From wrestling with the possibilities of ChatGPT and generative AI tools, to making stronger values for more consistent leadership, February was a thought-provoking month for engineering managers. In no particular order, here are the five articles you need to read on LeadDev.
1. Chris Stokel-Walker, The case for and against building ChatGPT into your developer workflow
It’s pretty much all anyone wants to talk about so far this year: ChatGPT and the rise of generative AI. The possibilities these tools offer are already impacting various jobs, and naturally, developers are already looking for ways to leverage their capabilities. But there are some significant tradeoffs, especially when it comes to accuracy, which needs to be carefully weighed up. Here, Chris Stokel-Walker talks to developers who both make the case for and against using ChatGPT as a dev productivity tool.
“Almost overnight, ChatGPT has become a rare tech innovation that transcends boundaries and becomes a cultural phenomenon. Some have called its release the iPhone moment for AI because of the way that it has cut across industries, jobs, and sections of society,” he writes.
2. Nick Means, Values: The runbook for leadership
Many engineers will run playbooks for when technical issues strike, but good engineering leaders can also start to encode their values into playbooks to better scale their influence and be more consistent in their decision-making.
Here, Nick Means, VP of engineering at Sym, writes, “A well-crafted set of values serves as a runbook for leadership consistency. Just as a runbook makes sure we’re consistent in responding to certain kinds of problems in our systems, strong values help us do the same when confronting difficult interpersonal situations.”
3. Camille Fournier, Want to stay technical as a manager? Stay curious
Almost any engineering manager will have felt anxious about losing their technical edge as they take on greater leadership responsibilities. However, staying technical isn’t impossible, it just may take on a slightly different meaning in the context of that new role.
As the author of The Manager’s Path, Camille Fournier, believes staying technical doesn’t necessarily mean immersing yourself completely in the codebase. Instead, it is about “understanding the technical details of your team well enough to accurately represent them and paint them into the bigger picture strategy.”
The hiring landscape for engineers has changed dramatically at the start of 2023, creating a new set of recruitment challenges for organizations trying to find effective engineering managers. In this article, Joe Fay works through all of the different considerations hiring managers need to consider this year.
“The right engineering manager will not just ensure that your applications and services are delivered on time and on budget, they will also help retain your current key engineers and help attract new team members. In a challenging economic and recruitment climate, that sort of stability is worth its weight in gold,” he writes.
5. Laurie Barth, An engineering leader’s guide to tackling change
We all know that the only constant is change, but that doesn’t make it any easier to navigate. Laurie Barth has laid out a thorough guide to tackling change as an engineering leader, from tackling scope changes to reshuffling personnel.
“The reality of leading engineering teams is that you’ll often be asked to keep moving in the face of that change; features still need to be written, bugs need to be fixed, systems need to keep running,” she writes.