Mailbag: Building alignment around a new strategy.

February 16, 2021.Filed understaff-eng10邮袋6

Another question regardingStaff Engineer最近,:

There was a bit in your book where you mentioned after you finished writing your vision - that you shared it out because you were very excited (and then trying not to be let down by not hearing much back in terms of response). Was curious if you could share more about how you think about sharing larger technical visions or strategies. Do you start with smaller circles? Do you send out to everyone at once? Do you introduce it at an All Hands meeting? Do you have comments turned on? We’re experimenting with some different ways right now, but don’t think we’ve nailed mass cross-organizational consensus building - at least not efficiently. Maybe that’s not possible?

For context, this question is referencing the end ofWriting engineering strategy:

After you finish writing your vision, the first step folks usually take is sharing it widely across the engineering organization. There is so much work behind the vision–five design docs for each strategy, five strategies for one vision–it's hard not to get excited when you're done. So excited that it's easy to get discouraged, then, when the response to your strategy will almost always be muted. There are a few reasons for the muted response. First, the core audience for your vision is folks writing strategies, which is a relatively small cohort. Second, a great vision is usually so obvious that it bores more than it excites.

Don't measure vision by the initial excitement it creates. Instead, measure it by reading a design document from two years ago and then one from last week; if there's marked improvement, then your vision is good.

There’s really no way to avoid the truth here: making decisions in a large engineering organization can be a real grind. One of the techniques I’ve developed to address this isthe working group,具体地具有用于收集反馈和识别工作组成员的结构化过程。Mark wrote a good post about how we use this model at Calm

结构化工作组模型的建筑对齐工作很大,但随着时间的推移,我来欣赏有时他们不会产生伟大的工作。Groups usually make worse decisions than individuals, even for activities where you’ve likely been taught the opposite,like brainstorming。这不是工作组模型的驳斥,它更加调整它们的工作方式。作为一个群体进行初步研究,并迭代提案作为一个团体,但不要试图将该提案作为一组写作。相反,识别一名成员,以便在综合对提案中综合研究的员工,根据需要将特定部分委派给其他工作组成员。

工作组失败的最常见方式是他们遇到了一个激发了他们提案的声乐少数群体。共识不扩展到非常大的团体,但令人惊讶的是,有多少组织隐含地依赖于总体决定的共识。组织要么制定真正遵守不同意和提交的实践,或者他们最终依靠频繁的升级,以进入进步(有时这些是在给定区域中的祝福决策业主的横向升级,如数据建模决策,等等)。尴尬地,依赖频繁升级的公司几乎从不承认这种依赖,这使得许多人在那里工作无效,因为他们继续将升级视为外交失败,而不是简单地完成组织的工作方式。

将所有这些线程一起拉到直接回答问题,我对这些问题的一般方法是:

  1. Write a clear problem statement, soliciting feedback from stakeholders to ensure it’s genuinely the right problem statement
  2. Create a working group around solving that problem statement, including the right folks to build consensus among key stakeholders
  3. Proactively solicit feedback and input for the working group, focusing on mining for dissent from the folks who are most likely to have objections
  4. Have one person within the group synthesize all the research into a proposal
  5. Iterate within the working group until members are aligned on approach
  6. 与本组织共享非评论文件,并附有关于该提案的问答会议。还征集作为文件而不是评论的书面反馈(文件评论鼓励NIT-POINDS和MINES REFESBACK而不是更有用的大图片反馈)
  7. Spend extra time with the folks who are really frustrated, trying to understand their frustration. Figure out who within the working group is best positioned to address each concerned party
  8. 一旦有用的反馈速度速度速度,就纳入了提案中的内容
  9. Align with all stakeholders in a single thread to ensure there’s joint commitment to the proposal. If there’s a small disagreement, iterate a bit until it’s resolved. If it’s a structural disagreement, escalate to someone who can effectively resolve the disagreement
  10. Share the approach with the organization in Slack. In an email. At the All Hands. At new hire onboarding. Basically, never stop sharing it if it’s something you want folks to actually remember. How far you go will depend on the size of the strategy or decision, but generally speaking these things are undershared. This is doubly true in a fast growing organization where new folks won't know about whatever decision you made last quarter

This isn’t a perfect approach, but it’s good enough in my experience.