Ian Nowland
Apr 12 · 2 min read

Thanks for the thoughtful questions.

  1. I have an old saying, “Don’t go into a meeting without knowing everyone is on board with your outcome”. The 6 page process does not change this. The “art” is trying to steelman your detractors arguments so well that there is nothing they can say that you haven’t in far better terms than they could. Beyond just understanding their opinions, it means meeting with them and showing you are making the best decision proposal in good faith. Beyond that though, you can’t expect to change culture overnight — an ex-Goldman Sachs manager once told me if someone would have tried the “silent reading” there, it would have been about 2 minutes before some Managing Director started criticizing. Even at Two Sigma with my manager’s (Camille Fournier) support, it took about a year of careful pushing before people accepted it.
  2. In the end even 6 pages of original thought is a lot of cognitive load to fully understand. So if you can’t state what is right in that, it’s likely that you won’t be able to convince anyone. And so beyond understanding and representing those who disagree, my main thought is the editing practice — which is I write about 10 mediocre pages to get a good 6 pages. What that editing process teaches you is (1) what are your least relevant arguments (i.e., the bulldozer lists) from the perspective of your stakeholders, and (2) where are you overly hedging your judgment with weasel words and just need to put your ego on the line and state your judgment and let it be judged.

    Ian Nowland

    Written by

    VP Eng Metrics and Alerts @ Datadog. Formerly SVP Compute Platform Eng @ Two Sigma, and creator of Nitro @ AWS EC2.