Creating a great engineering culture amidst rapid startup growth can be challenging, but it’s worth pursuing. This is one of the reasons I joined Beam as an Engineering Manager: the opportunity to create a great engineering culture from the beginning.
What exactly is a great engineering culture? During my 14-year tenure of working with software teams, I’ve noticed several patterns of great cultures:
• Teams have full ownership of their end-to-end work: from idea to deploy to support.
• Engineers are supported in exploring and implementing tools and processes that will improve product development.
• Engineers have the autonomy to drive their own initiatives and are supported by management in seeing them through.
• A culture that truly cares about engineers and their career development and finds opportunities to match passion with work.
• A culture of openness, listening, and friendliness where help is amply given.
• Management that supports transparency, self-organization and “taking it to the team”.
• Business priorities are clear and well-articulated to the engineering organization.
To give you an idea of our rapid growth, our product and engineering organization has tripled in size in the last several months. Teams are forming, storming and norming, processes are being created and iterated upon, and all the while we welcome and onboard more talented engineers, product, and UX folks every week.
To say it’s not been a walk in the park is an understatement. There are winning days, tiring days, and times where I’m not sure what to do next. But throughout this journey, coming into the office each day has been meaningful, rewarding, and full of a decade’s worth of learnings in just a few short months. When I look back and see what we’ve created together as a team, I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished.
Here are some of the great things we’ve created so far:
1. Full ownership: We don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to our development, so even though we subscribe to Agile and Scrum methodologies, each team gets to participate in a Team Liftoff process to decide how they would like to organize themselves and work together in order to deliver their work. They decide on team values and even the format and ceremonies for their sprints. The goal is for the teams to own their work and organization and be empowered to change it at any time to make themselves even more productive, happier, and effective. Outcomes are the goal, not micromanagement.
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