Lead Developer UK Conference 2017, Day 1
On June 8 and 9, I attended the Lead Developer UK conference for the first time. Its unique format allowed us to learn about leading and motivating teams in the tech industry from experts.
The Lead Developer conference was my first non-Drupal conference in quite some time and I’m happy to write that I picked the right one. Not only could I learn and verify a lot of thoughts about leadership but it also gave me a new set of role models to be inspired by.
The outstanding single-track program featured blocks of 3 sessions, most of them around 30 minutes with some shorter ones of around 10 minutes and some longer ones up to 50 minutes. Let me share a few of my personal highlights:
Patrick Kua – The Constant Life of a Tech Lead kicked off the conference by reminding us about the basics of leadership in tech and that we should focus on values and principles rather than tools or implementation details. People are unique, they differ and we need to find the right approach depending on the situation. It is especially important to help your team as much as possible by providing the necessary context to accomplish their goals, which is often forgotten in my experience.
Katherine Wu – Ask vs. Guess Culture Communication brought back the idea of how differently people “tick”. Are you a more upfront person that prefers a clear communication style with others, or are you more on the side that expects someone to read between the lines and work based on assumptions? I definitely find myself more on the guess culture side and knowing that this is not how everyone works already helps a lot.
Anjuan Simmons – Leadership Lessons from the Agile Manifesto gave a very personal track record of how he mastered leadership for himself and his teams. Working with a hero analogy, Anjuan mentioned that as tech leads we get called for the adventure, we get mentored with wisdom and are provided gifts to finally approach the boss level and return to improve the ordinary world. A tech lead guides other people on paths they have already taken. How does Anjuan motivate his team? At any cost, he will try to preserve the dignity of each team member and therefore earn their trust to together iterate and improve.
Erika Carlson – Better: Fearless Feedback for Software Teams provided helpful insights for one of the topics I most struggle with: giving good feedback. Aside from the general feedback categories: positive to encourage and constructive to improve, there’s also a category that is often missed not considered. “Passive feedback” means that you don’t give feedback at all and that also mean something to your peers. Giving the right amount of feedback in time is critical to any healthy relationship. I also liked to find out about 360 feedback and the idea of having a dedicated #thanks slack channel to collectively practice appreciation.
Nickolas Means – The Original Skunk Works concluded the first day. It was a detailed look at the history of the aircraft manufacturer that showed what incredible achievements they could make based on Kelly’s 14 Rules. Providing a system to innovate and release quickly (continuous integration & deployments) was critical to the success of this team.
The slides for all of the talks are available and I added the links to them above. On top of the inspiring talks, the conference had some more features I really liked too. Meri Williams was hosting the conference in a well-organized and entertaining way and followed up on a code of conduct issue in a constructive way. The conference also had a live captioning feature of all the talks on a screen, which helped me follow the massive flow of audio information and was even entertaining at times.
Next week, let’s follow up with a summary of day 2 and conclusions for The Lead Developer UK conference.