Andrew Weaver
February 15, 2021

Newsletter #72: Until September…

Happy Friday

Holiday season has arrived here at CTO Academy and so this will be the last “5 Minute Tech Break” until September.

Included this week, we have ….

– An interview with Carsten Kriebs, CIO/CDO from Randstad
– 2nd instalment from member Mostafa Khattab with his “Diary of an Accidental CTO”
– Fun review of 7 manager anti-patterns
– A collection of great reads for tech leaders
– CTO Academy plans for the future

Until next time.
Stay safe and Happy August.

Andrew Weaver
[email protected]

Leaving Lockdown Interview #14

Those with a sharp eye for these things might have noticed that we’ve shifted the title of our recent interview series from ‘Lockdown Learnings’ to ‘Leaving Lockdown’, a decision made in those optimistic days when lockdown looked to be far behind us … 

We were joined for our most recent interview by Carsten Priebs, CTO / CDO at Randstad in Germany and someone with a positive outlook on life, leadership and taking afternoon naps.

Watch highlights here on Leaving Lockdown.

7 Manager Anti-Patterns

Shreyas Doshi was an early PM & first PM lead at Stripe and formerly PM lead at Twitter and Google.

He’s someone worth following on Twitter because he delivers regular nuggets of insight about tech management.

One recent thread caught my eye from @shreyas where he describes “7 Manager Anti-Patterns” ….

1/ The Make-Common-Enemies Manager Loves talking about how certain other departments in the company are so incompetent. Can get very popular with team members as a result. Very poisonous for the org. Might not have overtly malicious intent, often just ignorant. Usually coachable.

2/ The Be-More-Like-Me Manager Usually someone who was very competent as an IC & hasn’t yet learned effective mentorship. Can be frustrating for team members who have different or complementary skills because much of the advice can be boiled down to “I used to just do X, Y, Z”.

3/ The Look-How-Smart-I-Am Manager Enjoys bringing up his team members’ flaws with trusted peers & with his own manager (“can you believe Alice said 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 in a client meeting?”). Typically is not yet feeling secure in his own role as a manager & feels the need for validation.

4/ The Means-To-An-End Manager Views team members as agents whose main purpose is to further his own goals & career. Very business-like in dealings. Achieves short-term results. Team is usually very unhappy. With charisma, may be viewed by company leadership as “top talent”.

5/ The Lets-Be-Buddies Manager A relationships-person who thinks that a good manager must be a best friend of his direct reports. Often is a strong advocate. Is problematic because usually not possible to establish same type of rapport with everyone on the team, makes favorites.

6/ The People-Pleaser Manager Treats pleasing peers & superiors as existentially important. Can be perceived as very collaborative & effective in some company cultures, but is bad for team members because will always prioritize pleasing peers/superiors over valid team interests.

7/ The Rearrange-Deck-Chairs Manager An offshoot of #4, this is typically an org leader who often gets promoted without achieving actual results. Engages in constant process changes & org re-shuffles to demonstrate will & effort (& buy more time). Team suffers constant whiplash.

He concludes the thread by saying …. “And when we give a name to a collection of such behaviours, we make it much easier for teams & senior leadership to confront the issues & talk about the reality of the situation. And that can be the first & the most important step towards making our company better”

Summer (Winter) Reading

It’s a July tradition in England where newspapers create lists of “must read” summer books for those about to depart for European sun loungers ….

This summer might require a more local holiday option but a book list will still be required so we have compiled a list of favourite books and some nominated as inspirational by recent CTO guests … 

Predictably Irrational – The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions : MIT behavioral economist Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. Blending everyday experience with groundbreaking research, Ariely explains how expectations, emotions, social norms, and other invisible, seemingly illogical forces skew our reasoning abilities.

Freedom From The Known : The author shows how people can free themselves radically and immediately from the tyranny of the expected, no matter what their age–opening the door to transforming society and their relationships.

The Deadline – A Novel About Project Management :  The stupid management practices are not limited to software development projects. Such as abusive managers, impossible due dates, bad (or non-existing) specification, deny the existence of conflicts, and more. They exist in all type of management and companies.

The Leaders Guide To Radical Management – Reinventing The Workplace For The 21st Century : The principles described by author Stephen Denning simultaneously inspire high productivity, continuous innovation, deep job satisfaction and client delight

Designed for Digital – How To Architect Your Business For Sustained Success : Practical advice for redesigning “big, old” companies for digital success, with examples from Amazon, BNY Mellon, LEGO, Philips, USAA, and many other global organisations.

Essence of Decision – Explaining The Missile Crisis : Vivid look at decision-making under pressure and is the only single volume work that attempts to answer the enduring question: how should citizens understand the actions of their government?

“Diary Of An Accidental CTO, Part 2”

Mostafa Khattab is CTO at WakeCap Technologies in Dubai and a long standing CTO Academy member.

He has started to write a blog about his experiences of becoming a CTO “ahead of schedule” … 

If you haven’t read Part 1 before now, dive into that post here.

Part 2 brings us face to face with some of steep learning curve he has been facing ….

“Testing is more important than any other part of your technology stack, this is probably my big learn from these recent experiences. Any other issue in the development process can be solved but a lack of testing and doing it late can come with a very high cost later”

To read more visit “Diary of an Accidental CTO, Part 2”

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