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5 Qualities of a Successful Engineering Culture

Pinak Kiran Vedalankar
Pinak Kiran Vedalankar

Last week, we looked at how big organizations need to adopt an engineering mindset and learn to think and act with the speed and agility of digital natives. A key challenge for leaders who want to adopt this approach is to create the right culture within their teams in order to foster autonomy and shared consciousness.

Here are five qualities of successful engineering teams observed across a wide variety of organizations:

Gear as light bulb, representing innovation and experimentation

1. Innovate and experiment

Teams don’t always have to stick to the plan. Yesterday’s engineering solutions are history with how quickly digital is moving. The ability of smaller organizations to move from concept to product in a matter of weeks has changed the game. Innovation must be at the heart of the team’s mission. Not as a one-off, but all the time.

Abstract illustration representing change and evolution

2. Don’t ignore a changing environment

Respond rapidly. The future is becoming harder to predict and control, so responsiveness and agility is now paramount. Market conditions are changing constantly, and teams must be prepared to operate in an environment of continuous disruption, monitoring developments closely and repositioning as required.

Centralized human figure representing customer centricity

3. Let customers lead you, not IT

Customer expectations are rising constantly. As customers become more digitally savvy—so must you. Customers are looking for the best digital experience, regardless of sector or market. They will constantly compare you to the best they’ve experienced and judge you accordingly. That’s why the test-and-learn methodology is critical. Don’t refine until perfect—launch quickly and use user feedback to inform engineering and optimization, which should then be tested again and further optimized.

Hand in hand representing collaboration

4. Break out of your silos and learn to collaborate

Share across teams, share within guilds. The agile-at-scale enterprise start-up approach is based on constant experimentation and individual autonomy, backed by the sharing of ideas and innovations so that everyone can align with best practices and continual optimization. This works within and between engineering teams, as well as across guilds of agile coaches, business analysts and champions that are placed at the heart of each enterprise start-up team.

Raised hands representing goals and autonomy

5. Seek common goals and autonomy

Only a strong engineering culture can power through chaos and disruption. Creating a cohesive team culture that prizes experimentation and individual autonomy as well as sharing of knowledge and a drive towards common goals is the key to success. Balance team effort and “playful competition” between individuals to foster an environment of continuous, incremental improvement.

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