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Level Up - Issue #82


Level Up

March 7 · Issue #82 · 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.

Cautiously using metrics and numbers
This week, Level Up reached more than 6,000 subscribers 🎉. What started out as a small project in summer 2019 seems to have stuck and I want to thank you for being a part of it. While it’s an indicator that this newsletter stays relevant, I know from experience, we should be cautious about numbers.
Well-known management guru, Peter Drucker once wrote, “What gets measured gets managed.” The counterpoint to this is “Not Everything That Counts Can Be Counted.” How do you resolve this? As a reductionist or absolutist, you can’t. As a Systems Thinker, both are equally true (in different contexts).
Leaders and managers need numbers and metrics. Numbers and metrics give us indicators about qualities we care for, or indicate progress on reaching a goal. They should never be used as a substitute. As an example, the number of subscribers here doesn’t reflect how many subscribers read the newsletter, nor how many take action based on the content. If I wanted to boost it, there are countless ways to game that system (just like you can buy followers on any social media network).
In order to use numbers and metrics effectively, leaders and managers need to answer the tough question, “What do you care about?” For some of you, the most important thing right now might be employee retention and engagement, while for others, it may be improving the quality of your development process. For yet another group, it might be improving the autonomy of teams. Making this call is one of the reasons why leadership is difficult. Avoid managing organisations, teams and people by numbers alone. Numbers should never be a goal on their own.
Enjoy this week’s edition. If you find Level Up useful, please forward to someone you think would benefit. Stay safe and healthy 🙏
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

Avoid managing by numbers alone
Avoid managing by numbers alone
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Tweets of the Week
I like how this has been phrased 🤗
Alvaro Lara
Something I need to hear when I became a manager: There are hard things that never get easier, you just learn how to manage through them better.
Why we should all be cautious about ML 😂
Brendan Dolan-Gavitt
The latest generation of adversarial image attacks is, uh, somewhat simpler to carry out
Macbook Miller
There's "technical debt", and then there are decisions you make the morning of the release date that can only be described as 9000% APR technical payday loans
Thanks for making it this far! 🤗
If you enjoyed this newsletter, please send me feedback and share 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 including “Time Management for Technical Leaders” and “Fundamentals of Systems Thinking”.
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Patrick Kua, Postfach 58 04 40, 10314, Berlin, Germany