September had a back-to-school feel this month at LeadDev, as we look to help you tame the chaos of context switching and contend with the major challenge of needing to “do more with less.” In no particular order, here are five recent articles you need to read on LeadDev.
1. Nickolas Means, You can’t actually “do more with less”
This year has been marked by demands to “do more with less”. But this irritating phrase masks an impossible ask for engineering managers who aspire to run sustainable, high-performing teams. In this article, Nick Means, VP of Engineering at Sym, recognizes the difficulty of this ask, and provides three strategies that can help you achieve great results, while still caring for your team.
“‘Just work harder’ productivity gains are rarely sustainable. Teams can sprint for short periods of time when there’s a motivating reason, but trying to hold that pace long-term will result in burnout and attrition. Research backs this up, with one study finding that companies that reduce headcount underperform their peers for an average of two full years afterward,” he writes.
2. Addy Osmani, Managing the chaos of context switching
In this article, Google’s Addy Osmani quantifies the lost productivity context switching costs engineers every day, before laying out some practical methods for avoiding the costly “resumption lag” when attacking tasks.
“Managing context switching isn’t just about clawing back lost minutes or squeezing out an extra line of code before lunch. It’s about elevating the caliber of your work and, by extension, the quality of your life. It’s about building a work habitat where you’re not just extinguishing daily fires but actually laying the bricks for something monumental,” he writes.
3. Ishaan Singh, What do we mean by Staff+?
This one was overdue. Here at LeadDev, we write a lot about the Staff+ role, but we have never really defined what we mean when we say Staff+. In this article, we dig into the murky origins of the term and demystify the various job titles, responsibilities, and challenges this group of engineers typically faces.
“No one – not even Tanya Reilly, author of The Staff Engineer’s Path – seems to be able to agree on where the Staff+ terminology originated. While some speculate that it was inspired by the military ranking system, others believe it emerged from either Bell Labs or IBM decades ago, as engineering roles started to proliferate,” she writes.
4. James Stanier, 3 ways to make your team's work more visible
As engineering leaders come under more scrutiny regarding the value their teams are driving and the efficiency at which they are delivering it, making their work visible to the right people is more important than ever. Here, Shopify’s James Stanier lays out three techniques for communicating that value to the rest of the business.
“However good your team is, or how quickly they deliver, it can be challenging to ensure the rest of the business knows what they’re working on. This is especially true for remote teams, where a lack of visibility can quickly lead to a lack of trust,” he writes.
5. Chris Stokel-Walker, Generative AI is changing how computer science is taught
Generative AI tools like ChatGPT are having a major impact on various aspects of software engineering already, but what about the way we educate the next generation of computer scientists? Reporter Chris Stokel-Walker explores how universities are adjusting their curriculums and assessment methods in response to these tools, and how the industry should grapple with this shift when it comes to assessing the next generation of developers.
“Teaching students the basics will be important, but the impact of generative AI on the current crop of computer science students is yet to be seen. If it is able to lower the bar to entry for the software developer profession, what does that mean for the historically ‘safe’, and potentially lucrative, computer science degree?” he asks.