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Building Effective Engineering Teams - LeadDev

Addy Osmani
October 29, 2022

Building Effective Engineering Teams - LeadDev

As engineering leaders, we have a large opportunity to scale our effectiveness as our decisions impact the output of our whole organisation. This means our investments in helping our teams become more effective is of particularly high value. A good starting point is sharing the insights that help grow people into effective individual engineers.

There is of course so much more to it than this. From reducing sources of friction to optimising career growth goals to align with what produces maximum value, this talk will touch on tips, tricks and frameworks for building effective teams based on over a decade of experience Addy has had working on the Chrome team at Google. The insights here will apply across management and technical leadership.

This talk was presented at LeadDev SF 2022.

Addy Osmani

October 29, 2022
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Transcript

  1. EFFECTIVE
    ENGINEERING
    TEAMS
    BUILDING
    @addyosmani

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  2. THREE E’S OF
    EFFECTIVENESS

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  3. HOW DO I
    ENABLE
    EFFECTIVENESS?

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  4. EFFICIENT TEAMS DO
    THINGS RIGHT.


    EFFECTIVE TEAMS DO
    THE RIGHT THING.
    (IDEALLY DO THE RIGHT THINGS RIGHT)

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  5. TIP: FOCUS ON OUTCOMES
    OVER OUTPUTS
    • 🛠 Outputs: Activities you’ve been executing. 👉 (e.g. deployed a feature)

    • 🛠 Throughput: The nº of items you ship to production.

    • 🛠 Velocity: The speed at which those items go through the pipeline.

    • 🛠 Quality: How satisfying your delivery is based on customer expectations.

    • 🛠 Capacity: The nº of devs available to work on a speci
    fi
    c project or initiative.

    • 🛠 Code Health: The tech debt being driven down for making systems simple to maintain

    • 🛠 Outcomes: The impact of those activities. 👉 (e.g. I want this feature to increase X by 20%)

    • 🛠 Business Value: The value for the business of delivering a speci
    fi
    c outcome.

    • 🛠 Investment: The money you want to put into delivering a speci
    fi
    c outcome to the market
    https://dev.to/carmonara/what-is-engineering-productivity-how-do-we-measure-it-405i
    Components of Productivity

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  6. WHAT ARE TRAITS OF AN
    EFFECTIVE ENGINEER?
    • Care about the user. Their needs >
    speci
    fi
    c technology or approach

    • Good problem solver

    • Can keep things simple

    • Thinks like an owner

    • Lifts others up. Shares knowledge.

    • Can build trust, autonomy, social
    capita over time
    • Understands team strategy

    • A great communicator

    • Prioritizes appropriately

    • Seeks feedback to improve

    • Can think long term

    • Leaves things better than how they found
    them

    • Comfortable taking on new challenges if
    org requirements change

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  7. ANTI-PATTERNS FOR EFFECTIVENESS
    • Domain Champion
    • Hoarding the Code
    • Unusually High Churn

    • Bullseye Commits

    • Heroing
    • Over Helping
    • Clean As You Go

    • In the Zone

    • Bit Twiddling

    • The Busy Body
    • Scope Creep

    • Flaky Product Ownership
    • Expanding Refactor

    • Just One More Thing

    • Rubber Stamping

    • Knowledge Silos

    • Self-Merging PRs

    • Long-Running PRs

    • A High Bus Factor

    • Sprint Retrospectives
    bit.ly/20-patterns

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  8. WHAT ARE TRAITS OF
    AN EFFECTIVE TEAM?

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  9. AUTONOMY, MASTERY PURPOSE
    • Autonomy
    • Have full ownership

    • Strong abilities to work
    with

    • interfaces

    • Strong communication
    skills

    • Get things done attitude

    • Understand the big picture
    What do we need to build e
    ff
    ective teams?
    • Mastery
    • Appreciation of our

    • craftsmanship

    • Strong technical skills

    • Strong project leadership
    skills

    • Make complicated things
    simple

    • High commitment

    • Continuous improvement
    • Purpose
    • Team Player

    • Continuously
    improving of the
    surrounding

    • Entrepreneur and not
    only innovator

    • Looking at the big
    picture

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  10. PEOPLE
    DECISIONS
    ARE BASED ON RESEARCH
    AT GOOGLE

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  11. WHAT TRAITS DO GREAT
    MANAGERS AT GOOGLE HAVE?
    1. Is a good coach

    2. Empowers team and does not
    micromanage

    3. Creates an inclusive team
    environment, showing concern
    for success and well-being
    4. Is productive and results-oriented

    5. Is a good communicator — listens
    and shares information
    PROJECT OXYGEN
    6. Supports career development
    and discusses performance
    7. Has a clear vision/strategy for
    the team

    8. Has key technical skills to help
    advise the team

    9. Collaborates across Google
    10. Is a strong decision maker

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  12. WHAT SETS
    APART EFFECTIVE
    TEAMS FROM
    THE REST?
    PROJECT ARISTOTLE

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  13. EXECUTIVES
    WHAT IS EFFECTIVENESS?
    TEAM
    LEADERSHIP
    TEAM


    MEMBERS
    OWNERSHIP,
    VISION, GOALS
    TEAM
    CULTURE
    RESULTS
    REVENUE, LAUNCHES

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  14. PROJECT ARISTOTLE STUDIED BOTH
    HIGH AND LOW PERFORMING TEAMS
    180 201
    250
    35+
    3 TEAMS
    INTERVIEWS
    INPUTS
    STATISTICAL
    MODELS
    OUTPUTS 115 TECH


    65 SALES PODS
    50 TECH LEADS


    151 TECH TEAM LEADS
    TEAM DYNAMICS


    TEAM COMPOSITION
    ON TEAM EFFECTIVENESS

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  15. WHAT WE LOOKED AT
    PROJECT ARISTOTLE
    Dependability of teammates


    Personal meaning derived from team’s work


    Performance ratings of Googlers on the
    team


    Structure of team & roles


    Extroversion of team members


    Manageable workload for team members


    Number of top performers on the team


    Tenure of Googlers on the team


    Colocation of Googlers on the team


    Impact of team’s work


    Average level of Googlers on the team


    Tenure of team as a whole


    Consensus-driven decision-making


    Psychological safety of the team

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  16. WHAT DIDN’T MATTER
    Dependability of teammates


    Personal meaning derived from team’s work


    Performance ratings of Googlers on the
    team


    Structure of team & roles


    Extroversion of team members


    Manageable workload for team members


    Number of top performers on the team


    Tenure of Googlers on the team


    Colocation of Googlers on the team


    Impact of team’s work


    Average level of Googlers on the team


    Tenure of team as a whole


    Consensus-driven decision-making


    Psychological safety of the team
    PROJECT ARISTOTLE

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  17. WHAT SETS APART EFFECTIVE
    TEAMS FROM THE REST?
    HOW TEAMS


    WORK TOGETHER
    MATTERS MORE THAN
    WHO IS ON THE TEAM.

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  18. EFFECTIVE GOOGLE TEAMS HAVE FIVE DYNAMICS
    IMPACT


    MEANING


    STRUCTURE &


    CLARITY


    DEPENDABILITY


    PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY


    Team members think their work


    matters and creates change
    Work is personally important to


    team members
    The team has clear roles, plans, and


    goals
    Team members get things done, on


    time, and meet Google’s high bar for


    excellence.
    Team members feel safe to take


    risks and be vulnerable in front


    of each other
    Most important

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  19. PSYCHOLOGICAL
    SAFETY IS THE
    SHARED BELIEF THE
    TEAM IS SAFE FOR
    INTERPERSONAL
    RISK TASKING

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  20. TEAMS WHO


    FEEL SAFE BEAT
    THEIR SALES
    TARGETS
    PROJECT ARISTOTLE
    +17%
    -19%
    UNSAFE


    TEAM
    SAFE


    TEAM

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  21. TEAMS WHO


    FEEL SAFE TEND
    TO BE RATED
    HIGHLY ON
    EFFECTIVENESS BY
    THEIR LEADERSHIP
    PROJECT ARISTOTLE
    80%
    40%
    UNSAFE


    TEAM
    SAFE


    TEAM

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  22. EFFECTIVE GOOGLE TEAMS HAVE FIVE DYNAMICS
    IMPACT


    MEANING


    STRUCTURE &


    CLARITY


    DEPENDABILITY


    PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY


    Team members think their work


    matters and creates change
    Work is personally important to


    team members
    The team has clear roles, plans, and


    goals
    Team members get things done, on


    time, and meet Google’s high bar for


    excellence.
    Team members feel safe to take


    risks and be vulnerable in front


    of each other
    Most important

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  23. WANT TO IMPROVE TEAM HEALTH?
    TRISTA TAYLOR LED TEAM
    DEVELOPMENT AT GOOGLE. NOW, HER
    COMPANY, REGROUP, HELPS TEAMS
    IMPROVE PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY,
    COHESION, TEAM VISION, DECISION-
    MAKING ETC. WITH A TEAM HEALTH
    ASSESSMENT, COACHING, AND
    FACILITATED TEAM OFFSITES.
    PROJECT ARISTOTLE -
    COACHING
    regroup.co

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  24. SOFTWARE
    DEVELOPMENT IS A
    TEAM SPORT

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  25. HUMILITY
    TRUST AND
    RESPECT
    TO REACH COLLABORATIVE NIRVANA TEAMS NEED

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  26. HOW DO I
    EMPOWER
    EFFECTIVENESS?

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  27. MAKE


    YOURSELF


    EFFECTIVE
    Know where the time goes
    Focus on what I can contribute
    Build on strengths
    Concentrate on major areas where

    superior performance will produce

    outstanding results.
    Make e
    ff
    ective decisions
    5 habits to acquire

    To be an

    E
    ff
    ective Executive

    By Peter Drucker

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  28. WHAT IS PREVENTING
    YOUR TEAM FROM
    BEING EFFECTIVE?

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  29. THE LENCIONI MODEL
    Patrick Lencioni

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  30. TUCKMAN’S TEAM MODEL
    Bruce Tuckman

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  31. PICK OR DEFINE A TEAM
    EFFECTIVENESS MODEL
    AND STICK WITH IT.

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  32. EMPOWER
    YOUR TEAM TO
    MULTIPLY THEIR
    EFFECTIVENESS

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  33. MULTIPLIERS VS DIMINISHERS
    TYPES OF LEADERS
    Wiseman Group

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  34. MOST DIMINISHING IS ACCIDENTAL

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  35. ARE YOU AN ACCIDENTAL
    DIMINISHER?

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  36. MULTIPLIERS
    RAISE THE
    GAME OF EACH
    TEAMMATE
    MAGIC JOHNSON
    • Focus on one skill you can maximize and one
    weakness you can neutralize

    • Challenge your assumptions. Seek feedback.

    • Don’t stop with yourself when building a multiplier
    culture

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  37. STRONG CULTURE IS OPEN TO CHANGES THAT IMPROVE IT, YET
    RESISTANT TO RADICAL CHANGE THAT HARMS IT.
    YOUR ENGINEERING
    CULTURE MATTERS.

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  38. SHARE,
    REUSE,


    STANDARDIZE,


    AUTOMATE.
    WHAT HAS GOOGLE’S CULTURE CAUGHT ME ABOUT SCALING EFFECTIVENESS?

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  39. SHARE TOOLS,
    ABSTRACTIONS &
    CONVENTIONS

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  40. INVEST IN REUSABLE
    TRAINING MATERIALS TO
    ONBOARD NEW ENGINEERS.

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  41. AUTOMATE


    THE RIGHT THINGS
    CONSISTENCY PLATFORM COST SAVINGS


    ($, TIME, SPEED)
    FASTER REPAIRS

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  42. MASTERY IMPLIES A
    HIGH RATIO OF
    VALUE SHIPPED TO
    HOURS WORKED.

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  43. IMPACT PRODUCED


    TIME INVESTED
    LEVERAGE =
    FOCUS ON HIGH-LEVERAGE ACTIVITIES

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  44. HOW DO I
    EXPAND


    EFFECTIVENESS?
    TO BRING MORE FOLKS ALONG

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  45. THIS GUIDANCE IS HEAVILY
    INSPIRED BY THE WORK
    OF BEN COLLINS-SUSSMAN
    AND BRIAN FITZPATRICK
    debuggingteams.com

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  46. HOW YOU SCALE
    HOW YOU LEAD FOR
    EFFECTIVENESS?

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  47. AS AN ORG GROWS, THE LEADER'S ROLE CHANGES…
    DISTRACTIONS AND COMPLICATIONS MULTIPLY.
    communicate
    effectively
    grow


    your people
    have a clear
    strategy
    communicate
    compelling


    vision
    understand the
    business
    make the right
    decisions
    build the team
    / org culture
    deal with the
    unpredictable
    build a
    great team

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  48. GROWING AS A
    LEADER
    THE FURTHER YOU GROW AS A LEADER:


    •THE MORE IT IS ABOUT PEOPLE.


    •THE LESS IT IS ABOUT YOUR
    PERSONAL TECHNICAL EXPERTISE.


    •THE BROADER YOUR DOMAIN
    BECOMES, MAKING YOU EVEN MORE
    REMOVED.

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  49. ALWAYS BE DECIDING.


    ALWAYS BE LEAVING.
    ALWAYS BE SCALING.
    THE ART OF LEADERSHIP
    BEN COLLINS-SUSSMAN

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  50. ALWAYS BE DECIDING
    MANAGING
    TEAMS OF
    TEAMS =
    MAKING
    DECISIONS AT
    EVER-HIGHER
    LEVELS.

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  51. ALWAYS BE DECIDING
    IDENTIFY THE BLINDERS
    WHAT ASSUMPTIONS DOES EVERYONE
    UNCONSCIOUSLY LIVE WITH?
    IDENTIFY KEY TRADE-OFFS
    MAKE INTENTIONAL DECISIONS

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  52. “ALWAYS BE LEAVING”
    FORMER GOOGLE ENG. DIRECTOR


    -- BHARAT MEDIRATTA

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  53. ARE YOU
    A SINGLE
    POINT OF
    FAILURE?

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  54. BUILD A SELF-
    DRIVING MACHINE.
    BEING A SUCCESSFUL
    LEADER MEANS
    BUILDING A TEAM
    THAT CAN SOLVE
    PROBLEMS BY ITSELF

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  55. DIVIDE THE SPACE
    INTO PROBLEMS.
    DELEGATE THE SUB-PROBLEMS TO
    FUTURE LEADERS.


    ADJUST WHAT’S NOT WORKING.

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  56. YOU MUST BUILD A SET OF
    SELF-SUFFICIENT LEADERS,
    AND DELEGATION IS
    ABSOLUTELY THE MOST
    EFFECTIVE WAY TO TRAIN THEM.
    THE HARDEST PART:
    DELEGATION


    IT’S ALWAYS EASIEST TO DO THINGS
    YOURSELF. THIS MAKES YOU A SINGLE
    POINT OF FAILURE.


    GIVE AWAY YOUR LEGOS.


    IT’S HARD TO WATCH YOUR REPORTS FAIL,
    BUT THEY CAN’T LEARN UNLESS THEY TRY.


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  57. WHAT CAN I DO THAT
    NO-ONE ELSE CAN?

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  58. YOUR MACHINE IS RUNNING.
    WHAT NOW?


    • DIRECT THE MACHINE.


    • KEEP IT HEALTHY.


    • ALWAYS BE LEAVING!

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  59. TAP THE BLIMP
    • OBSERVE. LISTEN TO YOUR
    REPORTS AND TALK TO
    CUSTOMERS.


    • WHAT’S WORKING? OR ISN’T?


    • OCCASIONALLY LIGHTLY TAP
    THE BLIMP IN JUST THE RIGHT
    PLACE TO ADJUST COURSE

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  60. ALWAYS BE
    SCALING

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  61. DO WHAT YOU WERE
    DOING IN HALF THE TIME.


    SPEND THE OTHER HALF
    TACKLING NEW PROBLEMS.

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  62. LEARN FROM MARIE KONDO
    Critically important
    Not urgent or important
    Sometimes urgent,


    Bits of importance
    Toss ALL this
    Only focus on this.

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  63. MAINTAIN YOUR ENERGY. KNOW
    WHAT GIVES YOU ENERGY AND
    WHAT TAKES IT AWAY.

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  64. HAVE A PLAN FOR SCALING
    • SCHEDULE CALENDAR BLOCKS
    TO THINK AND PLAN.


    • DELEGATE EVERYTHING
    (EXCEPT THINGS ONLY YOU
    CAN DO.)


    • TRACK IN A WAY THAT WORKS.


    • DROP BALLS ON PURPOSE!

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  65. ALWAYS BE DECIDING.


    ALWAYS BE LEAVING.
    ALWAYS BE SCALING.

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  66. THREE E’S OF
    EFFECTIVENESS

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  67. RECOMMENDED READS
    EFFECTIVE
    ENGINEERING
    TEAMS
    BUILDING
    https://bit.ly/e
    ff
    ective-books
    ADDY OSMANI

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