Nice blue sky

Refactoring People - Ability, Motivation and Prompt

Interesting how my main takeaway from Shopify’s write-up of a major refactoring - “Under Deconstruction” - is less about code and more about people.

As it is ultimately humans that produce code, refactoring a big code base is about changing code as much as it is about changing humans. Spotify used keynotes, guilds, handbooks and trainings to create “ability” and “motivation” to support the desired changes, only added “prompts” in the form of rules and tooling later afterwards. Without ability and motivation to act on them anybprompts are bound to fail ir worse followed superficially.

My second big take away is to understand (and ensure) value is created along the way and not only if and when a (maybe over idealistic) goal is reached. No product, no architecture, no code base will be perfect any day, but it can become better everyday.

Work Long and Prosper

Strip away the horribly misleading title and the accelerator grandezza and you get yourself some pretty solid advice for a successful and healthy career.

Werner Herzog on Life - and Work

Work (and life) is as boring as you make it.

1. Always take the initiative.

2. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.

3. Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey.

5. Learn to live with your mistakes.

9. Carry bolt cutters everywhere.

10. Thwart institutional cowardice.

14. Ignite the fire within and explore unknown territory.

15. Walk straight ahead, never detour.

16. Manoeuvre and mislead, but always deliver.

17. Don’t be fearful of rejection.

22. Guerrilla tactics are best.

23. Take revenge if need be.

24. Get used to the bear behind you.

Full list @

On Avoiding Stupidity

It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.

This truly struck a cord with me. You can try being brilliant, being excellent, being the best, and I guess this is not the worst aspiration for a team. But, in the end, success in completing projects and shipping products is less about being exceptional but being non-exceptional. Not about getting one thing perfectly right, but about getting many things not wrong. Success sometimes is less about winning and more about not loosing.

I Test On Prod

Inspiring piece. The better and more advanced you get at testing your code for all eventualities and scenarios, the easier it is to loose out of sight that you will never produce perfect software, there are just too many modes of failure. Hence “Testing in Prod” is not an artifact from times long gone, it is a reality and your org needs to be able to do it.

A system’s resilience is not defined by its lack of errors; it’s defined by its ability to survive many, many, many errors.

Reflecting On Succesful Leadership

Leading a succesful team requires clarity - a leader communicating the framework for the teams performance, the vision, goals, rules and key parameters so they are easy to grasp and presence - a leader engaging, emphatizing with and enabling his or her team during said performance. David Tates Clear and Present Leadership provides a great backdrop to reflect, learn and grow in this regard.

Pioneers vs Process People

Often overlooked while staffing: Most people excel in very specific situations, some prefer to make, some to maintain. But projects/products require different skillsets througout their lifecycle.

“[At the start] it needs builders, pioneers who come up with clever ideas and execute upon them fast. They improvise … are opinionated [and] make their own decisions.”

“[Later] it needs a lot of incremental improvements, nitty-gritty […] details […] and a developer team which […] only needs some fine-tuning.”

Really good example from Oliver Eidel.

The Super App: Pattern For Emerging Markets

Super apps may enjoy a distinct advantage in markets with the following characteristics: cost-conscious consumers with low but growing purchasing power, high relative costs of internet data, relatively recent adoption of smartphones, and ‘mobile-first’ leapfrogging of the PC era.

Interesting analysis into how and why, after first appearing in Chinas and India with WeChat and Gojek, the Super App pattern - with one app as an ecosystem, instead of an ecosystem of apps like in “the West” - seems to repeat in other emerging markets across Asia and Africa.

A Good Meeting

How long since you have been in a bad meeting? A week? A day? An hour? Unfortunately it is really, really easy to botch a meeting, to make it the worst part of any given day for a whole group of people. Fortunately it is also not that hard to make it a positive and productive experience.