Sweat The Small Stuff: Resources

Sweat The Small Stuff Resources



I find that the retrospective is often a practice that agile teams skip out on, and I find this unfortunate because the retro really beautifully exemplifies the spirit of Agile since it involves reflecting on what you’ve done as a team and making decisions on how to iterate on your process.

Carbon Five follows a simple process for running retrospectives which is outlined in this blog post:

Carbon Five recipe for running simple Agile retrospectives

If you are a remote team, Carbon Five builds a tool called Stickies.io which is great for retrospectives. It’s free to use.

Interviewing for behavioral traits

When a team is big you need to make sure you’re hiring engineers who are able to work with people of other disciplines and maintain positive relationships with other teams.

It’s not enough for a candidate to be talented at programming if people in other teams struggle to work with them.

Behavioral traits to look for

  • Can they tell a story of a time they made a mistake?
    • If they can’t think of one, or if they tell a story but downplay their own responsibility and/or blame others it might be a red flag
  • Do they avoid low-value tangents?
    • A quick joke or side note isn’t a problem, but if the person struggles to stay on track in a conversation they might be someone who gets meetings off track or gets in the weeds when programming
  • Any sexist behavior?
    • Try having a man and a woman interview the candidate together.
    • When the woman asks the candidate questions, does the candidate make eye contact with the woman when answering?
    • Does the candidate appear to address both interviewers or just the man?

Slack – Three Unconventional Interview Questions

Tips and tricks for successful onboarding

The best way to make sure you’re onboarding successfully is to have the steps somewhat documented and always be iterating on these steps.

Before the first day

  • Tell your new hire when you’re expecting them (ProTip: have them come in a bit later on their first day so that you have time to prepare) and make sure they know where to park and where to go when they arrive. If there’s any security involved make a to-do for yourself to ensure that’s taken care of before their arrival
  • Get their desk set up and cleared out. This can be hectic if you’re rapidly growing and running out of space but do your best to make sure they’re with the team
  • Ask what kind of computer they want! Engineers enjoy having agency over their equipment. Best to give them a big budget and let them decide what to get
  • Find out if they have any specific furniture/desk needs. Some people might need a different chair for ergonomics, for instance.

First Day

  • Introduce to everyone on the team
  • Get lunch together as a team. Bonus points if you leave the office for this
  • Have a 1 hour 1:1 in which you are telling the new hire specifically about what your team does, what they’re working on right now, etc.
  • Have the new hire spend some time pairing with an engineer on something. They’ll probably be mostly observing but it’s a good way to start.

First week

  • Pair them with someone on dev environment setup. Have the engineer document any situations where the actual process ended up deviating from what’s documented, and see if the documentation can be updated.
  • Get them access to all systems they need access to
  • Have the engineer attending all agile ceremonies (iteration planning, dailies, retro, any backlog grooming)
  • Set up 1:1s with other roles so the new hire understands how the greater team collaborates
    • SRE/DevOps engineer can talk about deploy procedure, architecture overall, and how the team conducts post mortems
    • Designer can discuss how design is collaborating with engineering
    • A product manager can talk about product goals
    • A project manager can talk about the team’s process
  • At the end of the first week, have a retrospective about their experience with things so that you can learn what worked and what didn’t and apply that to future new hires.
  • Set up a regular cadence to have manager 1:1s with new hire and set expectations for how those meetings should go.

Meeting Culture

On Amazon’s meeting culture: https://www.inc.com/justin-bariso/jeff-bezos-knows-how-to-run-a-meeting-here-are-his-three-simple-rules.html

Back To Work Podcast – Invitation to a Blame Party

A great episode that touches on how to have effective meetings


Design Documents

Sample design doc that describes extracting OAuth request serving into its own application: https://paper.dropbox.com/doc/OAuth-Migration-design-doc–ARjgA~twgejUiCLpRB3SkNvKAg-uetMvZEZKeZLKYbtcIznY

Managing Humans by Rands (Michael Lopp)

Postmortems and cultural effects on performance

How Korean culture may have contributed to Korean Air’s abysmal safety record in the ’90s and how they since turned it around

Etsy’s thoughts on blameless postmortems

SRE techniques

Google’s book on SRE

Summary of Amazon’s S3 outage


Diverse Teams Feel Less Comfortable – And That’s Why They Perform Better

Employee Onboarding at Startups is Broken – Here’s How to Fix It

How the Other Half Works: an Adventure in the Low Status of Software Engineers

Evidence-Based Scheduling


*Managing Humans, Third Edition* by Michael Lopp

*Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams*