Back to resources

It Takes Focus to Make a Turnaround

Convincing
Team Processes
Prioritization

1 June, 2021

Shay Mandel
Shay Mandel

VP Engineering at Next Insurance

Shay Mandel, Engineering Group Manager at Next Insurance, believes in the power of distilling the efforts of his team and devoting their energy to only the most important things to be done.

Problem

I joined a new company, and they told me in advance that I was going to be doing a turnaround. The unit that I would be managing was not running well.

Very quickly I realized that there were a couple of issues. The first: no focus. There were maybe three or four product managers, and all of them wanted to do a lot of stuff. They had the engineers working on a lot of things, but none of them were really connecting together. After 9 months of hard work with no release, not even a demo, there was a lost sense of faith in the team’s ability to deliver.

Actions taken

My proposal: instead of releasing five items at once, let’s do two, making sure that both ship. Let’s focus everybody on these couple of tasks and put a few of the other team efforts on hold for the time being. Then, everybody will be focused on the same area. The team will gain confidence and build a sense of trust with one another through the shared projects.

Three weeks after I had joined, we had released our first project. We continued in this way, releasing something new every three weeks. The team started to feel empowered and the leadership below me realized that it was within their power to focus their energy and to not overwhelm themselves with too many smaller things. Conversation between product and our engineers began to flourish.

Even at this ramped-up pace, I still felt as though the cycle was too slow. In some areas, I felt that we could release multiple times a day. I am always pushing for that next level. There is always more that can be done.

Lessons learned

  • Asking ourselves what could really be done in a feasible amount of time helped us to phase out tasks that were not as urgent. This gave us more time to devote to what really needed to be done.
  • You need to be able to execute with the right amount of vigor and discipline.
  • Start small, build that confidence within the team, make sure everybody is aligned, and set an achievable goal together. From there, you can continue to accelerate.

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader


Related stories

Streamlining Product Processes After a Reorganization

16 May

Snehal Shaha, Lead Technical Program Manager at Momentive (fka SurveyMonkey), details her short-term technical strategy to unify processes among teams following an acquisition.

Acquisition / Integration
Product Team
Product
Building A Team
Leadership
Internal Communication
Collaboration
Reorganization
Strategy
Team Processes
Cross-Functional Collaboration
Snehal Shaha

Snehal Shaha

Senior EPM/TPM at Apple Inc.

Navigating Disagreements When It Comes to Priorities

9 May

Pavel Safarik, Head of Product at ROI Hunter, shares his insights on how to deal with disagreements about prioritization when building a product.

Innovation / Experiment
Product Team
Product
Dev Processes
Conflict Solving
Internal Communication
Collaboration
Convincing
Strategy
Prioritization
Pavel Safarik

Pavel Safarik

Head of Product at ROI Hunter

The Optimization and Organization of Large Scale Demand

4 May

Kamal Qadri, Senior Manager at FICO, drives the importance of setting expectations when optimizing large-scale requirements.

Managing Expectations
Delegate
Team Processes
Prioritization
Kamal Qadri

Kamal Qadri

Head of Software Quality Assurance at FICO

The Necessary Structures of Time Management

14 April

Suryakant Mutnal, Engineering Manager at PayPal, discusses the importance of time management and the necessary structures in order to create internal consistency.

Goal Setting
Managing Expectations
Remote
Deadlines
Productivity
Roadmap
Prioritization
Performance
Suryakant Mutnal

Suryakant Mutnal

Engineering manager at PayPal

Why Documentation Is the Key to Success

6 April

Henning Muszynski, Head of Frontend at Doist, promotes his ideas on how documentation ensures consistency, efficiency, and standardization.

Alignment
Collaboration
Productivity
Hiring
Team Processes
Henning Muszynski

Henning Muszynski

Head of Frontend at Doist

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.