The Effective Engineer: How to Leverage Your Efforts In Software Engineering to Make a Disproportionate and Meaningful Impact

Edmond Lau

The most effective engineers — the ones who have risen to become distinguished engineers and leaders at their companies — can produce 10 times the impact of other engineers, but they`re not working 10 times the hours.

They`ve internalized a mindset that took me years of trial and error to figure out. I`m going to share that mindset with you — along with hundreds of actionable techniques and proven habits — so you can shortcut those years.

Introducing The Effective Engineer — the only book designed specifically for today`s software engineers, based on extensive interviews with engineering leaders at top tech companies, and packed with hundreds of techniques to accelerate your career.

For two years, I embarked on a quest seeking an answer to one question:

How do the most effective engineers make their efforts, their teams, and their careers more successful?

I interviewed and collected stories from engineering VPs, directors, managers, and other leaders at today`s top software companies: established, household names like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn; rapidly growing mid-sized companies like Dropbox, Square, Box, Airbnb, and Etsy; and startups like Reddit, Stripe, Instagram, and Lyft.

These leaders shared stories about the most valuable insights they`ve learned and the most common and costly mistakes that they`ve seen engineers — sometimes themselves — make.

This is just a small sampling of the hard questions I posed to them:

- What engineering qualities correlate with future success?
- What have you done that has paid off the highest returns?
- What separates the most effective engineers you`ve worked with from everyone else?
- What`s the most valuable lesson your team has learned in the past year?
- What advice do you give to new engineers on your team?

Everyone`s story is different, but many of the lessons share common themes.

You`ll get to hear stories like:

- How did Instagram`s team of 5 engineers build and support a service that grew to over 40 million users by the time the company was acquired?
- How and why did Quora deploy code to production 40 to 50 times per day?
- How did the team behind Google Docs become the fastest acquisition to rewrite its software to run on Google`s infrastructure?
- How does Etsy use continuous experimentation to design features that are guaranteed to increase revenue at launch?
- How did Facebook`s small infrastructure team effectively operate thousands of database servers?
- How did Dropbox go from barely hiring any new engineers to nearly tripling its team size year-over-year?

What`s more, I`ve distilled their stories into actionable habits and lessons that you can follow step-by-step to make your career and your team more successful.

The skills used by effective engineers are all learnable.

And I`ll teach them to you. With The Effective Engineer, I`ll teach you a unifying framework called leverage — the value produced per unit of time invested — that you can use to identify the activities that produce disproportionate results.

Here`s a sneak peek at some of the lessons you`ll learn. You`ll learn how to:

- Prioritize the right projects and tasks to increase your impact.
- Earn more leeway from your peers and managers on your projects.
- Spend less time maintaining and fixing software and more time building and shipping new features.
- Produce more accurate software estimates.
- Validate your ideas cheaply to reduce wasted work.
- Navigate organizational and people-related bottlenecks.
- Find the appropriate level of code reviews, testing, abstraction, and technical debt to balance speed and quality.
- Shorten your debugging workflow to increase your iteration speed.