Care and feeding for your engineering strategy.

November 7, 2020. Filed under management 129 strategy 7

This is pruned from Engineering strategy.

If by some act of perseverance and skill you write an engineering strategy that’s well-received by your organization, then you’re faced with the next challenge. How do you keep this living document alive past that initial burst of excitement?

The most important thing to remember is to continue steering attention its way. Refer back to it frequently when you’re doing system design or resolving a disagreement on approach. Track the areas where it doesn’t provide clarity and revisit them in batch periodically.

Mark your calendar a few times a year to reread the core components as well as review the latest batch of junctures. There’s a wisdom that emerges from reviewing many junctures together that you can’t find from looking at them individually. A good time to do this is when you’re writing your quarterly or annual retrospectives: did your work actually align with your strategy?!

It’s also helpful to review your strategy with new engineers as they join your team. You’ll become numb to its oddities and inaccuracies, and new eyes are always the sharpest. As they point out issues, address them!

If you’re pondering whether your strategy is working, one useful measurement of your strategy’s effectiveness is how often it’s referred to within technical specs and technical spec reviews, but you can go a bit further afield. An effective engineering strategy will allow more distinct engineers to write technical specs, reduce the time for technical specs to be written, and reduce the time for technical specs to be approved.

Of course, when you start measuring the efficiency of technical spec creation, remember that some are better than none, but having many is cause for concern rather than celebration. Your engineering strategy is a failure if it forces the creation of numerous, low-value technical specifications.

Maintaining a good strategy is work and requires ongoing evangelism. If that doesn’t seem like the sort of time investment you want to make, then consider if your engineering strategy is really pulling its weight at all. It’s fine to deprecate and come back later.