A collection of inspiring resources related to engineering management and tech leadership
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README.md

Table of Contents

Books

More than any other field, management is full of fluffy books that could be summarized in one 100-word article. That being said, there's a number of excellent books, listed below.

Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders

Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders 📖 is hands down my preferred management book.

This book made me truly understand what empowering local decision means. In particular, I liked how the author explains that the usual chain of command requires information to go up the chain, and decision to go down, which is insanely inefficient.

It provides great tools for managers to help their team members come up with their own decisions, in particular the notion of deliberate action. There's a also a presentation that talks about the main concepts the author developed.

There are numerous cheesy management books and this is not one of them. The narration is great as well and the explanations are short, and to the point.

You can find a short summary in video here.

Other books

There are some other more specific books quoted below.

Book reading lists

What is engineering management?

Here are some generic resources:

General management resources

Tal Bereznitskey's awesome definition for managing engineers:

Hire motivated people. Trust them. Set high standards for everything. Lead by example. Get out of their way and let them be the heroes of the day. That’s it.

Articles

Engineering Management Resources

This is a list of inspiring articles related to engineering management. Those are usually short and concise articles that are packed with inspiring and concrete ideas. They have shaped my own management practice, and I hope they will inspire you as well.

I don't necessarily agree with everything listed here. Actually, you'll see that some of those articles have diametrically opposed opinions. I do believe those thought-provoking resources will help you in your manager journey.

1-1

Antipatterns

Biases

Cognitive biases don't only apply to hiring... They can impact performance reviews, 1-1, team meetings, even small talk with colleagues.

Career growth and job ladder

Code reviews

Communication

Conflict resolution

Decisions

Delegation

Diversity and inclusion

Emotional Quotient (EQ)

Employee handbook

Escalations

First-time manager

Feedback and performance

Hiring

Hiring: diversity and bias

Feel free to also checkout the general diversity section.

Hiring: interviews

Hiring: questions

Hiring: process

Hiring: sourcing

Incident prevention and response (on-call, outages)

Learning, retro, postmortem

Quotes:

  • "Excellence is achieved by the mastery of fundamentals", Vince Lombardi, considered to be one of the best coaches in NFL history.

Management style

Quote:

  • "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.", Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.", Peter Drucker

Meetings

Mentoring

Mindset and attitude

Motivation

Quotes:

  • "The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now", Chinese proverb.
  • "A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are made for.", John A Shedd.

Onboarding new team members

Personal productivity

In terms of software, I can't recommend Things enough (Mac and iOS only). It is a delightful piece of software that gets out of the way and lets you focus on your tasks.

Planning (reviews, OKR, etc.)

A goal without a plan is just a wish. -- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Presentations, design and public speaking

Some great examples of presentations:

Processes for engineering

Programming languages

Product management

Project management

Remote teams

Team vision

"Starting with the why" is one of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People's best chapters.

Technical strategy

  • Joel Spolsky, Things You Should Never Do, Part I: Joel explains why (according to him) you should never rewrite a codebase.
  • Choose Boring Technology, Dan McKinley (Slideshare presentation).
  • Stevey's Google Platforms Rant: how Amazon became a platform.
  • Letter to Shareholders, Jeff Bezos: “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.” So much is packed in this letter. Day 1 is about true customer obsession, resisting proxies, embracing external trends, high-velocity decision making.

Team culture

Those are considered classics:

culturecodes is a repository of culture deck from companies (including the ones above).

Scaling an organization

Strategy

Shameless plug here, two presentations I contributed to:

  • Amazon: the hidden empire
  • Apple: 8 easy steps to beat Microsoft
  • Michael Porter's generic strategies (Wikipedia)
  • Steve Jobs explaining why you should start from the customers, and go backward (video 🎞). He makes the point that stopping the OpenDoc project was the right thing to do because it was a technology without any customer.
  • Can Do Vs Must Do , AVC. "Doing a startup is like playing a video game. Each level requires you to master one thing and once you do that, you level up and then there is a new thing to master."
  • "Waterline principle" from Bill Gore: "Think of being on a ship, and imagine that any decision gone bad will blow a hole in the side of the ship. If you blow a hole above the waterline (where the ship won’t take on water and possibly sink), you can patch the hole, learn from the experience, and sail on. But if you blow a hole below the waterline, you can find yourself facing gushers of water pouring in, pulling you toward the ocean floor. And if it’s a big enough hole, you might go down really fast, just like some of the financial firm catastrophes of 2008. To be clear, great enterprises do make big bets, but they avoid big bets that could blow holes below the waterline.", How We Might Fall.

Work ethics & work/life balance

Writing

Movies

TV Shows

Netflix's Chef's table profiles a couple world-renown chef. The kitchen world bears a lot of similarities with management. In the season two, I especially recommend episode 1 and 3:

  • Alex Atala's story shows that you need to constantly reinvent and disrupt yourself.
  • Dominique Crenn explains how she was given ownership over her work in her first kitchen experience (where she was basically given just a dish name, a list of ingredients, and was expected to invent the recipe with no kitchen training). She replicated that in her own kitchen.

Keeping up-to-date: blogs and newsletters

Here are some blogs and newsletter I follow.

Newsletter

Blogs

  • Hacker News: mandatory if you want to stay abreast of what's going in tech. There are some good management articles from time to time as well. Since it can be a pretty huge time sink, I subscribe to a curation of the top articles instead (RSS feed here).