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Level Up - Issue #87


Level Up

April 11 · Issue #87 · 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.

Coalmine canaries
A few decades ago, people used canaries in coalmines to detect dangerous gases like carbon monoxide or methane. While coalmine canaries are, thankfully, no longer used in mining, today’s organisations still have an equivalent — often going by names like Internal Audit, Security or Testing teams. Unfortunately most modern coalmine canaries are set up for failure because the system fails to respond to feedback.
Let’s look at an example. Internal audits typically examine a team, looking at their documented process and providing feedback on what is missing from their process (e.g. as required by regulation or policy), or what is not being done according to the documented process. At the end, they hand over a large report to a manager and demand all issues are fixed. One of two things happen - 1) the team agrees to make all fixes (rare), or 2) the team agrees to a plan to address the issues in a priority order (more common). If the team is overloaded, they typically address a handful of issues before the next audit. The next time the Internal Audit team returns, they not only find more issues, but often many issues unaddressed. Their only option? Shout louder!
Modern day coalmine canaries are set up for failure because they have no power to change the system. Testers provide a great example of this. Having more testers doesn’t improve quality because you can’t “test” quality in. Quality (or the lack of) has already been built. Testing gives us the ability to probe, but does not generate quality. Unless people further up in the valuestream (e.g. product, managers, designers, developers) care about the information, testers have no other choice but to shout or moan louder about poor quality.
What modern day coalmine canaries do you see in your company?
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What coalmine canaries do you see?
What coalmine canaries do you see?
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50 Years of Pascal
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Organisation & Processes
Adding is favoured over subtracting in problem solving
Hand signals improve video meeting success
Everyone Is Still Terrible At Creating Software At Scale
Tweets of the Week
A great thread worth reading 👇 (click the tweet to expand)
Irene Yu
I've worked with a lot of product managers throughout my career. Most of them tell me they're taking a coding class to become more technical, but that's actually the least effective way to become more technical.

Here's why:
Thanks for making it this far! 🤗
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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