Stardate S03E08

Mood: 😊. Nurturing my zen. Rather than bumps in the road, trying to see ripples in the pond.

Hiking the trail from Iseltwald to Giessbach, alongside Lake Brienz

🌹 What am I grateful for this week?

I’m back from a lovely break in the Swiss countryside, properly disconnecting from work and enjoying some time back in nature. Since getting back into things, our hiring efforts continue in anger and I’m appreciating the trust being placed in me as a hiring manager to help vet the right folks to join us for the long haul.

Funny how I just wrote about oscillations in the system, and yet, four weeks ago I was feeling the same high with hiring efforts kicking off and all eyes across the SLT focused on growth. Or, is it the holiday afterglow talking?

I do find meeting new candidates genuinely refreshing, though. Remembering some wisdom from March, I’m also keeping in the back of my mind whether there’s plenty that each person can teach us. I think a growth mindset pairs well with company growth, no?

🌵 What do I wish could have gone differently?

The more I think about it, the more I feel account & engagement planning is the struggle for a consultancy like ours. We finally have a rigor around our business development funnel, and moving deals forward on the board like clockwork*, but lately demand and supply have been mismatched. And when you’re at the bottom of the pack, it’s a catalyst for all sorts of woes related to people planning, expectation management, and perceived pressures from the top. (In many ways, top of the pack is no better — the clock likes to keep its schedule.)

The solution, really, is to match demand and supply in real-time. Which is incredibly difficult given the way we’re set up. A small group of us were discussing a contributing factor before the break: whether PS needs a steward across the organization. DPD doesn’t seem to need one, being woven into our DNA and most everything we do. But even the gold standard operating model should be open to continuous improvement over time. Would an official steward help instigate this? Does it require a chapter/guild layer on top of our concept of cells? Or, more simply — how do you shift the balance of power away from the 800 lb. gorilla when it’s the loudest, baddest animal in the zoo?

💡 What do I need to remember?

I’m reminded from a few recent chats with colleagues that job titles are a poor yardstick for comparing apples to apples. Take my role for example. I have a peer delivery director and together we look after a discipline team of ~15 delivery leads. It’s a bit of an uneven distribution because of cell movements, but that’s also with a delivery director vacancy we’ll soon be filling, to bring our average share to 5 each. A head of delivery at a departmentally-organized company might well have 15 delivery people reporting directly into them.

So great, the line management spread is different. But so what — what does that mean when it comes to individual skillset and capability? We’d often interview folks with head-of titles for a director role, and index on other qualities like the scale they operate at, the size of accounts and businesses they work with to determine if their experience is comparable. Running a boutique is a different gig from directing a cell in a company our size, which is also a different gig from being a managing partner at a massive global enterprise. Like that tired “CEO & Founder” hustle from the valley — when everyone is one, it starts to lose meaning. What did you found? Results and impact are what matters.

Titles only tell you so much. Don’t fall for the status trap.

📚 What did I discover?

I’ve only just started reading Steve’s excellent Hardcore Software posts, and am really loving both the quality of his analysis (feels like yesterday!) and being afforded such a different vantage point than the one I experienced back in my Office days. Also, I don’t know why it’s so exciting to read a familiar name in someone else’s writing** or learn about a secret project, like in this post, that I was none the wiser about at the time. Fascinating stuff.

Cedric did a couple great pieces on tacit knowledge I first encountered last year, and his latest highlights why that makes generic advice-giving ‘bad’ — it’s rarely transferrable.

I feel Om on this one: “the informal, journaling approach to blogging that felt as natural as breathing air for me is gone.” I guess that’s partly why I found my way to weeknoting during the pandemic?


With Earth Day 2022 just behind us, it makes me sad to think enjoying a holiday in nature like I just did might not be a thing in our not so distant future. Appreciate Google doing its bit, as well as infographics like these, to help wrap your head around what’s happening.

I recently learned about the unexpected power of workplace pensions to help combat climate change. Low-hanging fruit that you should definitely take a look at, too.

*If said clock were full of randomly variable springs, vibrating at strange intervals and causing the clock ticks to regularly slow down and fast forward, like a laggy Zoom call 🙃

**Like, say, Kurt DelBene, and remembering that infamous staff meeting we had with him that one time that ended with “well, there’s some food here.”



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Sean K. Gabriel

Aloha (🤙。◕‿‿◕。)🤙 big on building teams & lean products. Author @ Thinking aloud with #weeknotes. Works best when caffeinated ☕️