Separating backlog from roadmap allows you to specialize the backlog to be more useful for your team and design the roadmap to be more useful for your stakeholders.

The backlog interface: It’s always more interesting to discuss which of two things we should do next, rather than whether something is worth doing.

Roll out one process change at a time, and don’t roll out the next change until the previous change has *enthusiastic compliance*.

Tension in management: staying far enough out of the details to let folks innovate, yet staying near enough to keep the work well-aligned with the company’s value structures.

A/B testing interviews is a nice idea but expensive and requires sufficient volume to be useful.

Hiring for potential is a major vector for bias. Do so only with a robust, objective and consistent rubric for potential.

Design by committee almost always leads to incremental change.

On designing interviews: Avoid testing for polish as opposed to testing for a particular skill.

The work required to design an effective interview loop is roughly equivalent to writing a career ladder, so I’ve found that skipping this step is an act of false economy.

On splitting roles: As you move away from generalized roles and toward specialists, an unexpected consequence is that your organization has far more single points of failure.

Designation momentum is the term for the natural tendency of a performance process to consistently produce the same evaluations for the same people despite changes in performance.

surprise is the cardinal sin of performance management

Performance designations are usually not meant to be the primary mechanism for handling poor performance. Waiting for performance designations to deal with performance issues is typically a sign of managerial avoidance.

Study the distribution, don't enforce it.

Comparing folks against each other tends to introduce false equivalencies without adding much clarity. Focus on the ladder instead.

Read, don’t present. Many calibration systems depend heavily on whether managers are effective presenters. Don’t allow managers to pitch their candidates in the room, but instead have everyone read the manager review. This reduces the pressure to perform in the calibration session itself.

The extra knobs in more complicated systems support more granularity, but potentially simply create the impression of rigor while remaining equally challenging to implement in a consistent, fair way.

Crisp boundaries are important as they provide those on a career ladder a useful mental model of where they are in their journey, who their peers are, and whom they should view as role models.

If you want to shape your company’s culture, inclusion, or performance, this is your most valuable entry point.

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Isaac Su

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