Communicate Through Trial And Error

Massimiliano Pippi

Agent and Integrations Team Lead at Datadog



At Datadog, we don't allow our teams to grow too large, so whenever we have more than 10 team members in a team, we will split that team into two. A while ago, my team was made responsible for a huge new project and I was chosen as the leader of it. I designed the project to be a platform, with various pieces that others could combine later into various other forms. However, the team grew too large and was split, and then was split again. At the end of the year, we had a software platform being owned by a number of different teams, which resulted in a mess.

Actions Taken

"When we split the teams, we didn't keep communications up. Everybody just focused on what they were doing, and they weren't kept informed of what others were doing."

This was a problem, as we were working on the same project, and on the same codebase, but with slightly different goals and objectives. While we managed to keep the style and quality of the code consistent, everything else was a mess. Every so often, my team would receive a huge pull request from other people on the same code base, and they wouldn't know what it was. In addition, because my team remained the leads of the project, they would add things or change things without notifying the other teams. This went on for a while, and while there wasn't any huge drama, it was clear we were going in the wrong direction.

I decided to schedule a meeting with everyone involved. We agreed to improve communication and to let each other know what we were up to. We tried Slack to keep people up to date, and tried to introduce the RFC concept, but our good communication only lasted for a week before fizzling out. We experimented with other various approaches but ultimately, what worked best was having a daily half-hour cross-team meeting. An hour before the meeting, we publish an agenda on Slack and everyone is welcome to add a topic. If you want to talk about something that affects another team, you are expected to ping the people who will be affected so they're aware of the topic being discussed. If there is something on the agenda that interests you or affects you, then you join the meeting. If not, then you aren't required to be there. If there are no agenda items, the meeting is canceled. For us, this happens about twice a week.

Lessons Learned

"I'm still unclear as to why my other solutions didn't work, and hadn't expected the daily meetings to have changed anything. Managing a team is hard, and managing more than one is harder. Sometimes it just takes a lot of trial and error to find the right solution for your teams."

Be notified about next articles from Massimiliano Pippi

Massimiliano Pippi

Agent and Integrations Team Lead at Datadog

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementLeadership TrainingPerformance ReviewsFeedback TechniquesTeam & Project Management

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