Discover more from Refactoring
Cognitive load, professional coaching, and good OKRs 💡
Monday Ideas — Edition #64
Hey, Luca here! Welcome to the Monday Ideas 💡
Every Monday I will send you an email like this with 3 short ideas about making great software, working with humans, and personal growth.
You will also receive a long-form, original article on Thursday, like the last one:
To receive all the full articles and support Refactoring, consider subscribing if you haven’t already!
p.s. you can learn more about the benefits of the paid plan here.
✖️ Trinetix • your trusted digital product partner
Today I am happy to promote the excellent work done by Trinetix. Trinetix empowers world-renowned brands to build effective IT strategies and drive innovation with uniquely developed solutions.
Trinetix can help with:
💼 Business enablement — Discover the right tools for transformation and create an impact-focused growth roadmap.
🚀 Digital acceleration — Leave legacy behind and steamline new technology adoption to navigate the changing business landscape.
🪄 Innovation CoE — Foster risk-free innovation environments and drive better ROI from AI and automation with comprehensive PoCs.
📱 Productized services — Turn impactful ideas into products and services that win customer hearts and set new industry standards.
🔮 Strategic guidance — Access reliable support from experts experienced in industries from professional services to finance, logistics, and healthcare.
Trinetix is a sponsor of Refactoring 🙏 check out here how we run sponsorships transparently.
1) 🪴 What is professional coaching useful for?
I often recommend managers who feel stuck or are facing tough challenges to get some professional coaching. Many, though, are confused by what coaching is useful for.
External coaching is different by the coaching you can get from co-workers in some decisive ways. For example, an external coach is rarely effective on hard technical skills, because 1) they have little context into your work, and 2) because you only talk/work with them e.g. once every two weeks.
What a coach brings, instead, is an external perspective backed by their extensive experience in the industry. This is especially useful for:
✨ Universal skills — leadership, management, collaboration, communication
🔄 Processes — e.g. how your dev process works, how to manage tech debt, how to organize teams, etc.
🪜 Career growth — e.g. advice about direction, having more impact, goals, etc.
🌱 Personal — e.g. relationships with co-workers, healthy/toxic environments, stress, discrimination, etc.
For many of these, having little context can even become an asset. In fact, when you talk with co-workers, you might both take for granted something that you shouldn’t. Say there are some toxic dynamics around management — you might not challenge these with co-workers because hey, it’s been like that forever, it’s ok. An external coach, instead, can tell you “it’s not ok” because they look at things with a fresh pair of eyes.
💼 What jobs coaching is best for
Based on this, I feel like the more your impact is removed from your pure tech chops, the more external coaching is valuable. So, I recommend coaching for managers—even fresh ones—and ICs at least at senior levels.
In general, the higher your level the more the external perspective is valuable. Also, the higher your level the less you will have peers to draw opinions from, and the more you risk living in your own echo chamber.
We talked about this and a lot of other stuff with Andrew Twyman, professional engineering coach, in a recent interview 👇
2) 🧠 Cognitive Load Assessment
Team cognitive load measures how hard or easy teams find building and maintaining their software.
A high cognitive load can be a symptom of various diseases, like high technical debt, or wrong organizational design. For tech teams, this concept was popularized by Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais, in Team Topologies, which we reviewed here 👇
They even designed a template you can use to assess the cognitive load. You can find it here.
You can run the assessment periodically, on a quarter or semester basis, together with your wider planning activities. If you have never done this before, this is a great addition to your arsenal for this year.
You can find more techniques in the Tech Radar edition we issued early this year 👇
3) 🎯 Creating OKRs together
One of the main reasons why OKRs fail is that they are not participated by people.
Creating OKRs is a collective process. By involving your team you create commitment towards the goals. The ideal journey is a blend of top-down and bottom-up input. Here is a simple process:
🎯 Objectives — The leadership team sketches high-level goals. These are mostly qualitative, non-measurable, and based on themes that may span multiple quarters.
📈 KRs — Some initial KRs are created top-down, involving managers of the respective teams / functions. These KRs are totally provisional and serve as a basis for discussion.
🔨 Initiatives — The initial version of the OKRs is presented to the team. People come up with initiatives to achieve the KRs and possibly adjust KRs themselves in the process.
🔄 Iterate — KRs and Initiatives are challenged and improved over a couple of rounds of iteration.
More ideas on creating good OKRs 👇
💻 Typo • 10x your dev velocity
Last week we promoted Typo — an engineering intelligence platform that seamlessly integrates with your dev tool stack (Git, Issue tracker, CI/CD, Slack).
Typo connects the dots between engineering signals and developer well-being to enable teams to code better, deploy faster & stay aligned with business goals.
If you missed it, as a Refactoring reader, you can still get 20% off on any Typo plan 👇
And that’s it for today! If you are finding this newsletter valuable, consider doing any of these:
1) ✉️ Subscribe to the newsletter — if you aren’t already, consider becoming a paid subscriber. You can learn more about the benefits of the paid plan here.
2) ❤️ Share it — Refactoring lives thanks to word of mouth. Share the article with your team or with someone to whom it might be useful!
I wish you a great week! ☀️