This is a book reading record of “An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management [Chapter 1]”

The main purpose of reading this book is gaining knowledge to lead teams in rapid growth organizations.

It seems that the author had experienced those kinds of significant organization growth at Uber and Stripe (organization size changed from 200 to 2000) and I think the insights and experiences accumulated in the chaotic environment must be valuable for teams which will face the same kinds of growth and problems embraced by the growth.

I’m looking forward to acquiring the experience and knowledge through this book and try to leave book records in each chapter.

Summary of this book

This book contains topics for challenges of engineering management from sizing teams to managing technical debt to succession planning and provides a path to the solutions.

From the past experiences at Digg, Uber, and Stripe, the author has elaborate his thoughtful approach to engineering management that leaders of all levels at companies of all sizes can apply.

An Elegant Puzzle balances structured principles and human-centric thinking to help any leader create more effective and rewarding organizations for engineers to thrive in.

Chapter 1: Introduction


  • This book is a collection of puzzles, which the author has had the good fortune to struggle with and learn from

  • In the chapter “Organizations”, the author mentions that organizational design gets the right people in the right places, empowers them to make decisions, and then holds them accountable for their results

  • In the chapter “Tools”, the author review a handful of fundamental “Tools” of management that the author found useful across a wide variety of scenarios

    • These range from systems thinking to vision documents, from metrics to migrations, from reorgs to career narratives
  • In the chapter “Approaches”, the author digs into how to adapt your management for rapidly growing companies, and how to manage when your desired impact is beyond your authority

  • In the chapter “Culture”, the author focused on practical things you can do to nurture an inclusive team or organization

    • It also digs into a few particular culture topics on the conflict of “freedom to” and “freedom from,” and deals with hero culture
  • In the chapter “Careers”, the author shares the insights about how recruiting and performance management are powerful tools that engineering managers should be using frequently


The following part is described in the book and I also don’t know these kinds of investment and training are provided in Japanese companies.

Skilled practitioners are scarce, and only the exceptional company is willing to invest in growing its managers.
(Larson, Will. An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management (p. 25). Stripe Press. Kindle Edition. )

Maybe, most Japanese companies just have made their talented software engineers to engineering managers without providing well considered and structured training programs for engineering managers even though the roles and careers are different.


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