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A Summary of

How to Build a Culture of Ownership, and Other Engineering Leadership Tips from Plaid & Dropbox

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First Round Review
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Great engineering and problem solving comes down to pragmatism. Lead engineers can face five major challenges.

#1 How to craft a bottoms-up culture of ownership from the top?

  • Create a shared value of ownership for all employees 
  • Leaders should act like no problem is outside of their purview 
  • Keep the units as low to the ground as possible so that everyone learns to deal with complexity on their own 
  • Even if your peers seem to be doing good work, always ask them if there are better approaches 

#2 How to motivate for tackling big problems at scale?

  • Align on impact with the right metric
  • Have easy to understand KPIs
  • Create tokens that align with your values
  • Create small objects or activities that you reward for specific behavior 

#3 How to balance company goals and employee goals?

  • Put the business first in the short-term and the employee first in the long-term 
  • If company and employee goals don’t seem to align, meet in the middle

#4 How to build teams with high humility and low egos?

  • Managers should have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility 
  • Ask interviewees about a time they failed and see if they give a fake failure or do not discuss how they could have improved
  • Don’t have traditional employee titles, instead have tech leads for specific projects

#5 How to transition to becoming a manager-of-managers?

  • Be as communicative and empathetic as possible 
  • Keep an eye on annual goals, churn, hiring rate, pulse surveys, and KPIs
  • Critique managers by looking at the percentage of green OKRs

What’s next?

  • Silicon Valley operates at a local maximum of what great engineering could be 
  • There’s a big market for being slightly more efficient at building a company
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