The Engineering Leadership Podcast · Episode 179

Effective impromptu communication & harnessing team topologies

with Lakshmi Baskaran

May 14, 2024
Lakshmi Baskaran shares insights on impromptu communication, why it’s important, and a framework for successfully navigating these tricky situations! We also cover team topology and why it’s so important to have the right composition of product-minded vs. technical-minded engineers within any eng team. Lakshmi shares how prioritizing team topology will impact hiring, influence engineering culture, and aid in eng team reorgs / restructures. She also discusses what the future of AI looks like for executive eng leaders & what to consider when adopting AI practices / technologies. And to bring it all together, we dissect how Lakshmi’s Triple-A impromptu communication framework operates in the context of both team topology & AI adoption.
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Lakshmi Baskaran is an accomplished business leader, entrepreneur, and an angel investor with over two decades of experience in the tech industry. She has built and managed high-performing engineering teams for startups, scale-ups, and publicly listed companies across North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.

She is currently serving as the VP of Engineering at Metadata, a SaaS company that offers a Marketing Operating System to prominent brands and businesses worldwide.

Lakshmi is passionate about coaching and mentoring business leaders and empowering women to pursue careers in technology. With the right support, she firmly believes that any woman can unleash her potential and make a significant impact on the world, rising to the heights of a great leader, entrepreneur, and a board member.

Lakshmi shares her insights on leadership and technology through her writing on Medium and Thrive.

“Imagine you're presenting it to your executive leadership team or to your board. As an engineering leader, you want to spice up that message with how it is interesting to your customers. The framework that I use in scenarios like this is called 'What If And So That' framework. If you're running an email platform, what if you're able to search through millions of emails in a sub millisecond so that your users can have faster search abilities compared to our competitors? Build a dream scenario and tell them how the technology can help them meet their dream scenario.”

- Lakshmi Baskaran   

We’re less than one week away from GLOW 2024Jellyfish’s virtual summit for engineering, product, and finance leaders who are looking to deliver greater business impact while building great software and teams. Here’s a preview of what’s in store:

  • An inspiring guest keynote by TIME Magazine’s Kid of the Year, Gitanjali Rao
  • Strategies for engineering excellence from CTOs at Keller Williams, Genius Sports, and FanDuel
  • Jellyfish CEO and Co-Founder Andrew Lau’s keynote on the future of software engineering
  • Exciting product roadmap updates from Jellyfish

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  • Why the topic of effective impromptu communication is important (2:46)
  • Dissecting frameworks & tools for impromptu conversations (7:16)
  • An example of high-quality impromptu communication with a CEO (11:52)
  • Implement the Triple-A framework (14:03)
  • The impact of this communication method on peers (16:37)
  • Lakshmi’s insights on team topologies & essential aspects of different eng teams (18:26)
  • Considerations for eng team composition (20:56)
  • How new hires play into assembling and/or reforming early-stage eng teams (23:44)
  • Aligning with teams about what they’re looking for in terms of hiring / composition (26:12)
  • The impact of product & tech-minded eng leaders on engineering culture (29:19)
  • Opportunities to employ impromptu comm skills in the context of team topology (31:42)
  • Lakshmi’s observations on AI adoption (33:47)
  • Frameworks for effectively communicating about AI considerations (37:11)
  • How eng leaders should apply these AI areas into their decision-making (40:40)
  • The role of impromptu communication in AI conversations (42:33)
  • Rapid fire questions (45:00)


This episode wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our incredible production team:

Patrick Gallagher - Producer & Co-Host

Jerry Li - Co-Host

Noah Olberding - Associate Producer, Audio & Video Editor

Dan Overheim - Audio Engineer, Dan’s also an avid 3D printer -

Ellie Coggins Angus - Copywriter, Check out her other work at

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