Reading List: 13th February 2016

Ben Brown
Ben Brown
Feb 13, 2016 · 4 min read

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post and I’ve been busy reading as usual. This post contains my favourite tech article for non-techies of at least the last six months from ThoughtWorks on the Implications of Tech Stack Complexity for Executives. I also take a look at managing stress, anxiety and burnout in teams; why Renaissance Florence is a better model than Silicon Valley; how to hire great coders; being more humane in technology solutions; 10 killer interview questions from CEOs and how to organise growing agile teams for self-organisation.

As usual, if you have any thoughts please leave me a comment below.

Implications of Tech Stack Complexity for Executives

One of my favourite high-level tech articles I’ve read in the last six months, this article covers how tech stack complexity affects companies. I’ve already shared this with executives in my company who have found it very useful. Personally the first half of the article covers items I’m already familiar with and our teams are successfully executing. The items towards the end cause more of challenge due to the philosophies of our larger company. It will be interesting to see if this changes over the next few years.

Help your team Manage Stress, Anxiety and Burnout

It’s no surprise that people are reporting higher levels of stress, anxiety and burnout due to the 24 hour nature of work. This article from the Harvard Business Review takes a look at a number of ways you can help your team with managing the negative impacts of stress and anxiety. It’s fairly common sense really, but also focusses on the latest hyped up technique, mindfulness — including a look at some technological apps that might help.

Renaissance Florence Was a Better Model for Innovation than Silicon Valley Is

This article takes a look at how historical Renaissance Florence can provide a number of different ways of creating innovation that the ones used in Silicon Valley at the moment. Reading this (and also being a fan of TV series such as Borgia and Da Vinci’s Demon’s), everything makes sense, although it does definitely jar against modern thinking i.e. very few people would think about taking on a mentor in such a formal apprenticeship style now. I do like the ideas it puts forward though and it might change the way I think about things going forwards.

To Hire Great Coders, Offer Learning, Not Just Money

After hiring many coders, I’ve always found that money is only one part of what you can offer. This is especially important during the early years of a developers career, where I really think that building a strong foundation should be most important to most people (although often isn’t as we’re all tempted by more money!). This article provides some research in the area, including pointers to the research.

Connect Agile Teams to Organisational Hierarchy: A Sociocratic Solution

I have faced many questions about how self-organisation can happen in organisations with an in-built hierarchy. They often get in the way of each other and cause some interesting conflicts. This article takes a look at a potential solution, based on ‘double-linking’, which suggest an way of getting a better balance.

Towards Humane Tech

This article, sent to me through LinkedIn Pulse takes a look at the tech industry and suggests that we need to be more humane in the way we do things. I think its clear to me that often the fact that technology will be used by (and benefit) humans is forgotten by most people in the tech industry. The article does point out that what is clear around tech is that it’s a very optimistic industry that does embrace change. Tech is no longer an underdog anymore, and we should stop acting like that!

We got 10 CEOs to tell us their one killer interview question for new hires

As someone who hires frequently I’m always interested in how other people do this and what questions they ask. This article covers 10 CEOs killer questions. My personal favourite — I ask how they were treated, or the “wine list test”. Both of these show more about the underlying person you are hiring — which for me is very important.

Self Organising Organisations

Confirmation bias often means that we find evidence that backs up what we believe. I’m not sure whether this is confirmation bias in action, but this interview covers the creation of self organising organisations, and in particular the introduction of ‘practices’ within technology teams. This is something we personally put in place towards the end of 2014 and have had great success with. It’s also shown some of the challenges described in the interview, including the need to create a ‘team first’ attitude, rather than ‘practice first’.

Ben Brown — My Personal Blog

A personal blog from a London based engineering leader…

Ben Brown — My Personal Blog

A personal blog from a London based engineering leader passionate about food and travel.

Ben Brown

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Ben Brown

London based Engineering Leader, Technologist and Foodie. Loves travelling and eating and blogging about it afterwards!

Ben Brown — My Personal Blog

A personal blog from a London based engineering leader passionate about food and travel.