[Software Engineering Oldletter #4] Product-minded engineers, Don't call yourself a programmer, and 5 rules for doing Great Work

Every Friday, I’m sharing a short list of evergreen articles/resources broadly related to software engineering that wouldn’t typically get shared in most tech newsletters or social media feeds.


  • The Product-Minded Software Engineer (2019) by Gergely Orosz. I’ve most enjoyed my time working with teams whose engineers were really interested in the product itself, and not just the tech that went into building it. This article describes the traits of such engineers. A keen interest in the business, the “why” behind feature decisions and “end-to-end product feature ownership” are my particular favourite traits, but every one he lists got me nodding my head. And technical skills barely get a mention!
  • Don’t call yourself a programmer (2011) by Patrick McKenzie. I’ve been reading Patrick’s blogposts for 15 years or so now, and he always does a great job at shining light on the value that software engineers bring to the world:

    “describe yourself by what you have accomplished for previously employers vis-a-vis increasing revenues or reducing costs.  If you have not had the opportunity to do this yet, describe things which suggest you have the ability to increase revenue or reduce costs, or ideas to do so.” “You are not defined by your chosen software stack”

  • Five rules for doing Great Work (2017) by Amy Hoy. I don’t know if anyone has influenced my thinking around building products and serving users more than Amy has. I have this printed out, laminated and stuck on my office wall as a constant reminder.

    What separates the fleeting thrill of a “great idea” from the enduring rewards of great work? These five facts…


Submitting your recommendations

If you’d like to share an evergreen article/book which has significantly influenced your thinking or practice around software delivery, please email it through to me and I’ll add it to my backlog for sharing in future editions.

Have a great weekend!

— Paul

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