login


Google Sign inLinkedIn Sign in

Don't have an account? 

Leveraging Diverse Peer Groups for Tighter Feedback

Team reaction
Cross-functional collaboration
Collaboration

24 May, 2020

With both the need for a more supportive team setting and shorter feedback cycles, Marc LeBrun, VP Engineering at Flow Kana, addresses two problems with a single solution.

Problem

I was managing a department with multiple advanced technology teams. They were fairly small teams of senior people, but they sometimes had an unfortunate tendency to go off in their own bubbles and lose connection with their core missions and the key needs of the rest of the company. They were well-intentioned and brilliant but could become isolated, without enough opportunity for external input to trigger course-corrections and insight.
 

The model was that they would incubate innovative technologies for a while and then meet with the product teams to determine how to deliver that magic as products. That, however, entailed an extended time scale, and the innovators really needed more feedback on a shorter cycle. Alas, dedicated stakeholder bandwidth for long-range projects is scarce.
 

Actions taken

What I wound up doing was to have those small teams stage review sessions with each other even though they were working in very different areas and there wasn’t any direct producer-consumer relationship between the projects.
 

I had them do regular presentations on what they built and deployed, as well as problems that they were dealing with—something like a cross between a seminar and a sprint review.
 

Lessons learned

If it’s difficult to apply the model of accessing stakeholders and getting user input for sprint reviews, you can harness another team and have people do it on a collegial basis rather than on a customer/provider basis.
 

By doing these presentations for their respected professional peers, they were able to communicate with people at their level who had a shared culture of pushing the envelope. Not only did that break the isolation, but it encouraged skill-transfer.
 

Moreover, to everyone’s pleasant surprise, it created unexpected collaborations. Even though they were very separate teams, and self-sufficient, they would often face common problems (for example testing new technology) and would collaborate creatively on their solutions.
 

Even extremely diverse groups can enjoy serendipitous synergies and exhibit unexpected network effects.


Related stories

Some Ideas for Breaking Down Silos In Your Organization
30 June

Jeff Foster, Head of Product Engineering, shares how he managed to break down silos in his organization by encouraging their employees to choose their own team.

Team reaction
Managing Expectations
Company Culture
Internal Communication
Collaboration
Productivity
Reorganization
Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster

Head of Product Engineering at Redgate

Recruitment and Interview Rotas: the Engineers’ Way
30 June

Jeff Foster, Head of Product Engineering, explains how engineers at his organization self-managed their taking part in the interviewing process.

Hiring
Collaboration
Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster

Head of Product Engineering at Redgate

Prioritizing Tech Work vs. Product Work: The Incomplete Story
30 June

Jose Pettoruti, Director of Engineering at CurrencyCloud, shares some tips on how to prioritize and balance tech work with ever-emerging new features by working closely with the product team.

Collaboration
Internal Communication
Jose Pettoruti

Jose Pettoruti

Director of Engineering at CurrencyCloud

When Shared Ownership Means No Ownership
30 June

Jose Pettoruti, Director of Engineering at CurrencyCloud, elaborates on his claim that shared ownership of services means no ownership at all and shares some tips on how to overcome shared ownership problems.

Collaboration
Ownership
Jose Pettoruti

Jose Pettoruti

Director of Engineering at CurrencyCloud

Why Psychological Safety Is More Important Than Ever During the Covid-19 Pandemic?
30 June

Murali Bala, Director, Software Engineering at Capital One, discusses the importance of psychological safety emphasizing its unparalleled significance during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Remote
Feedback
Team reaction
Feelings aside
Company Culture
Internal Communication
Murali Bala

Murali Bala

Director, Software Engineering at Capital One

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.