S02 E06
21 Feb 2022/01:44:08

Engineering Culture

Oxide and Friends Twitter Space: February 21st, 2022

Engineering Culture
We’ve been holding a Twitter Space weekly on Mondays at 5p for about an hour. Even though it’s not (yet?) a feature of Twitter Spaces, we have been recording them all; here is the recording for our Twitter Space for February 21st, 2022.
In addition to Bryan Cantrill and Adam Leventhal, speakers on February 21st included Tom Lyon, Tom Killalea, Ian, Antranig Vartanian, Matt Campbell, Simeon Miteff, Matt Ranney and Aaron Hartwig. (Did we miss your name and/or get it wrong? Drop a PR!)
Some of the topics we hit on, in the order that we hit them:
  • Alex Heath’s tweet on FB meeting about updated values: “meta, metamates, me”
  • [@4:44](https://youtu.be/w9MQJbC26h4?t=284) Can an established company “change its values” in any sense?
  • [@8:43](https://youtu.be/w9MQJbC26h4?t=523) Draw the owl > Twilio CEO: Yes, it was a meme, but it’s a great representation of our job. > There is no instruction book and no one is going to tell us how to do our work. > It’s now woven into our culture and used as a cheeky, but encouraging reply to > those who email colleagues at Twilio asking how to do something.
  • [@12:42](https://youtu.be/w9MQJbC26h4?t=762) How do you establish engineering culture? 
    • Copy-paste values?
  • [@20:44](https://youtu.be/w9MQJbC26h4?t=1244) When are values set down in a company’s history? 
    • Amazon’s brand image, expanding beyond books
    • Assessing values when hiring
  • [@27:51](https://youtu.be/w9MQJbC26h4?t=1671) Principles vs values 
    • Principles are absolutes, cannot be taken too far
    • Values are about relative importance, in balance with other values
    • ACM Code of Ethics
    • Relative importance of values. Can some values be learned, while others cannot?
  • [@45:11](https://youtu.be/w9MQJbC26h4?t=2711) “Turn-around CEOs”, trying to change an established company culture
  • [@47:39](https://youtu.be/w9MQJbC26h4?t=2859) Sun culture, early days
  • [@54:32](https://youtu.be/w9MQJbC26h4?t=3272) Connection between values and business model 
    • Urgency in context, requires nuance
  • [@1:03:37](https://youtu.be/w9MQJbC26h4?t=3817) Values on the wall. When are values simply ignored? 
    • Jack Handey wiki, Deep Thoughts recurring SNL short sketches, eg Thanksgiving ~30secs
    • “Sharpen fast”
  • [@1:13:49](https://youtu.be/w9MQJbC26h4?t=4429) What are the important things to get set early? 
    • Bryan and Adam on Joyent and Delphix
  • [@1:22:05](https://youtu.be/w9MQJbC26h4?t=4925) Matt Ranney on his time at Uber 
    • Trying to shape an established culture
    • Leadership’s values vs engineers
    • Business ethics
  • [@1:35:47](https://youtu.be/w9MQJbC26h4?t=5747) GE
  • Thomas Gryta and Ted Mann (2020) Lights Out: Pride, Delusion, and the Fall of General Electric book
  • [@1:37:03](https://youtu.be/w9MQJbC26h4?t=5823) Conclusions 
    • Adam: Get it right first, but it’s not a lost cause if you don’t.
    • Bryan: Look for value alignment in organizations you might want to join, it’s tough to change course after the fact.
    • Matt: generous compensation has an effect on how closely one cares to scrutinize their organization’s values ¯_(ツ)_/¯
If we got something wrong or missed something, please file a PR! Our next Twitter space will likely be on Monday at 5p Pacific Time; stay tuned to our Twitter feeds for details. We’d love to have you join us, as we always love to hear from new speakers!