Sarah Milstein, Daily’s VP of Engineering, was on the Hanselminutes podcast recently. Sarah and Scott Hanselman discussed a wide range of engineering management topics, including how to build trust, how decisions get made at Daily, and Sarah’s deep experience managing distributed teams.
Because the episode covered so much ground, I was thinking after listening to it about all the ways that I feel fortunate to work with Sarah. Which led me back to thinking about our earliest conversations as we were getting to know each other, and a through line that continues in our collaboration today.
At Daily, we’ve always tried to be explicitly, intentionally light on “process.” Everybody at our company owns big chunks of work and has autonomy and authority to make decisions about the work they do. On the other hand, we’re a 65-person company, so some coordination is necessary!
Because we’re very engineering-heavy one way of thinking about Sarah’s job at Daily is that she’s the principal owner of much of our necessary coordination, both within our product engineering org, and between that org and our other functions. Coordination is partly, maybe mostly, a function of good processes, which as I just said, we try to have relatively little of.
So Sarah and I have a shared touchstone about process that helps us structure our collaboration and stay aligned.
That touchstone is that the goal of process is to help us move faster. Which I think is nicely, helpfully specific (and maybe a little bit usefully, counter-intuitive).
Any bit of process that helps us move faster is good process.
Any bit of process that doesn’t is at best unnecessary, and at worst antithetical to the way we’re trying to do our work together at Daily.