LIL #2: Lessons I Learnt This Week


Welcome to the second post of lessons I learnt(LIL) series. This week I went from being stressed, to meh, to content, and finally to the state of happiness. It is immensely powerful to know your feelings so that you can take corrective actions if required. Each week give us an opportunity to correct ourselves, learn from our mistakes, and brings a ray of hope that we can do better.

I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe. – Dalai Lama

This week I only have one lesson to share with you. I thought multiple times about in the last one week and I think if we can master it we can build great teams.

Lesson 1: Invest in software engineers with intrinsic value

Since the last couple of weeks I am reading University of Berkshire Hathaway book. This is a book that documents 30+ years of lessons learned from Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger at the Annual Shareholders Meeting. They are the most successful investors in the world.

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger invest in businesses that have intrinsic business value.

Intrinsic business value is what a company would bring if sold to a knowledgeable buyer. – University of Berkshire Hathaway

I am not a value investor in businesses but as an engineering leader I do need to invest in good engineers. So, I thought of extending the intrinsic business value concept to software engineers.

Intrinsic value is what an engineer would bring if they work in a psychological safe environment under a good leadership.

To me following are the traits of an engineer with intrinsic value

  1. Take accountability of the work assigned to them
  2. Believe in continuous learning
  3. Involve in healthy discussions
  4. Contribute to organization values

Can we discover intrinsic engineering value during the interview process? It would be great if our hiring process can help us find such candidates. I personally don’t think it is feasible to find such people in the hiring process. Hiring in most organisations is nothing more than the educated guess. Also, intrinsic value has a lot to do with the environment an engineer gets in the organization. So, it could happen that someone who lacks some or all of these traits acquire them given the right environment.

The way it works is

  1. You hire the candidates keeping intrinsic value in mind
  2. Leaders and mangers give them the right environment to work
  3. Leaders and managers do period 1:1 with them to look for intrinsic values
  4. When you believe you have found someone then you invest in them more so that they can reach their full potential. These are your organization top 5%.

This is easier said than done. Not all the people will have intrinsic value.

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