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Interview

Why this book?

Michael and I will release I am a Software Engineer and I am in Charge in May 2020.

It’s a book to help Software Engineers increase their impact and satisfaction at work. You can learn more about the book and sign up to be the first to know when it launches in May here: iamincharge.club

In the meantime, we asked each other three questions about why we wrote this book and what we hope it achieves for you, the reader.

Interview summary:

Michael interviews Alexis

1. Alexis, I remember you showing me a mockup cover for I am in Charge, what gave you the idea for this book?

The idea came at the end of the review process of Changing Your Team From The Inside. The work we were doing, and the regular meetings we had with John Poelstra and you were so exciting and so profound that I wanted to find a reason to continue that relationship.

The fact that we were spread over the world, John in Portland, Oregon, you in Brisbane, Australia, and me in Boston, Massachusetts, and still able to collaborate as if we were in the same room was for me the sign that we were a great team.

Once you have a great team, you know you can do great things with the team. I wanted to take the opportunity to make our conversations available to people so they could benefit from them.

2. You mentioned your other book, Changing Your Team from the Inside, how do these two books complement each other?

I learned a lot from Changing Your Team From The Inside. I learned from writing it. I learned from the feedback I received from people reading it. I learned from the review process with John and you.

One thing I realized is that I wanted to make the message of Changing Your Team From The Inside universal. I did not want to choose an audience for the book. My thinking was, it can apply to anyone in any sector whatever their role. I still think this is true. But, it is a mistake, without a defined audience, people are never sure they can recommend it to someone. Some people think it is for software engineers, some for coaches or change agents, some for managers. I want to say yes to all of those, but it is not the way it works.

With I am a Software Engineer and I am in Charge, we made the choice, thanks to you, to focus on a specific audience in a specific sector. Narrowing the audience forced us to make the recommendations more specific and more actionable.

In the end, I still think people could apply the recommendations even if they don’t have that specific role and even if they are not in that specific sector. This is a little bit like the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. The first sentence is: “We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.” If you replace software development in that sentence with singing, cooking, teaching… it could work, and I believe that the values and principles would be interesting for you to look at to introspect on your practices.

3. What is your greatest hope for someone who reads I am a Software Engineer and I am in Charge?

The subtitle of the book is: “The book that helps increase your impact and satisfaction at work”. My greatest hope is that readers will do exactly that: increase their impact and increase their satisfaction. I hope that they will be empowered to do that and to spread the message around them. I hope that by doing so they will contribute to making a better world.

Software will play a big role in the future or humanity. I hope that Software Engineers will realize the power they have in shaping that future.

Alexis interviews Michael

1. Michael, what came to mind first when I showed you the mock-up of the cover of a book with your name on it?

Wow. I need to read this book!

Unfortunately before I could read it, we had to write it.

I know the saying is “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” but I felt an immediate, positive reaction when I saw it. I knew, without any hesitation, that I wanted to work with you to write this book.

2. I know you invested a lot of energy in defining how your personal contribution will have the biggest impact on the world. How do you see the book supporting your goals?

The book was a combination of a few things happening for me at the time.

Having an ongoing reason to work with you Alexis was one thing, improving my writing skill was another, but beyond that, I liked the idea of creating an artifact that would persist beyond me. Something that would help those who read it gain insight about how they see their current situation and what they can do about it when they shift their thinking.

3. What is your greatest hope for someone who reads I am a Software Engineer and I am in Charge?

Two things.

One. To realise that in any situation you can, at the very least, control your thoughts and your actions—which will ultimately change your result.

Two. To recognise that doing the first thing is an ongoing process that only improves with practice over time.

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