Doing the Hard Stuff

Every technical problem is, at its core, a people problem

If you are in a position of authority or influence in a technical organization, regardless of your title, you are a technical leader. Every day you have to consider technical tradeoffs while also attending to the very human side of leadership. Even if considered in isolation, each side of the equation would present its own set of challenges, but technical decisions and people leadership are inextricably linked, making even simple things potentially fraught. Team dynamics shape technical decisions, and every technical problem is, at its core, a people problem. Whether it’s making difficult decisions or having excruciatingly awkward conversations, this is the hard stuff. It’s also part of your job.

In this workshop we examine a set of core foundational principles and practices you can use to guide technical decisions while also supporting people.

On the technical practices side, we’ll look at principles such as “if it hurts do more of it,” “faster feedback wins,” “no single points of failure,” and “risky things first.” With each technical practice we’ll consider corresponding principles for creating a healthy environment where people can thrive such as “be kind not nice,” “with not for,” “problems not solutions,” as well as a framework for having difficult conversations. We’ll practice applying these principles as a group through a series of case studies.