How to Work With Software Engineers | Ken Norton - Deepstash

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A satirical take at handling a product team.


How to Work With Software Engineers | Ken Norton

How to Work With Software Engineers | Ken Norton


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How to Work With Software Engineers: Absorbing Praise

As a PM, expect your successes to be recognized. Understand that executives will often attempt to spray accolades across the entire team. You must be vigilant: you are the one who is being celebrated, and you are the one who must take all of the glory. Credit is career currency, and you’re polish...

Occasionally something will go wrong. In software development, the thing that goes wrong is usually software. When software fails, a software developer is to blame. That’s just logical. Make sure to redirect the accusations when they’re aimed at you, and to preemptively sow blame whenever possibl...

Frivolous little technical details are for the engineers, and you have much better things to be doing. Like ideating. Comprehension only leads to disappointment and fosters a so-called “rational” view of what’s possible. You can’t change the world if you know what’s hard and what’s easy. Avoid mi...

Software engineers write code, that’s what they do. They’re always fretting about how stuff is distracting them from their hacking. So why would you waste their time involving them in a project before it’s ready for coding? You don’t see a bunch of construction workers kicking back in an architec...

Adding Processes

The best way to demonstrate your value to the team is by introducing processes. Rules grease the wheels of progress. Look for opportunities to schedule update meetings, daily briefings, and all-day reviews. Keep your engineers productive by requiring them to fill out tracking spreadsheets, status...

Engineers are highly analytical, which means they take a less-sophisticated approach to decision-making that often relies on “supporting data” or “rationales” rather than vision and blue sky thinking. Maintaining an air of mystery when decisions are made will keep them on their toes. They’ll comp...

Your job as the product manager is to make assurances on behalf of your team. Leadership means setting the bar high and challenging everyone to teleport over it. Show your ambition by committing to project schedules without consulting your team. Being held accountable to somebody else’s promises ...

You’re a busy knowledge worker, and the last thing you need is to wait for an engineer to finish their current task. You need it ASAP (pronounced “AY-sap”). Whatever an engineer is working on is less important than what you need right now. Feel free to interrupt them at any time. Chat windows and...

Be Ambiguous And Vague

There are few things more dangerous to your career than being proven wrong. Ensure this never happens by aiming to be as vague and imprecise as possible. Feel free to change your mind at will. If you take every position imaginable, by definition you were right. Don’t record anything in writing, o...

Engineers will sometimes say something is “impossible.” They’re lying. Nothing in engineering is impossible if you set your mind to it. The Wright Brothers never thought that flying across the Atlantic was impossible! Assume a software engineer is always deceiving you and act accordingly. So when...

If it’s not blindingly obvious by now, you should do exactly none of these things. Even the most conscientious PMs are occasionally guilty of less extreme infractions in each of these categories. Strive for the opposite and chances are you’ll succeed as a PM. 

  • Deflect praise
  • Ab...

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