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How to Scale Engineering Teams, Not Slow Down & Still Have an Amazing Product – Part 2

Kevin Bralten

Kevin Bralten

Head of Engineering

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

I’ve been known to say on more than one occasion that Connected gives product leaders superpowers. And judging from most of the conversations I’ve had with product leaders as of late, this is a good thing. That’s because presently, many believe that nothing short of superpowers can help scale their teams, maintain or increase velocity to meet demand, and at the end of the day STILL have an exceptional product. 

So how do we do it?

Taking a holistic view of the problem, we chisel away, not only revealing the core of the problem that’ll lead to the right solution, but that also chisels away and mitigates risk, honing efforts efficiently toward predictable and desirable outcomes.

That’s how my colleague Joel describes what we do in Part 1 of this series, and you won’t find any argument here. But when you combine that approach with the impassioned, altruistic, and brilliant nature of Connectors, and while it may not make a great Marvel movie, I know for a fact to product leaders, it can be downright heroic.

Keeping the superhero theme going (it’s hard to stop once you get started), and you’ll notice that it isn’t just one type of superpower we offer to product leaders:

  • The power of unwavering confidence in the execution and delivery of your ideas
  • The power of an expert team of product, technology, and engagement professionals who can seamlessly integrate, enable, and advise 
  • The power to easily offload stress and cognitive burden without repercussions
  • The power of a fast and immediate increase in team bandwidth
  • The power to crystalize focus on future challenges and value-add initiatives

And those were the actual superpowers that we gave to the world’s largest at-home fitness company – or rather, to their new engineering manager. 

Upon meeting, it was clear that she not only kept high technical standards,  but also deep care for the brand experience. However, given her mandate to update and improve the application under her charge, she was hesitant to engage any outside vendors (we’ll touch more on that later). After some initial discussions, she decided to ask for our help. 

With more than two dozen applications delivered throughout their career, we deployed a technical lead who assessed the situation, advised on recognizable patterns, and set priorities while plotting the roadmap and technical architecture. Additionally, a product-focused engagement lead was enlisted, not only adding depth but acting as a bridge between the daily practice and the program’s progress. This allowed open communication at a macro level to stakeholders while the technical lead handled the execution on the team. 

Now, anytime a consultant or outside vendor joins a team or project, some common fears arise, many of which we covered in the first article: cannibalization, onboarding, cultural fit, and others. The potential for this is real, but how we mitigate these fears is the point of differentiation to our partners.

We don’t need to be onboarded to a company completely or be privy to an in-depth overview of its culture and inner workings. What we need and what we’re good at is being onboarded to a problem. And it’s our expertise that not only helps to solve that problem but empowers and enables teams to remove that problem from their future while setting them up for an accelerated path to success. 

Often (and with a bit of imagination), some of our engagements can be likened to us metaphorically swooping in to save the day of someone (or some team) in “product distress.” 

But not always. 

One of my favourite ways we’ve given product leaders superpowers wasn’t like the above, where we swooped in to save the day. Instead, it felt more like the universe was bringing like-minded people together, resulting in one of our most exciting partnerships – not to mention the perfect example of how Connected can operate. 

View The Space (VTS) is one of the biggest startups you’ve likely never heard of – unless you’re working in commercial real estate – with enormous growth and expansion over the last two years and offices springing up across the globe. In retrospect, our relationship with them began right before their hockey stick style growth at a time when their product still only allowed people to view commercial real estate spaces and manage leases. 

While visiting Toronto looking for office space and trying to get a feel for the local tech culture, VTS co-founder and CTO Niall Smart met our VP of Engineering at the time at an event. It wasn’t long before a conversation struck up, and they both realized that friendship wasn’t the only byproduct of this encounter. 

After learning a little more about VTS and their ambitions, it was determined that they faced three main challenges:

  1. Expand and open new offices outside of New York
  2. Ensure their new office serves a purpose and not just as additional square footage
  3. Grow a specialist team in data sciences

Three challenges it turned out that Connected was uniquely qualified to help them solve. 

To start, we opened our office to them while they established themselves in the city and looked for a space of their own. However, this wasn’t just a shared workspace arrangement. Rather, it was Connector’s working alongside the teams at VTS, guiding them and showing them how to communicate, collaborate, and effectively work across teams and offices. We also integrated our seasoned generalists to help them start their specialized data science practice, relieving pressure immediately while allowing them to maintain their momentum and growth ambitions. 

I will have to stop myself, mainly because what resulted from that initial meeting with VTS and the ensuing partnership could take up a hundred more pages. But I want to be explicit with the reason why VTS is one of my favourite partnerships: because they’ve figured out that it makes financial, market, product, customer, business, and every other “sense” you can think of to rely on us to do what we’re good at so they can focus on what matters most to them – growing their business. 

If you’re looking to scale your teams, not slow down, and still an amazing product, let me reassure you that it can be done. But one of the most important first steps is accepting that ramping up, hiring, and moving faster are not the same thing. And when you realize which one you REALLY need, that’s where we can help. 

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