The Effective Engineer is a book by author Edmond Lau, who also gave a Google Talk about how engineers can be effective at making the most out of their efforts, team and careers. He interviewed several engineers at different big and medium sized companies and collected their insights - and mistakes - in his book. His talk is mostly about what is in his book and can be summarized as follow:

  • Optimize for learning: learn something everyday;

  • Invest in iteration speed: doing the same thing twice? Make a tool out of the third;

  • Validate your ideas aggressively and iteratively: it's time to make design the driving force of your product;

  • Incrementally validating your assumptions is high leverage: at the very least, do an A/B test to see if it's worth to invest time in that feature;

  • Find the unknowns: to reduce risk;

  • Minimize operational burden: the minimum viable product first, please.

  • Build a great engineering culture: do not waste engineering time.

As a first-year student in Information Systems, still at the very beginning of my career as a software developer, I find his career advises something I plan to take with me for a really long time. I specially liked his holistic view of engineering:

  • the focus on leverage tasks;

  • working long hours not making you an effective engineer;

  • the importance of estimation when building projects;

  • "avoid one man team" (my favorite advice);

  • and the importance of automate mechanics.