An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management by Will Larson - Book Review


There is a saying that people are not leaving firms; they're leaving managers. Management is a crucial component of every enterprise, but the area is often self-taught and unstructured. Getting to the right solutions to complex management problems will make the difference between team satisfaction and dissatisfaction and, eventually, business success or failure.

An Elegant Puzzle of ill Larson reflects on engineering management-from sizing teams' fundamental problems to technical debt to succession planning and offers a roadmap to reasonable solutions. Will Larson has developed a thoughtful approach to engineering management from his experience at Digg, Uber, and Stripe, which can be implemented by leaders at all levels at organizations of all sizes. An Elegant Puzzle balances traditional values and human-centric thought to help every leader build more successful and fulfilling organizations for engineers to excel in.


At technology firms of many shapes and sizes, including Calm, Stripe, and Uber, Will Larson was an innovation chief and software developer. He grew up in North Carolina, studied computer science at Kentucky's Centre College, spent a year teaching English in Japan on the JET Program; Since 2009, ND has been living in San Francisco. On his blog, Irrational Exuberance, at lethain.com, he writes sometimes.

You'll hit Senior Software Engineer, the career standard for software engineers, in five to eight years at most technology companies. The career ladder in the company at the job level does not qualify you to work for the next promotion. Being further promoted is an exception rather than expected. This is also when an opportunity to step into engineering management is first offered to many engineers. We have seen a flurry of books over the past few years, unlocking the career path of engineering management, Like The Manager's Journey by Camille Fournier, The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo, Resilient Management by Lara Hogan, and even my Elegant Puzzle.

It's not an easy career in engineering management, but maps are available to help navigate it. What if, without being an engineering boss, you want to progress your career? The direction of technological leadership remains relatively undocumented, challenging to navigate, and incoherent throughout businesses. Staff Engineer is your guide to building your career towards a place in staff engineering, gaining the title, and succeeding in the job.

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