J.A. Simmons V

v1.0.20180302 - Systems Operation Manager @Deloitte

This document is a method for team members to get to know me at scale, where I will share my expectations on how to work with me and how I will try to work with you. This is an intro into my mind and how I like to operate: my mental and operational frameworks. I believe that these topics would help you become more effective and reduce managerial overhead on my side. This document is written in the style of a project README.md.

Getting Started

Between Texas high-school football and 5 years in the Navy, I am accustom to being called Simmons. Just Simmons. My wife and my family call me by my first name. Also people trying to sell me something. If I don’t know you for 10+ years and you call me by my first name, then I am going to assume you are trying to take something from me, and our interaction will be reflected accordingly.

As I said, I spent 5 years in the Navy, and that is where a lot of my first management experiences where formed. E.g., I always try to be 10 minutes early to every meeting. If you are on time and I am not on the call, something in my usual system (detailed below) has failed and I have forgotten that meeting. Ping me; Remind me that I am suppose to be meeting you somewhere. With that said, I will give you 10 minutes to make the meeting (I will also ping you as well). I have already invested 10+ minutes into this meeting, I will not invest more until you start investing in kind.

I use “colorful” language. This is an artifact from said time in the Navy. I am working on it, but best be warned.


I will not deal with you if I do not trust you in the most basic definition of the word. I will not lie to you, I expect you to not lie to me. I will not tell you everything I know, but I will not lie to you.

I will not deal with you if I do not respect you. This that will make me lose respect for you: lying to me or someone else;

Each team has a different culture, a different mood, etc. I do not manage the same way for everyone, but I always lead the same way.


You have joined the team, two things should definitely appear on your calendar by now. One is the weekly team meeting where we cover status reports, roadblocks, general brainstorming, and cover any gossip, rumors, and lies the team has heard. Two is the weekly 1:1 between you and me. I will do everything I can to not miss this 1:1; it is that important as the only guaranteed time I have with you. We will discuss any problems you are having (technical, performance, career). This is not a status meeting. This is a chance for you to have a serious discussion with me, and as such it will be at least 30 minutes long; real conversations take time.

I do not believe in weekly status reports; I should be able to get that information out of JIRA and save both of our time. If I cannot get that information out of JIRA, then YOU have a problem. Figure out how to account for your time within JIRA. If there is a technical limitation with JIRA in capturing your time, you need to tell me about it and then WE have a problem.


My job is:

  1. Build, maintain, and own every service that is folded under our umbrella
  2. Set context

On Feedback

I love feedback. Feedback is critical to your success and mine. There are three dimensions which are required for people to continue to give you good feedback: 1) Safety - people should feel safe against retaliation for giving feedback 2) Effort - the amount of work to give feedback, (e.g., don’t argue when people give you feedback; question yes, arguements no) 3) Benefit - being given feedback should provide some measurable change; I will let you know if you do not do well on any of these three dimensions. I also want to know if I don’t do well on any of these three dimensions.

Order of Communication

(Most checked -> Good luck reaching me) Phone call -> SMS text -> Hipchat -> Email -> Package delivery -> Carrier Pidgeon -> Lync/Skype *This also follows my order of urgency

Want to talk? Lets talk

If something comes up, do not wait till our weekly 1:1. Reach out to me following my Order of communication. I do a bunch of things, and very few of them are more important then spending time talking to someone who needs to talk to me.

My System

I try my best to trend towards efficency. Because of that I try new methods, I research new ideas, and I experiment to find something that fits all my needs. Right now my system is heavly based on Getting Things Done by David Allen. My system relies heavly on simple technology and building a ritural/habit. It is not perfect, but it is a constant work in progress. Because of this, I trend towards more asymetric communication. I try to check emails only twice a day, and I practice Inbox Zero, where I have actioned or captured tasks in other systems / folders and delete emails from my inbox and live out of my task tracking app (a combination between Jira and Todoist). This is a sytem that has evolved with me over the past decade, and I do not expect anyone else to adhear to my system.

What all this means is for you working with me is that: no, I do not have that email you sent me last year; no, I do not remember what exactly was said at that meeting last month; yes, I have the action list that I derived and I can tell you the state that those action items are in; If it is urgent, you need to use my Order of Communication to bring it to my attention. Sending me an email will sit there for a few hours. If I am already working on something, I am not watching new emails, tickets, tasks, pings, dings, or alarms. I am well enveloped into the zone of getting things done, and when I stop for more coffee or a bathroom break is the only window of time that I may allow something new to enter into my carefully quarentened zone. This is all a result of my current job function, and will evolve as my job evolves.


  • Rand’s Leadership Slack where I discovered this idea of a Management README.
  • US Navy and Petty Officer training
  • Trials and tribulations of life