Scaling Up by Doubling Down

Successful agile teams spawn new agile teams, and eventually scaling becomes a concern. Mo’ money, mo’ problems, right?! Well, maybe not…

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TDD Like You Mean It

How do you feel about Test Driven Development? Chances are, it’s a love-hate relationship. Sure, you love the idea and the benefits it espouses, but when your fingers hit the keyboard it never lives up to the hype.

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Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Product managers play many roles, but one often overlooked is “Chief Storyteller”. Members in an organization rely on PMs to tell stories about their goals, their accomplishments, their struggles, and ultimately their value. This gives the PM a tremendous amount of power, power that can be used both to the benefit and detriment of the organization overall.

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A JavaScript Refactoring Masterclass

JavaScript has quickly climbed in popularity, claiming large parts of codebases thanks to the power of Node.js, React, Angular, and Ember. Unfortunately developers regularly struggle writing high-quality JavaScript code in the fast-paced environment of front-end product development. Refactoring JS is not a “nice to have,” it’s a necessity!

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Promote Your Project!

Each of us is working on awesome projects every day, but who actually knows about it? Even inside your company, do the people down the hall know the amazing things your team is working on? Do you know about theirs?

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Creating (Healthy) Conflict

Conflict resolution is a popular topic – everyone has encountered difficult situations and combative people. Yet for every person I have observed causing too much conflict, I have observed nine people who don’t cause enough conflict.

This sounds strange to say, as most of us have been conditioned to avoid conflict whenever possible – and that’s the problem.

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Encouragement: Admitting We Are Human

Mark Twain said, “I can last two months on a good compliment.” Postive feedback and encouragement have enormous impact on us; it helps us feel appreciated, connected, and inspires us toward peak performance. Sadly it is severely under-utilized, as tech workers regularly cite feeling unappreciated as the primary motivator to change jobs.

Encouragement is a “super power” we each have, yet like any skill we must develop it. Once we do, we will change the lives of the people around us.

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From Developer to Manager: Find Your Path and Passion

We have all read blog articles from developers-turned-managers-turned-developers again decrying the shift while warning others not to “sell out” and stop writing code. The transition from software engineer to engineering manager is difficult, confusing, and disorienting, and it’s no wonder – this isn’t a promotion, it’s a career change!

For some developers, the management track is a disastrous fit, while others come alive in the new role. It all comes down to motivations: What are the things you value? How do you add value to your organization every day? When you are building software, what parts of the process are most compelling to you?

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Customer Service for Developers

While many developers dream of spending all day, every day heads down in code, the reality usually is that programming is only one of our many responsibilities. As knowledge workers, each of us is expected to effectively answer questions, help confused coworkers, and investigate issues. We are asked to respond quickly, positively, and knowledgeably, without losing progress on our current projects.

The ability to provide excellent “customer service” to your coworkers, bosses, and clients is crucial for any developer who wants to increase their value and impact within their organization. Unfortunately we usually receive these communication expectations without any clear instruction of how to meet them!

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What's Wrong with Being Right?!

What does it mean to “be right”? Why is “being right” so important to us? Can “rightness” be measured? How do we handle differences in opinion? When you know you’re right, but your team doesn’t agree, what then? When is “being right” the wrong thing for your team?

As an engineering manager at Groupon, I have seen first-hand the way that someone “being right” can hurt working relationships, poison teams and ruin projects. In this talk, we will explore how we think and act about being right, learn about tools that ease the task of finding consensus in a group, and walk away with actionable steps towards improving our teams and organizations.

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We are surrounded by noise – it’s time for silence. In this lightning talk, I explain how silence can:

  • improve your focus,
  • spark insightful and innovative ideas, and
  • help a group to quickly find concensus and make decisions.
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Making HTML Email Fun

Remember when HTML email development used to be fun? Yeah, neither do I. Since the dawning of the Internet, HTML email development has been the worst possible task given to a Web developer. Traditionally used for hazing new hires and college recruits, email template development made IE6 testing look fun.

We can do better! We’re software developers!

I’m pleased to announce that Groupon is open sourcing Gleemail, an email development environment that puts the fun back into HTML template development. Using Gleemail’s custom HTML elements, simple CLI tools and slick third party integrations, creating cross-client-compatible emails has never been easier.

During the talk, we will start from scratch and use Gleemail’s workflow to build, test and deliver an HTML email template.

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Look Ma, I'm on TV!

Thanks to the introduction of the Google Chromecast, it has never been easier to build compelling experiences for the living room TV set. With a surprisingly low device cost of $30 and a remarkably robust SDK, Web developers can build Chromecast applications from the ground up simply using HTML 5, CSS and JavaScript, as well as adding Chromecast features to existing Web, iOS and Android apps.

After attending this talk, you will walk away having learned:

  • the capabilities and development architecture provided by the Chromecast.
  • how to stream your hosted media to a Chromecast.
  • the JS API provided to control a Chromecast from within a Web app.
  • instructions for deploying and publishing a your own made-for-TV application.

Jump ahead of the pack and try developing on this exploding platform now!

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Tracking All the Things

For the last two years, Chris Powers has led the development of Groupon’s “Bloodhound” tracking system which collects and records user behavior metrics across the globe.

Throughout this process, nearly as many things went wrong as went right. Lessons were learned along this path towards “tracking all the things”, and Chris will be pointing out both the pitfalls and the big wins to look for while building out a behavior tracking infrastructure.

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About Me

Chris Powers

Chris Powers has been leading software development teams for the last fifteen years, and he loves sharing his passion for building teams and software with audiences nationwide. As a Clean Coders author, Chris produced an educational video series entitled "Clean Code in the Browser". Chris is VP of Engineering at Thinkful and lives in the northern Chicago suburbs with his wife and two children. In his free time he enjoys drumming, woodworking, and tabletop gaming.

Contact Info


Twitter: @chrisjpowers