Curated Content: December 2020

A few pieces of content I thought were worthwhile in the month of December.


  • Evidence Based Scheduling -
    The topic of project planning, scheduling, and estimating has weighed heavy on my mind this month, and I found myself returning to an oldie, but a goodie from Joel Spolsky back in 2007. It's one that I haven't yet implemented in my day to day, but I'm finding more compelling than the alternative presented by either doing nothing, or CMU SEI's PSP. Rather than abandoning any attempt at figuring out how long things will take (#noEstimates), or attempting to measure it perfectly like in the Personal Software Process (PSP), this attempts to make the for something that will better get to the actual estimate accounting for random deviation/interruptions, and not be overly arduous for individual engineers to integrate into their development process.
  • What distinguishes great software engineers? -
    This one is for any engineer, or engineering leader, that would like to know what attributes they should be looking for or exhibiting to be thought of as a great engineer, based on available empirical data. Obviously this is a qualitative assessment because of the lack of empirical measures of a great engineer/how it's measured, but given that it's the best we've got, it's definitely worth a read.


  • Upstream by Dan Heath. I'm recommending this one because it's an excellent one to help focus leaders on getting away from fighting fires, and how to think about the ounce of prevention rather than continuing to spend time and money on the pound of cure, though that cure often is much easier to measure the ROI and impact of, where it may be much more difficult to allow someone the freedom, autonomy, and resources to fix a problem that doesn't yet, and may not ever exist.
  • The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande, easily one of the best books I read during 2020. This is a book I recommend broadly to anyone. It's directly the inspiration for some new theories and attempted practices to improve my software engineering personally and my software engineering management, and hopefully will directly inspire different ways for you to improve and grow by leveraging one of the simplest of tools. A checklist. A full book review will be coming.
  • Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. A must have reference book for anyone, whether a founder/CEO or an engineering leader, that is looking to improve their hiring process, making it more methodical and effective. I listened to this one as an audiobook, though I wouldn't necessarily recommend it in that format. It's better as a physical or ebook, as it's much more useful as a reference book to improve your hiring process. It outlines a comprehensive process from top to bottom that is extremely useful for any role your organization may be hiring for.