I was recently asked if I thought estimating is a valuable skill for a software engineer to develop. This is a deceptively simple question that everybody is quick to affirm. One of my favorite parts of Stripe is that our operating principles are practiced and it’s encouraged, when reasonable, to pause and reason through from first principles. I’m also heavily influenced by the Toyota Production System which tries to tie every action into value for the end user. I reframed the question to “Why are accurate estimates valuable to our users?”
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I've previously talked about the Eisenhower Matrix of Important vs. Urgency, and now I'm talking about how to work towards those identified goals. This involves asking important questions to know who benefits and how, and finding ways to strip out anything unnecessary so most of your effort creates value.
It's a jumbled world where we confuse gratitude, praise, and flattery. There is a time for each, except flattery. Well, maybe flattery if you sell cars. It's difficult to distinguish the two and it requires practice.
After struggling for years to get a better idea of how to define important work, throwing out mistakes, and questioning success I found a bit of clarity. Three simple questions before I get started on any new work has made all the difference.
We can usher in amazing increases in productivity, quality and happiness. Yet we make a push towards Open Floorplans and other disastrous strategies because it's trendy. Let's stop these trends, start learning, and make real improvements. I lay out 3 of the easiest changes we can make to bring about positive changes, which will yield higher productivity and happiness.
Small steps in organization to improve clarity and ability