Effective Engineer by Edmond Lau

1. Adopt the Right Mindset

Focus on High-Leverage Activities

  • increase impact
  • decrease time invested
  • work on something else
  1. How can I complete this activity in a shorter amount of time?
  2. How can I increase the value produced by this activity?
  3. Is there something else I can work on that will produce more value?

Optimize for Learning

  • Study code for core abstractions at your company.
  • Write more code.
  • Take classes on broad topics related to software engineering.
  • Pick the harshest critic for code review.
  • Participate in design discussions, even if they are unrelated.
  • Pick diverse projects.
  • Select teams with a few senior engineers so you can learn from their experience.

Prioritize Regularly

2. Execute, Execute, Execute

Invest in Iteration Speed

  • Allows small changes.
  • Eliminates overhead of release process.
  • Reduces context switching.
  • Allows for new development techniques.
  • Enables faster iteration.

Measure What You Want to Improve

  • Is there some way to measure the progress of what I’m doing?
  • If this task doesn’t move a core metric, is it worth doing?
  • Maximizes impact.
  • Actionable.
  • Responsive.
  • Robust.

Validate Your Ideas Early and Often

Improve Your Project Estimation Skills

  • Decompose tasks into granular subtasks.
  • Model how long a task will take as a probability distribution.
  • The person who does the work does the estimate.
  • Beware of anchoring bias.
  • Validate estimate against historical data.
  • Budget for unknowns.





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