More Methodical, More Efficient

Alexis Lê-Quôc

CTO at Datadog



"When I was three years into my career as a software engineer, I was working at a small start-up. We were working on an email system and were using qmail, a well-tested piece of open source software to do this. My role was to connect this system to the rest of the platform and make it work, however, things were not working as expected. I hit a bug that I just couldn't fix."

Actions taken

"Before hitting this bug, my approach had always been to come up with reasons for why something isn't working and then to apply my solutions based on these guesses. However, this approach just wasn't working. Instead of just getting frustrated and fixing the bug for me, my manager sat me down and said that we needed to look at the piece I connected, by looking at the source, to really understand what was going on. We painstakingly went through all of the source. This helped me to fully understand how qmail worked, allowing me to understand the reasons behind my bug."

Lessons learned

"It's important to be patient as a manager, and teach your engineers to focus on really understanding the technologies they're working with. This was a valuable lesson - we all can be lazy - looking for results without putting the work in. My manager helped me immensely by forcing me to go back and methodically look at the source, so I truly understood it and understood how I had caused a bug. As a manager, I was also able to teach this lesson to my engineers."

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Alexis Lê-Quôc

CTO at Datadog

Engineering ManagementSoftware Development

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