#14 - Link Roundup, 1 May 2020
1:1 questions for underperforming team members; Incident response
The newsletters have been getting kind of long lately, which makes them unwieldy to read. In this issue I’ll keep things much shorter (fewer items, and fewer words per most item).
Let me know (just hit reply) if there’s other approaches you’d like - like being able to subscribe just to certain sections of the newsletters, and/or having smaller more frequent issues.
And as always, please do give feedback on anything that you like or don’t like about the newsletter. The only way I know if links were popular or uninteresting were if people email me back to let me know. So do let me know!
With that, let’s get straight to the roundup…
14 questions to ask an underperforming employee during a one-on-one meeting - Clair Lew, Know Your Team
Good question types to get to the root of why an employee isn’t performing well on some kinds of tasks. They come in two categories:
Looking inward, to find: “How have I been letting this person down? How have I been getting in the way?”
Looking outward, to find: “What on the employee’s end is limiting them? What choices or capabilities of their own are keeping them from the results you want to see?”
Manager’s Playbook - Kamil Sindi
One tech manager’s distillation of a lot of resources into a short simple cheat sheet. One-on-ones, coaching, specific frequent feedback, strategy, hiring, etc.
How to create an incident response playbook - Blake Thorne, Atlassian
This is a really good starting point for putting together an incident response playbook, and includes links to Atlassian’s own playbooks and a workshop on incident communication.
This article is about software and systems, but any time something’s gone wrong, going through an incident response process is a good and useful process.
No playbook will tell you all the answers to an unfolding incident, and playbooks will often have to be updated in light of what you learned from a past incident. But having some pre-agreed-upon clarity on how to make certain decisions at the start frees you to focus the harried decision making on the things that are actually particular to the incident you’re responding to. This is a good way of getting started.
Nature is launching Nature Computational Science in January 2021. I think Computational Science has changed a lot since the last round of computational science journals started; I hold out some hope that this will be bigger picture than the various J. Comp. [Discipline] algorithmic journals. They’re looking for an Associate Editor, Computational Biology.
Thinking about technical decisions as choosing what problem to have can be a useful frame.
The Spotify Model of technical teams was never really a thing at scale, and to the extent that it was, it sounds like it was a bog-standard matrixed teams approach.
Springer has a list of 407 books which are free to download during the COVID-19 outbreak. Of interest: a number of programming texts (Python, C++, data science, verilog/VHDL), math (linear algebra, PDEs), stats, bioinformatics, digital humanities.
Writing good meeting notes is 100% a “deep work” task, and one you can get better at with practice.
A comprehensive list of embedded data engines (e.g., sqlite and friends).
How to declutter your digital life. I’d normally think there’s no way I’d ever get around to this, but so far in this pandemic I’ve even cleaned out and organized my “maybe I’ll need it someday” cable box, so who knows.