Herding Lions

👋 Hi! I'm Ben.

I make software in Durham, North Carolina. This is my site where I write about engineering leadership and productive product teams. If you're interested seeing more, feel free to subscribe. First time on the site? Start here.


A Simple Path To Building Trust 2024-06-25

Setting Expectations: 4 key areas for performance management 2023-02-12

3 Pillars For Effective Work 2023-01-13

2022 Books 2023-01-03

Blog Updates: New name, new platform 2022-12-17

Mental Models For Managing Change 2022-01-24

More Thoughts On Time 2022-01-10

How I Think About Time 2021-12-13

Values Are How You Scale Culture 2021-11-29

Strategies For Building Team Resilience 2021-11-14


The intended takeaway from all this is exactly where we started in the introduction: creating quality is context specific. Be wary of following the playbook you’ve seen before, even if those playbook were tremendously successful. They might work extremely well, but they often don’t unless you have a useful model for reasoning about why they worked in the former environment.

Loved the thoughts on quality here from Will Larson: lethain.com/quality/

Over a year old, but new to me – I thought this series of posts was a great roundup of some of the issues that make tech a less happy place to work than in the previous decade: Software and its Discontents

Very helpful writeup on LLMs in production: What We’ve Learned From A Year of Building with LLMs

Reality Has A Surprising Amount Of Detail

This is an old piece, but new to me. What a great turn of phrase, and accurate insight about doing hard things.

Diving back into (Neo)Vim this week for the first time in a few years (have done my core work with VS Code for a while).

Telescope Plugin + Language Server Providers are nice additions to the landscape, and it all feels so powerful, but everything is still so fiddly to setup :/

Really enjoyed these reflections on LLMs: medium.learningbyshipping.com

AI, ChatGPT, and Bing…Oh My

Basically from a “quality triangle” perspective – execs can control costs or time, but holding the line on a minimum quality bar is essentially a core piece of my job, and nobody wins when you try to promise impossible combinations of scope/quality/dates.

In an ideal world, org leaders define goals and teams figure out what to do. But top down asks happen. How I decide whether to push back on top down asks as an EM:

  1. It’s fine to be asked for a date or a scope (not both)
  2. Never ship something likely to cause an incident

The idea that things become hits mostly due to a small number of large audiences rather than point to point viral sharing seems intuitively correct to me: www.lennysnewsletter.com/p/viralit…

Or at least the large audiences “seed” the viral behavior

As employees return from holiday break, [Shopify] said it’s conducting a “calendar purge,” removing all recurring meetings with more than two people “in perpetuity,” while reupping a rule that no meetings at all can be held on Wednesdays. Big meetings of more than 50 people will get shoehorned into a six-hour window on Thursdays, with a limit of one a week.

This is fascinating to me. I get the desire to remove bloated meetings, but there are recurring meetings that I find genuinely valuable to have sync (project standups / staff meetings). Curious if this ends up being a long term policy for Shopify or more of a culture reset.