10 actionable piece of advice to make your writing impactful that I learned from my 5 years at Amazon.

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Gutenberg’s mechanical press (invented in 1440) could print 3600 pages per day compared to 40 pages with handwriting (90 times more). The internet revolution reinforced writing and despite the growing usage of videos and photos, we still heavily rely on text to share knowledge (the English language Wikipedia gets 7.5 billion page views per month).

In a remote work environment, tools like Slack or Notion are now essential for employees. Slack messages increased by +25% between February and March 2020 (1)…

As a manager, if you struggle with the transition to full remote since the lockdown, you are not the only one, and this article will give you one tool to cope with the distance. A common fear is to lose touch with the team. The nagging question remains: How to know if everyone is still happy? When a member of my team quit in April 2020, I didn’t see it coming. I couldn’t understand how I missed it. Surprisingly enough, Sherlock Holmes gave me the solution…

Remote Policies will last

In March 2020, we all had to adapt quickly to local lockdowns imposed by…

A journey from javascript to C++.

Let’s start walking down the tunnel of micro-optimization — Photo by William Daigneault on Unsplash

I had to settle a performance discussion within my team. Because of a simple PR, I started a 2 weeks journey in the dark twists and turns of javascript. To save you a lot of pain and frustrating questions, I sum up my research in this really long post. I tried my best to show you the train of thoughts but if you don’t care about the details, you can jump to the end for the TL;DR section.

Call to Adventure

Everything started with a simple Pull Request on Github. It’s a javascript file, I let you read:

If you are not sure what a Doorknob phenomenon is, you probably want to keep reading. Either you’ve seen it before and didn’t act properly, or worse you just missed it.

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“Doctor, I forgot to tell you”

In Clinical practices, this phenomenon occurs when patients wait until the last moment — usually when the physician is grasping the doorknob walking out of the examination room — to provide crucial information about their condition.

“Sorry, I forgot to tell you, but I got a weird chest pain a couple of times last week”.

This can be explained in 3 words: Patients are scared! Physicians tight schedules can…

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Have you ever been in a meeting to add a feature to the product, and the meeting evolves into an endless debate in front of a 20 feet wide diagram of the architecture with arrows pointing in all directions?

If you’ve never seen that, don’t worry it will come. That’s not even the most frustrating part of the process. It will become infuriating when you start implementing the feature and you realise you made a false assumption.

At Spendesk we explain this behaviour by our operating principle “Don’t compromise over quality”. I like working with engineers who push for the…

Last month, I was watching a famous culinary show, where contestants have to cook a dish given a limited set of ingredients. I was wondering how they could be so creative? How did they get the idea to try such unexpected combinations? Then Paris was placed in lockdown to fight COVID-19 pandemic and I had to cook with only what I had in my kitchen. The first day was pretty easy but 2 weeks later, I realised something: Constraints made me creative.

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Cooking aside, a lot of businesses had to deal with a really difficult constraint last week. The French…

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For my first week at Amazon, my manager sent me to pick boxes in a warehouse. I travelled to the countryside early in the morning and started my shift like every other warehouse worker, but I was a software engineer.

My team was developing the software running the warehouse and optimising the storage space. At the end of the week, my manager asked me: - “Who are our customers?” - “The client who gets their delivery” I replied without any hesitation. - “Unfortunately you are confusing our end-users and our customers. Our end-users actually don’t care how we store stuff…

A Norman door is a poorly designed door that confuses or fails to give you an idea of whether to push or pull. It was named after Don Norman, author of The Design of Everyday Things. His book lists best practices to design everyday tools from TV remotes to stoves. In our team, we commit and deploy multiple times a day, so our Continuous Integration Tool is an Everyday Thing. After reading this book, I realised that our CI tool was frustrating and confusing, like a Norman door. Here is the lesson learned and how we fixed our process.

Why do we use Doors?


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First I have to acknowledge that I am not a huge fan of scrum. I tried with 5 different managers, 3 different teams, 10 different projects and I have a simple assessment. It never worked for us.

There are many reasons why it didn’t work and I will detail each of them. But I want to mention the first symptoms of an endemic discomfort: Frustration.

Three Frustration stages

Before Sprint Frustration: Every single planning we realize that at least 50% of the tasks don’t have a proper description or acceptance criteria. So we argue for hours to define the correct behaviour because the…

Night on-call shift.

It’s 2:07 am, I am sleeping when the loud alarm noise of my pager rings in the room. I wake up in seconds, my eyes are dry, and my back is sore. I take a look at my phone. The screen is blinking with an error message, “Database: CPU is reaching 80%, higher than the 70% threshold.” Looks bad. Something is probably hammering our database. What I didn’t know yet, is that it will go worse and my night will be short…

I worked for two types of companies. The first one had dedicated sys-admin in charge of deploying in…

Raphael Moutard

Engineering Manager @Spendesk Former @Amazon — Passionate about tech and Theater.

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