Shit Umbrella

What is a Shit Umbrella? A person in a leadership role who shields team members from the day to day strife of interacting directly with less healthy business relationships - especially in more hostile or stressful domains where the business is used to reprioritising developers midtask on a whim.

  1. Shielding is a more business friendly metaphor. Shit is a leaky abstraction.
  2. Being a shit umbrella is a subset of the umbrellas of servant leadership.
  3. The Shit Umbrella shouldn’t be shielding the team from all negative feedback, only what is harmful.
  4. Some organisations have senior leadership that is so far removed from Technical Delivery that they have no idea how to work effectively with those involved with Technical Delivery. Shit shielding here can be different from other types of shit shielding.
  5. There are levels of shit umbrella. Sometimes we shield teams, and other times we are shielded.
  6. Shit Umbrella debt - Sometimes when joining new teams, you can be “hard to work with” as previous leaders wouldn’t protect the team from unproductive business demands
  7. Sometimes over shielding can leave teams disconnected from business goals and aims.
  8. Effective shit shielding or any technical leadership involves training up the next generation of shit shielders.
  9. Extreme Ownership is a good book about leading up.
  10. If someone is burning out above you, approaching helping them as a group can be more effective than helping them as an individual.
  11. Creating an us vs them environment is a shit shielding anti pattern.
  12. Eventually you want to create an empathy driven organisation.
  13. Shit shielding should be a migration strategy from a hostile culture to an empathy driven culture.
  14. Own up to your own privelege as a developer.
  15. Shit shielding shouldn’t go both ways. You can shield higher ups from the lower level issues.
  16. How to Win Friends and Influence People, 48 Laws of Power etc can feel unreasonable to read, but it is useful to know how subvertly aggressive and manipulative others may be interacting with you.
  17. Drive is a good book about motivating effective teams.
  18. An effective leader should be able to leave a team for 2-4 weeks.
  19. Management has imposter syndrome too.
Written on June 9, 2018