4 Min reading time

0800-DEVOPS #44 – The Engineering/Management Pendulum with Charity Majors

30. 01. 2023

Welcome to 0800-DEVOPS, a newsletter digest of interesting ideas from the world of DevOps, technical practices and increased productivity! I talked to Charity about engineering management and platform engineering, and whether it is ok for managers to feel useless sometimes.

A newsletter that started as a personal learning and getting-in-touch project by Ivan Krnic grew into a sociotechnical newsletter covering topics of technical excellence, organizational improvements, and productivity.

The Pendulum

A question occasionally pops up with our Engineering Managers:

“How much should I code? Tell me a number. A percentage.”

Charity Majors wrote a great blog post called The Engineer/Manager Pendulum. She wrote it for a friend who had the same doubts and nailed it.

The best Engineering Managers are those with development experience. The best developers are those with managerial experience. Working on technical tasks enables EMs to be up to date with technology, to understand better what the work is, to understand people in the team better, and to help make the right decisions.

Can EM find time for both coding and managing? It’s hard to simultaneously keep the focus on complex technical tasks and the organizational big picture.

At CROZ, we’ve been practicing having two EMs in a team for a long time. The such setup enables one EM to focus on technical stuff while the other keeps the organizational lights on. And after some time, they can switch.

Is having two EMs per team an overkill? We don’t think so. There are two pilots in a plane and two drivers in a rally car. Leading a team is not less complex.

To circle back to the initial question, how much should EM code?

There is no “right” number. EM needs to balance keeping their technical saw sharp and their team organized and growing. Based on their position in the Engineering/Management Pendulum, sometimes their focus will be on technical stuff and other times on organizational stuff. But what helps a lot is staying away from complex technical tasks on the critical path. Those will lock them down for a long time, grinding the pendulum to a halt.

Interview of the Month

The Pendulum with Charity Majors

The Pendulum with Charity Majors

Charity Majors is CTO and co-founder at Honeycomb, book author, speaker, and a person unselfishly sharing her views and lessons from both leadership and engineering perspective. I talked to Charity about engineering management and platform engineering, how long you should sharpen your technical saw before thinking about a management role, and whether it is ok for managers to feel useless sometimes

Hand picked

Data Streaming Landscape 2023 – Data streaming is a hot topic, and it’s getting even more desirable in 2023. Many organizations are recognizing the power of data streaming in achieving their business goals. Kai Waehner shared his view on the data streaming landscape in the upcoming year.

Mind the Product, Premium Content – Whoever is in the product management knows about Mind the Product community, and now much of their premium content is publicly available.

Engineering in a Hybrid World – an exciting study on various engineering aspects. Data say that R&D investments are growing, organizations are moving from technology to product teams, and building more full-stack engineers as opposed to backend and frontend engineers.

I analyzed 327 booths at re:Invent, and here are the DevOps trends for 2023Jan Mundin did the analysis; check out what the trends are and which keywords stood out!

10 Common Software Architectural Patterns in a nutshell – I’ve been encouraging junior people for some time that application development isn’t that scary. Whatever they’re building, there are not more than 10 key architectural patterns that they need to understand. And then, I stumbled upon a post by Vijini Mallawaarachchi explaining those patterns.

Read with us

Read with us

Engineering Management For The Rest of Us

Get the book

Moving from Individual Contributor to an Engineering Management role is challenging. There are many questions, like the one opening this issue of 0800-DEVOPS. Starting the EM role feels like a spaceship dropped you on a new planet. You can tell it’s still the Earth, but everything looks different. If you’re a Stranger Things fan – it’s like the “Upside Down”!

Sarah’s book is a great read to get your bearings. It will gradually demystify the role and make the “Upside Down” blend into the real world. I highly recommend it.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash


Get in touch

If you have any questions, we are one click away.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Contact us

Schedule a call with an expert