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Kasten Engineering Culture Deck


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Engineering culture deck for Kasten, a cloud-native startup in the enterprise space. Apart from broader company culture, this deck touches on the things that are the most relevant to engineering teams.

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Kasten Engineering Culture Deck

  1. 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!
  2. 2. Culture is a shared outlook
  3. 3. “Culture is Strategy” - Jim Collins
  4. 4. Enables us to outcompete others Helps build a great team A Great Engineering Culture:
  5. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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