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Kasten Engineering Culture Deckv0.1
This deck, just like the company, will always be a work in progress. It is
also incomplete without the general Culture Deck. Feedback welcome
and appreciated!
Culture is a
shared outlook
“Culture is Strategy”
- Jim Collins
Enables us to outcompete others
Helps build a great team
A Great Engineering Culture:
KISS: Keep it Simple, Stupid
- US Navy, 1960
• “Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
• Applies to everything we do, not just engineering
• Easier to build, extend, maintain, debug
• Faster for new team members to become productive
• We should not apply premature optimizations either
Think Long Term
• Keep technical debt in check
• Be very conscious if ever indebting ourselves and figure out a plan to pay it off
• All technical debt is not created equal. We need to keep it manageable
• Encourage Continuous Refactoring and Improvements
• Helps reduce complexity that might have crept in
• Helps pay off accumulated technical debt
• Build infrastructure to make this low risk and low effort
• Design for an extensible architecture
Thinking Long Term: Code Quality
• Good code quality and uniformity goes a long way
• Helps new people come up to speed faster
• Helps people work with non-familiar portions of the code base too
• It is therefore OK to be pedantic with code quality expectations
• Keeping to the same codestyle is just the start
• This should be enforced automatically and not via manual reviews
• Reuse common design patterns wherever possible too
• Code Quality starts w/ Code Reviews
• We review everything
• We keep code reviews small to increase SNR and reduce reviewer burden
Thinking Long Term: Code Reviews
• Code Quality starts w/ Code Reviews
• We review everything. Even trivial changes.
• Helps share common patterns, share knowledge, increase visibility, catch issues early.
• We keep code reviews small to increase SNR and reduce reviewer burden
• Prevents this oft-quoted tweet
Thinking Long Term: Automation
• Automation will be the critical tool for agility
• Testing must be completely automated
• No way to ship rapidly without this
• Deployments must be completely automated via our CI/CD pipelines
• Too high risk without that
Ship Quickly
• This is critical to both our success and our customer’s success
• Our goal: Customer ship every two weeks!
• But we do not believe in “Move Fast and Break Things”
• And we are not believers in death marches either
• As touched upon in earlier slides, we will:
• Invest heavily in automation in general
• Invest heavily in automated tests to get high coverage
• Invest heavily in anything else that reduces ship friction
Ownership
• We have a collective responsibility for our product
• If you see a problem and can fix it, do so. Don’t wait for permission or
approval
• Even if you cannot fix it, it is your responsibility to raise the issue
• Like many things, this applies to things outside engineering too
• That said, ownership for self comes first
• You own your code
• When developing, think about whether it will get you paged at 2 AM
Maximize Collaboration, Minimize Interruption
• For better or worse, open offices are here to stay.
• While we are very collaborative, need to minimize random interrupts
• Minimal noise on the floor. Will electronic communication work?
• Keep your cell phone on silent/buzzer mode
• Take calls in rooms or in the hallway
• We strongly prefer async communication methods
• Slack Channel >> Slack 1:1 >> Email >> Phone >> In-Person
• If you see headphones on someone, they don’t want to be interrupted
Document, Share, Document
• Anything non-trivial must be captured
• We will provide the tools to make this easy (JIRA, Confluence, Add-on tools)
• Non-trivial discussions should almost always be open
• Do it in public spaces (e.g., Wiki page, Slack channel, mailing list vs. 1:1
conversations, personal email, etc.)
• Always err on the side of over-sharing (generally there is no such thing and
your team members will love you for keeping them in the loop)
Don’t use 💩 metrics
• Never measure productivity or performance via easy-to-game metrics
• Examples include # commits, # bug fixes, Lines-of-Code written, etc.
• Will always be counterproductive
Invest in People
• Not just about promotion but instead about overall career growth
• Folks should, over team, have an increase in one more more of:
• Technical complexity of problems handled
• Depth in various technical stacks
• Related non-technical skills (communication, leadership, networking, etc.)
• At the end, everyone should see significant “market value” increase
• Commit to helping people get to the next step in their career
• Ideally within our company but, if not always possible, even outside
• If a team member is exemplary, our networks and doors are open for
whatever is next
Promote From Within
• Invest in and grow leaders and managers from within our group
• Look for people already punching above their weight class
• It might not always be possible but we need to strive to always
promote from within
Credits: This Deck Stands on the Shoulder of Giants
And many other great organizations and people that we have been
fortunate to learn from

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Kasten Engineering Culture Deck

  • 1. Kasten Engineering Culture Deckv0.1 This deck, just like the company, will always be a work in progress. It is also incomplete without the general Culture Deck. Feedback welcome and appreciated!
  • 4. Enables us to outcompete others Helps build a great team A Great Engineering Culture:
  • 5. KISS: Keep it Simple, Stupid - US Navy, 1960 • “Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.” • Applies to everything we do, not just engineering • Easier to build, extend, maintain, debug • Faster for new team members to become productive • We should not apply premature optimizations either
  • 6. Think Long Term • Keep technical debt in check • Be very conscious if ever indebting ourselves and figure out a plan to pay it off • All technical debt is not created equal. We need to keep it manageable • Encourage Continuous Refactoring and Improvements • Helps reduce complexity that might have crept in • Helps pay off accumulated technical debt • Build infrastructure to make this low risk and low effort • Design for an extensible architecture
  • 7. Thinking Long Term: Code Quality • Good code quality and uniformity goes a long way • Helps new people come up to speed faster • Helps people work with non-familiar portions of the code base too • It is therefore OK to be pedantic with code quality expectations • Keeping to the same codestyle is just the start • This should be enforced automatically and not via manual reviews • Reuse common design patterns wherever possible too • Code Quality starts w/ Code Reviews • We review everything • We keep code reviews small to increase SNR and reduce reviewer burden
  • 8. Thinking Long Term: Code Reviews • Code Quality starts w/ Code Reviews • We review everything. Even trivial changes. • Helps share common patterns, share knowledge, increase visibility, catch issues early. • We keep code reviews small to increase SNR and reduce reviewer burden • Prevents this oft-quoted tweet
  • 9. Thinking Long Term: Automation • Automation will be the critical tool for agility • Testing must be completely automated • No way to ship rapidly without this • Deployments must be completely automated via our CI/CD pipelines • Too high risk without that
  • 10. Ship Quickly • This is critical to both our success and our customer’s success • Our goal: Customer ship every two weeks! • But we do not believe in “Move Fast and Break Things” • And we are not believers in death marches either • As touched upon in earlier slides, we will: • Invest heavily in automation in general • Invest heavily in automated tests to get high coverage • Invest heavily in anything else that reduces ship friction
  • 11. Ownership • We have a collective responsibility for our product • If you see a problem and can fix it, do so. Don’t wait for permission or approval • Even if you cannot fix it, it is your responsibility to raise the issue • Like many things, this applies to things outside engineering too • That said, ownership for self comes first • You own your code • When developing, think about whether it will get you paged at 2 AM
  • 12. Maximize Collaboration, Minimize Interruption • For better or worse, open offices are here to stay. • While we are very collaborative, need to minimize random interrupts • Minimal noise on the floor. Will electronic communication work? • Keep your cell phone on silent/buzzer mode • Take calls in rooms or in the hallway • We strongly prefer async communication methods • Slack Channel >> Slack 1:1 >> Email >> Phone >> In-Person • If you see headphones on someone, they don’t want to be interrupted
  • 13. Document, Share, Document • Anything non-trivial must be captured • We will provide the tools to make this easy (JIRA, Confluence, Add-on tools) • Non-trivial discussions should almost always be open • Do it in public spaces (e.g., Wiki page, Slack channel, mailing list vs. 1:1 conversations, personal email, etc.) • Always err on the side of over-sharing (generally there is no such thing and your team members will love you for keeping them in the loop)
  • 14. Don’t use 💩 metrics • Never measure productivity or performance via easy-to-game metrics • Examples include # commits, # bug fixes, Lines-of-Code written, etc. • Will always be counterproductive
  • 15. Invest in People • Not just about promotion but instead about overall career growth • Folks should, over team, have an increase in one more more of: • Technical complexity of problems handled • Depth in various technical stacks • Related non-technical skills (communication, leadership, networking, etc.) • At the end, everyone should see significant “market value” increase • Commit to helping people get to the next step in their career • Ideally within our company but, if not always possible, even outside • If a team member is exemplary, our networks and doors are open for whatever is next
  • 16. Promote From Within • Invest in and grow leaders and managers from within our group • Look for people already punching above their weight class • It might not always be possible but we need to strive to always promote from within
  • 17. Credits: This Deck Stands on the Shoulder of Giants And many other great organizations and people that we have been fortunate to learn from

Editor's Notes

  1. http://www.freeimages.com/photo/oriental-fan-1-1424216
  2. http://www.freeimages.com/photo/spinning-top-1417027
  3. http://www.freeimages.com/photo/lipstick-kiss-1311702
  4. Further reading - https://medium.com/swlh/code-reviews-can-make-or-break-your-team-a3cfdcc15de1
  5. https://speakerdeck.com/garethr/in-praise-of-slow-continuous-delivery