Staff+ engineering initiatives: How to

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Photo by Vadim Sherbakov

So you’ve identified the engineering initiatives that are important to your organisation, but how do I actually start working on them?

For prerequisites see my post on Staff+ engineering initiatives. Once you have these things in place it’s time to get into the weeds on what actually needs to be done in order to successfully complete an initiative.

Here is a step by step guide to executing on an engineering initiative:

Assess Priority Based on Vision:

  • Start by evaluating the priority of potential engineering initiatives in alignment with your group’s overall vision and goals.
  • Understand how each initiative contributes to the long-term success and mission of the organisation.

Select the Top-Priority Problem:

  • Identify and select the most critical problem or opportunity that needs immediate attention.
  • Consider factors such as potential impact, urgency, and alignment with strategic objectives.

Frame Your Initiative:

  • Clearly define the problem you aim to solve. Use a problem statement that succinctly explains the issue.
  • Explain why this problem is important, outlining the potential benefits and risks of not addressing it.
  • Define what success would look like, setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals.

Secure Sponsorship:

  • Seek sponsorship and support for your initiative from the leadership team. This could involve the Director of Engineering, Vice President, CEO, or other relevant executives.
  • Make a compelling case for why the initiative aligns with the organisation’s strategy and how it contributes to its success.

Identify Key Stakeholders:

  • Identify individuals or teams within the organisation who have a vested interest in or can contribute to solving the problem.
  • Engage with these stakeholders to gain their support and involvement.

Form a Working Group:

  • Create a cross-functional working group consisting of stakeholders and interested parties.
  • Ensure that the group represents a diverse set of skills, perspectives, and expertise to tackle the initiative effectively.

Define Roadmap and Milestones:

  • Develop a detailed roadmap that outlines the steps, tasks, and milestones needed to achieve the initiative’s goals.
  • Assign responsibilities and timelines to team members, ensuring clarity on who does what.

Establish Communication and Meetings:

  • Set up a communication channel (e.g., Slack, email, or project management tools) to facilitate ongoing collaboration and information sharing.
  • Schedule regular sync meetings to track progress, discuss challenges, and make necessary adjustments.

Implement a Time-Boxed Approach:

  • Allocate a specific time frame (e.g., 8 weeks) for each initiative’s execution.
  • Organize a meeting at the end of the allocated period to present results and gather feedback from the working group.

Iterate and Continue:

  • After the initial initiative is completed, encourage team members to select and work on new initiatives.
  • Repeat the process of problem prioritization, framing, and execution.

Continuous Improvement Process:

  • Define a structured process for continuous improvement:
    • Hold quarterly meetings to review agreed-upon metrics that track success for each category of initiative.
    • Evaluate the impact of completed initiatives and identify areas for optimization.
    • Adjust priorities and strategies as needed based on the outcomes and evolving organisational goals.


By following these steps, your engineering team can effectively plan, execute, and measure the success of its initiatives, ensuring alignment with the organisation’s overall vision and goals while fostering a culture of continuous improvement. If you need ideas for what initiatives to work on see my post on Staff+ engineering initiatives.

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