YOW! CTO Summit 2019 Melbourne

Wednesday, 11th December in Melbourne

9 experts spoke.

YOW! CTO Summit is about open dialogue and sharing successes and challenges with peers. The one day conference is packed with insightful talks containing the latest tricks, hacks and shortcuts that companies use to successfully build and run engineering teams.

Whether you're a team lead, engineering manager, VPE or CTO, you need to be at this full day, single track summit. Get the help you need from people who've been there and done that: your peers in the engineering management space. You can learn how to hire smarter, refine your culture, improve your processes, manage more effectively and adopt better engineering practices or architectures.

Only engineering leaders may attend - though we are not hung up on titles; CEO or VP Products etc are welcome. No recruiters, non-technical co-founders or other business stakeholders will be allowed - we strictly enforce this policy. Limited attendance means that it's easier to facilitate open dialog with peers and speakers.

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Lean Coffee

From leancoffee.org: Lean Coffee is a structured, but agenda-less meeting. Participants gather, build an agenda, and begin talking. Conversations are directed and productive because the agenda for the meeting was democratically generated. The format for a Lean Coffee is intentionally very simple. It is meant to be the least structure necessary for a coherent and productive meeting.

Ideas are generated individually, then pooled with those on your table to be then grouped, voted on, and discussed in a timebox. Detailed instructions and explanations will be provided on the day and we will have a few experienced facilitators handy to make sure things run smoothly.

This session will be a great opportunity to dig deeper into those "aha" moments or questions that arose from the morning's talks, and discuss your current challenges or ideas with your peers at the table.

YOW! Conference


Your team as a distributed system

As we level up in technical roles, often we find ourselve thrust into team leadership and management. This sneaks up on us and we can be left without the skills to adequately understand, engage with and lead our teams. This inevitably has a negative effect on our teams and this effect is multiplied as you scale.

What if we could reach into our toolbox that we use to understand technical problems – software architecture and distributed systems theory – to help us understand our teams? Could we learn to better manage people through this metaphor?

We will explore the dynamics of teams and how they map to our understanding of distributed systems. Using this understanding we can apply distributed systems theory to help unpick some of the dynamics of our teams and how to optimise them for scale.

Andrew Harvey

CTO in Residence

Learning from Incidents

Aligning to a DevOps culture has seen many organisations gain a distinct competitive advantage in their marketplace - especially if they started changing their thinking early which Seek did. Frequent daily deployments, teams owning what they build, the ability to iterate and deliver Products faster, and a greater emphasis on collaboration with much less of "that's not my job", has achieved many benefits. But there is flipsides to this rapid rate of change, and depending on your perspective, how you capitalise on it could be the next big advantage you can take.

When teams gain greater autonomy to make technology choices the amount of diversification in your enterprise grows rapidly - especially when you are on the bleeding edge of what the major cloud providers are releasing. This increase in diversification will place greater cognitive loads on the people operating and building the system, to a point where an ability to mental model your systems becomes impossible. Incidents and failure will still be a part of normal system functions, still just as complex, but more asynchronous and therefore more difficult to diagnose the reverberations of failure through the system. How you embrace failure in this greater field of diversification, learn from it and use it, is what will set you apart.

This presentation will discuss how Seek has dealt with and collated extensive amounts of data on "Normal Accidents" over the last several years. We will demonstrate how incident analysis and involvement of teams in post-mortem rituals, has paved the way to many starting viewing our diverse software stack as the Socio-Technical system it is, and how appreciating the "Human Factors" elements of incidents are important to building greater resiliency in the system. We will discuss how involvement of technology people in incident investigation and facilitation will lead to richer amounts of data, that can be fed back into the delivery cycle and continuously improve the reliability and resiliency of your products We will also discuss the traps and pitfalls to avoid such as obsessing over the Root Cause and why the “5 Why’s” technique of incident analysis can be flawed.

Andrew Hatch

Head of Platform Engineering

The good thing about standards is that there's always room for one more

How does a small Australian email company like Fastmail compete with such dominant players like Google or Office 365 or Apple who have the clout and market presence to do what they like, forcing everyone else to conform to their whims?

Come and hear a tale of David vs many Goliaths. Learn why we decided to build a new email standard - JMAP - and the process of getting that turned into an RFC. You'll hear about the pitfalls and joys of navigating the standards body IETF to get the standard ratified, and the challenges we still have ahead.

Maybe you, too, have something you'd like to turn into a standard?

Nicola Nye

Chief of Staff

Panel Discussion

Simon Raik-Allen will chair a revolving panel discussion on topics ranging from strategy to ethics

Simon Raik-Allen

Founder & CEO
The Big Crunch


Gil Tene, CTO and co-founder at Azul Systems, will share his personal experience affecting company, product, and technology directions. Some reflection and hindsight may be involved.

Gil Tene

CTO & Co-Founder
Azul Systems

Rolling out Error Budgets across a 1000 person global engineering organisation

Zendesk has been struggling with reliability from it’s beginning - in many ways it has been a victim of its own overnight success. Over the last few years we’ve had to take drastic measures to address major outages, such as implementing company-wide change freezes.

These measures hurt when you have 1000 engineers in 120 product development teams across the globe, and in many ways create more risk when the freeze begins to thaw.

In order to avoid these freeze’s we have recently moved to implement concepts from the Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) discipline, specifically implementing Error Budgets along with SLOs/SLIs. The aim of this is to “scope” the freeze to those systems that have more reliability issues.

We’ve had some wins in introducing this approach, but are still very much at the beginning of this journey. This talk will tell the story of this journey along with providing some practical suggestions around tooling and practices to implement.

John Viner

Senior Director of Engineering

Decision Making and Heuristics

CTOs often make high-stakes architecture decisions under conditions of uncertainty, with insufficient information, and too little time. At other times it is prudent to take the time to carefully make trade-offs and weigh options. This talk will touch on different decision making models and when they are appropriate, as well as some differences between expert and non-expert decision makers. And we’ll argue that by instilling a culture where everyone is more intentional about their architecture and design heuristics that your organisation will be poised to grow future technical leaders.

Rebecca Wirfs-Brock

Consultant, Inventor of Responsibility-Driven Design & xDD
Wirfs-Brock Associates

Kick-starting "Inventing the Future”

The role of a CTO varies greatly among organisations. But it almost always includes the responsibility to understand technology trends and how they are likely to impact the organisation. Alan Kay famously said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” What does that mean? Does it apply to your organisation? Is it actionable? Let’s talk about how to start the process of inventing the technical future of your organisation.

Allen Wirfs-Brock

Programming Language Futurist/Standardista
Wirfs-Brock Associates

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