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re manager writing code: It should be mandatory - least you become one of the 'non-technical' managers that seem to revel in just how far they've gotten from the day to day. You need to intimately understand your team's workflow, the dev environment, the build system, the deploy process. You need to know whether 'switching to X' is a good idea. You need to quickly surmise whether "building y" is a hard or easy problem.

If your SDLC makes it 'unrealistic' for you to find an hour or two to complete even a small point story then you already have suspect a pipeline.




Microsoft used to have the policy that you had to write code unless you supervised over 100 people. Do they still do that?


Not sure about the policy, but a few years back I heard from Qi Lu (who now runs Applications and Services) that even though he manages far more than that, he still attempts to read code regularly, even if his schedule doesn't permit him to write code himself. I'm sure his senior engineers are more than happy to ask down the hierarchy "send the code you're most proud of, or something that represents a critical piece of infrastructure or bottleneck to understand, and it'll be read all the way up the chain." In fact, now that I think about it, the morale side effects probably make this a great practice!

On a separate note, that tidbit has stuck with me years later - I heard it as an intern, and I think it's one of the things that really solidified in my mind that I could stick to my technical roots even if I went all the way down the path of engineering leadership. As I find myself writing more and more specs these days, I'm glad to be reminded of it.




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