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Edith Harbaugh of Launch Darkly on Engineering a Good Engineering Culture

| Podcast with Edith Harbaugh Follow 2 Followers by Shane Hastie Follow 23 Followers on Jul 22, 2018 |

In this podcast Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Edith Harbaugh of Launch Darkly on the way she and her cofounder have deliberately engineered their organisation’s culture

Key Takeaways

  • A good engineering culture is one where there is a lot of respect for different people and roles
  • Start by good intent on behalf of your colleagues – everyone is doing their best
  • Be open to continually learning – mistakes will happen, learn from them in a blame-free way
  • Another aspect of respect is ensuring meetings are purposeful, have the right people involved, have a clear agenda and stay on time
  • To build mastery it’s OK to be bad at something in the beginning and deliberately  get better
  • Sharing the reason why the customer chooses the product, rather than how much was earned from the sale, is motivational 
  • 0:26 Introductions 
  • 0:57 Edith’s journey to starting Launch Darkly 
  • 1:37 It’s easy to have really good engineering and still build the wrong thing
  • 2:02 Even if you build the right thing and build it right – if no one knows about your product they won’t buy it
  • 2:40 The ability to selectively control feature releases puts a lot of power into the right places in the value chain
  • 3:10 The founders of Launch Darkly consciously want to build a culture that they want to be part of, deliberately engineering the culture 
  • 3:18 A good engineering culture is one where there is a lot of respect for different people and roles
  • 3:30 The importance of assuming good intent on behalf of your colleagues 
  • 3:54 Be open to continually learning – mistakes will happen, learn from them in a blame-free way
  • 3:38 Techniques to run a retrospective without blame 
  • 4:55 An example of a retrospective on the candidate experience in a job interview and improvements they made
  • 6:25 Another aspect of respect is ensuring meetings are purposeful, have the right people involved, have a clear agenda and stay on time 
  • 6:57 The no-laptops rule for meetings – be completely present 
  • 7:38 Make sure that people have space and time to do their jobs, that there is the right number of meetings to enable collaboration and communication, but not too many, and that there is the opportunity to learn 
  • 8:08 Using OKR’s to set goals and giving the people autonomy around how to achieve them
  • 8:46 The co-founders see themselves as the orchestra conductor – providing guidance while letting the teams and individuals play in their own way 
  • 8:54 To build mastery it’s OK to be bad at something in the beginning - 
  • 9:28 It’s fine to be wrong, as long as you realise you’re wrong and stop doing it  
  • 9:42 The danger inherent in cultures where it’s not safe to admit mistakes 
  • 9:56 The importance of everyone understanding why they are doing what they do, and what the organisation goals are
  • 10:06 Ways in which the “why” and sales successes are shared with the whole company
  • 10:35 The value is in the reason why the customer chooses the Launch Darkly product, rather than the money earned from the sale 
  • 11:12 The deliberate scrutiny of culture – consciously reviewing and validating the culture as the company grows
  • 11:52 Examples of how the company is changing with growth and things they are doing to ensure the culture is aligned with the founders’ intent
  • 12:18 To encourage a learning culture, everybody in the company has $2500 every year for investing in their own learning and growth 
  • 13:02 How exited people get about the ongoing learning opportunities
  • 13:32 Make learning a perk, not a punishment – let them choose what they want to learn
  • 14:32 Reflecting on building the culture as you build the company as you build the product 
  • 14:58 As a founder, the culture you have is a reflection of what you want to happen

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