The High Leverage Engineering Test

Engineering is the single largest investment area in technology companies and startups, but despite the stakes, it is often the least understood and least intentional area of the business.

Engineering becomes High Leverage when it is fundamentally connected to the business in which it exists. Engineering is not an abstract or esoteric area that must be kept separate from the rest of the organization.

These connections arise through maintaining:

  • deep relationships with peer roles in the company
  • close understanding of the market and customers
  • an outstanding developer experience
  • an emphasis on business pragmatism and visibility
  • unambiguous roles and accountabilities

I've created a short test to understand whether or not your Engineering capability is High Leverage or not.

Is Engineering High Leverage?

1 point if Yes

  1. Does engineering regularly engage in research or feedback calls with prospects or customers?
  2. Does engineering consistently conduct retrospective meetings and follow through on resulting actions?
  3. Can anyone in engineering concisely explain the business context of their team and what they're working on, and define "winning" in that context?
  4. Do you survey the engineering team on how easy it is to build and deliver, and use the answers to drive improvements in the system?
  5. Can everyone in engineering summarize their role, decisions, and areas of accountability?
  6. Does engineering track how long it takes to deliver ideas to users?
  7. Does engineering explicitly invest in improving its platform(s)?
  8. Does everyone in engineering identify and cultivate relationships with non-engineering peers?
  9. Is there both a technical and people leadership career track, and does everyone understand the distinction?
  10. Is engineering transparent with Product Management about all ongoing work?
  11. Does engineering maintain records of key decisions, discussions, and designs?
  12. Does everyone in engineering have a documented career development plan that they and their leaders are accountable to?

High Leverage Engineering organizations do all of these things. This means that everyone in the business is pushing in the same direction, and everyone can have trust that a key investment like Engineering is fully focused on moving the business forward.

I have moved multiple organizations from 0 to 12, and I would love to help your business on the same journey!

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Jamie Larson