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Scaling Fast: Growing Engineering Orgs From Zero to IPO

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5 tools for rapidly scaling your startup's engineering organization.
1. How to create Vision and Mission statements
2. Setting objectives
3. Measuring Key Results
4. Creating and organizational structure
5. How to drive consistent execution
Bonus!

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Scaling Fast: Growing Engineering Orgs From Zero to IPO

  1. 1. GROWING ENG ORGS FROM 0 TO IPO 5 Lesson 5 Tools
  2. 2. NICK CALDWELL Reddit, Inc. VP of Engineering Microsoft, Power BI General Manager NICK CALDWELL Reddit, Inc. First CTO Pinterest Founding Engineer MARTY WEINER
  3. 3. WHAT IS REDDIT Reddit is the frontpage of the internet A social network where there are tens of thousands of communities around whatever passions or interests you might have It’s where people converse about the things that are most important to them
  4. 4. REDDIT SCALE Quick Stats • 4th largest web site in the United States • 6th largest in the world • 325M monthly users • 1.1M communities What’s new? • Executive team • Product vision: make the site more welcoming • Rapid hiring! Grew 40 to 130 engineers last year REDDIT COMPANY SIZE BY THE NUMBERS
  5. 5. Within 3 years, 92% of startups fail... … of those, 43% fail due to issues with SCALE! STARTUP Genome Report
  6. 6. OUR FIRST WEEKS AT REDDIT AWESOME PEOPLE…BUT… ▪ 30+ person standups ▪ Google Slide tracking tools ▪ Sloooooow delivery pace ▪ Smash Brothers ▪ Urgent work to do! Super-size Daily Standups
  7. 7. WE DON’T START COMPANIES BY WRITING A DATABASE FROM SCRATCH BUT WE RECREATE OUR PROCESSES FROM SCRATCH ALL THE TIME! 10 ORG $4000 11 A1 = $3C 12 A2 = $3E 13 A4 = $42 14 ALLMOVE = $C311 15 16 ************************** 17 * SETUP-move data for VTOC 18 * and catalog to a????? at 19 * 8000-B3FF (pseudo trk 11 20 * 0-3) 21 ************************** 22 SETUP LDA #<vtoc 23 STA A1 24 LDA #>VTOC 25 STA A1+1 26 LDA #<end
  8. 8. NOW SHIPPING FAST WITH A GROWING HAPPY TEAM ▪ 140 Engineers ▪ Focused product strategy broken down into years and quarters ▪ Rapid on-time execution, checked weekly ▪ Fundamentally rearchitected the entire tech stack ▪ New products shipping rapidly
  9. 9. RESULTS 2017 Major Reddit Releases Feb. New Moderator Mail Mar. Launch of Profile Pages Mar. Self-serve Ad Platform May. International Reddit Aug. New Video Platform Sep. New Search Platform Sep. New Chat Platform Soon Complete site-redesign
  10. 10. REDESIGN Coming very very soon!
  11. 11. Mission and Vision Setting Objectives Measuring Results Organization Structure Execution WE DID IT. HERE’S HOW TO EXECUTE.
  12. 12. LESSON 1 Mission In modern software development, successful execution requires that your mission be more interesting than Super Smash Brothers…
  13. 13. Vision is NOT Mission! What makes a great vision statement?
  14. 14. MISSION = CLEAR GOAL + HOW + TIME LIMIT + BLOCK QUOTE ON A BLACK AND WHITE PHOTO TOOL #1: Create a mission statement
  15. 15. What makes a great mission statement?
  16. 16. Mission statement practice run March 9, 2018 I believe that we can present 5 simple tools for building engineering organizations, delivered with clarity and humor, in under 45 minutes. “ “ Marty Weiner Message to a session of joints
  17. 17. Communicating your Mission Everyone Execs Press Release Product Team Objective Roadmap
  18. 18. LESSON 2 Objectives
  19. 19. OBJECTIVE What you are trying to accomplish KEY RESULT OKR Measurable success criteria that signals if you made progress on the objective
  20. 20. HOW TO BUILD A ROADMAP Mission + 3 Ingredients 1. Strategy 2. Themes 3. Objectives
  21. 21. Strategy How are you going to win? Lots of Tools: MBA approach: SWOT, Business model canvas, game theory, random luck, etc Ultimately, you win by meeting your customer’s needs CUSTOMER EMPATHY MAP FROM DESIGN THINKING
  22. 22. “Themes are a promise to solve problems, not build features” – Jared Spool Theme 1: Outdated UX Theme 2: Quality and Perf Theme 3: Personalization Reddit 2017 Themes
  23. 23. Objectives: How will you solve each problem? Theme: Outdated UX Upgrade the Tech Stack • Move to React • Break up Monolith Community Tools • Moderation Mail • Moderation Queue • User Reputation Modernize Content • Rich Text Editor • Image Galleries Theme: Quality and Perf Search Sucks • Replace Search stack • Index and Tune • New Search UX Slow Load Times • Measure perf • Optimize Listings • CI perf monitors Theme: Personalization Where’s my home? • Onboarding • Discovery Units • Profile Customization Addictive Content • Feed tuning • New HOT Algorithm
  24. 24. ROTATE AND ESTIMATE TO GET THE TIMELINE
  25. 25. Outdated UX Upgrade the Tech Stack Community Tools Roadmap 3 MONTHS 6 MONTHS THE FUTURE Move to react Break up monolith SDK and API Mod Mail Mod Queue Reputation Quality and Perf Search Sucks Slow Load Times Replace Search Stack Indexing and Tuning New Search Page Measurements Focus on Optimization New CI Tools Personalization Where’s home? Relevant Content Profiles Feed Tuning HOT Algorithm Deep Learning Onboarding Discovery Units Timeframe: Are your objectives near, a little further out, or in the “distant future?”
  26. 26. Outdated UX Upgrade the Tech Stack Community Tools Roadmap 3 MONTHS 6 MONTHS Move to react Break up monolith Mod Mail Mod Queue Quality and Perf Search Sucks Slow Load Times Replace Search Stack Indexing and Tuning Measurements Focus on Optimization Personalization Where’s home? Relevant Content TOOL #2: ROADMAP TEMPLATE Feed Tuning HOT Algorithm Onboarding Discovery Units
  27. 27. Direction can change in an instant but destination should take time Great objectives have measurable outcomes … a few final tips
  28. 28. LESSON 3 Measuring Results The emperor does not share your optimistic appraisal of the situation.
  29. 29. OBJECTIVE What you are trying to accomplish KEY RESULT OKR Measurable success criteria that signals if you made progress on the objective Grow Mobile User Base Increase Mobile DAUs from 10M to 11M (averaged over last 14 days) by end of quarter
  30. 30. TOOL #3: KEY RESULT RECIPE 1. What is being improved and by how much 2. The time frame the measurement is over 3. The time frame for delivery of the KR 4. Status—where the measurement is and where it’s projected to arrive with the current course Increase Mobile DAUs from 10M to 11M (averaged over last 14 days) by end of quarter. Currently at 10.8M projected to be at 11.05M by EOQ.
  31. 31. WHAT IS BEING IMPROVED SHOULD BE… Meaningful: Does this KR actually & significantly help the objective? Motivational: Does this get people excited? Measurable: Can you measure your KR? Operational: Can you effect timely and meaningful change in your KR? Reduce number of spam reports Reduce number of times a user sees spam
  32. 32. AND BY HOW MUCH?? Wild Guess Scientifically Modeled Prediction
  33. 33. EVOLUTION OF “HOW MUCH” Build or Ship Something Improve some arbitrarily chosen KR by an arbitrary feel good amount Improve a carefully crafted KR by an educated guess Improve a carefully crafted KR based on analysis of available effort and impact projected from past performance and expected trends
  34. 34. HOW LONG FOR THE MEASUREMENT WINDOW? Last 1 second? Last 2 weeks? Whole quarter?
  35. 35. HOW LONG FOR THE MEASUREMENT WINDOW? Last 1 second? Last 2 weeks? Whole quarter? Good for results that should follow a bunch of hard work that quarter Good for maintaining a quality bar
  36. 36. OKRS CASCADE MISSION COMPANY OBJECTIVES TEAM OBJECTIVES To help people discover places where they can be their true selves, and empower our community to flourish. Grow Mobile User Base Build a Sustainable Business Become a Destination Employer Improve Site Uptime Ship New Video Product Reduce Spam Experiences And many more…
  37. 37. LESSON 4 Org Chart The war is not won with spearmen or cavalry but with effective organization -Unknown
  38. 38. What type of organization should you use? “Organizations which design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organization.” -Conway’s Law You will eventually ship your org chart. -Translation
  39. 39. OK, ship the org chart, but make sure you have the right one! - Conway’s Law (revised)
  40. 40. TEAM FLAT STRUCTURE: ~10 PEOPLE
  41. 41. WEB iOS ANDROID INFRA PLATFORM TEAMS: ~35 PEOPLE
  42. 42. PLATFORM + FEATURE TEAMS: ~45 PEOPLE MEDIA iOS ANDROID INFRA DATA SECU RITY API OPS FRONT PAGE MOD TOOL ML
  43. 43. PRODUCT GROUPS: 50+ PEOPLE NEW PRODUCT GROUP NEW PRODUCT GROUP NEW PRODUCT GROUP MEDIA iOS ANDROID INFRA DATA SECU RITY API OPS FRONT PAGE MOD TOOL ML
  44. 44. TOOL #4: BUILD A 50+ ORG CHART IN 3 STEPS 1. Product Pillars ▪ What are your customer personas? ▪ What are your major product problems? Reddit.com Monetization Relevance 2. Foundation + Roof ▪ Foundation: shared services that help build products ▪ Roof: shared services that help understand customers and the business INFRASTRUCTURE DATA SCIENCE SDKs GROWTH 3. Sub Teams ▪ What are the major activities or themes of each area? ▪ Test: Can you write a convincing mission statement for each team? Front Page Mod Tools Ad Server Campaign Manager Search Listings Ops Security APIs Mobile
  45. 45. Reddit’s 2017 Org Chart Product Pillars Foundation Roof
  46. 46. BONUS STEP: REPEAT “The design which occurs first is almost never the best possible, the prevailing system may need to change. Therefore, flexibility of organization is important to effective design.” — Mel Conway
  47. 47. REVERSE CONWAY’S LAW “Death Star” Architectures Microservices change how we think about organization! In the highly-networked and flexible teams of the future, the value of mission, culture, and relationships will dominate that of organization
  48. 48. … GET STUFF DONE ON TIME AND WITH HIGH QUALITY LESSON 5 Execution
  49. 49. ENGINEERING AT SCALE, WHAT GETS HARDER Awareness Everyone wants to know what everyone else is doing Bottlenecks Missed dependencies can cripple your production roadmap Coordination Here comes PROCESS: managers, PMs, tools, meetings
  50. 50. WHY? # PEOPLE Efficiency Curve Scope OutputSurely, with more people we can just get more done! Right? Wrong! Eventually, coordination costs and scope overcome your ability to deliver reliably. You will need a process change or reorg to keep scaling up.
  51. 51. GREAT EXECUTION IS ALL ABOUT FINDING A RHYTHM WHERE EVERYTHING RUNS SMOOTHLY BUILD A FLOW THAT CONTINUOUSLY SEEKS OUT AND RESOLVES PRIORITY CHANGES AND BLOCKS AT EVERY LEVEL
  52. 52. START WITH MINIMAL PROCESS Original Toyota Kanban “Kaizen”: minimal processes created from bottom up Process becomes culture over time Toyota production system
  53. 53. KANBAN BOARD Great for engineers and managers… … but what about reporting status to the rest of the product team?
  54. 54. TOOL #5: EPIC WORKFLOW Each of these has a due date!
  55. 55. MANAGER DASHBOARD
  56. 56. DIRECTOR DASHBOARD Shows position and health of director’s product lines
  57. 57. EXEC DASHBOARD
  58. 58. RESULTS Completed JIRA Epics by Quarter
  59. 59. FINAL THOUGHTS SCALING FAST 2 warnings 1 opportunity
  60. 60. FAST != FRANTIC FAST LOOKS SMOOTH AND CONFIDENT (WITH SHORT BURSTS OF FRANTIC!)
  61. 61. GO FAST, BUT REMEMBER THE HUMAN people are the most valuable part of your organization and the best part of being a manager!
  62. 62. BUILD A DIVERSE AND INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT Diverse and Inclusive Teams: • Make better products • Are just more fun to work in Like any cultural aspect, it will be extremely hard to fix later Make D&I part of your company DNA before you expand!
  63. 63. CALLS TO ACTION Follow us!  Reddit u/nickcald and u/mart2d2  Twitter @nickcald and @MartyWeiner  Medium @nickcaldwell and @MartyWeiner  LinkedIn nickcaldwell and martyweiner Reddit is hiring! http://about.reddit.com Reddit Party Tuesday 8:00PM Belmont Hotel Reddit: Life After (Near) Death Monday 12:30 Hilton Austin Downtown
  64. 64. THANKS Questions?

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