Unwritten Rule of Engineering #16: Whenever you are asked by your manager to do something, you are expected to do exactly that.
Whenever your supervisor sends you off to perform a specific task, you have two possible responses: (1) you do it exactly as requested, or (2) you come back and talk it over some more. (Take special note of this law, for it applies not only as regards your supervisor, but also to anyone with whom you have agreed on a task to be done or a course of action to be taken.) It is simply unacceptable either not to do it, or to do something different instead.
Of course, a good manager will define the boundaries of the task as loosely as possible to achieve the desired results. If your manager creates too many overly detailed constraints, perhaps you should work at New Relic instead.
Unwritten Rule of Engineering #14: Be as particular as you can in the selection of your supervisor.
Long before the days of universities and [the internet], master craftsmen absorbed their skills by apprenticing to master craftsmen. Likewise, you will do well to use those with more experience, especially a well-selected supervisor, as your … mentor.
And a little quote from rule #13:
As a rule, you can service all other ends to best advantage by assuming your supervisor is approximately the right person for that job.
Unwritten Rule of Engineering #12: One of the first things you owe your supervisor is to keep him or her informed of all significant developments.
Bear in mind that your manager is constantly called upon to account for, defend, and explain your activities to others, as well as to coordinate these activities into a larger plan. Compel yourself to provide all the information that is needed for these purposes. … No manager [likes] being surprised …
Unwritten Rule of Engineering #11: Every manager must know what goes on in his or her domain.
This principle is so elementary and fundamental as to be axiomatic. It follows very obviously that a manager cannot possibly manage a department successfully without knowing what’s going on in it. This applies as well to project managers with specific responsibilities but without direct subordinates as it does to department heads.
Unwritten Rule of Engineering #10: Be extremely careful of the accuracy of your statements.
This seems almost trite, and yet many engineers lose the confidence of their superiors and associates by habitually guessing when they do not know the answer to a direct question. … If you are not certain, indicate the exact degree of certainty or approximation upon which your answer is based. A reputation for dependability and reliability can be one of your most valuable assets.
Unwritten Rule of Engineering #9: Strive for conciseness and clarity in oral or written reports.
The trick is convey the maximum of significant information in the minimum time, a valuable asset to anyone. … Start at the beginning, with the most important fact, the one the audience must know before learning more. Often this is the conclusion itself. Progressively broaden the pyramid by constructing each sentence upon its predecessor.
One of my favorite sources on how to present more effectively is Presentation Zen; another is any book by Edward Tufte.
Unwritten Rule of Engineering #8: Don’t be timid — speak up — express yourself and promote your ideas.
Too many new employees seem to think that their job is simply to do what they are told. Of course there are times when it is wise and prudent to keep silent, but, as a rule, it pays to express your point of view whenever you can contribute something. … If you do not want the job, say nothing and you’ll be overlooked, but you’ll also be overlooked when it comes time to assign large responsibilities.
I’ve always had a difficult relationship with Uber: I love the service because the whole experience was so much more pleasant than that of a taxi. They had figured out a better solution to all the little things and the result was just wonderful.
But at the same time, it’s company run by a bunch of unethical, Ayn Rand-ian, bros. I want to support companies that are not just convenient for me, but are ethical as well, so Uber bothered me. But it was just so damned convenient that I suppressed my distaste.
Fortunately Uber has just gone so far over the line that I’ve come to my senses. I regret not doing so before, but at least I can hold my head up now and say “enough!”. Not sure what service I’ll use now, but it won’t be Uber.
Here’s an example of why merely showing an average, or even an average and a variance, is insufficient in the real world:
“Immutable Servers are a deployment model that mandates that no application updates, security patches, or configuration changes happen on production systems.“:
This is one of the fundamentals of my management philosophy: the team is more powerful than the individual:
While this article is about nuclear war, the same belief-in-the-absence occurs in software systems all the time:
As an example of the above, here’s a great story about a seemingly improbable bug that surfaced in Facebook’s systems:
A good article about how rewarding the wrong thing leads to bad behavior:
If I have learned anything from the Internet, it is this: be very, very careful when you put a number next to someone’s name. Because people will do whatever it takes to make that number go up.
Of course this applies to everyone, not just executives:
And, as a fun end to the list, here’s an article that includes the architect who designed the New Relic Portland office. And an excellent job he did: