Bad tech leads take the high-profile tasks for themselves and are motivated by being able to take credit for doing the work. They optimize locally, keeping team members working on projects that benefit the team at the expense of the engineering organization at large.

Good tech leads listen and encourage debate. When the team is unable to resolve a debate, they describe a process or framework of thinking that would help them resolve it. They don’t enter discussions with foregone conclusions, and always allow themselves to be persuaded by great ideas.

This works with one precondition – If it’s not going to be a one way presentation and you want to have constructive discussion, don’t make it obligatory, invite only those who wants to contribute. There are different ways to achieve that and approach must fit your company culture.

  • Set the stage of the meeting
    • Ask people to say several words. It can be names, how the feel or anything else. This simple trick involves people into a conversation. Or it can be just a simple question at the start of the meeting
    • When people don’t speak early in a meeting, they may not contribute later at all and may not buy into team’s insights and decisions
    • Set working agreements upfront
  • Gather data
    • Without common picture, individuals tend to verify their own opinions and believes.
    • “F word” – feelings. It’s not easy to talk about feelings for engineers, but questions can be put in different way, e.g. When were you excited/mad/sad?
  • Get insights
    • Ask why. Looks at causes and effects. Think together how to change/improve.
  • Decide what to do
    • Pick best action that brings most value with least effort
    • Avoid do nothing retrospectives
  • Close
    • Decide what and how to document and formulate next steps

p.s. this model proved itself working perfectly once again when we were setting up “POD framework”

This story i read somewhere actually surprised me a lot. But when you start analysing results you can see that it makes perfect sense.

The ceramics teacher announced that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”.

Well, grading time came and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity!

It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work — and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat around theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

Should we consider this when forming a team?

The size of social groups of people in pre-industrial societies, especially hunters/gatherers. They found several common sizes:

  1. An “inner circle” of about three to five very close friends or family members
  2. A “sympathy group” of 12 to 15 close friends who care about each other’s fate
  3. A “hunting group” of 30 to 50 colleagues who cooperate to accomplish a task
  4. A “clan” of 150 people who maintain stable interpersonal relationships
  5. A “tribe” of about 500 to 2,500 people who speak the same

If you are somehow involved into organisational design. This is worth reading for inspiration and knowledge –

Quote from the paper:

You might have heard of a new breed of organisational models, responding to the fast growing adaptability, engagement and collaboration needs within modern company structures. Or you might have simply experienced the sound problems of slowness, rigidity, bureaucracy, disengagement along with various kinds of waste and bottlenecks that “traditional” organisational models generate and suffer nowadays.

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