Building an Execution Engine, Part 2: Process

You need to be able to ship at high velocity

You need to avoid build-up of technical debt

You need to have many voices at the table, but clear decision makers

You need to be able to communicate decisions across the company quickly and efficiently

  1. Projects go through a series of gates where they are refined and exposed to the team. The first gate could be a kickoff meeting with important stakeholders (the founder, the head of product etc) to get buy-in for the project. A design review meeting is used to involve engineers in ballpark effort estimation, which allows for creating a rough plan for the MVP and subsequent releases. If the project is complex enough, it’s also often useful to write a formal technical design document and discuss it at a technical design review meeting. These steps ensure that there are many voices at the table when decisions are being made, and involves engineers early in the process to allow building the project without unnecessary technical debt.
  2. Projects are broken up into small, decoupled units of work. Since the majority of the technical research for a project is done before the technical design review, it is clear what the dependencies between various parts of the project are before implementation starts. This allows for creating small, bite-sized tasks that have well-defined interactions with other pieces of the project. Feature toggles allow you to ship these individual pieces of work to production without having real users encounter the new functionality. The result is a high velocity of shipping useful code to production, with a final task to “switch on” the entire project to real users when the MVP implementation is complete.
  3. Product managers regularly have meetings to discuss product roadmaps with the entire company. These meetings can be as often as every week, or as infrequently as once a quarter. The goal of the product roadmap meetings is to make the entire team aware of the projects each development team is working on. It’s often also useful for product managers to have regular “wishlist” meetings with user-facing departments of the company, that capture learnings about users that can be incorporated into the product.

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Current: Hippo Insurance. Previous: Google Assistant, Trulia/Zillow, EA, startups. Engineering leadership and navigating ambiguity. Create, learn, repeat.

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Abhijeet Vijayakar

Abhijeet Vijayakar

Current: Hippo Insurance. Previous: Google Assistant, Trulia/Zillow, EA, startups. Engineering leadership and navigating ambiguity. Create, learn, repeat.

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