My recipe for successful technical initiatives

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8 months ago

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I had a chance to drive a couple of major technical initiatives in a rapidly growing startup. I joined as #35 and the company grew 10x since then. I still have plenty to learn, though, I have a few tips which I would appreciate a few years ago. So I'm sharing them with you now.

Usually, such initiatives are quite a big spanning. It's essential to keep the momentum by being able to break it down into smaller parts – milestones that are deliverable within one quarter or faster. And don't forget to celebrate them!

Crucial is to get leadership on board. Without executive support, you are marching towards burnout. Create a pitch presentation, write one pager. Iterate. Make sure you solve the right problem. Make sure the solution is right. Ask for feedback.

It's easier when you have a track record already – you can make bigger bets. Educated bets. It's all educated bet, isn't it?

There's no such thing as over-communication. Especially at this time. It's the key to find your way to meetings and be present to always revive the mission we're at. Why we're doing it. What are the next steps and how to stay in the loop.

Of course, it's not just about meetings. It's about async communication as well. Make sure you have Slack channel where you support the momentum, share progress, and celebrate success. I like to repost such messages into more broad channels to continually build the brand.

You need to be strong and wait for the tipping point. The bigger the initiative, the longer you usually need to wait. In the beginning, it's important to be really hands-on and support initial adoption. Partner with someone and ensure they are successful with it.

Promote success of projects building on top of your technologies. Create testimonials. Make sure you have a system for onboarding. Q&A channels. Notion pages with step by step guides. Egghead-like videos.

Last but not least, work consciously on its brand. It's much easier if it has an original name. Something catchy. Something people can relate to. And make stickers and other swag. Folks love stickers, you know it! You love them too.

One example for all; we've been working on Federated GraphQL architecture for more than a couple of months now. We call it The Ring. You know, like the one you need to throw to Mordor. That's the data-fetching we need to fix – something that has been bugging us for so long.

It has its emoji on Slack, at this point everyone knows it, it's the company's strategy. And we have stickers. Because everyone loves stickers.