The Pitfalls of Not Making Active Decisions

Peter Buckingham

VP of Software Engineering at SambaNova Systems



"While working at NVIDIA, I was managing 10 people as a first line manager, leading the CUDA Driver development effort. It was a core, critical piece of infrastructure, and there were a lot of people who were interested in using it. However, another team asked my team to do something for them, and I just didn't have the time to do it. Instead of saying no outright, I decided to ignore their request and continue with what I was doing."

Actions taken

"About a month later, the request came up again. This continued happening, and while we ended up solving it much later, it devolved because I had figured it was most important for me to focus on what I was doing. This caused relationship friction with the management of the other team, and it became clear to me that saying no early and loudly is an important thing to do. If you say no early, then firstly you may not need to do the task requested, and if no is the wrong decision from their perspective they can escalate the issue and a decision can be made about which tasks are more important."

Lessons learned

"Active decision making and communicating those decisions is very important. When tasks are critical to the business, the business should be involved in your decision making in order to ensure you are focusing on the right things."

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Peter Buckingham

VP of Software Engineering at SambaNova Systems

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationDecision MakingEngineering ManagementPerformance ReviewsFeedback TechniquesCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionIndividual Contributor Roles

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