The Engineering Leadership Podcast · Episode 111

How to do an effective re-org

with Aaron Erickson & Mike Tria

Jan 03, 2023
Reorgs are never easy, often impacting eng teams – and that’s why they should always be a last resort. However, sometimes they are necessary for an org’s success! Mike Tria (Head of Eng @ Atlassian) joins Aaron Erickson (Co-Founder & CEO @ Orgspace) to discuss frameworks & strategies for implementing a successful reorg, why eng leaders should be involved throughout the entire reorg process, alternative solutions to reorgs, who is accountable when a reorg goes poorly, how to improve communication channels throughout a reorg, and implementing smooth transitions. This is a featured session from ELC Annual 2022 - check out all of the sessions here:
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Aaron Erickson (@AaronErickson) is Co-Founder and CEO at Orgspace. Before Orgspace, he spent 30 years working in leadership roles, most recently as VP Engineering at New Relic. Over the course of his entire career, he has been an advocate for building better software. He spent a decade at ThoughtWorks, where he drove digital transformation via application of agile and continuous delivery. Aaron lives and works in San Francisco.

"As managers when we've gone through reorgs they tend to be so painful and difficult to pull off that by the time we finish the reorg, all we wanna do is wipe our hands of it and be like, 'All right, I wanna move on to the next thing. Reorgs over!'

How do you know it's successful? 'The changes are made in Workday. We sent the email. The reorg therefore is successful.'

No, it is not! You have inserted an organ into the patient. You do not know if the organ will be accepted.

- Mike Tria   


Mike Tria is the Head of Engineering for Platform at Atlassian. Mike oversees Atlassian's global cloud infrastructure, identity & front-end platforms, enterprise offerings, and our third-party developer ecosystem. Mike has 15+ years of experience as a software engineer and leader, ranging from work at cloud-native startups to larger companies. He's built and run all facets of product development, including product management, design, engineering, QA, and SCM/release, but has mostly focused on SaaS, e-commerce, and building communities. As a former comedian, Mike also brings high energy and a sense of humor to the tough challenges he faces. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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  • Aaron & Mike’s experiences with good & bad reorgs (2:39)
  • Types of reorgs – starting with the quota reorg (5:03)
  • Defining the trend-chaser & its challenges (6:16)
  • The zombie reorg & why only 20% of reorgs find success (7:20)
  • How management by rumor reorgs can hurt your product & org (9:10)
  • The best reorg framework: strategy, organization, then people last (10:37)
  • Two major qualities of a successful reorg (13:58)
  • Involve your eng leaders early in the reorg process (18:02)
  • Traits of a reorg in wartime vs. peacetime (20:28)
  • Defining the reverse Conway maneuver (23:24)
  • Who should be held accountable when a reorg goes poorly? (25:04)
  • Audience Q&As: entering a reorg with a KPI thesis (28:08)
  • Improving the chain of communication & involvement during a reorg (30:19)
  • Alternatives to reorgs (32:39)
  • Strategies for setting your org up for success throughout continuous pivots (34:39)
  • Aaron & Mike’s views on functional vs. mission team structures (37:04)
  • How to support a reorg as an eng leader (39:35)
  • Tips for implementing smooth transitions throughout a reorg (41:32)


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