Elevate Spring Summit has been announced (Thu, Mar 11th)

🔥


Don't have an account? 

Finding the right team structure and organization

Scaling Team
Meetings
Internal Communication
Collaboration
Productivity
Reorganization
Agile / Scrum

16 April, 2018

David iterated with his team over several “agile” approaches as his company grew and evolved. He explains which strategies worked, for how long, and why.

Problem

As our company grew from 10 to nearing 200, we've seen many processes work temporarily, only to break down as we reached our next phase of growth. It's been important for me to have means to quickly determine when we're outgrowing our existing processes and identify and implement newer, better ones quickly.

Actions taken

As a small technical team, we started by having daily stand-ups and using the traditional scrum methodology to get all our projects done. As the organization grew and individual engineers became managers, this meeting got very large and it became clear as it ran long that it was not the most effective use of everyone's time. By having regular retrospectives, post-mortems, and "affinity diagram" brainstorming sessions, we were constantly in touch with what processes were no longer working for us. With regular 1-on-1 conversations between the senior members of the team and myself, we were able to discuss alternatives and trial them out. Most of these alternatives came from researching online what other organizations used. As we grew, individual teams had their own standups, and then the leads of each team had a "lead stand up" -- while this resulted in leaders having more than one stand up each day, it enabled very efficient, effective communication that allowed us to avoid other meetings. We separated the team into product-focused teams, called "Workstreams", each led by an individual product manager. While this helped to scale the workload, we found that engineers did not have great visibility into other parts of the business and thus didn't always make the right "small decisions" in their daily work. Based on this, we switched to Spotify's "Squads" system which has worked better for us. During this entire time, we've kept our "daily leads" meeting, 1-on-1s, retrospectives and quarterly brainstorms, and other processes to ensure we're constantly aware of what's going well and not going well.

Lessons learned

While a certain set of processes may have worked well at most of the organizations you may have been a part of, no processes are "one-size-fits-all". Thus, it's critical to have a persistent feedback mechanism and regular open dialog with your team on what is working well and not well with your processes, and, as you scale, to be brutally honest with changes. Often times we may not hear from the individual engineers on our team, so it's important that we regularly solicit their opinion on these topics -- they often won't bring concerns up until we ask.


Related stories

Horizontally Scaling the Engineering Organization
11 January

Ken Pickering, VP of Engineering at Starburst Data, explains how to structure a product engineering organization to maximize results and address inefficiencies through horizontal scaling.

Scaling Team
Team processes
Ken Pickering

Ken Pickering

VP, Engineering at Starburst Data

Structuring a Startup for Scale
30 December

Wadah Sayyed, Director of Engineering at HPE, discusses how he helped set his startup for success by mapping out ownership structures and building teams around clear ownership.

Scaling Team
Ownership
Team processes
Wadah Sayyed

Wadah Sayyed

Director of engineering at HPE

Managing Cross-Team Dependencies
28 December

Frances Li, Lead Product Manager at Carta, tells of her recent experience of managing dependencies with another team and how ensuring transparency is a prerequisite for resolving them.

Cross-functional collaboration
Managing Expectations
Collaboration
Frances Li

Frances Li

Lead Product Manager at Carta

Bringing Tangible Results Within the First Quarter
28 December

Frances Li, Lead Product Manager at Carta, recalls how a sudden change of direction and decision to bring tangible results within the first quarter impacted a product she was building.

Collaboration
Roadmap
Prioritization
Frances Li

Frances Li

Lead Product Manager at Carta

Building Internal Tools and Balancing Different Stakeholders’ Requirements
28 December

Frances Li, Lead Product Manager at Carta, describes how she created a unique framework that helps her balance different stakeholders’ requirements when building internal tools.

Managing Expectations
Collaboration
Team processes
Prioritization
Frances Li

Frances Li

Lead Product Manager at Carta

You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.

Plato (platohq.com) is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.