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40,000 HackerNews book recommendations identified using NLP and deep learning

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lucisferreonJune 8, 2018

For those interested in learning management skills I've found https://www.manager-tools.com/ and their podcasts and resources invaluable.

Also the best book I've read so far on management is the excellent High Output Management by Andy Grove. Still incredibly relevant.

vincentbarronMay 11, 2016

High Output Management by Andrew Grove [1].

Leadership requires good management of oneself, and this is an excellent book on management.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/High-Output-Management-Andrew-Grove/dp...

stuart78onMar 22, 2016

What a loss. High Output Management remains one of the finest books on our industry that I have read, and I'm glad we have that to help carry his torch forward.

tbarringer816onDec 5, 2019

High Output Management by Andy Grove. Great resource that I re-read every year or so

danboyonSep 7, 2018

+1 for High Output Management. Great book.

etrainonNov 9, 2012

The premise that "information gathering" is a manager's most important task is a pretty interesting assumption underlying this post.

I recommend reading Andy's book "High Output Management" for more insight into this assumption.

glaberfickenonJune 11, 2020

That is only the intro paragraph. Author proceeds to formulate a legitimate question "How can anyone make any important decision in a company that large?" and then summarizes a possible answer from a book (High Output Management, by Andy Grove [first published 1989]).

suchireonSep 7, 2018

My favorites so far: High Output Management, Turn the Ship Around, Radical Candor, and the Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

jdsnapeonNov 29, 2019

I rate 'High output management' by Andrew Grove (founder & CEO of Intel). He has clearly lived a lot of the experiences he wrote about and the advice was pretty timeless.

anonfunctiononMar 22, 2016

One of the only books I've consistently recommended is High Output Management[1] by Andy Grove. His methods for dealing with complex interconnected problems was as brilliant as it was when he wrote it 30+ years ago.

1. http://www.amazon.com/High-Output-Management-Andrew-Grove/dp...

mooredsonFeb 13, 2018

I loved "High Output Management" for a concrete handbook on a lot of these topics: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/324750.High_Output_Manag...

llaollehonJune 26, 2021

High Output Management was an interesting read. Grove took timeless computer architecture techniques and mapped it onto management.

icelanceronSep 28, 2019

High Output Management is required reading at my startup. But so is Horowitz's book [0], which I think is actually better.

[0]: https://smile.amazon.com/Hard-Thing-About-Things-Building/dp...

firecallonApr 23, 2019

If you've never read Andy Grove's book "High Output Management" then you are missing out. It's one of the only management books I'll ever recommend. Truly great practical advice.

hemantvonJune 25, 2014

One of the best book I found in similar situation is High Output Management and Only Paranoid Will Survive by Andy Grove.

datadawgonSep 27, 2019

Thanks, really enjoyed that foreword and it really pushed High Output Management up on my reading list. Plus as a bonus I finally learned the name of "The Peter Principle" (the idea that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their level of incompetence).

darkersideonDec 5, 2019

I'm sad to have to scroll down so far to see High Output Management. Timeless principles that boil down the ABCs of being an effective manager. No bells and whistles. This is a must-read for any new manager.

mooredsonMar 22, 2016

I am enjoying reading High Output Management as well. If you like that, you might enjoy this intro to the new version from Ben Horowitz:


Adams472onMar 22, 2016

After reading Only the Paranoid Survive and High Output Management, I have a deep respect for Andy Grove and the work he did to make Intel an enduring company. He'll be missed.

noahmbarronDec 5, 2016

Andy Groove "High Output Management" covers this topic and more. Highly recommend! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015VACHOK

mason55onNov 9, 2019

Yeah if we are comparing software to manufacturing, the books I prefer are “High Output Management” and “The Principles of Product Development Flow”

cushychickenonDec 5, 2019

I'm reading High Output Management by Andy Grove at the moment. Definitely one of the best practical guides on being a leader and a people manager I've ever read.

karl11onDec 5, 2019

High Output Management by Andy Grove, Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink & The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz would be my top 3.

egman_ekkionJuly 8, 2020

I think this approach was also suggested in Andy Grove's High Output Management.

segmondyonApr 11, 2018

From one manager to another, if you haven't read it. Get a copy of "High Output Management"

applecoreonMar 22, 2016

Grove's High Output Management is highly recommended. It's a masterpiece of management theory and practice.


karmacondononMar 22, 2016

I'm ashamed to admit that I'd never heard of Andy Grove until today. I did find a great discussion of High Output Management by Ben Horowitz that may be useful to fellow uninitiates: http://a16z.com/2015/11/13/high-output-management/

toivoonJuly 6, 2021

Well I'm not American and I read mostly "self-help" books, from "In Search of Meaning" to "Code Complete" to "Extreme Ownership" to "High Output Management" to "Never Split The Difference". I always read one before I go to sleep.

jlbnjmnonApr 2, 2020

Read "High Output Management" by Andy Grove. If you learn to do 20% of what's in that small book you'll be ahead of 80% of so called "managers".

For leadership, read "Good Strategy, Bad Strategy".

RainymoodonJune 30, 2019

Read chapter 4 (I recall) of Andy Grove's book High Output Management. He literally has a whole chapter devoted to meetings.

heymijoonFeb 23, 2019

Leading by Example, as you describe it, sounds a lot like Andy Grove's concept of Task Relevant Maturity [0], described in his book High Output Management [1], which seems popular with the tech crowd.

[0] https://getlighthouse.com/blog/management-concept/
[1] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/324750.High_Output_Manag...

strebloonJune 28, 2015

High Output Management by Andy Grove

slavoingilizovonJan 7, 2019

Even if it takes 50% of your time, this is like coding for a dev - it's your primary job and you can't skip it. Andy Grove had a rule of thumb on how much time to spend on what in his book High Output Management. Summary here: https://getlighthouse.com/blog/high-output-management/

mrwzyonDec 5, 2019

On the topic of

General Management -
High Output Management by Andrew Grove

Visibility and Alignment -
Measure What Matters by John Doerr

Understanding People and Teams -
Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson

manc_ladonApr 30, 2016

I just finished reading Andy Goves book "high output management" it was really quite good.

It's also Zucks favourite business book as well apparently.

notatechieonMay 6, 2020

Radical Candor by Kim Scott was the first book I was asked to read when I was promoted as manager. After that I went on to read High Output Management. Currently I am reading Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.

throwaway98797onJuly 3, 2021

i’m not sure where i stole this from.

my best guess is a combo of the following books / leaders.

1. High output management (andy grove of intel fame)

2. Charlie Munger’s Psychology of Human Misjudgment

3. Ben Franklin autobiography

abhiyerraonDec 5, 2019

Leaders Eat Last was one of the best books I read this year. Extreme Ownership was also quite good but Simon really explains the “Why” of leadership that most books are missing. High-Output Management is another classic.

tomnipotentonNov 13, 2019

Sounds like Andy Grove's "High Output Management", which I believe mentions that values need to be something you can use to make a decision one way or the other.

pclarkonJuly 1, 2012

High Output Management by Andy Grove

Jack Welch: Straight From the Gut

The Innovators' Solution.

vcald64onNov 11, 2015

That book's been sitting on my shelf for years! I'll go read it now once I finish High Output Management (highly recommended). Thanks!

far33donJune 15, 2010

If you want to know how to run a good meeting, read Andy Grove's book, High Output Management. It's the best of the business books I've read.

It's hard work to make meetings useful but the book lays out the groundwork.

far33donJune 15, 2010

If you want to know how to run a good meeting, read Andy Grove's book, High Output Management. It's the best of the business books I've read.

It's hard work to make meetings useful but the book lays out the groundwork.

b1tr0tonDec 19, 2016

Maybe some, but not all.

An old but concrete example: Andy Grove, in High Output Management, describes a fairly typical 8 to 5 day in which he works until he's tired, with level of fatigue vs level of "doneness" being the deciding factor of when he ends his day.

dpeckonAug 13, 2018

Both of you should have read High Output Management, at least the sections related to 1-1s.

eatonphilonJune 20, 2021

I would not recommend anyone An Elegant Puzzle. No disrespect to the author's writing ability and no discredit to his experience. I thought the book had no flow (it was a curated collection of his blog posts, or something like that). He described in detail the decisions he made or things he learned but since he didn't explain any context about the company at the time I could not figure out how any of it was relevant to me. And I've worked everywhere in companies of varying size between F500 and Series A.

I do agree The Manager's Path is a good one though.

Some other favorites are High Output Management by Andy Grove, Managing Transitions by William Bridges, The Toyota Production System by Taiichi Ohno, Measure What Matters by John Doerr, Peopleware by Tom DeMarco, The Innovator's Dilemma, etc.

trwhiteonJuly 20, 2020

My CEO tried to explain to me that the "key result" part of OKRs didn't need to be measurable and then cited my colleague's as better examples despite none of them having written anything that could be used to hold them accountable. When I ask him if he's read High Output Management he just says "It's on my reading list". I'm leaving soon.

ykat7onJuly 8, 2021

This was a nice succinct writeup. On the topic, here are some books I'd recommend for ICs making the jump to a manager role (or thinking about it):

1. The Making of a Manager (https://www.amazon.com/Making-Manager-What-Everyone-Looks-eb...)

2. The Manager's Path (https://www.amazon.com/Managers-Path-Leaders-Navigating-Grow...)

3. Crucial Conversations (https://www.amazon.com/Crucial-Conversations-Talking-Stakes-...)

4. The Coaching Habit (https://www.amazon.com/Coaching-Habit-Less-Change-Forever-eb...)

5. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (https://www.amazon.com/Five-Dysfunctions-Team-Leadership-Len...)

I'm still due to read High Output Management (https://www.amazon.com/High-Output-Management-Andrew-Grove-e...) and Extreme Ownership (https://www.amazon.com/Extreme-Ownership-U-S-Navy-SEALs-eboo...).

dhoustononSep 28, 2019

IMO this post has some good points but makes the executive sound like a passive referee, ultimately misunderstanding what High Output Management (also one of my favorite books!) is about. (Admittedly adding my own editorial here from my experience founding a startup and now running it as a ~3,000-person public company.)

The basic principle of HOM is that the fundamental job of an executive is to deliver results ("output"), and that the measure of an executive is the output of their organization. Importantly, there is no one right way to deliver results -- successful CEOs can have very different styles and techniques.

That said, for every effective way to deliver results there are vastly more that are ineffective. Complexity, ambiguity, and uncertainty are not your friends. Time is not your friend. Everything is situationally dependent. There are many skills to develop and principles that can help but there's no formula.

This also partially explains why the median CEO or exec is perceived as ineffective, often because they are. It's a hard job, otherwise everyone would do it well and there would be a surplus of good (and cheap) execs.

Contrary to what the post suggests, HOM does not say not that the job of an executive is to wave some kind of magic culture or "values" wand and rubber-stamp whatever emergent strategy and behavior results from that. CEOs and executives absolutely do (and must) make important decisions of all kinds, break ties, and set general direction. Occasionally they need to give commands but more typically you work collaboratively with and (as the post correctly suggests) empower your team and avoid doing too much as an individual contributor.

If you're curious about what execs do and how to be a good one, HOM is an incredible book. The Effective Executive by Drucker is another favorite.

https://hbr.org/2009/05/what-only-the-ceo-can-do is one of my favorite articles about the responsibilities of the CEO.

https://hbr.org/2018/07/the-leaders-calendar is a fascinating study of where CEOs spend their time and what they actually do day to day.

pm24601onJan 4, 2019

High Output Management by Andy Grove
manager-tools.com has a bunch of good podcasts
I ran across platohq.com which is building a site for people like yourself to get mentorship.

As more my own personal advice... Recognize that you will have to:

1. fire people you like.

2. give up the option to work directly on code

3. spend more times in meetings

4. budget time more carefully

5. be careful what you say (things get misinterpreted)


so much more

The skills that make you a good developer are only 20% of the skills needed to be a good manager.

j_sonOct 13, 2017

Ask HN: Just made Director, now what? | https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14937290 (Aug 2017, only 38 comments)

Book recommendations:

>gtf21: Would recommend very highly: (1) Andrew Grove's "High Output Management" (controversial recommendation) https://amzn.com/dp/B015VACHOK/ $13.99 2015;4+stars;153 reviews

>killjoywashere: I like Lazlo Bock's book, Work Rules! https://amzn.com/dp/B00MEMMVB8/ $16.99 2015;4+stars;295 reviews

>helper: Maybe read "The Manager's Path" by Camille Fournier. https://amzn.com/dp/B06XP3GJ7F/ $16.19 2017;4+stars;30 reviews

>simonhamp: I'd highly recommend reading Radical Candor by Kim Scott. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KTIEFEE/ $12.99 2017;4+stars;138 reviews

Podcast recomendation:

>gtf21: Manager Tools "Basics" podcasts, especially on 1x1s and feedback https://www.manager-tools.com/manager-tools-basics

Hnrobert42onMar 30, 2018

I am just reading chapter 2 of High Output Management which is about how to select effective indicators. Highlights so far:
- measure output not activity (closed sales not sales calls)
- pair a quantitative measure with a qualitative measure
- think of the 5 indicators you want to check first thing every morning.

keeptryingonJuly 20, 2020

The downside of OKRs is that it incentivizes everyone to sandbag their efforts and then stick to that effort.
Also no one is going to stick their neck out on goals which are ambiguous or lack clarity. There is just no incentive - in fact there's a massive dis-incentive.

If you have a startup with less than 300 people and you have good communication and goal setting, don't use OKRs. Use KPIs and then nehlp your teams to keep iterating.

Input management is so much more effective than output management but it needs visionary leadership. Read: High Output Management - Andrew S Grove (ex Intel CEO).

gtf21onAug 6, 2017

Would recommend very highly:

(1) Andrew Grove's "High Output Management", it's easy to read: https://www.amazon.co.uk/High-Output-Management-Andrew-Grove...
(2) Manager Tools "Basics" podcasts, especially on 1x1s and feedback: https://www.manager-tools.com/manager-tools-basics

There's a hell of a lot to learn outside of these things, but I think they're a good start.

dwinstononApr 1, 2019

> To remain highly effective, not just being productive, particularly for a project manager, it's imperative to spend time only on tasks that require critical decisions to be made, and to delegate the rest.

This mirrors Andy Grove's practice (detailed in his book High Output Management) of focusing on "high-leverage" activities, where "leverage" he defines as the ratio of output/impact versus time spent.

mallyvaionJune 27, 2018

Really interesting post, thanks! You mentioned a few recommended readings (High Output Management, The Score Takes Care of Itself), which are all great general management books. Have you noticed much divergence from their advice when specifically applied to engineering management at high-growth startups?

sixhobbitsonMay 17, 2018

I recently finished Drive and loved it,and I'm also working with a small team where we recently implemented OKRs. Now working through "Punished by Rewards", and also really enjoyed Andy Grove's "High Output Management" (in spite of the title) and the original "Flow" book, in spite of its esoteric style.

Would love to hear what else you've read and enjoyed in this area.

robosoxonApr 19, 2010

Great article, and as indicated in his blog's comments, very similar to Rands in Repose (http://www.randsinrepose.com) whose writings in this space are similar.

I can't stress enough how useful 1:1s are for my own team (I believe Google follows the Andy Grove model mentioned in "High Output Management", another great book). It's easy for engineers to under-communicate those somewhat-important-but-not-really issues with their tech lead / manager, and getting it out on the table during 1:1s is crucial to keeping said issues from getting out of hand.

qznconNov 14, 2020

I'm currently reading High Output Management which is 25 years old. So your comment addresses the time where the book was written.

Grove certainly sends quite utilitarian vibes. He also says that a collaborative culture is important. Your comment suggests that neither he nor his successors managed to make Intel's culture collaborative enough.

Higher management is probably often an iterated prisoners dilemma. Collaborating is best for the company but defecting is good for the ambitious manager.

xvaucoisonDec 11, 2018

During Summer 2018, I read 2 very interesting books called “Measure What matters” by John Doerr and “High Output Management by Andy Grove.

I found that OKR (Objectives and Key Results) is part of the secret sauce in Silicon Valley to succeed as a business or a person as it helps to be focus.

At GI, we decided to apply it. As I did not find any great tool and thought everybody in the world should benefit from it, we realized a tool internally.

Being driven by the motivation to make Business & Society work together, we decided to launch a business line (a free tool we give to the community and a paid version for organizations which require more features).

As usual at GI, we give back part of profits of the business to the Fair Business Deal Innovation Foundation to finance great causes like cancer research, brain diseases, autism, homeless people & poverty, animal protection, environment...

Xavier Vaucois, GI CEO & Founder

wenconMay 17, 2018

Management techniques come and go, but at the core of management is an understanding of systems/process and of human behavior. A really good book on management is Andy Grove's "High Output Management" [1], which to me strikes a good balance. It's a fairly popular book in SV and probably a known quantity to most HN readers. It's also notable in that it wasn't written by some management guru or business prof who's never managed anyone in their lives (i.e. Drucker), but instead drawn from the experiences of a CEO of a significant company (Intel). The blue-collar equivalent is Plain Talk by F. Ken Iverson, former CEO of NuCor Steel. [2] (not the author of APL -- that's Ken E. Iverson :)

[1] TLDR https://medium.com/@iantien/top-takeaways-from-andy-grove-s-...

[2] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1450374.Plain_Talk

Andrew_BurakonAug 5, 2021

What is an OKR – Objective and Key Result?
Objectives and Key Results (OKR) are a goal-setting method businesses use to encourage development, innovation, and creativity by setting measurable goals and tracking progress.

Andy Grove, Intel’s co-founder and former CEO, was the first to implement OKRs for attaining the company’s objectives. Setting milestones was important for Intel since a large corporation needed to transform strategic thought into attainable goals and benchmarks.

In his book High Output Management, Grove stressed the necessity of tying key results to goals. Grove believes that OKRs indicate whether or not a company has fulfilled its aims.

OKR in software development, as an endpoint architecture, assisted Larry Page and Sergey Brin in accelerating Google to greater heights, and hundreds of businesses have subsequently learned to harness the OKR process’s principles.

Emerging technologies like FinTech and PropTech have continuously employed goal-setting techniques to discover major advancements in their development processes. Advances in behavioral biometrics in FinTech, for example, are the outcome of a series of procedures that resulted in a sophisticated increase in cybersecurity. These OKR examples for software developers highlight its significance in today’s fast-changing times.

But there’s another frequently-used and probably more familiar acronym in software development – KPI, or Key Performance Indicator. Both set goals and track progress. So are they interchangeable?

cthulhaonApr 3, 2020

Three books that you should read, and why they will help you at this point:

1. High Output Management, Andy Grove
- Explains management from first principles in a very engineering mindset. You'll understand the value of meetings, one-on-one's and so on.

2. Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, Verne Harnish
- Explains the structure of a business, and the priorities and trade-offs of rapid growth. A bit more holistic and pragmatic than #1, and assumes you're stepping up into new roles and responsibilities relatively frequently

3. Critical Conversations, Grenny/Switzler
- Talks about the need for (and differences between) discussion/conflict/control/coordination in communication in an org. Reading this should help you recognise when and how to speak up.

These are more management than leadership, but I found that a strong basis in management made it easier for me to step into leadership when necessary - I knew the why/what/how of the technical and organisational sides of the matter, and built trust and respect on that competence/understanding.

Ping me by DM if you want more customised recommendations - There's books like Pat Lencioni's '7 dysfunctions of a team' which are excellent for helping you recognise and address the most obvious flaws in a team, and it's a great starting point for becoming a good leader.

I'd also recommend things like therapy or the Landmark Forum as a way of working through your feelings about leadership and the way you relate to people. Leading people will bring out a bunch of positive and negative stereotypes in you and the people around you, and I don't think there's a better way than doing the emotional labour of recognising and working through those issues - you start getting into territoriality and survival-mode mechanisms when you are in charge of teams, and so much of it is kept below conscious awareness because the emotions involved tend to be overwhelming and imprinted at a very young age.

JugurthaonJune 6, 2020

Going from building code to building a team is different for different people, and some resources can help you in that transition should you choose to go through it.

Keith Rabois has an excellent lecture on that entitled "How to Operate"[^1] in "How to Start a Startup". He gets right into it in the first five seconds.

Ben Horowitz has a lecture in the same series: "How to Manage"[^2].

Andy Grove wrote a book entitled "High Output Management"[^3], that's also referenced in both videos. As a matter of fact, Ben Horowitz wrote the foreword of the newer edition of "High Output Management". The book is good.

[^1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fQHLK1aIBs

[^2]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVhTvQXfibU

[^3]: https://www.amazon.com/High-Output-Management-Andrew-Grove/d...

Spooky23onJan 15, 2018

High Output Management by Andy Grove. Read that book and the “First Break All the Rules” book mentions ones elsewhere. Most of the rest is duplicative or crap.

Also, just be you. People see potential in you and how you work. Don’t surrender your soul to management books — management is like organization, there’s lots of “management porn” that makes it easy to procrastinate through reading. Most of the guidance you see is ego-driven and conflicting.

The indirect thing you should consider working on that was hard for me and many other tech people is networking and relationship building. I’m at a director level position now, and my ability to pick up the phone and have someone do something is an increasingly important part of my job. Making that happen is time and work.

bardworxonMay 2, 2020

Maybe not software specific but a must read, for business in general, is High Output Management by Andy Grove. The best way I can describe it is: a manual on how to be a better business manager, for engineers. It's dry, its concise, its exactly what I needed when I wanted to learn more of the "business" side of things and it helped me greatly.

wenconJuly 7, 2020

The type of knowledge relevant to becoming a good technical lead seems to me to be "tacit knowledge".

Books can provide vocabulary and ideas, as well as ways of thinking about the subject. I know that Andy Grove's "High Output Management" gave me way of thinking about the corporate world that helped shape my interactions in the workplace and with senior management. There's no doubt that through great books one gets to pick the brains of geniuses whom one might never get to meet in real life, so there's inherent value in that.

That said, to truly get better though, I believe one needs to be apprenticed or coached by someone who knows what "being good" looks like. That is, to find someone who has real expertise (not just commenters on HN who've never managed anyone), shadowing them and synthesizing their expertise to fit one's own style.

Most people who are "good" can't explain why they're good (some can, most can't) -- so one almost has to study them up close. There's an old saying that "leadership is caught, not taught"... sounds like a tired old cliché, but seems to be somewhat true in my observation.

koposonOct 22, 2018

I'm not sure if this sounds preachy, but I think you'll have great answers from reading 'High Output Management' by Andy Grove.

- Have an agenda in mind. If there were older 1-on-1's use them as a direction to set an agenda. A hazy 1-on-1 is not much different from having a drinks in a bar

- Have the reportee come prepared with his / her concerns. If they can be shared ahead of time, that will be great

- Keep aside a good 45 mins to 1 hour for this. You need to listen a lot

- Keep 1 on 1's strictly professional - focused on the productivity of the reportee

cushychickenonNov 23, 2019

It's not so sad or surprising. Apple is heavily leveraged to build chips in support of its core business, which is building iPhones. He can likely achieve his goal of becoming a top executive in the semiconductor industry (within Apple or other company) faster by getting acquihired into a larger corporation as head of this new server development company.

It's all about mission orientation vs. functional orientation. Apple is heavily leveraged in a functional orientation to build chips for iPhones. NUVIA is heavily mission oriented in building server chips. Mission oriented companies win on speed. An acquihire of NUVIA shortens the total time this fella would need to ascend to the top tier of semiconductor executives just by virtue of the fact that they are a company that moves faster. He either becomes a top executive in a successful chip startup, or he gets acquihired at a high level into a big semiconductor company. Either way - he wins.

Andy Grove has some great insights on mission orientation vs functional orientation if you're interested. Chapter 8 of High Output Management - cliffs notes available here:


vvandersonNov 7, 2019

Andy Grove's High Output Management(hate the name, like the book) also talks about this tension between teams that focus on the business unit and the horizontal teams that support(if I recall correctly he groups in marketing, finance, and others) the business units.

You get large advantages in having teams built around specialized functions, however at the cost of lower cohesion.

Business verticals will trade all sorts of advantages for that cohesion.

There's tension in finding the right mix, the book covers it much better than I can but it's interesting to see parallels in tech stacks as well.

koposonJan 6, 2019

Please spend reading High Output Management by Andy S Grove - the best reference book for would be managers.

The biggest difference from developer to manager is understanding the value of leverage. As a developer, the biggest feedback / dopamine hit is the completion of tasks ... while being a manager is about the feedback + monitoring + productivity cycle.

I’ve been a CTO cum TL cum Manager all at the same time and I’m sure that reading the book might have helped me focus correctly on the getting thr best leverage.

rahimnathwanionDec 27, 2020

The last book on the list (The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni) is indeed gold. I really like 'The Ideal Team Player', too, as well as his other books.

Other books with immediately-actionable advice for improving company processes, systems and culture:

- The Great CEO Within, by Matt Mochary

- High Output Management, by Andy Grove

- High Growth Handbook, by Elad Gil

davidrmonJuly 21, 2020

That reminds me of the foreword in the High Output Management, written by Ben Horowitz and Andy Grover's words "only the paranoid survive":

“CEOs always act on leading indicators of good news, but only act on lagging indicators of bad news.”

“Why?” I asked him. He answered in the style resonant of his entire book: “In order to build anything great, you have to be an optimist, because by definition you are trying to do something that most people would consider impossible. Optimists most certainly do not listen to leading indicators of bad news.”

But this insight won’t be in any book. When I suggested he write something on the topic, his response was: “Why would I do that? It would be a waste of time to write about how to not follow human nature. It would be like trying to stop the Peter Principle.* CEOs must be optimists and all in all that’s a good thing.”

egman_ekkionJan 2, 2021

> This book contains three basic ideas. The first is an output-oriented approach to management. That is to say, we apply some of the principles and the discipline of the most output-oriented of endeavors—manufacturing—to other forms of business enterprise, including most emphatically the work of managers. Consider Intel, which is a true manufacturing and production company, making highly complex silicon chips as well as computer-like products built from them. Our company now has over thirty thousand employees. Of these, about 25 percent actually work to make the products. Another 25 percent help them as they supervise the personnel, maintain the machines, and engineer and improve the manufacturing process. Another 25 percent work in administration, where they schedule production, keep personnel records, send bills to our customers, and pay our suppliers. Finally, the remaining 25 percent design new products, take them to the marketplace, sell them, and service them after the sale.

Andy Grove, High Output Management, about Intel (at the time when they were successful)

I think there are many, many (not directly) productive functions that successful business needs to have and engineers often underestimate those (I certainly know I often do).

AntiImperialistonNov 24, 2020

Understanding your audience is one of the most important parts of effective communication. If you are not spending time on finding out what various stakeholders in your organization want (in general... and out of you) and care about, you will not be able to effectively communicate with them.

Expressing what you want and care about, being open and vulnerable is also another part. They should feel like they know you and when you say something, they shouldn't have to guess where you are coming from.

This is easy to figure out if you spend time communicating with them. By ignoring meetings, you have missed out on those opportunities. Meetings are not completely unnecessary; wherever you got that impression from, you got it wrong. You have to figure out which meetings are important to you and which ones are not, obviously. But to know that, you have to be in enough of them. Some meetings present opportunities to know what is required of you and also communicate what you've been doing. You should never miss those. I highly suggest you read the book High Output Management by a former CEO of Intel to learn more about what meetings are... and a whole lot of other things.

Who was communicating to you this whole time? How did you figure out what was required? What were you going by? Whoever was doing that part is much more valuable than you. From the organization's point of view, they will not even notice that you are gone.

I suggest you learn these things and move on. Next time, if you want to work for a company, look for a company which is actually looking for someone like you and willing to compensate you fairly for your contributions.

smountcastleonAug 8, 2016

I give these three books out to new managers in my org:

* High Output Management by Andy Grove https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0679762884/

* Turn the Ship Around by David Marquet https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1591846404/

* The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1591843472/

For interns I give out these two books:

* The Pragmatic Programmer https://www.amazon.com/Pragmatic-Programmer-Journeyman-Maste...

* The Passionate Programmer https://pragprog.com/book/cfcar2/the-passionate-programmer

KerryJonesonOct 21, 2018

There's a great description of how to run a 1-on-1 in High Output Management by Andy Grove.

I like to have them every 2 weeks with a new hire, and every month thereafter. Sometimes, if something comes up midweek that feels like it needs to be addressed, I'll schedule one before that.


Location: take a walk or go to a non-work but private space

Ask questions about their general feelings:
- How are you doing?
- How are things in the office? With co-workers?
- Are you enjoying your work? What could make it better?

Ask them for feedback:
- Is there anything that's been on your mind? Any issues either with me or other staff?
- Is there something that we could be doing better in their eyes? What would they change?

Do they have a career goal they are progressing towards?
- What position would you like to be in 1-2 years?
- What can I do to help you get there?
- How do you feel your recent projects have helped in that regard?

Only after I exhaust them and their feelings will I bring up feedback I have for them -- again, with exceptions, if the 1-on-1 was called to handle a specific issue, that will be addressed pretty fast.

ztonDec 5, 2019

I think this is a more complicated question that it first appears. What do you mean by leadership? Getting things done for some strict definition? Managing a team? Managing a huge enterprise? I think reading books across the spectrum of leadership and management is critical, as each gives you some feeling of the underlying “truth” that you’re trying to find.

I think the best book on the topic as I think you mean it is High Output Management by Andy Grove. It’s a classic. Incredibly well written. Direct.

From there, I’d actually take a pivot and read MCDP 1 Warfighting, which is concise, brilliant, generally applicable, and completely aligned with the thinking of Grove. Along the same lines, I’d consider reading about OODA (I like “Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War” but not strictly necessary to read an entire biography). I think then you start to see that “Management” began to mean something particular in the post-war era for those who could see it, that it’s been lost in most organizations. Agile, lean, blah blah blah is all sort of derived from here.

Then get some conditioning on how it all goes wrong, for which I would suggest the classic “The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering”, which is generally applicable.

Then personally, I era toward thinking about organizations that have accomplished great things, so suggest “Creativity, Inc”, “Doing the Impossible: George E. Mueller & the Management of NASA's Human Spaceflight Program”, and books of those type.

westoqueonJan 14, 2021

I agree with quantifying managers' performance is a bit harder than software engineers. Take it for what its worth but what I learned from Intels Andrew Groves book "High Output Management" book is that the output of a manager is the output of his team/org and team/org under their influence.

> Finally, CEOs are terrible examples. More than any other title, CEO is an echelon which once reached, by whatever means, seems to ensure that the title holder can almost do no wrong.

I disagree here. I think the CEO is a very good example since if they do something wrong, it would be very visible and that's why even high profile CEOs get fired. See Uber or WeWork or even now, Intel for example.

sixhobbitsonSep 7, 2018

For a more alternative view (not sure if it still counts as alternative as it's pretty well accepted, but in my experience not that well adopted, but the "rewards and incentives are bad, monitoring is bad, trust and autonomy is good" line)

* Drive, by Daniel Pink

* Punished by Rewards, by Alfie Kohen

* Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

I wrote about some of these ideas here [0]

For a more traditional approach

* High Output Management, by Andy Grove

* The Manager's Path, by Camille Fournier

* The Thing about Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz

Not specifically about management, but in general, if you haven't read Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind", you should do that first. This is the book that has changed the way I think and understand people the most, and has indirectly helped me more with management than all of the management focussed books combined.

And I just finished "The Mythical Man Month" which is definitely still a must-read decades after it was first published (get the 20th anniversary edition as it has a nice summary at the end, including where the author thinks he was right and where he admits freely what he got wrong).

[0] https://www.codementor.io/garethdwyer/enter-the-zone-fight-i...

jetsnoconOct 31, 2016


Author here. Thanks! That's a great suggestion. As you can tell, right now the site and the mailing list is the most minimal of an implementation. We want to build a network, connect and mentor one another through the simplest and easiest mechanism possible - email. Once we have a medium-sized community with dozens of experts, we plan to add community managed content. Perhaps through a wiki?

I'll share the books and articles that have positively affected my career. These aren't tried and true and maybe dozens of people would disagree about their value but here they are, for what they are worth:


  - High output management (Grove, 1995)
- Leading Up: How to Lead Your Boss So You Both Win (Useem)
- It’s your Ship  (Abrashoff)
- The score takes care of itself  (Walsh)
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things  (Horowitz)
- Where good ideas come from  (Johnson)
- Extreme Ownership (Navy Seals) — (Willink)
- Work Rules — (Bock)
- 5 Dysfunctions of a team — (Lencioni)
- Give and Take (Grant)
- This is what impactful Engineering leadership looks like - http://firstround.com/review/this-is-what-impactful-engineering-leadership-looks-like/
- Notes on startup engineering management for young bloods - http://www.elidedbranches.com/2015/10/notes-on-startup-engineering-management.html?m=1


  - Continuous Integration: Improving Software Quality and Reducing Risk (Duval, Matyas, Glover, 2007)
- Continuous Delivery: Release Software Releases through Build, Test and Deployment Automation (Humble, Farley, 2010)
- Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change, 2nd Edition (The XP Series) (Beck, Andres)
- SICP: Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
- Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship
- Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software
- Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code
- Refactoring Databases - Evolutionary Database Design (Ambler, Sadalage, 2006)

npr11onAug 13, 2018

1. It's your meeting and you should write the agenda, not your manager. Usually this is 1-3 things you want to tell/discuss with him/her. It can help to keep note of important things that come up during work for you to discuss at the next 1-to-1.

2. Make sure your manager schedules more than 30 mins, ideally an hour. Prefer longer meetings to more frequent meetings, if that's a trade-off. It's important you can get into long or difficult topics. Often you won't need all the time, in which case you can always end the meeting early.

3. Focus on important topics, e.g. career development, rather than "updates", e.g. week done this week.

4. Avoid cancelling meetings; they're primarily for your productivity/happiness. How regularly you have 1-to-1s should depend on how experienced you are at the job and can change over time - probably somewhere between weekly and monthly. At the end of each meeting, try to arrange/confirm the time for the next one.

The book "High-output management" by Andy Grove has a great section on this, and I've found the advice there very helpful over the last few years.

klenwellonMar 22, 2016

I was going through a difficult period at work last year and picked up High Output Management on the recommendation of a thread I came across somewhere here on HN. It didn't help save my job. But it did help me see what competent management looks like and helped me preserve a bit of my sanity.

One thing that struck me as emblematic of Grove's generous and effective management style is that nowhere in the book does he have a section addressing the difficult task of letting people go. I kept waiting for it. Instead, he focuses on the challenge of retaining talent stating that's the toughest job management confronts.

The book made me really wish I worked for an organization he was in charge of.

wenconJune 26, 2021

Try reading High Output Management by Andy Grove. He built many of the processes at Intel and his book is guide and a narrative on how he did it. The principles are now commonplace in many companies but no one tells you how they came about —- this book helped me figure out how management worked in a large company when I started at one years ago and gave a behind the scenes look which was helpful for me to decipher my experiences.

At the very least, reading this book is a way to pick the brain of one of the most brilliant managerial minds of our time (he passed away a few years ago). It’s usually hard to find good mentors in any company, so reading books is one way to get mentored by someone outside the company.

smackayonAug 17, 2017

There is one cardinal mistake that management makes (and development blithely accepts):

* Management is always right.

This truism is built into the entire fabric of software development: whether your process is an agile one where the product manager has ultimate knowledge of what is needed and on what timescales; the project that is delayed not because of bad planning or poor company organisation but because the developers are not working hard enough; that the only variable that affects the business is how productive / expensive the developers are - all the factors that describe how effective the management is are completely ignored or irrelevant. The list goes on and on and described in better detail in all the comments here.

Of course the solution to all of this is better data. You can be sure that the volume of data is inversely proportional to the strength of belief of the above statement. This leads to the second fundamental mistake that management makes:

* Not reading High Output Management by Andy Grove.

johnkchowonJan 4, 2019

The hardest part during the transition is to give up doing what you love and excel at (coding) and instead doing something foreign and way more nebulous. But every time you feel that urge to go back to writing code, you need to remind yourself that as a manager, your primary goal is to have a multiplicative effect in the organization, and that starts with not only improving your team’s productivity, but coaching each and every member on your team to have great judgement and make the right decisions that balances the technical and business needs. And to have your team make the right decisions, you as the manager need to equip them with as much business context as possible and empower them to run as fast as they can.

I highly recommend reading High Output Management by Andy Grove. It’s written decades ago for the chip business, but it’s personally one of the most impactful books and really cemented for me the ideas I’ve laid out above.

I wish you luck! It’s not an easy process, but with work it can be incredibly rewarding to see people succeed and grow under your watch.

datadawgonSep 27, 2019

This was a stimulating read and I'll be adding "High Output Management" to my reading list.

I've worked in organizations where the company strategy was poorly defined and this led to confusion and misalignment at the lower levels. I remember talking to some of my coworkers, wondering whether we had an issue with our executive team. It's interesting to think that it's not the role of the exec team to set strategy, and the issue may have been with the management layer below the exec team. Then again, maybe the problem was with the culture/value of diffuse ownership set by the exec team...

jonathanfosteronJuly 31, 2016

There's only one measure of management productivity and that's the output of their teams. The go-to book on this subject is High Output Management by Andy Grove [1]. It is hands down the best book on management. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is transitioning into a role where you'll be leading people.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/High-Output-Management-Andrew-Grove/d...

ArthurNonAug 3, 2016

For those intrigued by Systems Thinking but want to explore it in context of startups (or business in general), consider reading Scaling Lean by Ash Maurya [1]. The whole Customer Factory [2] is based on a causal loop diagram of McClure's Pirate Metrics (AARRR); Ash also incorporates a lot of Theory of Constraints into the book. Highly recommended.

Systems Thinking was also part of Intel's culture under Andrew Grove (at least at the leadership level, from what I can tell). You can see evidence of that in his super-acclaimed book, High Output Management [3], especially the first couple of chapters (though he doesn't refer to it directly). Rich Jolly, another executive @ Intel, actually has a PhD in Systems Science and also wrote a book, Systems Thinking for Business [4], although it's definitely a bit more advanced and more theoretical than the others listed here.

And, I whole-heartedly agree - Meadows' book is simply an AMAZING treatise of Systems Thinking. It's a great place to start regardless of your background (the beauty of ST is that it is applicable to a broad range of fields and disciplines).

As an aside, does anyone know of any good/free/open source tools for drawing causal loop diagrams, or better yet, running simulations?

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Scaling-Lean-Mastering-Metrics-Startu...

[2] https://leanstack.com/customer-factory-blueprint/

[3] https://www.amazon.com/High-Output-Management-Andrew-Grove-e...

[4] https://www.amazon.com/Systems-Thinking-Business-Capitalize-...

prependonOct 3, 2019

I think some of the classic tech business books are also good for “indie hackers”:

Andrew Grove’s High Output Management

John Brooks’ Business Adventures

Brad Felds and Jason Mendelson’s Venture Deals

Antifragile is on the list, but Fooled by Randomness is better I think as it’s shorter and contains almost all the ideas.

fenguinonNov 20, 2015

I've read many startup/management books the last few years and I keep going back to High Output Management [1]. Andy Grove has really great insights about managerial leverage, influence, planning, the purpose of and how to hold meetings, and motivation vs. control. His perspective on one-on-ones has been especially useful as we scale.

[1] If you don't have time to read the whole book, I've taken some pretty detailed notes at http://charles.io/high-output-management/ :)

koposonFeb 7, 2020

Congratulations on the move!

This may sound very pedantic, but please spend a week reading “High Output Management” by Andy Grove.

The biggest change that happens when you move from a individual to a team lead is that suddenly you have a team which you can leverage to get the needle moving.

This is a great opportunity to punch above your weight but also fraught with peril if not planned well.

There is a need for a mix of comradeship and accountability which is not easy to grasp. But please spend a week reading the book

bcbrownonDec 22, 2016

Language in Thought and Action, S.I. Hayakawa

How to Read a Book, Mortimer J. Adler




High Output Management, Andy Grove

Hell's Angels by Hunter S Thompson

Programming Pearls, Jon Bentley

Walden, Thoreau

Autobiography of Red, Anne Carson

Letters from a Stoic, Seneca

Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Wittgenstein

Tyranny of Words, Stuart Chase

Golden Mean, Annabel Lyon

Disrupted, Dan Lyons

Big Data, Nathan Marz

Practical OO Design in Ruby, Sandi Metz

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus, Rainier Maria Rilke

Anatomy of a City, Kate Ascher

Language and Thought by Chomsky

Hero of a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell

Language and Responsibility by Chomsky

Magic, Science, Religion by Malinowski

Meditiations by Marcus Aurelius

Oranges by John McPhee

The Dream of the Enlightement, Anthony Gottlieb

Nonexistant Knight/Cloven Viscount, two novellas by Calvino Italo

Deltoid Pumpkin Seed by John McPhee

Infrastructure by Brian Haynes

I'd recommend almost all of them, but especially the first two, and Autobiography of Red(poetry).

wglbonJuly 30, 2010

which is likely to go unheeded.: I suspect you are right there, and it would not be the first thoughtful thing he has said that goes unheeded ("If you are concerned about dependence on foreign energy, support electric energy. That is stuck to the continent.).

So I wonder if his book "High Output Management" is on any of the top school's MBA reading lists?

janvdbergonDec 14, 2019

These are a few of the ones I read this year and that the average HN reader would also probably enjoy (links are to my blog):

* Why We Sleep: https://j11g.com/2019/05/31/why-we-sleep-matthew-walker/

* The Effective Executive: https://j11g.com/2019/03/18/the-effective-executive-peter-dr...

* High Output Management: https://j11g.com/2019/01/29/high-output-management-andrew-s-...

* Bad Blood: https://j11g.com/2019/01/21/bad-blood-john-carreyrou/

* The 7 Habits (I reread this after a long time and it still holds up!) https://j11g.com/2019/09/30/the-7-habits-of-highly-effective...

* A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again – David Foster Wallace (This is just an amazing book and became one of my all time favorites) https://j11g.com/2019/08/08/a-supposedly-fun-thing-ill-never...

deanalevittonJune 29, 2019

When I worked as a director for a large tech company I had some similar questions. Because I joined through an acquisition, I never truly adjusted to the network of managers both above, below and alongside me.

Eventually, about a year after leaving to launch a new startup, I read High Output Management. Suddenly everything made sense. I'd strongly recommend reading it.

Many Bay Area companies are led by people who read this book, and I think you'll gain an understanding of what the mid-level managers worry about in their day to day.

kqronAug 11, 2020

It doesn't matter where you are in the org chart. Being a good leader is about prestige and respect, not dictatorial power.

With prestige comes attention to what you say and do, and ability to influence decisions.

If you feel like the middle manager is powerless, these are exactly the types of books to read. Other recommendations include High Output Management, Drive, How To Talk So Kids Will Listen (I'm serious), Turn the Ship Around, Out of the Crisis, and more.

rdlonDec 13, 2016

I consoled myself with 1) it is just one person's opinion (his other recommendation kind of sucked too; I think I just don't like his taste in book recommendations, which doesn't say anything else about him, or even his reading habits), and at least it wasn't Malcolm Gladwell.

(I'd suggest reading Thinking Fast and Slow, and High Output Management. I just track everything I read on Goodreads, though -- https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3960665-ryan-lackey

nakedrobot2onOct 24, 2013

Founder with 3 kids here.

Your perspective completely and unavoidably changes once kids come along.

Your desire to leave your mark and influence on the world has a new target - the one who is looking at you in the morning, asking you for breakfast.

Still, people are people, people want to build great things. You can do both. It is harder. You have only so much time. Social life gets squeezed. Anyway you're no longer in your twenties with your tribe of friends. You have your own tribe now.

Managing people and managing children has a lot of similarities. Andy Grove in his book High Output Management highly recommends one-on-one meetings with both family members and colleagues.

matchagauchoonMar 26, 2016

I love Andy, but it can be difficult to reconcile this article with the pro-globalization message in his book "High Output Management".

Had Intel outsourced the manufacturing of their memory chips during their "scale-up" phase, it's conceivable that they may have established more "partners" and less "competitors"... similar to what Apple has accomplished today with iPhone manufacturing.

heymijoonSep 1, 2020

Btw, since this is HN and its oriented towards startups let me pull this out of the teaching world and into management.+

I'm not alone. Andy Grove and his concept of Task Relevant Maturity (TRM) have a lot of overlap here. Primarily in understanding that someone's prior knowledge/experience will dictate their ability to accomplish the task at hand.

Where I differ from Grove is how to help someone when their TRM is low. He states this is a time to tell them what/when/how.

1) In a structured org like Intel in the 80's when Grove wrote High Output Management, maybe this worked. In a startup where the work to be done is often as yet unknown by manager and worker alike, trying to tell someone what/when/how doesn't work

2) The ability to handle ambiguity is itself a skill and one people need to develop maturity in handling. This is where I see the idea of productive struggle/desirable difficulties as a useful addition to Grove's TRM framework

+Good teaching is good management--both roles are about developing people and setting them up for success

luser001onJan 8, 2013

This whole article should have been prefaced with a giant 72-pt IMHO and suffixed with a 72-pt YMMV.

I was amazed at recommendations #4 and #5: reward somebody for "fitting in" etc. (!!!!!!!)

I highly recommend Andy Grove's "High Output Management" if you're really interested in building a high-performance organization. It's a highly objective book: don't waste time on voodoo like "Intriguingly, in a "social" environment, the candidate would often show more of their "true colors". Especially if beer was involved."

JSeymourATLonSep 27, 2016

> Any books you recommend. Primary management skills where I lack:

- FYI: For Your Improvement, A Guide for Development and Coaching> http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/847538.FYI?from_search=tr...

- High Output Management by Andrew S. Grove > http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/324750.High_Output_Manage...

- The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business by Josh Kaufman > http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9512985-the-personal-mba?...

hermanhermitageonApr 3, 2016

Nice article.

I'd suggest for anyone making the transition into management (particularly from a more technical background) who is after some concrete advice - start by reading 'High Output Management', and getting a subscription to Manager Tools.

In terms of the article, I'm not sure I would use the term 'senior' to apply to a manager (or individual contributor), until they are at the 10-15 year experience level (which may come in much more or less than 10-15 years employment based on circumstances).

wenconJune 25, 2021

* Fooled By Randomness (NN Taleb): Taleb is a complicated personality, but this book gave me a heuristic for thinking about long-tails and uncertain events that I could never have derived myself from a probability textbook.

* Designing Data Intensive Applications (M Kleppmann): Provided a first-principles approach for thinking about the design of modern large-scale data infrastructure. It's not just about assembling different technologies -- there are principles behind how data moves and transforms that transcend current technology, and DDIA is an articulation of those principles. After reading this, I began to notice general patterns in data infrastructure, which helped me quickly grasp how new technologies worked. (most are variations on the same principles)

* Introduction to Statistical Learning (James et al) and Applied Predictive Modeling (Kuhn et al). These two books gave me a grand sweep of predictive modeling methods pre-deep learning, methods which continue to be useful and applicable to a wider variety of problem contexts than AI/Deep Learning. (neural networks aren't appropriate for huge classes of problems)

* High Output Management (A Grove): oft-recommended book by former Intel CEO Andy Grove on how middle management in large corporations actually works, from promotions to meetings (as a unit of work). This was my guide to interpreting my experiences when I joined a large corporation and boy was it accurate. It gave me a language and a framework for thinking about what was happening around me. I heard this was 1 of 2 books Tobi Luetke read to understand management when he went from being a technical person to CEO of Shopify. (the other book being Cialdini's Influence). Hard Things about Hard Things (B Horowitz) is a different take that is also worth a read to understand the hidden--but intentional--managerial design of a modern tech company. These some of the very few books written by practitioners--rather than management gurus--that I've found to track pretty closely with my own real life experiences.

koverdaonJuly 3, 2018

I believe this is the relevant bit:

As we learn from Andy Grove, former Intel CEO and author of the book High Output Management, it is also important to define and track counter-metrics to provide necessary context, because metrics are sometimes optimized to a fault.

For example, engineering tickets will vary in importance, so if your engineers have closed the critical tickets, they’re doing better than if they close most tickets but only the easiest ones. Similarly, if the half of candidates that accept your job offers are less skilled than the half that decline, then you’re doing worse than the raw percentage indicates.

goopthinkonJuly 7, 2020

1. "An Elegant Puzzle - Systems of Engineering Management" by Will Larson. His blog & "Staff Eng" posts are helpful as well. https://lethain.com/tags/staff-eng/

2. "The Phoenix Project", "The Unicorn Project" (novels), and "DevOps Handbook" by Eugene Kim, on how different parts of a tech + non-tech organization come and work together.

3. "High Output Management" by Andrew Grove on overall technical management.

4. "Measure What Matters" by John Doerr on setting objectives and measuring their progress.

5. "The Checklist Manifesto" by Atul Gawande on thinking through replicable processes.

6. "Who" by Geoff Smart on hiring.

7. "Start with Why" by Simon Sinek and "The Culture Code" by Daniel Coyle on creating culture and reasons for why people do the work. It's an important part of any management process, double import because of how often it is lost in technical management.

myasoonJan 6, 2018

Not that I'm a manager but I enjoyed High Output Management by Andy Grove. It's short and sticks to KISS, I don't really subscribe to the belief that dealing with people is something you can learn from books -- The Art of War won't kindle a non existent fire, instead it amplifies something innate. A lot of methodology seems overly rigid and stiff to be useful for anything but sounding good in theory and failing in practice.

strkenonAug 24, 2018

Without being too much of a prick, my dad grew up in a first world western country in a house with a dirt floor, had no power until after 1970, ate a diet of mostly potatoes a few months before they were due to be planted and 10 months since they were picked, slept with the cows because it was more comfortable than sleeping in a bed with the other male children, and ended up a comparatively wealthy amateur entomologist only because he got a free studentship and became a teacher. They used to store meat in a Coolgardie safe before they bought a kerosene fridge.

Anyone in a developed country has an insane level of wealth even compared to our parents, for the most part. I'm reading High Output Management right now, and it's basically the opposite of every strike and industrial action my parents found themselves in. There's an inherent tension between a stable life and a rich life that I find hard to resolve.

I dunno.

wenconJuly 31, 2020

I think career coaches can be helpful but you have to pick the right one.

Just a data point on my experience being coached by someone with less intellectual depth and experience than I had: there was some value in the general feedback I received (everyone benefits from having their blind spots pointed out), but in truth I really didn't learn very much overall.

I think there are good coaches out there -- I tend to think the better ones are those who've had real world experience in the area they're offering coaching in. For instance, many executive coaches are former executives so they speak from experience and have had skin the game.

I would somewhat distrust coaches who've merely taken coaching classes, whose resumes indicate that they've never done anything truly difficult in their lives in terms of career. The advice you get will likely not comport with reality -- you're much better off reading books and talking to senior people in your industry.

Ultimately I benefited more from learning from multiple sources -- I picked the brains of the best in the industry by reading and arguing with books like High Output Management, Hard Things about Hard Things, etc.

I may never have had the opportunity to be coached by the late Andy Grove, but at least I got to see things from his perspective a bit.

koposonMay 22, 2019

Please read 'High Output Management' by Andy Grove.

There has never been a when I kicked myself in the head for not having discovered the book earlier. My better part of 6 years moving into a hazily define leadership role which was a mix of de facto CTO, technical architect, product manager, product development, hands-on developer, people management, project management - had me running in a high-stress environment for ~ 6 years. I think a lot of mismatch of expectations, could have been avoided had I followed the lessons earlier.

fenguinonOct 15, 2015

Management is a completely separate set of skills from engineering, and a set you have to force yourself to learn. The best book I've read on the subject is Andy Grove's High Output Management [1] -- it talks about how to choose tasks with the highest leverage, how to run meetings and one-on-ones, how to make managerial decisions, and how to motivate your team.

[1] Cliffnotes at http://charles.io/high-output-management

mellavoraonJuly 29, 2021

I've been working/managing remote for 15-20 years. I agree with the posters, that the skills which make a manager successful can be executed remotely as well as in person.

Buy "High Output Management" by Andy Grove. Read it. I've read it cover to cover 6 times now and still find gold each time I review it.

It is hard to know everything about your situation from you post, but your more emphasized issue is you seem to be missing a 'real connection to real humans'. Yes, of course a manager needs to be connected to the team, and that empathy/earned respect is essential.... but it can be built using remote means as well as in person. You show respect through words and actions, those can be written as well as spoken. Maybe you personally put a lot of emphasis on the immediate feedback of face to face to feel that connection? Truth is, while that immediate feedback feels great and helps you tune your message, it isn't the foundation. The foundation is the thing you are getting the feedback on.

If the message is "Team, here is the goal for the week and why it matters", the foundation is that each person sees the goal and how their effort contributes to it. It is great when everyone high-fives around the room, but high-fives without the understanding are a false signal.

You are correct that managers are essential to building a winning team. You probably have a list of what roles/jobs/tasks a manager does to achieve this.

You could write down that list, and for each item write your current process for achieving it. You could then think about how you can map that process to a remote work framework.

kevindeasisonJune 15, 2017

I'm reading some of the books here in the comments. Last two weeks I finished the books:

The Phoenix project

The goal

High output management

These were insanely good. I actually bought some of these to my three siblings.

I'd recommend these books because these books opened my eyes on how management can really help if done right

lquistonJune 6, 2018

An opposing viewpoint from Andy Grove's High Output Management:

Let's talk about surprises. If you have discharged supervisory responsibilities adequately throughout the year, holding regular one- on-one meetings and providing
guidance when needed, there should never be surprises at a performance, right? Wrong. When you are using the worksheet, sometimes you come up with a message that will startle you. So what do you do? You're faced with either delivering the message or not, but if the purpose of the review is to improve your subordinate's performance, you must deliver it. Preferably, a review should not contain any surprises, but if you uncover one, swallow hard and bring it up.

maremmanoonSep 7, 2020

I recently read this book and found it very interesting and useful. I think it might be for you.

The book is: High Output Management by Andrew Grove.

It is a dated book but many of the procedures described are still valid today (obviously using real digital tools).

I highly recommend you to read it. Improving a company often means improving the way people in the company work and interact while also increasing the quality of life of these people.

I think many of the practices described in this book are about these very things.

Good luck improving your business and sorry for my English (I'm Italian).

lukethomasonJan 4, 2019

The level of management book B.S is off the charts, but I would strongly recommend you pick up High Output Management, by Andy Grove. Use this as a foundation.

Next, I would recommend a few things:

- hold 1-1s with each person on your team on a regular basis. This is by far the best way to build good relationships with each person on your team. You will also get a lot more insights too.

- Ask each person on your team what their goals are in the next X months/years. Then do everything you can to help them reach it.

- Constantly be soliciting feedback about where you can improve.

agottereronJuly 7, 2020

Here's the list of books I've been recommending new managers and leaders read:

Small Unit Leadership: A Commonsense Approach

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

High Output Management

Measure What Matters

Death by Meeting

Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Start with Why (you can prob skip the book and just watch https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_insp...)

psrangaonMar 10, 2009

You're being marginalized. But I'm not sure if you're capable of being VPE but are being passed over because the CEO wants to bring in a buddy or because you are genuinely extremely unsuited for the job.

If you don't want to be marginalized, fight to get the VPE position. If you're going to get fired or further marginalized for fighting, you might as well learn now so that you'll win next time. If you get VPE, learn the skills required to be a great VPE and prove him wrong. Ask point blank for the position and find out why the CEO thinks you're unsuitable for VPE.

For some reason suits think management is not learnable/teachable. You sound smart; it's quite possible you'll be able to learn the required skills.

IMHO, people who think management is about "people skills" and "politics" are the clueless ones. Read up "High Output Management" by Andy Grove, a hard-core geek if ever there was one. He turned out to be an amazing manager too. Bill Gates, even harder-core nerd also turned out be an amazing manager.

To my mind, management is more similar to programming than to party planning (where people skills are really required). The manager's job is to set up systems and processes which will result in maximum output. To do this, you need to be analytical, quantitative, data-driven, open to being proven wrong etc. Do you see how you've been practicing all of these skills as a techie? Do the same for a proper manager's job skills and you'll see the overlap.

As an aside, I think all managers should have some individual responsibility also. Otherwise they will be tempted to create problems that can be 'solved' to justify their existence.

Re: "politics is not your strong suit" comments: you're expect things to work rationally but they seem to be irrational. Being techie who's always open to the possibility that you might be wrong, you're getting a second opinion to check your conclusions. Nothing wrong with that; that's a strength.

petervandijckonJune 14, 2017

High Output Management, by Andy Grove. It's not specific to engineering management, but still rocks.

Second, First Break All The Rules. Again, not about engineering, but better than most all other books.

And then also of course Mythical MM and PeopleWare. Those are specific to managing engineering projects/people.

laurentlonAug 13, 2020

Daniel Jarjoura recently published a fairly complete reading list that might be useful: https://techleadership.substack.com/p/the-product-leader-rea...

Some books I’ve read and enjoyed and/or found useful: The hard thing about hard things, the innovator’s dilemma, High output management, Accelerate, The Phoenix project (though I much prefer The Goal)

bryanmgreenonOct 8, 2019

For me, some are:

[1] High Output Management

[2] Thinking Fast and Slow (not technically a business book but very applicable)

[3] Blue Ocean Strategy


[1] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/324750.High_Output_Manag...

[2] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11468377-thinking-fast-a...

[3] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4898.Blue_Ocean_Strategy

wenconFeb 19, 2020

Surprisingly much better.

Theory and practice, when done together, is much more powerful than either alone.

Good practice books like "High Output Management", "Influence", "Hard Things about Hard Things" gives you a view of what other people at other (high-functioning) organizations do and exposes you to the norms in industry. They also give you mental models to think about things, and helps you to become aware of the problems you never knew existed. And it helps your normalize your expectations: you may think your company sucks, but reading widely and critically helps you realize even the very best companies deal with the same problems and don't really have significantly better solutions.

Reading a good book is like having a conversation with and picking the brain of a really competent mentor, dead or alive, and of a calibre that not exist in your organization. Internal mentorship is sometimes oversold. Most organizations have managers that have merely adapted to their local ecosystem and don't really have any insight on management as a craft. Managers who learned purely through experience tend to be shaped by the company's culture and may do very well in their niche but lack imagination to go beyond because they have no theory to hang their thoughts on.

Also, books are like travel -- you don't know what you don't know until you've seen for yourself what exists. You sometimes need to peek outside your organization to see what other cultures exist.

anant90onJuly 13, 2018

I disagree with you on "Measure What Matters" book. I was really looking forward to reading John Doerr's book, and I stuck along with it longer than usual, but had to ultimately abandon it before hitting the 100-page mark. It seems that just reading GV's blog post[1] on OKR's will teach you as much as reading the whole book.

In addition, the book is one content chapter, followed by a few success stories chapters written by founders themselves. These chapters are written in a very uninspired tone (almost as if they wanted to write something and get it done for JD, not because they wanted to share their story) and barely inspire you or bring in any new insights over the meatier content chapters.

This is not a criticism of the OKR system — arguably it's one of the best goal setting systems out there. But does it need a whole book to understand? I think not. It just seems to be a vastly missed opportunity to me. John Doerr is pretty much a legend in the valley, and maybe my expectations were sky high hoping for a book on the same level as High Output Management or Hard Things About Hard Things.

[1]: https://library.gv.com/how-google-sets-goals-okrs-a1f69b0b72...

kthejoker2onMar 8, 2021

I think the simplest response I can give to this is the "above defition" is of a pattern language, not a pattern.

A pattern language is an organized and coherent set of patterns. They are developed holistically to work in relation with each other. They're designed to be combined together - as sequences, in parallel, as contrasts - and also to be as "platform-agnostic" as possible.

For example, Alexander's book helpfully includes a ton of points on how to combine the various patterns in the book, and a healthy "see also:" section to get alternative ideas or just areas of overlap between them all.

And the patterns in the book are about the physical, environmental, and social needs of humans (the problems) and how they can be met trough architecture and infrastructure.

It's very distinct from just "a list of patterns." They're always described in service to the whole, in relation to the others.

For the English language, I would say Aristotle's Rhetoric is closest in spirit; whereas Elements of Style is clearly more a "list of patterns"

Other "pattern language"-style books I can think of are The Prince by Machiavelli; Capital by Marx; 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Ries and Trout; Diffusion of Innovations by Rogers; and High Output Management by Andrew Grove.

I would also say the original C2 Wiki comes closest to creating a "bottoms-up" pattern language. Here's the entry on A Pattern Language - https://wiki.c2.com/?PatternLanguage

But these books aren't explicitly set up as pattern language books - nor are many others. Very few books (not even the GoF) are put together so well and as comprehensively as A Pattern Language. It's truly a masterpiece.

edmondlauonDec 28, 2017

Yes, "high-leverage" is a phrase I use in the book. I learned about leverage when I read Andy Grove's High Output Management.

Why the word leverage?

Time is our most limited resource. And so the way to really increase our impact (say by 10x) is not to increase the number of hours you work, but to increase your rate of impact, which is how I define leverage in the book.

Another way to think about leverage is in terms of a lever, which lets you apply a little bit of force, have it amplified, and then move large boulders. Many of the stories and strategies from the book talk about these leverage points in engineering, e.g. investing in iterating speed or validating your ideas early and often, where small bits of effort end up having a disproportionate impact.

bchernyonFeb 10, 2019

Andy Grove talks about this in his excellent High Output Management, where he asks the question: how should knowledge managers (senior ICs) and people managers spend their time?

His answer is: on high leverage activities. Instead of fixing a small bug that affects a few customers, fix a big one that impacts revenue; train others to be better engineers, multiplying their future output; improve the process your team uses to build product. Essentially, look for activities that multiply output, rather than add to it.

wallfloweronJune 28, 2018

> To accomplish this, I decided to fly to New York to hole up in a hotel room for three days to read a few highly-recommended management books.

> I decided to focus on growing Gusto’s engineering team, and not our code. The technical books on my desk starting getting replaced with books like Mindset, High Output Management, and The Score Takes Care of Itself — still three of my favorites today.

If the three books listed in the latter excerpt were not those three books you read in the hotel, can you please tell us what books they were?

ath0onDec 25, 2017

"What more valuable allocation of your time could there be than in talking directly to people?"

Taking action, based on the what you've learned while talking directly to people.

A manager's output is the the output of the teams under his or her supervision or influence[1]. That means you have to find the highest-leverage activities: sometimes that's a one-on-one conversation, up, down or sideways. Sometimes it means sitting down and drafting an email or other written document that compiles all the little details you've learned into something meaningful and actionable for the people around you. Sometimes it's about being in front of a group and enabling a conversation that you're not directly at the center of, but which wouldn't happen well without you present.

Which isn't to say your manager at the time was right to dismiss your concerns, or was doing the most high-leverage things they could do. But the perspective might be useful.

[1] High Output Management, Andy Grove (former CEO of Intel). One of several great management books that help clarify "what management is and is not". And if you have never read anything in the genre, I'd start with Managing Humans, by Michael Lopp (randsinrepose.com). Life-changing for me when I was trying to figure out the same thing, before I started doing it myself.

AbiTunggalonAug 24, 2020

Spent the last month writing about the best book on management, High Output Management by Andy Grove.

It's really the canonical guide to management. Fans include Tobi Lutke (Co-founder of Shopify), Drew Houston (Co-founder of Dropbox), Mark Zuckerberg (Founder of Facebook), Marc Andreesen (Co-founder of a16z, Netscape, and Opsware), Ben Horowitz (Co-founder of a16z and Opsware), Brian Chesky (Co-founder of Airbnb), Brian Armstrong (Co-founder of Coinbase), and Ev Williams (Co-founder of Twitter and Medium).

acidburn4onDec 22, 2016

The Teachings of Ramana Maharshi - Arthur Osborne

Design of Everyday Things - Don Norman

The Prince - Nicollo Machiavelli

Being Mortal - Atul Gawande

High Output Management - Andrew Grove

Elon Musk - Ashlee Vance

Red Plenty - Francis Spufford

The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway

Sapiens - Yuval Noah Harari

The Four Agreements - Don Miguel Ruiz

The Inner Game of Tennis - W. Timothy Galleway

My Gita - Devdutt Pattanaik

One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Istanbul - Orhan Pamuk

The Stranger - Albert Camus

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