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360 Feedback

2022: 360 feedback I gave to Denton

1. What does this person do well? Be specific.

  • Team leadership:
    • Unofficially, Denton leads the APEs (by example)
    • I’ve admired other unofficial team leads in the past (whoever was de facto leading us because they were the most skilled and knowledgable) but was used to the person in that role being more precious about what code they “allowed” into “their” codebases
    • Denton is not like that — he sets a good example for how to move towards quality but rather than focusing on gate-keeping code (or preferring his own code), he focuses on improving our ability to iterate quickly and respond to production issues as needed
    • I’m not sure if Denton would like (or agree) with the idea that he leads the team by example, but he does it in a way I find unassuming and inspiring and I hope he keeps doing what he’s doing :)
  • Feature leading:
    • Planning: he looks before he leaps by researching options before diving into an implementation
    • Collaboration: he seeks the input of relevant teams external to the APEs to avoid rebuilding something Recursion already has or tying us to a solution not all teams will enjoy maintaining
    • Documentation: he documents his WIP openly as he goes in Slack, etc which makes it easy to catch up and review the progress of the feature investigation and implementation
    • Collaboration: he proactively creates small Asana tasks the rest of us can pick up and work on asynchronously (and often in parallel)
  • PR Reviews:
    • he provides EXCELLENT feedback, including…
    • a quick ✅ whenever possible as a general preference for iterating over bike-shedding (something I’ve learned a lot from)
    • illustrating change request with code instead of sentences when possible (to save time and avoid misunderstandings)
    • obviously lots of really helpful nudges and warnings when needed
  • Writing:
    • In addition to his other skills, Denton writes extremely well — his wording and grammar choices are often kinda beautiful
    • I just want to call that out :)
  • Presenting:
    • Denton’s slide presentations and code demos are really good as well
    • When he sets out to explain something, he does a great job starting from the beginning and building our understanding step-by-step
    • I hope to see a bunch more demos and decks

2. What could this person do to have a bigger impact at Recursion? Be specific.

  • Teaching:
    • I’ve occasionally asked Denton a question via a DM and hoped for a “like I’m 5” response but received a brief “just do [jargon I’m unfamiliar with]” — on the one hand, I think it’s completely appropriate to expect me to figure things out without much explanation at the senior level and that nudge (and vote of confidence) is appreciated. On the other hand, in case the brevity is due to the assumption that I have all the context I need, please feel free to err on the side of repeating what I may already know! The way you do in your excellent presentations when you’re consciously introducing a potentially concept. There’s a good chance I’d learn something helpful. (I’ll also work on phrasing what I’m asking for more clearly!)
  • Lottery factor:
    • If you were to leave Recursion, the APEs would likely find we were riddled with knowledge gaps that used to be covered by “ask Denton”. Anything you can do to convert what’s in your head into documentation (e.g. “How to [insert common/critical APEs workflow]” x ~100) would be super valuable! And also helpful as onboarding material.
    • I guess “more knowledge sharing” is really the theme of all my recommendations for you. It’s just a way of saying you’re doing great and having a very positive impact, so even more of that (as time permits) would always be welcome.