Friday Finds #1

August 3, 2022


As a self-professed non-techie, I am genuinely in awe of my customers.
In awe of their technical capabilities and potential to change the world.

Now that’s a pretty unique position to be in.

It’s why I’m driven by a mission to help them bridge any skills gaps impinging on their ability to achieve the career impact they want.

It also means that I am constantly learning and never less so than with our growing community.

This week’s anchor article is a great example as it emerged from one of the many fascinating debates taking place within that community.

I’m also driven by a mission to create an even playing field for success in senior tech roles – no matter where in the world or what gender – which is why we’ve started working on initiatives with organisations like Women Who Code and why I’m delighted in this newsletter to include insight from their CEO, Alaina Percival.

Otherwise – we hope you’re enjoying the new format for these newsletters and that you have a wonderful weekend.

Andrew Weaver

CEO and Co-Founder at CTO Academy

In this week’s Friday Finds, you’ll find out

? 9 Tips on The Bottleneck of Code Reviews

? Interview with Alaina Percival, CEO at Women Who Code

? Collaborative leadership [part 2]

? News from CTO Academy

We want to actively include more women in the tech space. If you know anyone who would be interested in CTO Academy or our newsletter, forward them this email ? 


9 Tips on The Bottleneck of Code Reviews

This week’s anchor article emerged from a thread in our global slack community.

We see a lot of Questions get thrown at the community with some generating insightful and high-value responses.

So it was a recent question about bottlenecks and code reviews that generated such an interesting response we asked Andrew Ryan to transform it into an article with 9 Tips On The Bottleneck of Code Reviews …. the headlines of which are detailed below;

1️⃣ Well Specified Tickets

If each ticket doesn’t have a well-defined and clear scope, the developer won’t know what to do and everyone involved will be confused.

2️⃣ Keep Work Atomic

Keep the scope of tickets and pull requests in check. Pull requests with >1000 lines of changes are a red flag

3️⃣ Aim For Complete Code Coverage With Tests

Every new piece of work should have associated unit and integration tests as part of the review. This enables a high amount of confidence in the work being reviewed and allows for easy automation.

4️⃣ “Right to Left” Working

It’s tempting as a developer to create a PR, drag your ticket to the peer review column on the sprint board, and go immediately left to see what’s in ready for dev.

If you reverse it, you can do any work BEFORE looking in ready for dev.

5️⃣ Automated Linting (ND) and Static Analysers

Styling feedback on CRs isn’t a good use of time and static analysis tools can provide even deeper insights into code quality such as the amount of duplication, code smells, and the aforementioned code coverage.

6️⃣ Code Review Guidelines (ND)

Using markdown in the pull request, and Github’s (or equivalent) PR templates automate the writing process. Include a “how to test” section, including new dependencies, database migrations, or reproduction steps.

7️⃣ Not All Reviews Are Created Equal (ND)

Does that one-line change really need two developers for approval?

Security and pricing changes will need more/more senior review over small CSS changes.

8️⃣ Pairing Up (ND)

Instead of having async code reviews, try having engineers pair up to look at CRs together, or alternatively pair up on writing the code in the first place.

While this on the face of it doubles the man-hours required on a piece of work, the level of knowledge sharing, and increase in quality of code make it a worthwhile investment.

9️⃣ Time

In many teams, it’s all too common for every possible man-hour of the sprint was filled with tickets.

Treat code reviews like an investment. Investing an hour of time now to avoid 3 hours of rework later. Use metrics to track the number of story points tackled in a sprint.

Read the whole article on CTO Academy here


Interview with Alaina Percival, CEO at Women Who Code

Last Tuesday was International Women’s Day and you will have seen a plethora of celebratory messages, images, and many global companies congratulating themselves on their “remarkable approach to diversity”.

We have some fantastic female tech leaders within the wider CTO Academy community but there remains a significant imbalance of males and females in senior roles, something we want to address.

Part of our own approach to greater diversity is to work with partners encouraging greater female participation in tech and one of those organizations is Women Who Code, with whom we are soon to announce a collaboration.

Their CEO, Alaina Percival was recently interviewed about women in tech, the barriers of entry that remain in place, and leadership lessons she learned from her own experience. 

Here is a summary of the interview:

“Many people in the industry don’t address or realize this: getting into technology is the easiest and fastest way to make a tremendous impact. 

It is a fantastic industry, you get to solve unique problems.
You aren’t working in a silo.
You’re often working on creative teams.

One of the things that people love is that you’re solving big problems at scale.

The thing is that women face a bias of being viewed based on their experience, whereas men often get hired based on their potential.

And as soon as they’re in, the biggest challenge is “the death by a thousand cuts” –  the small things that make you wonder if you belong here.

On the creation of Women Who Code …  “I find having a peer community to be incredibly valuable. You can share your expertise and thought-leadership and reveal the challenges you’re facing to your group.”

5 Leadership Lessons From My Experience as a Woman in STEM or Tech:

  1. Trust the people around you to succeed and support them when they need it.
  2. Do not be afraid of failure or mistakes because you learn from them.
  3. Keep sight of the vision, and pull back to the mission to nurture your soul.
  4. Don’t feel guilty for the decisions that you make.
  5. Honour whatever your meditation is – whatever your mind or your body needs to be strong, sound, and balanced. It can be a book, reality TV, or something else. 

Read the full article here


Collaborative leadership [part 2]

In last Friday’s newsletter, we shared an article from Slack on the 5 steps on how to prepare for moving towards collaborative leadership. 

This topic is extremely important since one-third of millennials say that in 10 years, the CEO role won’t be relevant in its current format. 

There will be increased vertical structures and organizing like ants to enhance collaboration, agility, and collective intelligence. 

We found 3 more crucial tips on collaborative leadership from Pumble that Slack left out. 

3 tips to improve collaborative leadership: 

1️⃣ Actively work to break team silos

It’s never good what different teams or groups of employees get comfortable in their bubbles.

Quickly this leads to isolations,

Disruptions in the workflow, and

Problems with information flow through the organization. 

It can have devastating effects. Therefore, it’s extremely important to make sure your team understands each other. 

A great technique to do this is to gather “boards” for each department and assign everyone from junior to c-level to these boards. Hold monthly meetings on how to solve critical challenges in the department and follow up if the department implemented the solutions. 

2️⃣ Design systems and processes for collaboration

Establishing procedures that prescribe how things are to be done is especially integral in hybrid and remote teams, where the distance between team members can complicate company processes further.

It might sound boring to make a document that states systems and processes but it pays off over time. 

3️⃣  Fine-tune your ability to steer the team toward effectiveness

A good collaborative leader is always engaged with their team and understands all their habits, preferences, and quirks. 

This is important because you need to constantly look for new ways to make your team more effective and efficient without breathing down their necks and telling them what to do.

Read the whole article here



Book Recommendation

The Manager’s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change 

Managing people is difficult wherever you work. But in the tech industry, where management is also a technical discipline, the learning curve can be brutal—especially when there are few tools, texts, and frameworks to help you. In this practical guide, author Camille Fournier (tech lead turned CTO) takes you through each stage in the journey from engineer to technical manager.

She’ll cover specifics on 

  • What people generally expect from a manager
  • What it takes to be a good mentor, and a good tech lead
  • Managing individual members while remaining focused on the entire team
  • And loads more…

Get the book here


News from the Digital MBA

We have two cohorts up and running with >50 tech leaders from around the world enjoying this blended learning experience and with an average rating of 4.7 (out of 5) per lecture, enjoying each of the lectures.

Our next cohort is due to launch on Monday 28th March 2022 and we already have a good number signed up to start.

Get in touch if you’d like more information about joining this or future cohorts and/or book a free discovery call with Andrew if you’d like to explore whether it’s a good fit for your career.

Events Coming Up …

We will be reviving our monthly webinars from April – more information to follow soon.

This month we’re hosting our 1st networking event since we launched in 2019.
We will be in Manchester (Dukes 92) on Thursday 31st March 2022 from 1830.

Please get in touch with [email protected] if you’d like to join us for a meet and mingle.

Next Weds (16th March) in London there is a free networking dinner being hosted by LinearB and they’ve asked if anyone from the CTO Academy would like to join – link here.

Download Our Free eBook!

90 Things You Need To Know To Become an Effective CTO

CTO Academy Ebook - CTO Academy

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