Out of chaos, Engineering.

This being our first post on medium, I thought it would be appropriate to spend a bit of time explaining how we as a department came about. It’s a fun story. So hang on tight.

The Treehouse iOS app, Photo by Tu Do

During the summer of 2013, the leadership at Treehouse made a decision. They wanted to see if we could grow a business and thrive as a company without any formal management. So we went “flat” with the goal of empowering every employee to do what they felt was best for the company, no matter the title. It was an objective we took on whole-heartedly. Over the next two years, we embraced everything that came with this new structure while the company doubled in size. But, the longer we were “flat,” the more the challenges became apparent.

So in 2015, the leadership at Treehouse made another decision: to un-flatten and institute a more traditional company structure. This presented us with a challenge: what was an informal group of individuals pushing their own ideas and projects turned into a significant department of designers, developers (web, mobile, systems, and data), data scientists, and all the supporting management they could need. United in purpose: to design, build, and maintain the best online learning service in the world.

Let’s Talk About the Name.

So you’re called Engineering… but there are designers, data-scientists, etc working in the department too… wouldn’t Product be a better name? And yes, in most companies, it would. Our product isn’t our web app, or our mobile applications — it’s our educational content. And there’s a whole department devoted to producing and improving that content that deserves that name more than we would.

But why Engineering? Isn’t that just a fancy way to say development? How does that make your designers feel, or the data team? We struggled with this for a while, honestly, and considered all sorts of options — from the mundanely awful (Dev & Design) to the frankly weird (Creationeering). But then we actually looked the word Engineering up in the dictionary, and saw the following definition:

Working artfully to bring something about.

That was it! That’s what we do. Whether we’re crafting UX, architecting code, orchestrating servers, or exploring our data… we’re working artfully to bring Treehouse about. That perfectly summed up how we want to be identified.

We believe Engineering is something multiple disciplines can participate in and even identify with, in the same way that design is more than just style & aesthetic. That definition spoke to us so that we even included some of the language into our department’s mission statement. Engineering as a name, had been what we were looking for all along.

Why we’re on Medium.

We value inclusiveness and collaboration, both on our team and in how our team interacts with the rest of the world. What is art, after all, if you don’t share it? If you don’t let other artists help make you better? We’ll be publishing some of our thoughts here as a way to give back to the community and live out those values. We can’t wait to see what you think.

Tommy is the VP of Engineering at Treehouse. We’re on a mission to design, build, and maintain the best online learning service in the world. Sound awesome? Join us!

If you enjoyed this post, we’d be thrilled if you clicked the ♡ below! Until next time 👋