Weeknotes: Archaeologising — 12th June 2022

During the week I was lucky enough to go to both LeadDev & LeadingEng conferences. Huge thank-you to Euan & Anna respectively for the tickets - I otherwise wouldn't have gone, which would have been a huge mistake.

  • LeadDev’s name is definitely unintuitive: I’d recommend it to all mid & senior level engineers as a flavour of what sorts of things tech-leads & engineering-managers are doing, as well as a guide on how to progress to either. It’s also pointer to the wealth of excellent resources that now exist.
  • I last went to LeadDev in 2016 and at the time, as a recently-minted tech-lead, I found the content super-stretchy & valuable. Several years later, some of the talks feel less relevant but I cannot understate how excellent & helpful it still was.
  • LeadingEng on Friday was exactly the progression it promised to be. Sitting at a table of directors & CTOs, there were a few moments where I felt (pleasantly) out of my depth. I’m definitely writing up some of the things I learned - consider this note public accountability!

At work I’m working on technically enabling different types of product development to occur simultaneously around the same audience & family of products.

  • In product teams, our main priority is building & supporting the right things for our customers. So the primary challenge is in ensuring that our priorities don’t conflict: Last year I optimised for autonomy, by guiding my team to build independent products. That got us somewhere.
  • However that results in an incoherent experience & lots of duplication - So, now I’m doing research to explore if there is another way: Both technical-archeology around what already exists & re-reading material like Team Topologies. (It’s an excellent book & I highly recommend it)
  • Reflecting on earlier experiences - When there’s overlap & unclear ownership, as the primary gatekeepers, engineers end up performing tasks like stakeholder-management (and technical support) which is a conflict in priorities. Speaking to some of my peers, inner-sourcing has been suggested — but with engineers still acting as gatekeepers, it doesn't seem like an answer. If you’ve got views on this topic, I’d love to chat!

With all of that in-person interaction and I wanted to avoid making any major plans, so over the weekend I’ve been going through my todo list and fixing the odd issue on this site.

  • The feed’s links have been broken for quite some time, so today I fixed that. It may interfere with your feed reader and so if you’re seeing a bunch of new updates - sorry! That should be the last of the breaking changes.
  • Slight redesign of article pages (this one!), replacing some of the hackier bits: Hopefully things are a bit cleaner now.
  • The combination of (popular front-end library) React & (semi-popular static site generator) is genuinely super fiddly, and I spent far too long fixing its dependencies. Replacing that is still top-of-mind, expect to hear a bit more about that over the coming months!
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© Alex Wilson 2023