Leaddev virtual conference

Leaddev and StaffPlus event

I recently virtually attended the leaddev virtual conference, on the track StaffPlus, where the theme was all about the individual contributor paths in organisations, and around the question "what's my job?". Also, "what has worked until now will not work for the next steps".

Before dumping my notes on almost all the talks, I would say that it was a very interesting event. Lots of valuable info and actionable actions for people who want to climb the corporate ladder without going down the management path.

And without further ado, massive note dump (for future self and perhaps a few colleagues) !

Role and Influence: The IC trajectory beyond Staff

From Yonathan Zunger from the 140chr blue bird company.

The ladder

How nature of work & influence change as you climb the corporate ladder.

As you go higher, meaning of IC gets fuzzier. People are more&more part of the system, team, stakeholders, users&co. Systems stops being only machinery. So it becomes more about identifying problems and working with others to solve them.

Staff vs Senior staff: lead a dependant team, part of a bigger one vs independant team, which has its own customer, and more autonomy (and questions). Principal: construct teams and understand business aspects. Distinguished: drive strategy. Nothing is out of scope.

The four disciplines

for any job:

Think of the combo between core tech skill + one of the three other => powerful combination, and very useful.

None of that has anything to do with the business card. The role title is merely a hint about where you spend the most time. Most ppl excel at 1 or 2, are okay to 1 or 2, and try to avoid 1 or 2 of them.

Every team needs all four types of leadership. So usually need more than one leader (unless you bootstrap something on your own) to help complement.

The fifth discipline

Being the adult supervision. With experience comes good sense. The "hooold up a second" in discussions.

What makes good adult supervision?

How do you learn that?

What is senior IC? Flavours of technical leadership.

Panel, check the link at the top of the page for the details.

Senior & beyond, what qualities?

Staff eng role is a mixture of things. How to deal with the ambiguity?

How do you approach leadership without authority?

any tricks for that?

How to be a force multiplier?

How to balance solving technical vs social problems (and do you care about balancing)?

Bonus question: why long-form writing isn't more popular?

Luminary interview with Diane Tang (google fellow)

What is a google fellow?

How much do you spend hands on/write code?

Difference between manager and IC?

Influence without authority

How do you learn these skills?

What are other important skills?

What's next (18y at google)?

Live long and prosper as a senior IC (staff engineer at squarespace)

By Alice Li from squarespace.

Talk very product focused (I found it a bit meh).

The delegation equation

By Leslie Chapman from Comcast.

Luminary interview with Lea Kissner

Head of privacy engineer at Twitter.

Solve zoom privacy issue

How to find the right ppl in the org?

How do you get buy-in for proposals?

Tricks for promotion:

Setting up a cross-team project for success


Set the stage, share an example of a project

What structure & cadences used to keep projects on track?

Let's talk stakeholders. Example of communications with them.

How do you build relationship with other teams?

and get buy-in and prioritization?

How to manage interdependences between teams?

Share one big idea/concept helping you to get into staff+ roles.

Technical strategy power chords

By Patrick Shields at Stripe

Pick one (and only one) goal

List the facts that would change your mind

Work backward

Start small

To kill it with fire or not

by Laura Nolan from Slack.

As getting more senior: how to make difficult choices.

Asking the question is the easiest steps

Then, gather relevant facts. That takes more efforts.

Articulate your principles, your values

For example:

Consider mitigations

Make the decision

Finally: don't understimate how long migrations and turndowns take, and how costly they are.

Navigating the manager <> senior IC relationship


If titles don't define the role, what traits do?

Creating a healthy env/building a thriving org.

Where does a manager can go wrong with senior IC?

Opportunities for collaboration

Should manager spend time in tech (or vice versa)

What's the role of IC

what quality do you find most compelling?

The rest

Didn't watch the last two talks because bed time ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Potential Actions

A few things that came to mind of things that I could do/attempt: