bouncing around in my brain. They have now smashed into each other, producing a couple of emails. Today’s email is about the first idea, which is from fourth-wave systems thinking. It’s the idea of “mental models,” which we all use, all the time. Here’s the idea:…

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It works, but you’re gonna look silly doing it

Friday I sent you a fun puzzle to consider. It was an encoded message that began: Toothy purse in respond civil force ending theme honey:   Some of you replied with the correct answer: To the person responsible for sending the money:   Not sure how to solve it? Iain wrote to me about his…

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Can you help me decipher this riddle?

A bit of #FridayFun for you, taking a break from the seriousness of life. My friend Nathanial sent me this today and challenged me to translate this text into comprehensible English. Would you give me a hand? Toothy purse in respond civil force ending theme honey: Eye wand Ed two purr son a leery late…

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Flipping training on its head

We’re continuing our discussion about how you can develop new engineering managers: the elements of your training program. (Part one: Everyone talks about it, but no one does it.) (Part two: Becoming a true believer.) There’s one topic which always comes up first when thinking of management training programs. “What should they learn?” This makes…

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The true religion of developing leaders

(Part 1: Everyone’s talking about it,  but no one’s doing it.) Most executives with feel in-house training for new Tech Leads and Engineering Managers is a great idea. But most aren’t doing it. Why? Today I’ll address six common reasons I hear, and the underlying beliefs which deserve refactoring. Six belief hurdles to training programs…

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Everyone’s talking about it, but no one’s doing it.

For the past five years, I’ve been helping engineering managers become better leaders, one at a time. Thus far, I’ve adopted mostly a B2C approach: I sell leadership development products and services to managers who want to improve their own work. But lately, I’ve been asking Directors, VP’s of Engineering, and CTO’s how their company…

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A tool for adjusting your mental models

One of the core ideas from the field of systems thinking is mind-bending in an Inception kind of way. It asserts that we see reality indirectly through our mental models. We don’t see reality – we perceive reality through our mental models. For example, take what I’m doing right now. I’m sitting in a chair…

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