Matt Basile • August 11, 2023

How we let our engineering teams focus on building

Let them cook!

Food cooking over a campfire, with two friends blurred out in the background

Over our years of managing engineering teams, we’ve found one thing remains constant: Engineers are most effective when given the space to build. There are three guiding principles we follow to achieve this goal.

1. Thorough Handoffs

It’s essential to start a project on the right foot. That means having a clear, concise, and comprehensive handoff from design to engineering. No guessing games, no ambiguous requirements—just clear directives. This foundation allows our team to spend less time clarifying and more time coding. We use two primary rituals to achieve this goal:

2. Weekly Syncs Focused Only on Work

Engineers, like all of us, despise meetings that could have been emails. To honor this, we hold one weekly sync that focuses on priorities, blockers, and next steps. Nothing else. If alternative topics need attention, we schedule another meeting. Having this one meeting ensures we have a designated space to collaborate. But not the factory-farmed, “We hold daily stand-ups!” collaboration, we’re talking free-range, all natural collaboration.

3. Let them Cook!

Dictating ‘how’ people should work stifles creativity and demoralizes a team. We trust our engineers to decide the best approach to solve a problem. Heck, we’re paying them all that money! Let’s leverage their expertise and make them owners of the product, not only doers.

We also try to keep them in the problem solving mindset. Which is reflect in points 1-2 above but it manifests in most of the PMing we do. We focus on documenting and engaging with stakeholders so our teams can focus on high ROI activities.

These rituals have allowed us to cultivate an environment built on trust and respect. Respect for one’s time and desire to deliver awesome work. We hope these tools can integrate into your product practices!

Looking to build or improve your own digital product? We'd love to help.

Hungry for more?