I noticed [concrete observation]. Is everything ok?

I noticed [concrete observation] happened a few times now. What’s the pattern here?

[non-personal topic] has been on my mind. Could we have a quick chat to figure it out?

May we spend a bit of time going through your progress on [initiative]?

Do you have a few minutes to dive into [initiative] with me?

Holding people accountable and being held accountable do not seem like fun until you consider the alternatives (which are really bad). Do yourself and others a favor and learn how to do this.


“I see operationally-minded engineers working cross-functionally with software development teams to help them grow in a few key areas: making outsourcing successful, speeding up time to value, and up-leveling their production chops.”

This is great and true. The more of our operations and infra we outsource, the more time we have to do interesting work and help our product teams create business value.

A field report from doing incident management by John Allspaw that I can very much relate to with lots of learnings that need to be disseminated: “Focus less on incident metrics and more on signals that people are learning”

Barrels and Ammunition

I keep referring back to this distinction which though coarse remains extremely useful. The barrel-like qualities of Understand, Ideate, Take Initiative, Recruit Others, Deliver Results can definitely be nurtured in people.

Barrels take initiative. They don’t wait for approval or consensus.

Barrels ship high-quality work. They constantly looking for ways to improve.

Barrels value speed. They get the proof of concept out the door quickly and iterate on it.

Barrels take accountability. They are not only willing but excited to own the plan and the outcome.

Barrels are seen as a resource. Teammates frequently seek them out for help and advice.

Barrels work well with others. They know how to motivate teams and individuals alike.

Barrels can handle adversity. They push through friction and obstacles.


One, they must build psychological safety to spur learning and avoid preventable failures; two, they must set high standards and inspire and enable people to reach them.

Leaders in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world, who understand that today’s work requires continuous learning to figure out when and how to change course, must consciously reframe how they think, from the default frames that we all bring to work unconsciously to a more productive reframe. Framing the work is not something that leaders do once, and then it’s done. Frequently calling attention to levels of uncertainty or interdependence helps people remember that they must be alert and candid to perform well.