About Practical Engineering Management
Hey, It's Mirek here, the author and owner of Practical Engineering Management.
I’ve been leading engineering managers and engineering teams for years. Over this time, I have never had a problem finding inspirational materials for empowering people, building strategies, defining goals, and being a good leader overall. There are articles, blog posts, videos, and books. You can learn from biographies of influential leaders, stories of successful companies, and scientific research on leadership, psychology, culture, and others.
You can find much more inspirational content on the Internet or bookshelves than you can actually process.
How to empower in practice?
Yet, very often, when I read something super inspiring and returned to my day-to-day job, it wasn’t that obvious to me HOW I should implement all of that. E.g., how to empower people, build trust, and measure success or track progress. For many years I kept asking myself questions like:
- Can we implement Toyota’s kata method for software delivery?
- Can we create a tangible plan for technology based on Richar Rumelt’s experience in building strategies for the biggest businesses worldwide?
- Can we build an empowered team of engineers based on lessons from Marty Cagan for Product Managers and Product leaders?
- How to implement bits of advice from Bill Campbell, legendary coach for executives from Apple, Google, and Amazon, to a team in an early-stage startup?
For most of my leadership career (as Tech Lead, Engineering Manager, and Director of Engineering, but also as mentor or leader for those who didn’t report to me), I experimented with bringing these inspirations and lessons to our day-to-day work.
Some of these achievements are documented already, e.g.:
- Multi-year story of improving product delivery from 1/month to on-demand. Originally inspired by Toyota’s Stop-the-line method: https://medium.com/azimolabs/the-evolution-of-apps-quality-assurance-at-azimo-b2fa31d5cc5e
- Building a fail-safe environment to support fast delivery and experimentation of product: https://medium.com/azimolabs/fail-safe-not-fast-24cf4e80aa7
- Effective mobile engineering — how can testing, architecture, code structure, or team structure serve product excellence: https://medium.com/azimolabs/fail-safe-not-fast-24cf4e80aa7
- Transforming Quality Control into Quality Assurance to improve product iterations: https://medium.com/azimolabs/quality-assurance-and-software-delivery-processes-in-frontend-engineering-66820dc5d4c1
- Answering the question “why do we build the code?”, to lay the ground for empowered engineering: https://medium.com/@froger_mcs/why-you-do-the-code-7266c24ba81d
- …actually, the entire blog — AzimoLabs, which I initiated many years ago, was created to inspire engineers to do more than write code.
Some of these articles can be outdated in terms of technicalities. But motivations and later outcomes of these initiatives had their roots in building truly empowered teams, focused on long-term success, inspired by lessons I learned from Ed Catmull, Bill Campbell, Richard Rumelt, and many other influential leaders, mentors, and researchers.
What is Practical Engineering Management?
In Practical Engineering Management, I will show you how to get up to speed with leading the team. I will focus on very practical examples of leaders’ and managers’ activities.
I won’t tell you why you should empower people, trust them, work with small feedback loops, or be outcome driven. Many great sources are explaining that already.
Instead, I’ll focus on implementing these values in your day-to-day work. What we will come up with here you can call the MVP of Engineering Management. The solutions I will present won’t be complex, standardized, or very mature. You will get something to implement relatively quickly, so you can start building good team habits in the fastest possible way. I want to provide you with the solid ground you can build upon based on years of my experience.
There are many solutions on the market for project management, tracking OKRs, or running performance reviews. If you really need them, you will find them. But very often, you don’t need an extra SaaS solution for scheduling your 1:1s or building simple boards for KPIs tracking.
What do you, as an engineering leader, get from it?
As a leader, you know there are different motivations, and an organization's vision and mission aren't always the most important ones for people. No difference here. That's why Practical Engineering Management focuses on four core values:
- Functional value - with PEM you will learn what leadership is about and how to implement best practices step by step to maximize your and org's outcomes.
- Economic value - PEM's content is focused on helping you to be an outstanding leader. It's not only about generating more value for the organization but also about becoming a better professional, growing to a senior leader's position, and getting better opportunities from the market.
- Social value - most effective leadership is the one focused on empowering people - helping them to grow, and building trust, autonomy, and ownership. This model of work is not only efficient, but it also builds strong professional relationships which will stay with you forever.
- Psychological value - Practical Engineering Management will help you become an influential and self-confident leader. With all practical hints and materials, your work will be conscious and thoughtful.
What’s my motivation?
I want to help make great ideas happen. I want to contribute to making the world a better place. There are things I proved working, and now I want to scale up my impact. Sustainable Development Goals from United Nations highly inspire me, and whenever I can help you, your team, or your company in chasing them, I will be honored.