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Level Up - Issue #116


Level Up

October 31 · Issue #116 · 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.

What could possibly go wrong?
In last week’s newsletter, I challenged you to identify your top priority for you and your team to complete by the end of the year. It’s great to have a clear priority, but identifying and communicating your top priority is only the first step to success. If you really want to achieve your goal, it’s useful to step back and ask the question, “What could possibly go wrong?” To do this, you need to invest a bit of time now to think about the future. Imagine what events or issues might arise and plan actions to reduce these risks and increase the chance of reaching your goal. This question is also useful when estimating or planning in general.
One simple approach that you can use as a whole team is to run a futurespective. This will feel familiar if your team already runs regular retrospectives. Here are a few steps to run a successful futurespective:
  1. Visualise the timeline and state the goal you want to achieve
  2. Ask everyone to imagine themselves at the end, having successfully reached the goal
  3. Brainstorm the events (good and bad) along the timeline using sticky notes
  4. Brainstorm actions you took to amplify the good events and actions you took to overcome the bad events
  5. Prioritise the list of actions
An activity like this requires only a small amount of time, yet offers so much value. A key to successful futurespectives is the same as successful retrospectives: You have to follow up on action items!
Your challenge this week is to reflect on the question, “What could possibly go wrong?” and “What can you do about it now?” You might even try running a futurespective, or schedule one in the near future. The earlier you think about risk, the more you can do to manage risk and increase your chance of reaching your goal 🚀🎉. Who wouldn’t want that?
Enjoy this week’s newsletter and be sure to pass it on to a friend or colleague.
Want to level up your technical leadership skills? Sign up for the online workshop, “Shortcut to Tech Leadership” or take a self-paced course at the

Strong leaders make time to manage risk if they want to reach success
Strong leaders make time to manage risk if they want to reach success
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Tweets of the Week
If you’re an individual contributor, remember that your manager can’t read minds. Help them out with this great piece of advice 👇
Emily Stark
my #1 most-dispensed piece of career advice:
if you trust your manager, tell 👏 them 👏 your 👏 goals

it can feel awkward to say "I want to get promoted", "I want to earn more money", or "I want to lead a project", but it works. and it'll feel less awkward the more you do it.
A great book to watch out for if you’re a technical person looking to grow your leadership skills and/impact without taking on managerial responsibilities 👇
Tanya Reilly
Hey, so, I've been a bit shy about announcing this, but I'm writing a book!

It's called the Staff Engineer's Path. It is, not surprisingly, about Staff Engineering! I'm really excited about it 🤩

Want to read some? The intro and first chapter are here:
Thanks for making it this far! 🤗
If you enjoyed this newsletter, please send me feedback and share it with others!
Want to level up your technical leadership skills? Watch out for future dates for the Shortcut to Tech Leadership online workshop, or check out self-paced courses at the Tech Lead Academy.
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Patrick Kua, Postfach 58 04 40, 10314, Berlin, Germany