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Level Up - Issue #88


Level Up

April 18 · Issue #88 · 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.

Beyond the Binary
I was taking part in a podcast this week (I’ll share it when it’s available) and one of the questions was “What’s the most challenging thing for first-time technical leaders?” I think there are many. But one habit that is particular hard for software engineers to break is going “Beyond the Binary”.
A lot of software engineers are trained to think in binary. A system is working or not working. A feature is done or not done. A test is green or red. A decision is right or wrong. Monoliths or Microservices. When these engineers transition into a leadership role they apply this mindset and struggle with the uncertainty of leading. There are rarely black or white cases and leaders need to decide what to do with imperfect and changing information. Just like Fred Brooks once wrote, there is still No Silver Bullet, and leaders need to be comfortable with seeking more than two options or looking for the “right” approach.
One of the concepts we cover in Shortcut to Tech Leadership is learning to spot strengths. One strength is not absolutely better or worse than another strength. Rather, one strength may be more useful in a certain context. This requires situational awareness of your current (or near-term future) context to understand what strengths may be more useful (or a hindrance).
Go beyond the binary by accepting there is “No Silver Bullet.” Identify your options (ideally more than two), look at the trade-offs between them and seek to understand the trade-offs you need.
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

It's rare to see true examples of black and white when leading
It's rare to see true examples of black and white when leading
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A great thread for every engineering leader 👇 Click the link to expand
Agile Otter Tim
It's easy to focus on individual contributor productivity, but it's NOT the way to speed up.

The speed of delivery for software teams is dominated by
* the number of loops/returns in the human process,
* the waits in the human process, and
* the speed of the test suite.
kamilah taylor
this is what happens when you leave engineers in charge of writing error messages
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