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How to Build High Performing Teams

By John Lafleur 2 minutes read

TL;DR: While you’re scaling your team from 4 to 20 to 200, it’s important to set up your culture. Here is an engineering manifesto example, worth revisiting every 12–18 months as your team grows.

The engineering culture helps your entire engineering team get on the same page about:

  • How are we going to build and operate things?
  • How do we make decisions?
  • How are we going to collaborate?
  • How are we going to resolve conflicts?
  • How are we going to keep our codebase clean?

Iteration works for engineering but not for engineering culture.

How We Build Things

  • Simplicity: Building something from nothing has inherent layers of complexities. Simplifying as much as possible is crucial to success.
  • Speed: We move fast. Execution and deployment trump long discussions and analysis.
  • Incremental: Agile not waterfall. We strive to build the ideal solution but we must also build them incrementally.
  • Build for Trust: No human is perfect. It is no surprise that the software designed by us is also not perfect.

How we function as a team

  • Check the Ego: Everyone has an ego. Ego drives the most successful people in life. They want to win, to be the best. That is good. But when ego clouds our judgment and prevents us from seeing the world as it is, then ego becomes destructive.
  • Teamwork: All elements within a greater team are crucial and work together to accomplish the mission, mutually supporting one another for that singular purpose. If the overall team fails, everyone fails. We win together.
  • Own the problem: It’s easy to talk about problems. But problems by themselves are not that interesting. We don’t make progress by repetitively talking about them.
  • Extreme Ownership: For any project, all responsibility for success and failure rests with the owner. The owner must own everything. The owner must acknowledge mistakes, admit failures, take ownership of them and develop a plan to win.

How we execute

  • Prioritize: We cannot handle an array of challenges simultaneously without being overwhelmed. That risked failing at them all or doing a mediocre job at most of them. The highest priority must be laid out in simple, clear and concise terms.
  • Keep us in the know: We embrace our singular mission. We must demonstrate extreme ownership and keep the stakeholders in the loop
  • Under-Promise and Over-Deliver: A promise is a debt. We must follow a disciplined process.
  • Decisive: Recognize that decision making is a two-step process. First, take in all relevant information, then decide.

 

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