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Talking with Tech Leads

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  306 ratings  ·  40 reviews
A book for Tech Leads, from Tech Leads. Discover how more than 35 Tech Leads find the delicate balance between the technical and non-technical worlds. Discover the challenges a Tech Lead faces and how to overcome them. You may be surprised by the lessons they have to share.

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Published September 24th 2014
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Average rating 3.60  · 
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Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Unlike general management how-tos which are a dime a dozen, there are almost no good books on technical leadership, so the author definitely gets an A for effort in trying a fill a much-needed niche. And the interview format was a promising idea, especially given the treasure trove of expertise that ThoughtWorks lead consultants have (disclaimer: I worked for ThoughtWorks for 4 years but didn't work with any of these interviewees).

Despite that promising potential, the execution of the book was
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
A bunch of interesting interviews. Only downside is they all have pretty similar backgrounds. Would have liked more class and experience diversity.
Jul 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Good to use to figure out what other books to read
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
Came across this book after listening to the podcast with Patrick on Software Engineer Radio, which I found quite interesting and wanted to get a bit deeper into the topic.

Unfortunately this book isn't what I was looking for. 90% of it is snippets from the interviews with other tech leads (majority of them are from ThroughtWorks but not all) and it's highly repetitive, and very generic. Everyone struggles with finding time for writing code which they enjoy very much doing, everyone is finding pe
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
An important contribution, but hamstrung by its format.

The book's format is asking ~50 tech leads, mostly from ThoughtWorks, a few questions:
- what should the tech lead focus on
- how do you manage time
- how do you balance coding/non-coding responsibilities

This is an important book; there are many management books, but not much focussing on technical leadership. It was interesting hearing from the individual tech leads in their own voices, and hearing about individual projects was good for exampl
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
Repetitive, shallow, and over representation of tech leads from thoughtworks employees and clients.
Dejan Vukmirovic
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The brilliant read.

This book will not give to some Tech Lead a list of answers to his questions, or provide him with tooling on how to resolve problems he is encountering at work. But it will bring a sense of calmness. Because when you start reading this book you realise that all those worries that you have are not because of you not knowing how to do your job, and are definitely not because of the incapability of your organisation that you so easily blame. These issues (lack of time for coding,
Andras Csibi
Feb 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked how this book is not about the author telling you how to be a tech lead, it's about a bunch of different people telling you how to be a tech lead. It's a bit more evidence-based when N = 20 instead of N = 1.
Still, I struggled hard to finish this book. It became repetitive quite quickly. In a way, this was good because this lets you find common patterns and draw your own conclusions. On the other hand, this gets boring. Yes, you have to pay attention to the people. Finding time for coding
Jeremy Huiskamp
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a useful look at what a lot of people think the Tech Lead role entails. While on the one hand, there are a lot of diverse opinions, naturally a lot of the interviewees said the same things over and over, and so I found I could only read one interview per sitting or I would stop really paying attention.

As far as I'm aware, Tech Lead isn't really a well established role within the industry and I'm not sure this book really establishes it. Certainly within a single company like ThoughtWork
Ana Todor
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
‘Talking with Tech Leads’ is different from the very first pages, because it doesn’t take a quantitative approach to leadership, but the much more difficult (and dreaded) qualitative approach. You don’t get the sales-y pitch of “Here’s a bullet-point list of five tips that will make you a killer technical lead in 24 hours”. You get a series of 50 semi-structured interviews, straight off from the trenches.

Read the full review on my personal blog .
miki albert
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Allthough the content is great, it gets to be repetitive fairly easy. The actual knowledge nuggets extracted would take up a quarter of this book, but still, the “interview” format presented in the book is a very good touch. Having real individuals presented, you can see how different approaches and personalities can affect the teams performance (in a good or a bad way); it’s more relateable, and somehow better than just a blob of specific best practicies in an abstract format.
Daniel Blanco
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though some of the interviews didn't offer much, I was able to find very good tips on how to improve my role as Tech Lead.

I was able to relate with the difficulties that some of the interviewers had in their teams.

Overall I think this is a pretty good book and any new Tech Lead should read it.
Dave Cheney
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a newly minted tech lead I found this book useful albeit slightly repetitive—a side effect of the authors desire to remove their own bias by asking each interviewee the same questions. Perhaps because of the authors sample group—ThoughtWorkers and ex thoughtworkers—the book has little to offer tech leads working in remote first engineering organisations.
David S
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
The content is pretty interesting but it repeats itself too much.
I also felt the way it was done a bit lazy : it simply felt the author sent a survey to its colleagues and he only had to compile them and organize them in a few categories.
It's quickly read and you will better understand what's expected of a tech lead but it could have been way better in my opinion.
Dimos Raptis
Apr 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Tends to be a bit repetitive, since many interviewees essentially say very similar things. On the other hand, this can help you draw main themes, most of which are also nicely summarised by the author in the end. Interesting as a quick read, but it left me with the feeling that I gained more from the few summary pages at the end of the book than all the interviews.
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book when it came out. Then, when I was feeling alone in a hard day, I'd go back to the stories there. It's like sitting with a friend that reassures you others have gone through the same, that other people also struggled. I have gifted it to new managers a few times. You may not learn anything new, and other books have a lot more depth, but it sure feels nice to know that you're not the only person to go through X when you're new to the role. ...more
May 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Good book to understand the transition between developer and Tech lead. Constraints, pros cons, challenges with people, with technology...

From my point of view the interviewers are repetitive because more or less all the Tech leads are or were facing the same problem and challenges.
Darek Napłoszek
Jan 30, 2019 rated it liked it
A lot of the interviews are going in the same direction, which is understandable, but gets pretty boring fast. In the end reading the "Conclussion" section would suffice to get all the information you need from this book. However some stories were interesting. ...more
May 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Not much new for me. I already went through many of the things mentioned there. Mainly just recap. May be worthy at the beginning of the leader career. We have been reading it with my coleagues. I will see how helpful was it for them.
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019_read
Several interviews on becoming a technical leader, somehow useful in the beginning but its benefit diminishes quickly.

I would suggest reading a few interviews both from new and senior tech leaders with the conclusions from the author instead of going over all pages.
Isaac Perez Moncho
A short book with some useful insights about managing. Pretty good for being a compilation of interviews but I'm not a fan of those compilations as they don't ease themselves in a structured text that you can extract information from. ...more
Nov 11, 2018 rated it liked it
It's not a bad book, it just doesn't provide a lot of good insights. The tips provided are relatively generic imho. ...more
Feb 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Meant for someone stepping into a Tech Lead position. Interesting for software professionals nonetheless
Eric Mannes
Dec 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
Says so little with so many words! Impressive.
Majid Hosseini
An interesting book that talks with other tech leads and uses their experience.
I like it.
Zbyszek Sokolowski
To be honest I was hesitating between 3 and 4 stars, but due to weaker first part rather boring 3 will work. The book is mainly consisted from interview of 35 TL, with different experience as TL. Different approaches and so on. The idea is to look at other TL work, how they can deal with their job how they find time to write code and so on. Some quotations:

"noticed that the transition for a developer to a Tech Lead is never easy. Even experienced Tech Leads struggle when they first change teams
Moises Cuervo
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book, was like having a hundreds of advice from a lot of successful leaders around the world. In some cases I found that methods that I'm currently using are used by many of those leaders, so I could notice that maybe I'm in the right way to become a good leader :D ...more
Hugo Corbucci
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
In this book, Patrick Kua gathered a lot of interviews from multiple people that are or were, at some point, playing the role of Tech Lead in a team. It presents views from people new to Tech Leading and people who have been doing it for a while. For the latter, he groups interviews in 4 big aspects of Tech Leading: People, Tech, Bridging business and tech, you.

Overall, the book can get a little tiring due to the interview format being a little repetitive but the content is very reassuring for n
Mindaugas Mozūras
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
"A set of people does not make a team."

This book is a deftly organised collection of interviews with tech leads. It's arranged around four main topics: People, Tech, Business and You. Interviewees have a varied palette of experience. There are answers from developers who stepped into the role recently. And there are answers from veteran tech leads who've seen and dealt with various situations.

Responses do get a bit repetitive after a while. Nor did Talking with Tech Leads manage to surprise me.
Sebastian Gebski
Feb 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's a good book, but ...
* with a limited use cases list :)
* you have to accept its unconventional approach

Basically, this book in 80% consists of questionnaires filled by Tech Leads - both relatively inexperienced & seasoned. Questions vary, but to be honest they still present pretty much the same views & end with drawing very similar conclusions, which ... of course is not a problem. Because this book is aimed to help fresh Tech Leads to set a proper attitude & correct priorities - providing s
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58 likes · 19 comments
“The Tech Lead brings value by enabling everyone on the team to contribute code as much as possible; by avoiding rewrites due to people working in different ways; by managing technical debt to make it easier to add code, and by promoting relationships between the development group and business colleagues to ensure the code addresses business goals and delivers true value. As a leader, you enable others to do their work; you harmonise and thereby maximise the efforts of the entire group, not just an individual.” 0 likes
“The time you spend honing your development skills, such as seeing patterns in code, refactoring code to be easier to maintain or extend, and writing tests does little to prepare skills in resolving conflict, establishing a team culture, or communicating technology in ways that non-technical people can understand.” 0 likes
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