Track: Building High-Performing Teams

Location: Empire Complex, 7th fl.

Day of week:

Building, maintaining, and growing high-performing teams in different contexts such as high vs stable growth, remote vs local, different industries or products, etc.  What aspects are distinct and what remains common will be explored.

Track Host: Jason Yip

Agile Coach @Spotify, previously Principal Consultant @ThoughtWorks

First encountered Extreme Programming in 1999 on comp.object, and (the original Wiki). Started work at ThoughtWorks in Chicago from February 2001 just after the dot com bubble burst. Was a committer on CruiseControl, the first Open Source Continuous Integration server.  Moved and worked mostly at ThoughtWorks Australia since 2002. Joined Spotify NYC in February 2015 where he is a Senior Agile Coach.

10:35am - 11:25am

Inside Job: How to Build Great Teams Within a Legacy Organization?

What would you do to help create modern, successful teams, within a legacy organization?

Meetup is a company that achieved success a decade ago. Profitable, international, influential, and helping people connect every day. But today’s marketplace is not the same as it was then, and the company is working to meet the challenges of a much more competitive field. In order to do this, we’ve got to be able to learn, build, and release more quickly than ever. How do you build a high performing team in a company that’s comfortable just the way things are?

Francisco and Zoe are building exactly that kind of team at Meetup. In this talk, they will discuss their approach to building a sustainable, value-driven product team: up skilling engineers, collaborating with other disciplines, building better culture, creating technological independence, and moving from top-down project management to self-organizing teams. 

We will discuss the challenges of changing an established company, how we have thought about it, failed and learned while doing it.

Francisco Trindade, Engineering Director @Meetup
Zoe Gagnon, Engineering Manager @Meetup

11:50am - 12:40pm

Context Matters: Improving the Performance and Wellbeing of Teams

Do you want to improve the performance and well-being of your team? In this session, you will learn about what makes teams high performing, and the role of context in building and nurturing a high-performing one. Understanding the impact of context on teams will help members and leaders understand what opportunities are available for improving their team’s performance and/or how to begin planning the mission, composition, tools and working conditions of a new team to set them up for success.

By the end of this session, we will have:

  • Compared different contexts that teams operate in, and how these affect team performance, based on the first-hand experiences of the presenters (external macro-shifts, business model dynamics, organizational structure shifts, domains of work, and the knowns/unknowns of problems that teams need to solve)
  • Unpacked some theory behind what defines high-performing teams (purpose, roles, safety, diversity and inclusion, goals and measuring success etc) 
  • Identified constant elements that teams require to be effective, irrespective of context (elements for alignment, coordination, and structure)
  • Gained an understanding of how context affects teams’ reliance on the above elements, and how teams can gain agency to intentionally shape the way that they operate that increases engagement and goal achievement

Shawn Carney, Director of IT @Etsy
Zofia Ciechowska, Director Strategy & Operations @Etsy

1:40pm - 2:30pm

Cultivating High-Performing Teams in Hypergrowth

N26 is on a mission to build the bank the world loves to use. Not only is its customers rapidly growing (from 450K to 2.3M in under 18 months) but the product and tech team has almost quadrupled in that time to more than 250 people. In this talk, Patrick will share lessons learned sowing the seeds and fertilising an environment to cultivate high performing teams in a hypergrowth environment. We will look at balancing structures to maximise autonomy and alignment, explicit trade-offs in centralised versus decentralised thinking and how we’ve managed to rapidly expand a team and still ship product at a rapid pace.

Patrick Kua, Chief Scientist @n26

2:55pm - 3:45pm

Navigating Complexity: High-Performance Delivery and Discovery Teams

High performance can look very different for different teams, depending on the context in which they operate. Understanding whether you're trying to deliver a valuable product or discover and innovate, and the implications that has for how you should be thinking about and measuring performance, is key.  

We’ll start by exploring my real-world experiences in fledgling startups, successful companies, and larger enterprises, and use these examples to introduce dual-track development. We'll talk about why traditional tactics - ones that have been around since the 19th century - don't always help you build better a better product, as well as exploring what characteristics are common to both delivery and discovery teams.  

You'll come away from this talk with insights to help you build your high-performing team, regardless of the context.

Conal Scanlon, Product Management, Lean/Agile Software Development @FlatironHealth

4:10pm - 5:00pm

High Performance Remote and Distributed Teams

Past a certain size, many software organizations grow by looking beyond their headquarters to distributed sites and / or remote employees. Some organizations -- and almost every open source project -- have always been completely remote. What are the secrets of the organizations that use multiple localities and time zones to their advantage? We will use examples from eBay, Google, Stitch Fix, and WeWork.  

We will start with the organization itself - how to form teams, give them scope, and manage their growth. Next, we will discuss communication strategies for getting the best out of far-flung teams, as well as how to foster and maintain the human bonds and empathy critical to good work. Lastly, we will explore the human side itself. By looking beyond a single physical site, we can find better, more diverse, and more motivated employees. Talent, after all, is evenly distributed; opportunity is not.  

You will take away actionable insights to help create -- or improve -- your remote teams.

Randy Shoup, VP Engineering @WeWork


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