Joe Conley Tagged cto Random thoughts on technology, books, golf, and everything else that interests me Ask a CTO Interview with Sarah Herrmann <p>I recently had the pleasure to speak with Sarah Herrmann of Juno Search Partners to kick off her new “Ask a CTO” series. I really enjoyed the chat and I hope my thoughts may be helpful!</p> <p></p> Tue, 31 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0000 Forbes Technology Council - Encouraging Developer Side Projects <p>I was recently featured in a Forbes article about encouraging developer side projects.</p> <p></p> Fri, 13 Dec 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Working at Buyside <p><em>This post originally appeared on <a href="">Working with Buyside</a></em></p> <p>Our team is growing! I’ve had the distinct pleasure of building out our engineering team over the past year, and as we’re prepping for another round of growth, I thought this was an appropriate time to reflect on what our culture is like. Why do we enjoy working at Buyside? What makes us tick? I asked my team to reflect on that, and I’ve summed up the main points here so that prospective hires can get a good sense of why they might want to join Buyside.</p> <h2 id="autonomy">Autonomy</h2> <p>This was the most common theme by far. Our team is well-distributed geographically, from Pennsylvania to Nevada to Costa Rica, and we pride ourselves in creating an effective environment conducive to remote work. We keep meetings and overhead to a minimum. We subscribe to the adage of hiring smart people to tell us how to do things, and not dictate to them. We encourage healthy debate, and expect team members to take ownership of their work from inception to completion. This allows all of our team members to grow while serving the needs of our clients.</p> <h2 id="productivity">Productivity</h2> <p>Similar to the above, we want to create an environment that optimizes productivity. This isn’t treating our team as cogs in a machine, but rather understanding that when we hire smart and motivated people, they tend to be happiest when they are feeling productive. We provide top-of-the-line machines. We <em>try</em> to minimize context-switching as much as possible (some days are better than others). As most of us have families and kids, we respect work-life balance and allow for flexible schedules. We know this approach is a win-win for both our team and our company.</p> <h2 id="value">Value</h2> <p>Despite our recent growth, we still maintain the scrappiness and energy of a startup. We expect everyone to make meaningful contributions to the direction of the company, and I as a tech leader take great pains to ensure the team is constantly aware of the impact of their work. One advantage we’ll always have over the bigger tech companies we compete with over talent is offering the opportunity to be part of a special team that’s offering real tangible value to their clients.</p> <p>And we’re just getting started! I’m really excited about the work we’re doing now and in the short-term, as the next year promises to be one of unprecedented growth for Buyside. If you think you might be a good fit for our team, please check out our <a href="">Careers</a> page for our current openings. Thanks!</p> Thu, 14 Nov 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Managing Distributed Teams <p>I was recently featured in an article discussing how CTO’s manage remote teams. It’s certainly a non-trivial task, but an increasingly relevant one as software teams become more and more geographically distributed. I think this a great trend, as your potential resource pool becomes much wider once you look beyond your backyard.</p> <p>I’ve certainly been blessed to have found such strong talent to work with at Buyside, both locally and remotely, and our company is the better for it.</p> <p>Enjoy!</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p> Fri, 01 Nov 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Leadership Aboard the Santa Fe <p>What is leadership? It’s certainly a fancy term. It adorns countless corporate walls paired with some inspirational message or image. It appears as a common requirement for most management-level job applications. It can even inspire folks to come together in an almost cult-like fashion:</p> <iframe width="700" height="450" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <p><br /></p> <p>But <strong>defining</strong> leadership can be tricky. We can use words like humility, decision-making, servant to try to arrive at a definition, but that’s boring and often incomplete.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <h2 id="leader-follower-to-leader-leader">Leader-Follower to Leader-Leader</h2> <p>I recently read L. David Marquet’s <em>Turn This Ship Around!</em>, and came across a truly great example of what it means to be a leader. In short, leadership is creating an environment that helps your subordinates grow into becoming leaders themselves. Marquet did this in a seemingly unlikely setting: aboard a submarine in the U.S. Navy.</p> <h2 id="how">How?</h2> <p>Here are my main takeaways from the book to how to shift to this new paradigm:</p> <h3 id="create-an-environment-of-ownership">Create an environment of ownership</h3> <p>It’s important that the environment is tailored to allow reports to make decisions and think on their own, but be accountable for their decisions. Marquet encouraged this by requiring his junior officers to recommend what actions to take. Instead of Marquet giving orders, he’d have his reports make decisions, having them say “I intend to” before acting. e.g. “I intend to take the ship up to periscope depth…”, while Marquet would give simple confirmation. Even little things like language can help encourage passive officers to think independently.</p> <h3 id="delegate-but-dont-abdicate">Delegate but don’t abdicate</h3> <p>Marquet tried out a Leader-Leader experiment on the U.S.S. Will Rogers without much thought into how it was implemented. This led to an oversight in readiness, a failed inspection, and a quick transfer to a Soviet outpost where he could spend time reflecting on just how poorly his first efforts had been. Simply delegating tasks without thought to how they’d be carried out is a recipe for failure.</p> <p>Once he got another shot aboard the U.S.S. Santa Fe, he focused more on developing the level of competency of his officers. He resisted the urge to dictate solutions to problems, but instead gave his folks latitude to work through issues. As Marquet succinctly put it, “Don’t brief, certify”.</p> <h3 id="communicate-vision-without-dictating">Communicate vision without dictating</h3> <p>Communication is paramount. Especially for significant changes that are new or uncomfortable, you can never communicate too much what your vision is.</p> <h2 id="applied-to-tech">Applied to Tech</h2> <p>I’ve certainly struggled with delegating, especially on a small team where there’s plenty of work to go around and never enough bodies to do the work. I think I’ve gotten better at communicating context and the necessary details of a particular issue or task, however I know sometimes I’ll lead with my proposed solution without allowing my reports to come up with their own design.</p> <p>But overall the ideas in this book have helped me start to think more about how I operate and how I can do a better job of creating an environment that creates great leaders.</p> <h2 id="results">Results</h2> <p>Marquet’s work resulted in the Santa Fe earning a record number of awards in both excellence and most improved. Furthermore, Marquet’s officers were promoted at unusually high rates to lead their own ships, and applied most of what they learned aboard the Santa Fe to their own ships.</p> <p>In business, it’s easy to get caught up in optimizing specific metrics, growing profits or increasing market share. But doesn’t that all pale in comparison to helping others grow? To inspiring others to build a brighter future? In that way, leadership can be boiled down to priorities. How you choose to spend your time, what you choose to value above all, and how you choose to impart those beliefs to others.</p> <p>How do you define leadership?</p> Thu, 03 Oct 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Forbes Technology Council - Troubleshooting Code Malfunctions <p>I was recently featured in a Forbes article about troubleshooting code. Enjoy!</p> <p></p> Thu, 18 Jul 2019 00:00:00 +0000