User guide for working with Andy

This guide may help shortcut concerns and clarify aspects of my approach that you’d otherwise need time to learn.
If you like to RTFM, this is for you.

How I view success #

Success closely follows my values and my mantra which you can explore on my homepage.
Beyond that, success could be framed within wartime or peacetime contexts:

Peacetime #

Success looks very kaizen, ideally it’s fast non-linear growth of the business I directly contribute to. Optimizing for high margins, and fortifying advantages.
Success is forward-looking, creatively inspired, where risk is self-healing.

Wartime #

Success looks like existentially-bound innovation, unconventional alliances, and clear minded reality checks.
Success is grounded, constantly-measured, fighting with everything then winning.

I’ve enjoyed both in equal measure and sometimes operate bimodally across facets of work. Colleagues have seen me thrive in wartime, but like most: I personally prefer peacetime.

How I communicate #

I’m direct and honest but kind above all.
I try very hard to call a spade a spade without getting punched in the mouth. Meaning, I'll deploy considered language yet be very candid interpersonally with those I trust. I don't do compliment sandwiches, I earn permission so we can all share when there's food in our teeth.


I thrive via instant message chat when it's ad-hoc to make quick decisions.

Email is where I prefer well-prepared communication, responding with focused and considered replies.

I enjoy scheduled 1:1’s for the colleagues I feel more distant from as well as for a cadence with my team. I don’t waste these and 3 per quarter is plenty among all other contact.

I’ve found broadcasting weekly office hours works well - it lowers the barrier to interacting cross functionally.

I keep my calendar as lean as possible in order to welcome in-flight, unplanned work that aligns with priorities.

I record institutional memory to rapidly enable colleagues. Usually this occurs in-context where the work is being done or via an LMS when large bodies of content need management. I also enjoy condensing this information into summaries for briefings and prefer real-time onboarding where possible.

Realistically, I adapt to other modes of communication but the above are my preferred for their given purpose and this is probably a shared preference.

What may annoy you #

Infodumping #

It’s something I do and a common neurodivergent trait.
There’s a difference between me telling you what you need to know, and excitedly sharing detail only very engaged enthusiasts would find critical.

When I’m sharing information for a task, I always frame it:
"For this purpose let’s remember _"
"I suggest you/we _ because…"
"Keep in mind _"
"I’ve learned _ and you should _ "

If this context is absent, I may mistakenly assume you have the same level of excitement for detail that I do and am missing the mark.
Cutting me off and saying “I don’t care” or “another time” is absolutely fine and even preferred.
I’ve never been offended by someone wanting to simplify communication. It doesn't hurt my feelings or change my perception of you. If anything I appreciate knowing when you don’t need more information and that the task at hand is obvious.
By contrast, only geeking out and not resolving outstanding work can be a problem for us both. If we’re working together, we don’t have an academic relationship. I trust those I work with to accept information given to them with the relevance they need to perform their role.

Attention isn’t praise, praise is praise #

Most relevant for anyone reporting to me.
I focus on problems and opportunities more than the areas I trust and know are well-run. It becomes clear over time that I delight in recognizing and rewarding excellence in BAU as much as I do novel milestones.

In the short-term, avoid misjudging my focus for favouritism.
I could be spending more hours with your peers than you if they have more areas of improvement. I could also be spending more hours with a talent because I’m investing where there’s existing skill for a short-term objective. What I appear to be focussing on isn’t a metric of your impact and I make sure everyone knows that.

Vocabulary #

On occasion and always in odd moments, I'm prone to using overly specific words and terms.
Not because I want to sound smart, but because I'm regularly misunderstood and it's my inability to read the room which leads me to be cautious with words.
I mostly speak casually and prefer this, you'll notice when my guard is down because I'm naturally nonchalant (there I go being specific!).
So on occasion, I'll talk in a way that some find off-putting at first. When you reflect on the words chosen it might be appreciated that more detail was said than less. I'm always working on the balance between thoughtful words and comforting language.
The more I learn how you react to me, the more I adjust my conversation style. So appologies for any early hiccups.

Appearing esoteric #

Related to the above, If you don't understand what I'm saying,
That's not deliberate and it's on me to communicate clearly.
Speaking up when you're not following or simply don't like the phrasing is something I'm very grateful for.

What gains and loses my trust #

Sharing our blindspots builds trust #

I’m naturally a gap filler and a room-maker. If I can trust that you’re sharing your hardest problems with me, I’ll perform to my best to solve for them.
If you clearly demonstrate a passion and talent for an area not addressed, I’ll be grateful for your detail. I make sure I’m either amplifying or giving you ample room - even when I don't yet see the value. What we see together is more than anyone can see alone.

A critical attitude can both create trust or erode trust #

Being generous enough to be in open disagreement earns my trust and greatly influences what actions I take for the better. If you make the effort to communicate concerns, I make the effort to hear, understand, and address them when I can.
Some encounters may end in a ‘disagree and commit’ scenario for either party. But by doing this my respect for you will grow and I'll trust you more after any rigorous debate.
Being a surprise detractor for extended periods by contrast, can lure me into a combative stance where I chase wartime success. It’s on us both to be comfortable being openly critical. I strive to ensure safety and reward disagreement as a valuable contribution. Like anyone, I detest dissent manufactured in secret without having the opportunity to be consulted. Monocultures are not productive, I prefer debate early and often so long as we're both committed, consulted, and aware when decisions are made.

I find trusting the second time is easier #

You may have learned the crumpled bit of paper visual metaphor for trust. Easy to do, impossible to completely undo.
That's not entirely how I think of it. Hard lessons drive predictability and I value teachable moments on the way to long term trust. Failure is good and I look at patterns more than isolated incidents. Misjudgement doesn't feel good but can be learned from. Whatever it is: I'll get over it as we are all human.

Failure early and often but never the same #

We're part of an inherently optimistic species and that optimism helps us take risks and evolve.
If you become aware commitments are no longer realistic, I need to know.
If that's a common theme I need help getting to the cause.

My strengths #

  1. Seeing potential
  2. Communicating ideas
  3. Executing to completion

I’m good at identifying where technology can solve a given problem.
That’s broad but so is technology, and so are problems. My strength is letting value lead the way and connecting vast moving pieces, talented collaborators, and winning buy-in by directly contributing.

I’m well versed in communicating complex ideas visually and through storytelling. These skills help me share a vision with a wider audience and win customers or contributors.

I'm very capable at realising heuristic and aesthetic opportunities in deliverables. To me this is doing justice to good work.

My growth areas #

Accepting constraints that I believe can be changed #

I try to appreciate opportunities by identifying what is at the outer limits of best efforts. I take ownership and am grateful for fixed variables, yet I'm still learning to be satisfied when the status quo is in-fact enough.
You can always work with what you’ve got;
I’m working on being satisfied with that.

Communicating flexibility #

My conversation-style is a passionate one designed to attract, energise, and provoke reciprocity.
The negative side of this, is that it's hard for me to not come across as a zealot at times.
In the words of John Gruber: "Strong ideas loosely held is the path to success".
Like anyone else, I don't know what I don't know and when the facts change, I change my mind. I'm taking more moments to make sure people around me know we're never too far down a path for me to be wrong despite using very committed language.

What I expect from people I manage #

  1. Openness & Trust
  2. Taking ownership
  3. Bringing your best at your worst

The African proverb "go fast, go alone - go far, go together" rings true when thinking about taking ownership.
I'm most comfortable giving autonomy in exchange for ownership so you can go fast.
Maintaining higher level goals keeps us both accountable and on track for long term success, we can go far.

We all have days where we aren't feeling it, I expect you to be open and ask for help at those times so that I can support you. When this happens, I can augment your temporary weakness, I can't replace your core strengths. Doing our combined best is always my goal.

How I give and receive feedback #

I prefer giving and receiving a mixture of informal and formal feedback at a regular cadence. Direct feedback helps in real time, formal feedback builds instituional memory and can be invaluable when bringing new leadership on board.

As a manager I try to build a moat around your talent and make otherwise invisible contributions tangible and measurable assets to an organization.

As a resource, I thrive on ad-hoc work and the resulting direct feedback. However; I prefer major goals be recognised formally so that I continue to be motivated and invest in the main areas I'm accountable for.

Am I missing something? #

Just ask!