t cht lk abandon the day-to-day principles and approaches that have guided their engineers to success in the past . They may also incorrectly see the work as an opportunity to introduce new technologies , which are actually not required for solving the original customer problem . Finally , a failure to embrace automation at every step of the way introduces risk and adds to implementation time .
Here is what I advise based on my experience leading engineering at Intercom over the last 10 years :
Adopt a principled approach
Principles are a way of encoding successes , helping to repeat the behaviours that led to positive outcomes and avoid previous behaviours that led to mistakes . It can be easy to think such principles are only for software engineers building customer-facing products , and can ’ t be applied to a complex infrastructure project . On the contrary , it ’ s during the most complex and longest running projects that the value of a principle-based approach can shine . You will likely know what you need to build , but you should also consider the how . What are your principles when it comes to how you manage risk , for example , or how will you approach technical tradeoffs and make key decisions ?
Know the ways of working that your engineers are used to and what has brought success in the past . Now is not the time to abandon them , but to prove them out , to sharpen your ways of thinking and working . The purpose of engineering principles and process is to help teams build high-quality solutions as efficiently as possible .
Take for example our principle of ‘ Think big , start small , learn fast ’. We were determined to move quickly by taking small steps with no time wasted upfront creating unwieldy Gantt charts , or debating effort estimates . We bias for action . Following this principle helped us complete bite-sized chunks of work that quickly uncovered areas of previously unknown risk , embracing each small ‘ failure ’ along the way as an opportunity to learn and adapt our methods .
Stick to the technologies you know well
Fundamental changes to your technical data architecture are fraught with risk . When embarking on a new large-scale project , now is not the time to switch to a new stack or to change build patterns that have served you well in the past . Not only can this introduce new implementation risk , but once live , you
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