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Level Up - Issue #104


Level Up

August 8 · Issue #104 · View online

Level Up delivers a curated newsletter for leaders in tech. A project by Ideal for busy people such as Tech Leads, Engineering Managers, VPs of Engineering, CTOs and more.

When to carve out roles
I had an interesting conversation with a leader in a scale-up this week and we were exploring when is a good time to carve out an explicit role. Their team included people with a mix of experience (from 6 months-10 years) who shared a lot of responsibilities. This leader also recognised a number of responsibilities were starting to slip through on a regular basis and was considering introducing a named role to focus on those that were often neglected.
There are many upsides to naming a specific role and its responsibilities such as defining shared expectations about what the role should focus on and who is currently playing the role. Outlining responsibilities turns implicit expectations into more explicit expectations. Highlighting who (or which people) takes on the role avoids the case where everyone assumes “someone else will take care of X” which leads to “no one taking care of X.” Identifying that a person is playing a certain role (and not others) might also give them more explicit time to focus on doing the responsibilities well instead of part-time and part-well.
On the flipside, defining a role might increase your lottery factor, encourage less shared ownership (i.e. “that’s not my job”) and potentially increase knowledge silos or hands-offs if poorly handled.
I’ve found that as the complexity of task or organisation size grows, it often becomes more useful to carve out roles but all leaders need to watch out for the downsides. A lot of the success comes from how you introduce your roles. Just like decisions where you want buy-in and commitment, make sure you involve people so they understand why these new roles exist and help them understand how they might be affected.
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Carving out a role can help create clarity (but comes with some trade-offs)
Carving out a role can help create clarity (but comes with some trade-offs)
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Great food for thought 🤔
Paul Cantrell
@IanColdwater Few things in tech are as powerful as understanding what problem other people think/thought they’re solving
Reminds me of the William Gibson quote, “The future is already here, just not evenly distributed.” 15 years 😧
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Nice! 15 years since the paper @cread, @tastapod and I wrote introducing the concept of CI/CD pipelines 😉. Here’s the full paper we presented at Agile 2006 in Minneapolis!
Thanks for making it this far! 🤗
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Patrick Kua, Postfach 58 04 40, 10314, Berlin, Germany