Skip to content

Blog /Newsletter /

The Steady Beat - Issue 24.6.3

AI for real, designers must code, the power of modern generalism, scaling insta, and delivering bad news.

June 21st 2024

by Henry Poydar

in Newsletter

Welcome to The Steady Beat, a weekly-ish round-up of hand-picked articles and resources for people who make software products: designers, engineers, product managers, and organizational leaders.

Using AI summaries to coordinate teamwork

Steady’s core mission is making team coordination fast, simple, and self-sustaining. One of the ways we do that is distilling the overwhelming amount of information people need to absorb on a daily basis into something that’s quick and easy to digest. All to say; we think large language models (AI) — which happen to excel at tasks like summarization — hold significant potential for Steady.

But we want to do it right. We’ve seen the footguns, gimmicks, tacked-on chat bots, data-handling missteps, and hype that doesn’t match reality. Our goal is to build a great product that solves real problems, and adds real value for customers.

With all of that in mind, we’re excited to announce that our first set of LLM-powered features, Team Highlights, and Quick Fill, will roll out over the next few weeks to all accounts.

Steady, 4m

Generalists on product teams

In a world where adaptability is key, generalists are becoming the unsung heroes of the tech industry. While specialists push boundaries with deep expertise, generalists shine by learning quickly and tackling diverse challenges. They bring value not just by having a range of skills but by effectively applying them. As AI automates niche tasks, the ability to pivot and bridge gaps between technical and non-technical teams makes generalists indispensable. Embrace your diverse skillset, keep learning, and leverage AI to amplify your impact—being a generalist might just be your superpower.

Leading Product, 7m

Scaling Insta to billions of people

From humble beginnings as a location check-in app, Instagram quickly pivoted to become a photo-sharing behemoth, hitting 30 million users in just two years. But with great user numbers come great infrastructure challenges. The engineers at Instagram tackled these by shifting from vertical to horizontal scaling, optimizing resource usage with C/C++ integrations, and leveraging shared memory. Data consistency was achieved through geographically distributed Cassandra clusters, while performance was boosted with async Python processes and Memcache optimizations. These strategic decisions allowed Instagram to seamlessly serve billions of users, proving that with smart architecture, scaling is just a matter of good code.

System Design Newsletter, 7m

Designers must code. But how?

Forget the age-old debate of whether designers should code. Here’s the reality: when designers dive into the code, magic happens. Start with pair programming to learn the ropes, review pull requests to catch low-hanging fruit, and fix those pesky visual bugs yourself. Scaffold UI with actual HTML to bring designs to life and create prototypes for quick, collaborative feedback. Sure, there’ll be roadblocks—gatekeeping policies, skeptical engineers—but by showing what you can bring to the table, you’ll earn trust and open doors. In short, designers coding isn’t just viable; it’s transformational.

Dylan Smith, 6m

Mastering the Art of Bad News

Delivering bad news is an inevitable part of leadership, whether it’s a delayed milestone or a critical feature falling short. Pat Kua’s guide on handling these tough conversations emphasizes reflection on your actions, acknowledging the interests of others, and preparing for strong emotional responses. He advises focusing on future solutions rather than dwelling on past mistakes, and coming equipped with actionable options to navigate forward. Owning your mistakes, showing empathy, and presenting viable paths forward can transform a dreaded task into a demonstration of leadership.

LeadDev, 5m

More in Newsletter

Subscribe to The Steady Beat

A weekly-ish round-up of hand-picked articles and resources for people who make software products: designers, engineers, product managers, and organizational leaders.

Subscribe now