The Subtle Art Of Managing Upwards

Dr Stuart Woolley
CodeX
Published in
6 min readJul 11, 2023

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Or getting what you need, avoiding unnecessary busywork, and actually getting things done.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels

To me, management are a little like the nitrogen in the earth’s atmosphere — it takes up most of the space, it’s of absolutely no direct use, but it can be turned into something quite useful by careful application of chemistry.

We’ve spoken many times about the vast and ineffective hierarchies of management — everything from your common or garden irrelevant non-technical project manager, through the surveilling ranks of middle-managers that roam the now empty offices all day waiting for their inevitable redundancy notices, right up to the distant tie clad office dwellers that occasionally pop up in all hands meetings and have to be introduced as no-one actually knows what they look like¹.

A bit like a vast steampunk machine that’s hilariously overpopulated with cogs, where the handle could quite easily just directly turn the output widget, management seems to thrive on irrelevance, obfuscation, and inefficiency.

Yet, as we all learn quite quickly in the Grand Game of Software Engineering, management is so ubiquitous that it has become something that must be dealt with in order to actually get things done.

It’s simply not cricket, as one might say, to spend $2 a month (per user) on a recurring…

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Dr Stuart Woolley
CodeX

Worries about the future. Way too involved with software. Likes coffee, maths, and . Would prefer to be in academia. SpaceX, X, and Overwatch fan.