Get my email lessons on how you can build a tech team you can depend on.

A learning from today’s simulation

I’m leading a Technology Leadership workshop in San Jose at Velocity Conference this week.  Thanks to the Experiential Learning Bundle by Jerry Weinberg (and his generosity to walk me through them), I’m pleased to report the first day went very well. We did a wonderful simulation from the Invention book called the “Tinkering with Toys” which…

Read More

“How do I get sales to quit making bad deals?”

Casey asked this question today: “I find that taking on these clients makes it more stressful for everyone in the long run, but sales will take them on anyway…for the sale. I’d like to think to curate our clientele intentionally would weed out the bad seeds, but what about the business? How do I convince…

Read More

Do you bite or hide?

Does this sound familiar? <start> January: “, I’m super excited to hire your team to build this.  Let’s do it!  When do we start?” February: “Hey, I’m too busy to meet this week.  Just email over what you have, and I’ll let you know how it looks.” March: “Hi, about that last the invoice…  Yeah, sorry, I’ve…

Read More

Task or Relationship focused?

Quick trick question: Which is more important when running your team: being task focused or relationship focused? Of course, you know they both matter. As a technical leader, you can’t afford to neglect either one. But I sometimes didn’t balance very well, because I was better at one than the other. For example, I’m a…

Read More

Decision delegation done wrong

Kendall wrote in with this question and was kind enough to allow me to share the answer with y’all. Hey Marcus, I’ve experienced that sort of thing where my boss delegates a decision back to me, but then I’m not afforded the time-capacity needed to learn more. The client wants an answer now, and if…

Read More

Hokey Pokey-er to Ballroom Dancer

  Brad emailed me, ”Marcus, you bastard, tell me what you did! :)” Okay, okay.  Here’s what I did. I learned to delegate decisions to my team. And that simple change made all the difference. See, my team had become too dependent on my presence and had stopped thinking for themselves.  That made me feel…

Read More

Are you doing the hokey pokey?

“You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out.  You put your right foot in, and you shake it all about.” That dance reminds me of the average day of a Technical Lead.  I was constantly jumping between everything that needs to get done right-the-hell-now, like… Code reviews. Coding. One-on-ones. Planning meetings. Interviews.…

Read More

Why I don't talk about the technical bits

Eric asked me, “Marcus, why don’t you write about technical topics?  I understand that management and leadership are important but don’t we still have technical problems to solve?” Thanks for asking, Eric!  Of course you still have technical problems to solve.  Architecture problems. Scaling problems. Stability problems. Run-time performance problems. You’ve got an overloaded plate…

Read More

The blinding anticipation

It’s going to happen today. Scott, or Jim, or Mindy, or Jessica, or someone at your office is going to want to have that discussion again. You know, the same conversation you had yesterday. Or the same complaints. Or the same unrealistic ideas. Or the same goofy suggestion about something. At that moment, you’ll wilt…

Read More

DX that really matters

Have you heard of Developer Experience (DX)? Companies like Heroku and Microsoft design their tools, platforms, and APIs for a positive developer experience. They realize that good DX is a competitive advantage because developers have a broad range of choices about the software they use. I applaud this kind of DX, but I don’t think…

Read More

Buck the trend

Have you noticed that on-line learning courses have exploded in the past five years?  From colleges teaching courses on EdX or Coursera, to individuals learning on Udemy or Pluralsite.  Our ability to learn just about anything at our pace, using whatever format we want, is greater than ever. People close to me have asked, “Marcus, why don’t you…

Read More

When in doubt, 👍 🙌 😂 😊 😳 it out.

If you manage a remote team, you need to use emojis. You probably should use them more than you think. Why? Because almost everything you write can be taken multiple ways. And when you have a remote team, you’re probably writing more than you’re speaking. Let me illustrate: Imagine you’re working along when your boss…

Read More

Crank up their enthusiasm to 11

Josh told me:”I love working on fun side projects. Sooooo much better than client projects. Like the ping-pong scoring app I built, everyone loves it! I wish I could just work on that stuff.” Generally, when I hear this kind of thing, I think, “Cool, this person is motivated by certain kinds of projects. I…

Read More

I dare you to be curious

Leadership doesn’t always happen in front of everyone, in speeches or big events.  Leadership also happens during short, intimate hallway moments when you connect with one of your developers. It could be as simple as turning “How’s it going?” from a time-filling statement into a real question that you’re intently curious about.  A question that causes…

Read More

I just watch them move a pile of lumber

As you might know, I’m building a house.  Well, my general contractor is building it for me.  He’s got a great crew, so I decided to ask him how he interviews. I asked him, “What do you look for to predict success at this job?” He replied, “When someone comes for the interview we chat…

Read More

Pin It on Pinterest