In developing business, most of my time is spent scheduling and attending meetings. The scheduling part can get time-consuming, so I’m always on the lookout for software tools to make this easier.

The Centre Pompidou in Paris. Photo by Curtis MacNewton on Unsplash

After much experimentation, I’ve landed on Calendly, which I’ve been using for the 12 months or so. The service creates a URL which you can share with prospective meeting attendees. It looks like this: https://calendly.com/cylinder

The link goes to a page which offers a few different meeting types. …


It’s hard to hire amazing colleagues. It’s especially difficult to find great engineers and designers. As we wrote before, you can either steal great developers, or you can farm them.

The combination of technical experience, quality communication skills, empathy, problem-solving, interest in mentoring/teaching, offbeat perspective, and professionalism is tough to locate already. It’s even worse trying to find the right mix of those skills (and others) which augment your team best.

As an experiment, we have rewritten an engineering job description in the format of “A Day in the Life”. I’m curious to hear what you think of the result.

Hypothesis


Recently, we partnered with Code for America to help simplify the process for people to sign up for government food assistance, also known as “food stamps” or SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program). It’s part of Code for America’s Integrated Benefits projects — an effort to create single portals for all government assistance.

It was one of the best projects we’ve worked on and we wanted to tell you about how we improved the project’s outcomes by focusing on dignity in the product design process.

Background

Code for America partnered with the amazing Detroit-based design firm Civilla to make the signup process…


We published a document outlining how we work with our clients, what that looks like in more detail, and most importantly, why we do any of this in the first place. We call it The Cylinder Way and we’d like to know what you think of it.

We shared this document a few months ago and have revised it many times since (we even used SemVer to version the progress). Many thanks are due to all of the wonderful people who provided feedback on drafts.

Like all projects including software, it’s unfinished and we expect it to continuously evolve as…


PREAMBLE: Please don’t call it “remote work”. It makes people who work outside of an office into an exception of the in-office norm. Consider saying “distributed work” or “work”. To learn more, see this excellent post from Chase Adams at Walmart Labs.

We at Cylinder help achieve business goals using human-centered design and software, which is super fun. We also have an entirely distributed team, which works well for us.

Recently, we had a client say something we hear all the time:

“We ’re having trouble hiring full-time expert developers in San Francisco.”

One hears this a lot in the…


One of our client projects needed help with developer operations and infrastructure. The client had grown large enough to need a dedicated Ops specialist on staff who specialized in knowing how to configure servers and the like. This was good news for us.

But this person was very busy, being the only ops person in a quickly growing organization, so they agreed to help under one condition:

“Hey I’m happy to help out and join your team, but I need you to tag my @ mentions as either [action required] or [FYI]. …


One of our client projects needed help with developer operations and infrastructure. The client had grown large enough to need a dedicated Ops specialist on staff who specialized in knowing how to configure servers and the like. This was good news for us.

But this person was very busy, being the only ops person in a quickly growing organization, so they agreed to help under one condition:

“Hey I’m happy to help out and join your team, but I need you to tag my @ mentions as either [action required] or [FYI]. …


Great software engineers are amazing problem solvers with code and can get a crazy amount done. That’s what they’re paid to do. But if you become very skilled at writing code, you often get promoted. Great news, right? Maybe.

The worst use of an engineering manager’s time is writing code. Be sure you know that before you accept a promotion.

The software industry still (mostly) promotes excellent developers into people-management roles because companies rarely develop advancement paths for non-people managers (AKA Individual Contributors or “people who are not managing other people”). So now you’re the boss, are you prepared to…


To grow software development teams, you can either steal excellent developers or you can develop them internally.

Everyone tries to steal but few invest in farming new developers. Those who do have lower salary and recruiting costs, better learning cultures, and improved diversity.

Here’s why you would set up an Apprenticeship program and how to do so.

If you want help setting up a program like this, email me!

photo courtesy of WOCinTech (wocintechchat.com)

Why Steal Them

  • It’s straightforward. You have a need for help, they have skills you probably need.
  • You can buy your way out of the problem.
  • It is how everyone has hired for as long as anyone can remember.
  • Short-term impact. Expert developers can get ramped…

Cylinder

We Grow Your Business with Human-Centered Design and Software

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