The Engineering Leadership Podcast · Episode 20

Conscious Career Growth (part 1)

with Wade Chambers

Aug 10, 2020
Wade Chambers discusses how to learn anything by applying “conscious growth” and neuroplasticity to your career. You’ll learn how to get unstuck, and move your career forward. Plus Wade also shares stories about his early failures as an engineering manager, and what he wished he knew when he first became a manager.
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SPEAKER

Wade Chambers - CTO and SVP of Engineering @ Grand Rounds

Wade oversees all aspects of engineering and technology innovation at Grand Rounds. With more than 25 years of engineering leadership experience, he has deep technical domain expertise and a successful track record of scaling teams and leaders, market-defining technology innovations, and business growth for companies of all sizes including Twitter, TellApart, Yahoo, and Opsware.

Before Silicon Valley, Wade served in the military and the White House Situation Room.

“The more that you can recognize that, ‘Oh, I feel uncomfortable...’ and you can just sit with it a minute. As opposed to react to it. There's always a feedback mechanism in that. That willingness to be in the discomfort a little bit longer. You're actually going to learn so much about yourself in that moment. And if you can act on that, that's what unlocks you to move forward.”

- Wade Chambers


Announcement

Nominations for the 2020 Inspiring Leadership Award are now open!

We created this award to recognize role models of engineering leadership, for the work they do every day to make a difference in their teams and organizations.

Share their story with us and submit a nomination HERE


Shownotes

  • How Wade formed the habit of being conscious, thoughtful and digging deeper (4:37)
  • Wade’s early failure as a first-time manager (8:25)
  • Neuroplasticity as the foundation for conscious growth and getting unstuck in your career (15:01)
  • How to learn and become competent in almost anything with conscious growth (23:06)
  • How to align your growth to both impact your company AND move your career forward (28:54)
  • How to predict your company’s needs by applying an anthropological perspective (36:06)
  • Takeaways (41:12)

Transcript

Jerry Li: Wade, so excited to have you come to our show you and I have been knowing for a few years, , you spoke at our events multiple times and every single one is very popular. I think this is a great opportunity for us to dive deeper into your story. And also all the frameworks and approaches that other people can borrow from, to, help developing themselves and their teams. what makes you such a great leader? what's your story? What's the magic?

Wade Chambers: I don't know that there's magics, so to speak. I think it is the, constantly making mistakes and being vulnerable, around that , and not trying to be perfect , but also constantly, wanting to be better and wanting to accomplish more and knowing that it's not me. It's it's the people that I work with and how we're able to focus on the same things, have a common way of getting there. and then enjoying ourselves as, we go through it. And I think the more that you invest in the people around you, like the more that. people want to pay it back as well.

So I love conversations like this and the presentations that we've done, because it feels like , as I've come up through the ranks, Right. Like, it's not like there's been an abundance of people that can help, both give feedback as you go through it, as well as help you understand the underlying principles behind something.

And as a result, it's kind of, you learn by watching other people and go, wow like that was really dumb. Like that, that was really shitty. I don't want to do that or, Ooh, that was kind of smart. I want to do that, but it's kind of, you have to have those experiences , and learn from them as opposed to, Oh, . If I could just understand this at a slightly elevated level, I could go through it a lot more effectively and efficiently.

and so I think if you can approach the world that way and like try and pay it forward and help others out, people want to be around folks that will invest in them.

How Wade formed the habit of being conscious, thoughtful and digging deeper

Jerry Li: One thing I have been repeatedly feel impressed when talking to you is how deep you think and how thoughtful you are about the approaches and methodology you use. And also that understanding of, the human interaction behaviors and even, anthropology, like understanding, the history of a organization.

when you just started as a, manager, were you, so conscious about those, or how do you form a habit of, digging deep? because the amount of exposure you have in terms of experiences is limited and also random. But if we can go deep, then, it's bigger chance you can learn something more profoundly.

Wade Chambers: Yeah. just a little bit of a background around me. came up, in an extremely humble environment, no silver spoon for me or anything along those lines.

and matter of fact, I didn't even go to college. Right. Like I knew my parents weren't going to be able to afford it. And therefore I kind of needed to learn a lot on my own. and so early on. It was a, there's no assumption that I am God's gift to something. Matter of fact, if anything, I'd better understand, and learn from others, if I wanted to dig my way, out of where I was at and move forward.

And so it put me on that path of like, curious, how does this work? I was very lucky early on, to work with some amazing, amazing people. even before I got into tech, I worked at the White House, way back under Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr. And Colin Powell. And when you watch those people engage with others, It's just. It's inspiring, right? Like Ronald Reagan had the ability to, make you feel like his best friend within seconds. And Colin Powell was, built very much the same way. Right? Like it was just the insight and the depth. But if you talk to them, you were just as likely to talk about barbecue as you was world policy. And so it made me feel that they were human and if they could do something then like other people could too. And it was just like figuring out the path to be able to get there.

And so very early on, it all felt random. It felt like, Oh, well they went to a better school or, , maybe they were just hungry or did they have grit or work ethic or any of those things.

But like, what I found is is that over time, you know IT wasn't just that. It was a lot of other things that sort of contributed to making them, great leaders. And so it made me want to dig deeper. And the more that you look for it, and the more that you're just not trying to build up, your ego or look smart, but like you're actually looking for ground truth... it's pretty readily available.

I still find it amazing still to this day that somebody can do 30 years of research, spend 18 to 24 months, writing it all down and editing it. and I can buy it for 1299. Right? So the ability to have access to some of the best thinkers in the world. and be able to understand their history and all of the research that they've put into it. It's it's there. You just have to go out and actually, consume it. Now, applying it's a very different thing, right? Like, and it took me a while to get to the point of where, I could effectively apply it.

But I went deep because I had to, but I've always had , that sense of, well, I can remember my mom when I was like 12, I was tearing apart radios. So I could figure out how to run speakers to other parts of my bedroom and wire them up. And she was like, Why are you taking apart a perfectly good radio?

... because I needed to.

Jerry Li: And the access you had early on to have those role models and that triggers you to dive deep and also be inspired.

Wade Chambers: Yeah.

Jerry Li: I think that's very lucky.

Wade's early failure as a first-time manager

Wade Chambers: I was just very fortunate, to be able to have that experience. When I fast forwarded to, being an engineer, like I had to learn a lot that way.

My first time being an engineering manager, having access to those inspiring people did not help me... I was horrible as an engineering manager the first time through. I think I made every classic mistake and I didn't realize that the skills that made me a really good engineer at the time. Did not translate to making me a very good manager at the time.

And that has been a long time sort of learning from others and figuring out cause and effect

Jerry Li: Can you share one of those examples? The failures you first started , as a manager?

Wade Chambers: Let's go there. this is going to make me cringe just how bad I was...

it was the very first company that I ever IPO'd, with, at that point in time. And I was a fairly good engineer. Think of me as being, you know, a staff level tech lead, driving key projects, designing new things. but I had That desire to help projects move forward.

And the CEO comes to me one day and he's like, you know, Wade, you should be a manager... I'm inspired, right? Like the CEO has recognized my greatness. I get to be a manager now. And, that was it right There was no training. There was no conversation. There was no, here's what it means to be a manager. And you should think about these things.

It was come in Monday. These people now report you. Go get it.

Jerry Li: That sounds so familiar

Wade Chambers: Right? And come to find out like that is more of the norm than the exception. So like did all of the same things I was doing as a tech lead. Like let's get team together. Hey, I was in the shower this morning. I thought about this thing. Like, we should definitely factor this in.

Hey, you know, Brian, you should be working on this, you know, et cetera, et cetera. And fast forward. And I think I'm killing it, right? Like, it is obvious that the CEO was profound in his wisdom and had challenged me to do the right thing.

And about three months later, the first person quits and then another person quits directly behind it. And I'm like, Whoa, why are you quitting? Right. This is a great team. We're all doing so well? And, a senior engineer, his name was Derek. at the time, you know, he and I went out to lunch one day and he was like, "you are the worst manager I think I've ever had..."

And I'm like, Oh, why? And he's like, number one I haven't gotten any feedback you haven't coached me on like how I could be a better engineer.

Matter of fact, there has been no chance for somebody to move up in the team and, to take on some of the things that you used to do, right. Like you're still doing all of those things. And now you're, you're still telling us what to do, but now you can control our compensation and you can fire us and you can do all these sorts of things.

You take all the oxygen out of a room, right? Like we are just workers for you, so to speak. and he had some other really, really not so nice things to say.

And every one of them was just so on-point right. Like every single one of them was just like dead on accurate and , it's hard to unhear the truth. Right.

Like when you hear it, there's a quote out there, that, everybody can recognize excellence and bullshit. Right. And like, in this case, right. Like I could recognize the excellence in his giving me feedback. there was no bullshit, in there, and so it was one of those things of like, Nothing that I was doing was really about being, an effective manager. everything, I was doing was just around like the continuation of what I was doing before

Since then. I mean, if you want to, do reverse side of that. Ben Horowitz just put out a book recently and where he was talking about, what you do is who you are. And in inside of that book, he talks about like shocking rules that create culture. And, not that I have, done this or anything like that, but imagine if the CEO at that point in time had taken me aside and said, Hey, Wade, we're really glad that you're thinking about being an engineering manager.

but like, let me tell you, how I measure engineering managers and the consequence of you not being a good engineering manager. Cause it's so critical to the organization.

I measure engineering managers based on the level of output of their team. How much responsibility I can give you before output suffers and the business impact that's generated by your team.

And I'm going to go as far to say, like your job is to win at doing that, but also increase your capacity to win behind that. If you can't figure out how to improve on all three of those dimensions, output level of responsibility and level of business impact by at least 1.5 X over the next 12 months, I'm going to take you out of the role. I'm going to fire you from that position.

That would have been a very different conversation at that point in time, because I would have understood how important it is to him to have great competent management in each one of the roles. And like how big of a leverage point it is for the organization and how he wouldn't want somebody stepping into that role that couldn't figure out.

And that's not like have the team work. 1.5 times as much. It is. How can you improve process? How can you invest in people? How can you use better technology? what about the tool that, that you can use? What about the things that you should say no to, right. Like you can employ all of them, those to improve your output, your level of responsibility and your impact.

But it would have been a very different conversation. And I would have went looking for very different things at that point in time, if we just would have had that conversation.

Jerry Li: Yeah. A lot of engineering managers when they first get to the position. They feel at a loss because. what's the difference. Now I'm a manager. My title changed in how do I measure my performance, my impact. , what if you said the ability to win as a team as an individually and also increase the capacity behind that? That's a very clear direction where people can optimize their effort towards.

Neuroplasticity as the foundation for conscious growth and getting unstuck in your career

Wade Chambers: yeah. let me back up just to take that step forward, I've interviewed thousands of people, had thousands of people in my organizations, right.

And like, no one has a lock on intellect, there's a bell curve associated with it, but there's lots to get there. , and what I find is that there's just a whole group of people who like me at that point in time, were stuck. They didn't get it. And therefore they didn't even know if they wanted it or not. And so, you know, they absolutely could do it, but they needed to get it to decide whether they wanted it or not, and whether they were actually willing to go through it.

My challenge is, is as you encounter folks that are sort of in that stage, how do you help them get it? in a short period of time?

And I started digging into why don't they get it already right now? and it sort of took me down a path. And it's really interesting in that, like so many of the things that limit our ability to move forward. a lot of them are like biology and conditioning and behaviors, but other parts of it are just like, not understanding how a company works and what they value and therefore, how I can align with what great looks like if we're talking about managers and, and some of the things that we were just discussing and how do I map, What I need to grow in to what the company needs to be successful , in those sort of roles.

And so I think it's interesting to sort of dig into some of those because , the more that you understand it at some level of depth, the more that you can see how that, Prevents forward progress in, in some stages, unless you consciously understand it and change it.

In many ways our biology works against us. Right. Like, if you haven't read up on neuroplasticity, it's really fascinating, And it basically says that the structure of your brain changes throughout your life, depending on how you use it, you can determine what areas become stronger and or weaker over time. Well, that's a really interesting thing, right?

Like at birth, every neuron, Has an estimated 2,500 synapse by the age three, it's up to 15,000, the average adult, it's about half that number. Why? Because as you focus and go through different experiences, the things that you focus on, those synapse and neurons like wire together, and when they were together, they fire together.

And when you focus on those areas, other parts of your brain weaken.

Oh, well, that, that's kind of interesting, right? So like you're telling me that whatever, I spend a lot of time doing, right? Like that area of my brain is going to get a lot stronger.

And other areas, in areas that I'm not focusing on are going to weaken...that makes a lot of sense, actually. When you think about it,

but it means that like, if you consciously focus on an area and getting strong in that area, it'll strengthen over time at the cost of other, some other part of your brain. So, if you focus on computer programming, maybe the Nintendo part of your brain starts to suffer and go away over time,

You can consciously reprogram your brain to do a lot of those things. Which then if you kind of take that and think about that, right? Like conditioning makes a lot more sense. if your parents are very focused in a particular area, the chances that they demonstrated modeled and quizzed you in that basic area, much higher. And as a result, you've probably fused together areas, that support that, that basic area.

As you go through school, same thing. Right? Like, however your teachers were, were going to reinforce certain parts of your brain, who you hung out with. Right? Like if you had a fellow, engineers in training that like really thought about computers and wanted to get together at night, Guess what that part of your brain is going to form more rapidly.

If you were into sports, that part of your brain is going to wire together, more rapidly. As you got into college, same thing is going to hold true.

And as you get into your first job, right, like it's just going to keep reinforcing this idea, that neuroplasticity is going to continue to form how your brain works and you can move forward with it.

Well, you can think about other types of conditioning. Like if you have some success, right. There's going to be all sorts of dopamine rushes of like, somebody has recognized my greatness and now I need to continue to invest in that thing that got me here. And so as you focus more and more on that thing that got you here, you're not going to focus on other parts that might need growth at that point in time.

Get a promotion, same thing. If your title changes, right? Like now all of a sudden you feel like a lot of the things that got you there are the things that you need to continue to invest in moving forward. Accolades, other types of things will, will get you there, which will then start to reinforce behaviors that you're seeing.

And you will start to think this is what made me successful. And therefore, I only just need to double down on this to become even more successful moving forward.

Patrick: I was just going to say Wade, as you were sharing that, I feel like. You just illuminated the underlying principle of all of these really popularized sayings or quotes. Like I was thinking of "you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with" a product of neuroplasticity...

or "how you do one thing is how you do everything", a product of neuroplasticity. So I feel like I just saw the causal effects of my entire life flash before my eyes.

Wade Chambers: one of my favorite quotes along those lines is "you can only fight the way you practice." Same thing, right? Like if it is a well trained thing, then in the moment that you need it, you can go back to it. Imagine if you had no training in a specific area, and then were in a position of, where you needed to try and get to recall... it's obviously not there.

And so, so many things are all along those lines of you get into your career and it's like, Oh, I wish I could do X. If you haven't consciously focused on building X. Wish all you want.

And so then you can see very much in the same light, how you build up these strengths and how there are shadow areas associated with that. and that over time if you've had some success, you really don't want to address the shadow areas.

"I'd rather focus on where there's bright light. And I look good in that situation." it's just painful to go in the other way. And so I, I say it a lot, but like, I think people crutch on that and retreat to competence as a result.

How to learn and become competent in almost anything with conscious growth

Jerry Li: So you mentioned competence, and I remember one, of the very useful notion you brought up at an earlier event is, the difference between, conscious competence and unconscious competence. There's a, there are different combination

Wade Chambers: yep. let's just run through that really quick. I think it's helpful to understand in this context, let's see. Jerry, do you know how to brew beer? No,

Jerry Li: no idea.

Wade Chambers: Right. So we have just moved you from being unconsciously incompetent to now very consciously incompetent.

Because if you wanted to, could you. Of course. Right. Like, but how would you do it? Well, let's just kind of walk through the process.

Well, now that I'm consciously incompetent, and I now want to prove Wade, like ma make him feel bad, cause like I want to learn how to build brew.

Great beer. Well, okay. Can you go learn about how to brew beer? Can you get to declarative knowledge? all right, so I can read a book. There's tons of podcasts out there. There's lots of videos out there. there's even a home brew conventions, you can't go there right now... but like you, you could totally go there, I'll teach you how to brew Jerry. Right. Come over to my house.

But like, investing time and with somebody who knows how to do it is a great way of getting, ah, I get the basic concept. If I break down the starches sugars are released, I can actually I then have yeast convert sugars to alcohol and the rest of it's around flavoring and carbonation. And like, we can totally get you there.

10% of how you learn, 10% , is that declarative knowledge? Does that mean, you know, how to brew beer? No. Right. Like it means, you know how to talk about how to brew beer. Well, how do you learn how to brew beer? Right. we've got to do it.

And so, you know, we set up some, weekend and you come over and, you try and do it. And like, as you get into that, those ideas haven't been put into practice and it's going to be different in reality than it was in concept.

And so as you start to go through that, it's like, Oh wow. I didn't realize that cleaning was such a big deal and that this needed to be at this level. And timing of all of this was, was very important. The first time you go through it, you're going to struggle, right? Like you, it's just going to feel awkward because it's not, something you've done before by the third or fourth time. Okay. I got it. Right. Like I'm still got some note cards and I'm still going through it. and then, you know, by your 10th time, it's just like, yeah, get out of my way. Right? Like I got this and yeah. You know, you want my beer, come over next Saturday, you know, let's let's have a pint or whatever the case may be.

The sciences is that 70%, 60-70% of how you learn. Is the practice. It's that neuroplasticity? It, it is the synapse, forming. it is the practice behavior 20 to 30% of how you learn is who is that believable coach that can help you when you need it and give you the right feedback and help you understand how to take that declarative and turn it into practiced or procedural.

Right. And so if you think about it, then you go from that unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence, to declarative knowledge, to I'm practicing it. I'm struggling with it. And about that 20 hour, mark is what the research says of practicing. You can actually be competent and okay at something. If I continue to swing through that and do it for let's say 10,000 hours. You're not thinking about it anymore. It's probably... you probably don't think about driving anymore.

Right? Like you've got more than 10,000 hours of practice. And so it's just common nature for you to it's because you're unconsciously competent now. And so you've went through that full cycle.

Well, if you just stop and think about that process of, Oh, I have to get some declarative knowledge. I need to find a mentor and a coach, and then I need an opportunity to practice.

Almost anything you want to do can be put into that process want to be a better speaker. I want to be a better leader. I want to be a better listener. I want to be able to validate somebody. I want to be a better engineer. I need to get better at critical reasoning.

Anything that you want to do can be learned. And it's, it's a fairly straightforward process that you need to go through to be able to get there. I mean, it's a lot of work. I'm not trying to discount it, but the actual process and structure is fairly straight forward.

Jerry Li: And also being, aware, there is a dip initially, being aware of that, you're not competent of doing something like when you put it out, , I don't know how to brew beer, that may feel bad, but the first time My director report tells me that you're a horrible manager. That hurts a lot. But that's, something you have to go through

Wade Chambers: yeah, it really does get to that point of like, I think each one of those sort of invokes a fight flight or freeze response. And the more that you can recognize that, Oh, I feel uncomfortable and you can just sit with it a minute as opposed to react to it. There's always a feedback mechanism in that. That willingness to be in the discomfort a little bit longer. You're actually going to learn so much about yourself in that moment. And if you can act on that, that's what unlocks you to, to to move forward.

And if I can go well... it's like, Oh, well this isn't a, you know, something I've ever been taught. This isn't something that, I should know instinctually. Okay. Well then it's just about how do I get started? Yep.

How to align your growth to both impact your company AND move your career forward (26:56)

Jerry Li: You also mentioned, some basic knowledge on understanding about the company, the business, to be a effective leader besides knowing, the, people management side of it. Can you share a little bit more on those as well?

Wade Chambers: A lot of the time, It's kind of weird thing that as we go through, our lives, it's a very weird thing that, , we can only draw from our experience. like you're one of 7 billion people. You know, we're one of, I don't know how many species on this earth and how many planets are in the solar system and et cetera.

So like in the, in the grand scheme of things, we have this tiny understanding of the entirety of the world. And yet that is what we can act on. And so there's a whole lot of we project onto other things that our worldview must be the accurate thing that's here instead of trying to understand what it really is and sort of fill in those memory banks for yourself.

And I think around the company is one of those things. I think that, A lot of people sort of vilify the company that they work at. Right. It's like, Ugh... my company's evil and it's working against me as opposed to like, trying to truly understand, what companies do

if you can get into it. Like most people, these are, are somewhat predictable. They're about value creation, right? Like they are trying to do something for a customer base that creates value that people are willing to pay them for. And almost all of them have a mission, a vision, a strategy, and they have competitors that are trying to take their market share away from them.

And so they need to be aggressive in like creating competitive differentiation in their market. Otherwise it's very likely that that company could go away. And so right. There's a company that's trying to get something done. And based on, you know, the stage of company, there's going to be different characteristics around that company of where they're at and where they're trying to get to product market fit or growth and scale, or what are the things.

And the more that you can understand the differenceS between companies at different stages, you can understand the sort of needs that they're going to have, and like, what's going to be important for them.

If you came from Google, which is, which is a great company and went to this startup, the expectation of, the things that you saw at Google being real at this startup are pretty ill formed, right? Like the startup that's trying to get to product market fit, probably doesn't have the infrastructure or the marketing cloud, and they're going to have to like struggle for each and every deal. If you went in there thinking like this company is just like dumb and stupid, because they're not doing it the Google way. Right. Like, you have to understand the context of where they're at and where they're trying to get to.

If you can do that, then you can start to understand other things about the company. You know, there's always this gap between where the company's at and where they're trying to get to. And so there's things that are missing, for them to be successfully. On the other side of that gap, they need leaders. They need people who can, help lift where they stand and, and like push things forward. And they need other people who can, bring other people with them and mentor and coach people.

And, like the CEO can't do every position in the company and he wants people to join them. It's not like he wants to actively manage, everyone in that organization. the CEO, she is going to want to attract the best people that can see the business for what it is. And will demonstrate great business judgment to help it get where it needs to be.

And so inside of that, the executive staff is always trying to find employees to put them in roles that have that high output, high levels of responsibility, high levels of business impact that feel aligned with the company so that they will, demonstrate great business judgment. And that has high potential to take on ever expanding roles inside of the company.

If you can kind of understand that then, right? Like. The company is a living breathing thing that's like trying to grow and trying to get somewhere.

So if you, as an employee can understand a lot of those things, it's like, okay, it's not against me. I need to understand where it's at. And then I can figure out how my skills and my strengths map into that. As well as where they have needs, how I could grow in a way that allows me to contribute to that company, but also helps my career move forward as well. Right? Like I need to find a highly leveraged, highly portable, areas of growth that will help the company move forward, but also help my career move forward.

And then all of a sudden, there's this weird thing that happens. Right. It's not me against the machine, the company, it can be an AND relationship as opposed to an OR relationship.

So a lot of times it's like, I find employees that see it as a black box, as opposed to understanding that there are needs and strengths that map to those needs, like can be very beneficial for both the company as well as the employee.

And this is the basis of growth. And if you can do this, then of course, you're going to take on ever, increasing, growing responsibility inside of a company as well. So it works when you can see the company for what it is and what they value, and you can figure out like how that is also leveraged in your own career as well.

Patrick: I am looking back at my own experience of frustrated team members who are assessing their company from, you know, the black box perspective where they have a misaligned understanding of what they think the company is about.

And just in, understanding the needs of the company and how you fit within that, and then projecting and mapping how you can contribute to that... it seems like it opens up a lot of different pathways for people to grow and to then align their growth with the growth of the company, and also removes and alleviates a lot of the frustration inherent with that.

Wade Chambers: Yeah. I mean, I've had so many conversations with that frustrated employee, that is really, I've had a lot of experience up to this point and I've had some success and right. Like, why are you not just looking at my success and going, This is a great employee?

Well, If you had a lot of success at a company that had different needs, that's going to be very different than the current company and what WE need.

Right. And so it's not that the company can map onto your, your history. It's like the strengths that you have and the needs that the company has how can those things come together? Unfortunately, it has to be where that fit exists in between your skills and the company needs. And if you can always be on that side of looking for the company needs and figuring out how to run towards them, there's so much benefit in doing that.

How to predict your company’s needs by applying an anthropological perspective

Jerry Li: Can you also expand a little bit into the anthropology perspective of a company? Especially for people that are joining a new organization. Having that perspective can be really helpful.

Wade Chambers: Yeah. Th there's a very interesting thing, right? Like oftentimes you look at a company and you think about it as being, static and in a point in time, right.

And the, and the truth is, is like, if you're a successful company, the company is growing and it's changing. and the thing that got you to a certain level, is not the thing that's going to take you to the next level. And so you have to be looking at what's the stage of the company and like, how is it best going to be organized, for the goal or the challenge that's directly in front of it.

For example, if you're getting to product market fit... you are going to go out and try and discover customers and figure out like how to build something that they're going to want to buy. And then you're going to want to find another customer that will buy the same thing that you just built.

And if you're somewhat successful and you figure out how to get multiple customers buying same thing. Well, then all of a sudden shifts from a, we just need to figure out how to get the next feature too. Okay, how do we reduce the cost of operating of this thing that we just built? How do we get it to grow? How do we get it to scale? How do we take and make it where, we get closer and closer to profitability?

Well, as you sort of look at that, the needs that the organization has is going to change, right? We're we're at one point, yeah, we wanted Cowboys that could just like develop the next new feature. Now, all of a sudden we need to look at it and say like, no, no, no, no, no. We need stability in certain parts of our organization.

And so you have to look at the, the organization, and, and work backwards from what do we want to be? That's true, two years from now? What's the design of the machine that would have the highest probability of being able to produce that, result that we want? What's the organizational structure need to look like, what are the leaders need to look like? What are the team members need to look like? What are the right processes? The right architecture, the right technology? The right communication styles? Like how do we reduce cognitive load for teams doing X and move that down to platforms? The separation of concerns and responsibilities.

If you don't look at it through that, anthropological, lens of like, how is the system going to mature and grow? then it will start to feel like, ah, this isn't the company that I joined. it's something way different.

And you're right, right. That's not a bad thing. It is understanding what they need and like why they're going through that. And if you can look at it through that anthropology lens, You can actually start to predict what's next. And you can start to move towards that. Because in most companies, if you can continue to grow, it means that you can provide more value to your end customers and to all the employees that work there as well.

Jerry Li: There are cases where people not to project was going to happen in the future, but trying to understand what happened in the past as a way to solve a problem we have right now?

Wade Chambers: Yeah, I think that the more that you can understand and dig into issues or challenges that you've had and, you know, go through the five why's and try and make sure that you understand causally what created the issue that you're dealing with. Then you can figure out how to actually work around it or remove it from, Future, patterns that are similar.

And so, most engineering organizations, if you have an outage you're going to go through and, look at what caused it and go through the five why's and, how did we communicate and what should have been different and how could we have prevented this? And work it in.

You kind of want to replicate that in a lot of different ways. Like if the team structure would have been different. If the communication paths would have been different, if we had had the right team in place between different teams and organizations, like would it have prevented this communication snafu? How could we have incented the right behavior in the first place?

So I think that sort of digging into incidents and occurrences of things help you better understand, and then help you figure out how to diagnose what would be a better answer for moving forward.

Jerry Li: I think that leads back to what you mentioned very early on. It's about seeking truth.

Wade Chambers: There was an old quote of like, it's amazing what you can do if you don't need to get credit. Well, I think that's very true in that if you can just focus on like what needs to be true and getting to ground truth. And it might be your mistake that that's okay. Right. Like just constantly focus on what is blocking us from moving forward and getting to the core of it and finding a better answer.

The entire organization is better off in the longterm as a result.

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