Why is data relevant to an Executive?
As an Executive, you are ultimately responsible for engineering's impact on the business (and vice versa).
You want to ensure that teams are being as productive while making sure that they're not compromising the organization's future by paying attention to their development experience.
Executives use engineering metrics to foster and improve:
👉 Communication: Identifying, prioritizing, tracking, and communicating goals and initiative progress across the organization.
👉 Strategic thinking: Using data to understand whether they are accelerating delivery and compromising the future, or decelerating delivery to recover some accumulated debt.
👉 Sense of purpose: Data is used to generate north stars and indicators that show where the organization is heading and why it is heading that way.
👉 Anticipate crisis: Identify focal points where execs need to spend more time and proactively support their teams.
🤓 How do they do it?
Executives are responsible for ensuring that middle management is aligned with the organization's top priorities. No matter if those are technical or business priorities. To do so, you want to promote alignment meetings like:
At the same time, you want to promote high-level visibility of engineering data to uncover insights and promote alignment around the data to drive improvement.
This is done in a top-down and bottom-up approach.
It's a diamond shape exercise where leadership sets north stars at the top of the organization while teams set goals that represent what they need to do to drive improvement and measure impact.
📝 To promote alignment your want to:
1. 🏆 Define the metrics that matter by creating an executive report
You want to foster a consistent narrative for the engineering department. To do so, you should create an executive report. This is a way for you and your leaders to collaborate and align on what matters.
Having an asset as clear as this report will make expectations for the organization crystal clear, making transparent what matters for the organization.
A good report needs to be:
Consistent over time;
High-level and connected with the business;
Well understood by everyone in the org;
Available to everyone;
However, remember that the report is not enough. This is the first step towards consistency and, as a leader, you need to consistently pitch why this data is relevant.
🚨 It's not only about having the asset. It's about what the asset means for the organization.
As a final note, it's important to explain that some of these metrics will be goals for the quarter, while others will represent aspirational north stars for the engineering team.
2. 🎯 Do regular check-ins with your leadership team and push for accountability
Similar to what happens with your leaders and their teams, you want to sit together and discuss progress consistently.
You must define objectives quarterly and then revisit them monthly. In these monthly meetings, you want to promote a status report and ensure that your leadership team is accountable for identifying and mitigating any blockers to achieving the objectives.
👉 A great way to mitigate impediments is the ROAM framework.
As an executive, focus on creating a safe environment. You want the team to openly discuss the challenges they are facing so that they own the solution for those challenges.
Notice that the most important aspect of these meetings is that they focus on identifying impediments and mitigations. You and the team must focus on how to achieve the objectives you have set for the quarter.