Lin is an engineering manager for Harrison-Essex, a successful financial technology company. They help investors in the volatile and constantly evolving blockchain industry assess risk and manage their investment portfolio.
Given the fast-paced nature of the industry that Harrison-Essex is in, it's critical that Harrison-Essex is able to continuously deliver new innovations to their product.
For Lin, this pace of progress has proven to be a challenge.
While she has a talented and productive engineering workforce, she often finds it difficult to deliver results that drive business impact and delight customers. She attributes this to the lack of cohesion among her people - especially when working with individuals outside of their immediate team - as well as time wasted on tasks that don't drive much impact.
Lin's Top Challenges
When asked by her manager, Lin listed the following 3 issues as her top challenges in 2019:
Engineers working on backlog full of out of date issues. Not building the product that the company needs for today's challenges.
Lots of low impact work being done. My people are not adequately prioritizing the work or doing it in the right order.
Multiple people are working on the same thing, but not together. They're working in their own silos.
After adopting Minsilo, Lin's team has begun to become more capable of delivering products quickly. One of the first improvements that Lin implemented after beginning to use Minsilo is a focus on the amount of impact made on specific company-wide and engineering specific goals, rather than simply counting the number of issues completed in the team's backlog. This change has not only increased output, but it has also given her people a sense of pride and increased ownership over their work; they're no longer working to "solve their boss' challenges," but are instead "doing important work to make our customers happy."
Lin has been able to shift focus towards results, by making the process of connecting execution to OKRs an essential part of the Sprint planning process. In Minsilo, it's easy for her people to see OKRs at various different levels of the organization and then connect their work to the OKRs.
Since Lin's engineers work on a 1-week Sprint cadence, they're only spending at most a single week on low impact tasks. Her engineers are more proactive in their thinking and have even begun to start asking questions like:
Will customers really benefit from this new feature? Is it really necessary?
Should we be working on this specific issue right now? Would it be better if we delayed it until next quarter when we have more engineering resources to allocate towards it?
Even one of the greatest challenges that Lin faces - working between multiple teams on a project - is easier. Since goals are set and tracked at a level higher than her team, her people are able to self-identify overlap between other teams. The negative impact of collaboration silos on duplicative effort has subsided, since silo discovery and mitigation has been decentralized.
Most importantly, the team is able to adapt quickly to the changes in the market and continually push out product features that customers demand. Customers are happier. And there are more of them: the company has quickly proven itself as the choice for risk management software in their sector.