Achieving "Peak Collaboration" in outcome oriented Engineering Teams

Daniel Woolfson

Senior Engineering Manager at The Engineer Experience



In this article, we will explore the challenges of Achieving "Peak Collaboration" in outcome oriented Engineering Teams. We will delve into a conceptual conversation between two top-tier Engineers, discussing the challenge of "peak collaboration" in a results-driven culture. The goal is to provide insights and strategies for engineering leaders to effectively balance these two aspects in their teams.

Climbing to Peak Collaboration is a challenge

The conversation begins with one Engineer expressing their struggle with collaboration in their current organisation. They mention that they have been assessed as a low performer and have received feedback that they put too much emphasis on collaboration and reducing waste, rather than focusing on individual and team outcomes. The engineer is trying to find a balance between in a culture that values results rather than behaviours.

> "I have received some feedback that I put too much emphasis on collaboration and I spent too much time trying to get alignment and reduce waste as opposed to just getting results individually in the teams." - Engineer 1

The Value of Collaboration

The other engineer acknowledges the importance of collaboration and shares their perspective on the issue. They mention the need to break down silos and encourage teams to share knowledge and resources to improve efficiency.

> "Collaboration can make you go fast because you're wasting less effort. It's about understanding what work has been done in other teams or departments and reusing that instead of working in silos. " - Engineer 2

The conversation then shifts to finding a balance. The engineer expresses their desire to collaborate more but struggles with the company's focus on 100% utilisation. Timesheets are not value - they infer.

> "I'm struggling to get buy-in and recognition of the value of just plain group think. I'm trying to work out how to take some concept of 100% utilization, and making people not busy all the time, but trying to get them to work smarter by understanding what work has been done." - Engineer 1

Exploring Different Leadership Styles

The conversation then delves into different leadership styles and the need to adapt to the company's culture. The engineer reflects on their own values and the misalignment they feel with the company's focus on technical initiatives over people initiatives. They mention their efforts to develop a competency framework for individuals and managers and their work on people leadership. However, they feel that their efforts are not fully recognized or valued by the organisation.

> "I'm sure my values don't align, and therefore, I'm not as engaged or as motivated. Positive behaviours yield motivation and provides energy to others, I am sure of this." - Engineer 1

The Functional Structure and Its Impact on energy to collaborate

The conversation takes a turn as the engineers discuss the company's functional structure and its impact on collaboration. They acknowledge that the company's focus on technical details and individual performance is a result of this structure. The engineer expresses their desire to change the culture and promote collaboration, but they also recognise the challenges and potential limitations of doing so within the existing structure.

> "It's a highly technical company, and they value certain things over others. There is a mismatch between the company's focus on technical work and the value of collaboration. We are a experiment of an Inverse Conway's Law" - Engineer 1


Achieving "Peak Collaboration" and reaching individual outcomes in engineering teams can be a challenging task if the organisation structure does not promote this. This conversation emphasises the importance of finding a balance and explores the impact of the company's functional structure on collaboration efforts.

Can there be a middle interface layer between a group think approach and a outcome based culture? As with most APIs, there is a contract, an understanding of translation of data - it could be a time to have skip level 1-1s with the Engineers and see what they believe within the scope of this area of study.

Be notified about next articles from Daniel Woolfson

Daniel Woolfson

Senior Engineering Manager at The Engineer Experience

Engineering LeadershipLeadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementPerformance MetricsLeadership Training

Connect and Learn with the Best Eng Leaders

We will send you a weekly newsletter with new mentors, circles, peer groups, content, webinars,bounties and free events.


HomeCircles1-on-1 MentorshipBounties

© 2024 Plato. All rights reserved

LoginSign up