Software Engineering at Google Chapter #6 - Leading at Scale (1 of 3)

  • This section is for managers of managers (Director level and above)
  • As you move up you go more broad than deep, moving out of technical details
  • Your effectiveness depends on the ability to marshall engineers in addition to your general technical knowledge (wide not deep)
  • As a manager of managers you are more strategy-oriented as opposed to solving specific engineering tasks
  • Most of the decisions you make will be about finding the correct set of tradeoffs
  • Tradeoffs also apply to human behaviors (not just technical)
  • As a leader you guide people towards solving difficult, ambiguous problems
  • Create a workable path through the forest and point your engineers towards the important trees
  • Find the blinders. People wearing blinders have made certain assumptions about the problem or solution or similar. Find the blinders, ask questions, consider fresh strategies.
  • There is no best choice or silver bullet only “best choice for the moment”
  • Call out tradeoffs, explain them to everyone, then balance and decide
  • Make a decision, then iterate. “Always be deciding”
  • "Managing up" is making sure your management chain understands how your group is connected to the company and what they are doing to help the company
  • Frame the iteration process as continual rebalancing of tradeoffs
  • Beware analysis paralysis, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good
  • Good (quality), fast (latency), cheap (capacity/compute) - pick two
  • It’s not your job to solve ambiguous problems, but to get them organization to solve them itself, without you
  • Don’t be the SPOF / bus factor of one
  • To create a “self driving team” there are three main parts: delegating subproblems, defining the problem space, and iterating when needed
  • When assigning work, consider an organizational structure that is looser, where teams are not static. You may not have to be constrained by organizational boundaries.
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