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Most companies have carefully created separate senior career tracks that provide details of the differences between being a manager and being an individual contributor (IC). And yet, many people still believe that you can’t get ahead without becoming a manager, and many companies who want more senior individual contributors struggle to promote people on this path. This is a shame; great engineers really shouldn’t need to manage large teams to get promoted, and companies lose out on a critical skillset when they push all of their good engineers into management.
Learn eight categories of engineering craft classifications that will help you grow as a software architect to develop depth in selected areas and awareness of others.
One of the biggest mistakes organizations make as they scale is they try to optimize for utilization. That's a fancy way of saying "keeping everyone busy."
I built my first organisation when I was in high school. It was a debate club, and it died the instant I graduated and left for university. I remember looking back on the experience and thinking to myself: “Hmm, this is interesting. How do you build an org that outlasts you?”
As a manager I like to build teams out of spare parts. I hire candidates who are rejected from other pipelines, I pick up people with middling performance in other teams, sometimes I even hire people whose skills are weak or out of date. My proudest accomplishments all involve teams constructed in such a manner completely out performing best-of-the-best rockstar teams assembled elsewhere. I’ve often struggled to explain how I tell the difference between a diamond in the rough and a mediocre software engineer. It’s an instinct.