Team Topologies

I am reading this book as part of a book club at work.

The summary for the first part (chapters 1-3)

1 The problem with organization charts:

The software tends to match the organization charts (top-down) and that is not a good approach for software development because that doesnt cover (current) good software practices (devops, agile, lean, etc). This is based on Conway’s law: “Organizations which design systems . . . are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.”

So instead of using org charts, move to a “teams” organization approach that authors call “team topologies”: adaptive model for technology organization design that allows businesses to achieve speed and stability. Focuses on how to set up dynamic team structures and interaction modes that can help teams adapt quickly to new conditions, and achieve fast and safe software delivery.

Cognitive load can be a powerful tool for deciding on team size, assigning responsibilities, and establishing boundaries with other teams.

Dan Pink’s three elements of intrinsic motivation: autonomy (quashed by constant juggling of requests and priorities from multiple teams), mastery (“jack of all trades, master of none”), and purpose (too many domains of responsibility)

Personally, I think the org chart still has a point from HR perspective, at least I want to know who is who.And disagree when they say “there is a strong focus on the more immediate automation and tooling adoption, while cultural and organizational changes are haphazardly addressed”. People dont change tools that easily. And company culture hardly is checked out.

2 Conway’s Law and Why It Matters

The idea to become a high-performing organization is to reverse Conway law as a team-first software architecture. Then you need things team sized. The size needs to maximizes people’s ability to work with it. Important to define “team interfaces” to set expectations around what kind of work requires strong collaboration and what doesn’t (some type of communications are not needed). Tools selection is important, one doesn’t fit all. Unnecessary re-org (without any proper justification)/cut headcounts are bad (obviously).

3- Team-First Thinking

Follow: team-first architecture. Examples:

-US Army have adopted the team as the fundamental unit of operation. Based on scaling by Dunbar (5-7 people max)
-google: teams matter more than individuals.
-aws: team of size to feed with 2 pizzas)

Maximize trust between people on a team, and that means limiting the number of team members. Adding new people to a team doesn’t immediately increase its capacity (Fred Brooks – The Mythical Man-Month)

The best approach to team lifespans is to keep the team stable

Every part of the software system needs to be owned by exactly one team: no shared ownership

You need in the team:
– Team-First Mindset
– Diversity
– Rewards teams, no individuals
– Restrict Team Responsibilities to Match Team Cognitive Load more space for germane cognitive load (which is where the “value add” thinking lies).
team needs the space to continuously try to reduce the amount of intrinsic and extraneous load

Measure the Cognitive Load Using Relative Domain Complexity: mastering a single domain -> mission is clear, less context switching.

Limit the Number and Type of Domains per Team: simple, complicated, complex. Complex only one team,

Design the system and its software boundaries to fit the available cognitive load within delivery teams.

To increase the size of a software subsystem or domain for which a team is responsible:

  • team-first work env
  • minimize distractions
  • goals and outcomes (good) vs how (bad)
  • dev-exp

Teams need a team API and well-defined team interactions (aws: everything is an API): code, version, wiki/doc, principles, communication/information

As well, provide time, space, and money to enable inter teams collaboration

Explicitly Design the Physical and Virtual Environments to Help Team Interactions: I think the physical site is kind of clear (there are good notes) but for the virtual env they just mention group chats.

physical: office layout, whiteboards, standing desks?, noise, clear desk (lockers)
(squads -> tribes)

Summary: Limit Teams’ Cognitive Load and Facilitate Team Interactions to Go Faster

Beyond Order

After a bit, I finished this book. I didn’t read the first book that long ago but I felt sometimes it is was difficult to digest this one when he was very “technical”. I don’t remember that from the first.

One of my favourite things is the “Overture” where he gives you a bit of a summary about what has been ongoing with his own health and family health problems. Quite impressive. Then you still have a book.

Still I find quite impressive how much knowledge he can find from Religion (Old testament, New testament, etc), Harry Potter and other fairy tales.

There are rules that look common sense but you realized how easily you skip, ignore or dont notice them. I think it is a good guideline for Living.

1- Do not carelessly denigrate social institutions or creative achievement:

People depend on constant communication with others to keep their minds organized. We mostly think by talking. We need to talk both to remember and to forget. We outsource the problem of sanity. People remain mentally healthy not merely because of the integrity of their own minds, but because they are constantly being reminded how to think, act and speak by those around them.

I struggled to understand the title and although I highlight some lines. My take is that socializing is critical for our sanity. And that the social structures we have built during the last couple of millennia has help us to advance and keep sane. So institution is not just a physical building but our social rules

2- Imagine who you could be, and then aim singlemindedly at that:

Everybody requires a story to structure their perceptions and actions in what would be otherwise the overwhelming chaos of being. Every story needs a starting point that is not good enough and an ending that is better. Spirit eternally transcends dogma, truth transcends presupposition, creativity updates society. Those who break the rules ethically are those who have mastered them first and disciplined themselves to understand the necessity of those rules, and break them in keeping with the spirit rather than the letter of the law. The soul willing to transform is the most effective enemy of the demonics of ideology and totalitarianism, in their personal and social forms. Pick the best target you can currently conceptualize, stumble toward it. Somethinig profund, noble and lofty. If you can find a better path along the way, once you have started moving forwards, then switch course. Be careful, with giving up, if the new path appears more challenging, then you are not betraying yourself when changing your mind. You will zigzag forwards (amen), not efficient, but there is no alternative as the goals will change, as you learn what you need to learn while you are disciplining yourself. With will and luck, you will find a story that is meaningful and productive, improves itself with time and provides you with moments of satisfaction.

3- Do not hide unwanted things in the fog:

Do not pretend you are happy with something if you are not, and if a reasonable solution might, in principle, be negotiated, have the damn fight. Unpleasant in the moment, but it is one less straw on the camel’s back. Life is what repeats, and it is worth getting what repeats right. if you keep small things unresolved, as any compound interest, in the long run, it will be a disaster. Even if you try, you can fail. But if you dont try, for sure, you will fail. It is better to see the problems than keeping in the fog, because you can at least sometimes avoid the danger that you are willing to see.

Clean your room, and if possible, beautify it.

It is difficult to win an argument, or begin one, if you have not carefully articulated what you want (or do not) and need (or do not)

4- Notice that opportunity lurks where responsibility has been abdicated:

If you want to be invaluable in a workspace, just do the useful things no one else is doing. Learn more about the business and competition.

Difficult is necessary: It is a strange and paradoxical fact that there is a reciprocal relationship between the worth of something and the difficulty of achieving it.

By taking responsability, we can find a meaningful path, improve our personal lot psychologically and make what is intolerably wrong, better.

If you mistep while doing something, you can learn from it. You must risk something that matters.

You must sacrifice something of your manifold potential in exchange for something real in life. Aim at something. Discipline yourself or suffer the consequence = all suffering of life, with none of the meaning = better description of hell.

The voluntary confrontation with a feared, hated or despised obstacle is curative. We become stronger by voluntarily facing what stops our progress.

It is probable, inevitable, that the adventure of your life will frustrate, disappoint and unsettle you, but that is where the deep meaning that orients you and shelters you is to be found. That is where the life what is worth living is to be eternally found. (if only you are willing)

5- Do not do what you hate:

Part of moving Beyond Order is understanding that your conscience has a primary claim on your action, which supersedes your conventional social duty. If you device to stand up and refuse a command or do something of which others disapprove but your firmly believe to be correct, you must be in a position to trust yourself.

6- Abandon ideology:

Ideology is dead (like God as Nietzsche said).We should address and consider smaller, better defined problems. Start small so you can solve them (and not blaming somebody else), then get to bigger ones. Scale. Take it personally and take responsibility of the outcome.

Have some humility. Clean up your room. Take care of your family. Follow your conscience. Straighten up your life. Find something productive and interesting to do and commit. Rinse and repeat.

7- Work as hard as you possibly can on at least one thing and see what happens

The inability to decide among ten (ie) things, even desirable, is equivalent to torment by all of them. Clear goals limit and simplify the world, as well, reducing uncertainty, anxiety, shame and stress.

To move forwards with resolve, it is necessary to be organized – to be directed toward something singular and identifiable.

Aim. Point. All this is part of maturation and discipline, and something to be properly valued. if you aim at nothing, you become plagued by everything. If you aim at nothing, you have nowhere to go, nothing to do and nothing of high value in your life, as value requires the ranking of options and sacrifice of the lower to the higher.

Commitments with enduring value: character, love, family, friendship and career.

People who do not choose a job or a career commonly become unmoored and drift. The same for not committing to a single romantic partner or being loyal to friends.

If you work as hard as you can on one thing, you will change. You will become one instead of a multitude.

8- Try to make one room in your home as beautiful as possible.

Cleaning your room is not enough. Making something beautiful is difficult. If you do one thing beautiful in your life, then you can expand to other elements of your life and world. That is a reconnection with the immortality of childhood. Find one that speaks to you and make the purchase. Art is the bedrock of culture of itself. That unites psychologically and establish productive peace with others. “Man shall not live by bread alone” (Matthew 4:4). I always say that I just need bread and water… (and then I say to myself, I need/want company) When we become adults , we see the work differently: we want efficiency, accomplishment and order. A child is focus in the present and gets fascinated by that.

Artists are always transforming chaos into order. That happens a lot in cities where they relocated to rough areas and they transform them to nice places. Then the capitalism throws them away to a new place. Start again. They are the initial civilizing agents.

You are very creative when you are dreaming. Beauty leads back to what you have lost.

9- If old memories still upset you, write them down carefully and completely

Learn from the past. Or repeat its horrors forever. And for that, you need to understand it, and one of the best ways it is to write it down: reduces existential uncertainty, anxiety, improves mental health and boosts immunological function.

Your refusal or even inability to come to terms with the errors of the past expands the source of such error. So you must confess, repent and change (when wrong). You must humbly ask, and knock, and seek.

What is traumatic but remains inexplicable indicates that our “maps” world is insufficient in some vital manner. It is our destiny to transform chaos into order. If the past has not been ordered, the chaos is still haunts us.

10- Plan and work diligently to maintain the romance in your relationship

You need a strategy and that depends of a negotiation. You and your partner must know what the other wants/needs and you both need the will to discuss it. If you dont communicate, the other has to guess: recipe for disaster. Romance requires trust and that is based on truth. Still there will be bad times (and not short in time). So for that reason to you need to have that communication. In the bad moments, you have to past the tears to have a real conversation. Do not foolishly confuse “nice” with “good”. Dedicate team each week to talk to your partner purely about practical and personal matters. Dont skip it and make it count.

Assumptions that are not true: 1) there is somebody out there that is perfect and 2) there is somebody out there that is perfect for you.

The myth of spontaneity (I love this one). You are adults, both have (demanding) jobs, (demanding) family and other (demanding) duties. And you have to sleep, eat, commute, etc. Where do you fit that in that life schedule? And you dont settle for anything less than spontaneity??? Good luck.

Arrange some dates and practice. Negotiate and practice. Bloody communicate.

11- Do not allow yourself to become resentful, deceitful or arrogant

12- Be grateful in spite of your suffering

Love is not enough

Before moving, I went through some piles of papers and found a couple of pieces with the note “Love is not enough”. I am pretty sure they were notes I took from a book of Mark Manson (likely The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – I need to re-read) And somehow this morning, I got this video in youtube.


Love is not enough:

  • Love doesnt equal compatibility: Love is emotional. Compatibility is logical
  • Love doesnt solve your relationship problems (amen)
  • Love is not always worth sacrificing yourself: Dont tolerate behaviours in your partner that you wouldn’t do with your best friend. A loving relationship is supposed to supplement your individual identity, not damage it or repace it.

The only way you can fully enjoy the love in your life is to choose to make something else more important than love.

Friendship > Love

In my case, I dont really think about love but companionship. I think too many times about that “perfect” companion to go through life (good and bad moments). And then I am very solitary person (it gets worse with age). And then you are not sociable, and many things you read tell you that having a strong social support is critical in mental health, life satisfaction, etc. So it is like in the middle of two paths.

Good concert of NIN.

Master of Change

Today I attended a conference from the author of this book. I haven’t read so didnt have much background and didn’t pay full attention to the invitation too…

Some notes:

Change is the norm! Not the exception.

Change is just change (sometimes is good, sometimes is bad. Accept it)

The idea is to move to a mindset of “order -> change -> reorder” instead of trying to get things as they were before.

4 steps about Change: Accept, Embrace, Take proactive action, Move forwards to somewhere new.

The idea is to be “rugged and flexible” in three aspects

  • 1) Mindset:
  • – Develop a “being” instead of “having”: ie I am a good engineer vs I have a job.
  • – Set expectations + update accordingly
  • – accept the indeniability of change
  • 2) Identity:
  • – Diversity of sense of self: a.k.a Have a diverse portfolio of your personality. I liked the example of Nils Van der Poel. Before the Olympics he wasnt performing and and reason was he was scared…. He was only Nils the skater. He decided to have a live during the weekends… (not just the skater) and then at the Olympics, he smashed. He created different selfs so there wasnt just one. So it is easier to get scared if shit happens. Or it is like having a house with just one room, if something happens your are out. You need to look after those rooms though.
  • – Figure out your rugged boundaries: Your core values. Those should be:
  • — 3 or 5
  • — well-defined
  • — concrete them daily
  • 3) Action: 4 Ps: Pause (breath, label feelings), Process, Plan, Proceed. Action created motivation, not the other way around. So dont wait for the motivation, just do. Be patient. Compassion about self. And resilience = Social support + routine.

When change happens, you core values will keep you floating.

Good talk.

Re-Read-1 and Classics

I re-read this book during holidays without remembering that I completed it over 1 year ago, and for the life of me, I didnt notice it. So doesnt leave me or my memory in a good place 🙂 Still I enjoyed (again) and it is something I wanted to do, re-read some good books.

And following the trend, I re-read this one (ebook) as I think I needed it. Again, really good read, it grounds me and put me in my place. And another reason was I tried to read an ebook from Kant and Seneca, and couldnt understand anything… It is annoying that I read a lot of references for them but then you go to the source, and I can’t digest them. Too overcomplicated language. Anyway, I will try other “classics” just in case.

How to make the world add up

This is another ebook I read during holidays. I reminded me to “Calling Bullshit” as it is about finding the “truth” among the noise.

The autor leads a radio program “More or less” in BBC. Unfortunately, I dont find time for listening radio or podcast.

The start was very interesting about how an expert of a famous Dutch painter failed to spot a fake picture because he was obsessed with one details from the painter. And how the fake painter exploited that weakness (and from the whole Netherlands….)

To be honest, I didnt take notes so I am not going to remember many things.

I liked a lot the personal details about John Maynard Keynes life that I didnt know (I tried to read one of his books in the past and I failed miserably):

When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir? (JMK)

The ten rules from the book:

1- Search your feelings (Johannes Vermeer fake paint and Nazis)

2- Ponder your personal experience (London trains are not busy….)

3- Avoid premature enumeration

4- Step back and enjoy the view

5- Get the back story

6- Ask who is missing:

The power to NOT collect data is one of the most important and little-understood sources of power that governments have… By refusing to amass knowledge in the first pace, decision-makers exert power over the rest of us. (Anna Powell-Smith)

7- Demand transparency when the computes says no: Google’s quest to find flu outbreaks via searches.

8- Don’t take statistical bedrock for granted: The need of an independent Statistics body for the country to help the governments with decisions. Examples in USA (Wilbur Mills, then Congressional Budget Office aka CBO), UK (Office for Budget Responsibility – OBR) and Greece (Andreas Gerogiou troubles)/Argentina (Graciela Bevacqua troubles).

9- Remember that misinformation can be beautiful too (Florence Nightingale)

10- Keep an open mind (John Maynard Keynes)


Be curious.

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant

This is the first ebook I finished while on holidays. I have read recommendations about Naval before but I didnt know what to expect. In general I liked it, many things resonate with me and i would like to read it again at some point. It is something I need to do, be able to re-read books and drop books that are not “worth” it. That’s something Naval does/says.

The books is about wealth (and not just money) in all senses. But at the end of the day, I wonder if this is for everybody. Can everybody have equity? be its own boss? But again, there are many nice things you can take from the book. I would like to have in paper so could take more notes. So this is kind of the thinks I noted:

  • Equity
  • Do things for its own sake
  • You are never going to get rich renting out your time
  • Leverage: min input, max output
  • Deathbed: the hard things you did
  • Ego
  • Time To Think!
  • Relaxation is who you are
  • Fuck yeah or default no (Need to learn this)
  • Short term pain, long term gain
  • Calm mind, fit body, house full of love. It is earned, not bought. (amen)
  • Economy basics: Adam Smith
  • Fundamental delusion: there is something out there that will make me happy (I feel this…)
  • Desire is a contract with yourself to be unhappy until you get it…
  • Jealousy (I feel this…)
  • Death: Enjoy the moment
  • Take responsibility
  • Physical health, diet, sugar. Vegs and a bit of meat
  • Mental health, meditation, breathing, cold shower.
  • Most of our suffering comes from avoidance.
  • Meditate in bed. Noting. GRATEFUL!
  • Drugs, addictions, thrills, etc: People trying to get away from the voice of their minds -> overdeveloped sense of self
  • Habits
  • Reading habits: Re-read good books, dont need to read full books and be able to drop a book it is not good.

FAQ me

I finished this book last night. It was a recommendation from a friend and I downloaded it some time ago into my kindle. I dont read very often in kindle as i prefer the paper touch but I didnt have anything else at hand so I gave it a go.

I didnt have a clue what was all about, I didnt know the person. And I only checked his history this morning.

In summary, the book is interesting, I liked to read about his personality and treats. Every person is different and it was good to read about his weakness, errors, fears, etc. As he says several times, you have to “bleed” in your writing.

Something that is repeated in the book is the daily practice and his four bodies theory:

  • Physical
  • Emotional: get rid of negative influences, surround yourself with positive ones
  • Mental: write ideas
  • Spiritual: be grateful for what you have, focus on the present, surrender.

He talks about everything and anything. From dating, something important to me, he is clear that there is no magic bullet, you have to go meet people (he insists in tango and cooking classes :), and use all tools available. So there is no short cut.

He talks about being an idea-generating machine. And that takes practice. Write ten ideas, tomorrow another ten, etc. Analyze them, cross them, redefine them, etc.

He is very clear that working for enterprise in the corporate America is the worse you can do, he pushes to be en entrepreneur. And he recommends these books about economics.

I should have taken more notes though. Interesting read, although checking his blog, he hasnt written for a couple of years but he does youtube now.

Anyway, I think it was worth reading it.


I finished this book last Sunday. I have heard about some interesting achievements like getting a full MIT degree in one year so I wanted to know more about how was that achieved and what I could learn and apply to myself (if possible). I liked the challenge of learning a language each months… with a total exposure and not able to talk English. Honestly, I want to learn German and I want to do it quickly but properly so I want to take some pieces of advice from the book and apply to my case.

I think this can ge a good technique to master specific subjects. But at the end of day, in my opinion, it is all about focus. And that’s my problem, I want to do too many things.

So in summary, the ultralearning process is based on the following principles:

1- Metalearning: It is the research part. You need to know what you want to learn and how to do it.

2- Focus: It is about getting into flow and efficiency. If you dont have the luxury of dedicating 10h a day to your projects. Make the most of your time. And if you have issues, build the habit and strength bit by bit. You want to learn something challenging and difficult, keep it in mind. I liked the example about Mary Somerville. She was a housewife and mother. Still managed to be a top Mathematician!

3- Directness: Currently in schools, university, etc, most of the things we learn dont have a direct application to the practical world. This is knowledge transference. So it you want to learn python, well, use python. So go direct to want you want to learn. If you want to move your career to the AI/ML network infrastructure, you will have to find the technologies (infiniband, GPU, etc) used and learn from them so your CV can be taken into account.

4- Drill: Find your weakness and work on them. Here I learned about the experiences from Benjamin Franklin in his autobiography.

5- Retrieval: trying to recall facts and concepts from memory. The example here is Srinivasa Ramanujan. Free recall tests, in which students need to recall as much as they can remember without a cue, perform better than getting a cue.

6- Feedback: I liked the intro: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”. Myke Tyson. So testing if we are actually learning, improving it is very important. And how we get that feedback as well.

7- Retention: Another good intro. “Memory is the residue of though” Daniel Willingham. And the example is the World Champion of French Scrabble who didnt speak French, Nigel Richards. So it is about how not forget things. In this kind of challenges, where you are getting a lof of data, it is easy to start forgetting. So the goal is to keep that knowledge, that is with practice (different methods mentioned).

8- Intuition: here the example is mainly Richard Feynman. Main points are: 1) Dont give up on hard problems easily. 2) Prove things to understand them. 3) Start with a concrete example. 3) Be deeply skeptical about your own understanding.

9- Experimentation: It is trying things outside the specific subject you are studying. The example here is how Vincent Van Gogh learnt to paint.

I have read about the Laszlo Polgar experiment about raising his daughters as Chess prodigies but the book gives more details and actually found it even more interesting! I was surprised by the initial “macho” comments from Kasparov… More info about Judit.

In general, nice book, I want/need to put things into practice.

12 Rules For Life

…An antidote to chaos. This book was a gift and last week managed to finish it as I havent had much time lately for reading 🙁

I have seen this author books in airports and book shops, but never managed to take a look to see what was all about as it was a best seller, etc etc.

Something that surprised me was the deep analysis of several parts of the old and new testament to show his rules.

Another interesting topic, it was his strong anticommunist stance, focused on Stalin, Mao and Cambodia. And not sure I understood properly but he thinks that there is far-left in top education positions in USA. I find it hardly to believe that in USA apart from people like Noah Chomsky.

His rules are:

1- Stand-up straight with your shoulders back: Dont be like a defeated lobster.

2- Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping: This is based on the fact that people are more willing to look after their pets or other than for example taking their own medicines. Here there was a big strong connection to the Genesis with Adam and Eve being expelled from paradise.

3- Make friends with people who want the best for you: Like it is said in Spanish, “se pega todo menos la hermosura”. So if you have people around that are positive influence, you will move forwards, if it is not that case, you are in a bad place.

4- Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today: Typical in the instagram world…. and a source of depression and anxiety. Be the best version of yourself, better than yesterday but worse than tomorrow.

5- Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them: This is about kids education by parents. Very interesting as he describes cases based on his own kids and experiences. Not the typical pieces of advice you would fine nowadays.

6- Set your house in perfect order before your criticize the world: Get your shit together before criticizing others.

7- Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedicit): He puts examples from the temptations from Christ in the desert. He shows that Christ could have asked for Gods help and all offers from the Devil were materialistic. And in general, the more materialistic goals we have, the more empty we feel and that makes us miserable and pushing for more stuff.

8- Tell the truth, or at least don’t lie: The basic of a society is trust. Telling lies destroys that fundation. And the same happens on yourself.

9- Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you dont: Learn to listen, you can learn stuff from other.

10- Be precise in your speech: Face the problems, think clearly on them and be specific about them. Communicate clearly and dont hide them.

11- Do not bother children when they are skateboarding: This is about children being able to play, take their own risks, learn and grown as humans beings and not be overprotected. There is a big focus in masculinity and how manhood is getting lost in our society. I was bit surprised in this topic as you read very frequently the contrary as we need more feminism in our world. In one side, I get his point, as I feel it myself.

12- Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street: This is not really about pets but about pain and suffering. How to cope in those situations and how to enjoy the moment.

In general, the rules look very general but then the author can go very deep and you got lost.

There are many references to Dostoevsky and Nietzsche. I really want to read at some point books from them but I am pretty sure I will struggle with deep philosophical inputs.