Teams and Talent: Unlocking Team Potential with OKRs

August 15, 2023

Season 1, Episode 14

In this episode of Cloud Unplugged, Jon Shanks and Jay Keshur dive deep into the intricacies of team dynamics, talent measurement, and the importance of KPIs and OKRs. They discuss the challenges of managing teams, the significance of aligning team objectives with business goals, and share insights from their experiences in the industry.

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • The significance of OKRs in aligning team objectives with business goals.
  • How to measure team success and the importance of regular check-ins.
  • The challenges of managing teams and ensuring everyone is on the same page.
  • The role of metrics in gauging team performance and the pitfalls to avoid.
  • Insights into the dynamics of platform engineering teams and their alignment with business objectives.

Themes Covered in the Podcast:

  1. The Importance of OKRs: Jon and Jacob discuss how OKRs help in aligning team objectives with overarching business goals, ensuring that everyone is working towards a common vision.
  2. Measuring Team Success: The duo delves into the significance of regular check-ins, understanding the metrics that matter, and the importance of context in interpreting these metrics.
  3. Challenges in Team Management: From aligning everyone to the company’s vision to ensuring that team members feel valued, managing teams comes with its set of challenges.
  4. Platform Engineering Dynamics: A deep dive into the dynamics of platform engineering teams, their alignment with business objectives, and the skills required to ensure success.

Quick Takeaways:

  1. OKRs: Objectives and Key Results – A framework to align team objectives with business goals.
  2. KPIs: Key Performance Indicators – Metrics used to evaluate the success of an organization.
  3. NPS: Net Promoter Score – A metric to gauge customer satisfaction.
  4. CSAT Score: Customer Satisfaction Score – Another metric to measure customer satisfaction.
  5. Stream Alignment: Ensuring that teams are focused on delivering value streams.
  6. Scaled Agile: A framework for scaling agile practices across large enterprises.
  7. Net Promoter Score: A metric used to measure customer loyalty.
  8. Platform Engineering: The discipline of building and maintaining platforms.
  9. Operational Cog: A term referring to a person or process that plays a routine operational role.
  10. Value Stream: The series of steps that add value in a process.

Follow for more:
Jon Shanks: LinkedIn
Jay Keshur: LinkedIn
Jon & Jay’s startup: Appvia


[00:00:01] Jon: Hello, welcome to Cloud Unplugged. I’m John Shanks and I’m Jay Keshur. We’re going to be talking about teams and talent measurement and KPIs and OKRs and all those things,

[00:00:14] Jay: basically how to get the best out of your team’s right, because obviously what we’ve been talking about so far is just really about technology and organization and the challenges there. But on a human level, there’s a bunch of people that are now managers and they have people to manage. And obviously John and I have been doing this for a little while. There’s lots of challenges and learnings that we also

[00:00:38] Jon: have to do this. You know, it’s a challenge in itself, the company of our own. So we understand how it’s not easy and it’s not

[00:00:46] Jay: solved problem. We haven’t solved it either, but we’re just here to kind of talk some of our learnings.

[00:00:52] Jon: Yeah. So do you want to start because

[00:00:55] Jay: I’m going to, I’m going to go maybe with a bit of a story of how, what we’ve, what we’ve learned and then how that kind of could relate to the things that normal companies do.

[00:01:06] Jon: Company is a whole lot more for like engineering teams. I guess it’s probably more engineering, more a little bit of otherwise it could be a little bit broad cloud.

[00:01:18] Jay: I guess there’s like now industry terms and Google helped in this by helping to create okay ours intel, I think we’re the ones to John. Exactly spelled.

[00:01:34] Jon: Yeah. Anyway, so kind of an

[00:01:37] Jay: ironic. It’s definitely a doer, not a measurer. No. So Intel Google, etcetera, there’s this whole framework called objectives and key results. And we’ve been on a bit of a journey, obviously trying to kind of implement this in our own business and in the teams that we worked in, right. So starting way back when so should we just kind of frame up what? Okay RSR what it means, what they’re supposed to do first and then kind of talk about the ways of potentially doing that in the business to get the right outcome. So okay, our objectives and key results really are there to kind of get an organization or a team to align, align in direction, having a mission or a North Star, a vision statement of what you’re all there to do inside your, inside that business or inside as an organ is level or even at a team level. And then the things that you’re going to drive as objectives and then the key results, which is the way to check that you’re making progress against an objective and then you’ll have sort of initiatives under those key results to move the needle if you will. So let me give you a bit of an example. So let’s say the objective was to improve customer satisfaction overall. So a key result of that might be like an NPS score or A C SAT score and NPS net promoter score. So like a survey that a customer does and one of the things that this whole process does is it makes you really think about the data that you have, the data that you’re collecting, how that tracks over time, right? So let’s say you’re setting, setting an objective that you want to do this in a quarter, half year or whatever it is. And the key result is that you move is you get from 30 to 40 as a score. So then you’re gonna have a bunch of initiatives to try and drive that you might do things like one actually, you need to know that you’re measuring, it to you need to check that you’re continuously measuring it so that you can obviously, have you know what the result three need to figure out what you’re going to actually do under that. So that might be improving your response times or something like that. You’re changing the language that you’re using when you’re talking to the customer trying to be really diligent in how you’re solving it in a slightly different way or even the people that you put on to that customer. So I guess that’s an example of objectives and key results. I guess what this could mean to a sort of platform team to sort of bring it, bring it back a little bit like as cloud platform team you’re there and your customer really is the developer, right? The developers that are creating business logic for the organization. So if you’re trying to measure how successful your team is, how can you do

[00:04:49] Jon: that? So I guess it’s the first thing around it’s normally anchored in some business goal, right? So there’s got to be a rationale of what isn’t happening, maybe that they want to happen. It depends on the context of what’s going on. So it might be that they’re like, you know, it’s not an uncommon thing to want to be a leader within their own space, right? So it’s like they’re in their own market and thinking, right? Well, we want to be way more innovative and that means we want to maybe be a leader or the top five, you know, cos of X or whatever it is that their ambitions are, or it could be revenue based, whatever it’s going to be operational costs or anything. So depending on whatever it is you’re striving for sets the parameters really of what you’re going to then try and do because you then need to work out or how is my team attaching to that goal. So if it’s to do with innovation and how do I enable innovation if it’s to do with reduction of operating costs? How do I optimize the team to be more efficient? And what does efficient mean right now, or what does innovation mean right now? Well, how long did it take for somebody to recognize a service that we would have deemed it could be ML or AI or something that might be deemed exactly something that was going to be an enabler to drive innovative outcome and actually time for them to get it was five months and therefore actually the opportunity costs. Yeah, exactly. So that for the business, they’re never going to be seen as innovative if it takes five months to even get some technology up and running, that could make you look at

[00:06:31] Jay: it. It depends, depends who you are. Maybe that’s the quickest thing that they’ve ever done. Like, imagine that they, there’s like an archaic organization that, like, hardly changes or whatever. And that’s currently like,

[00:06:42] Jon: that’s not to say that five months is exactly,

[00:06:45] Jay: that’s awful. I’m saying that in certain scenarios, I’m guessing that, you know, that could be considered quick. Hopefully you’re not in those companies but

[00:06:55] Jon: you’re not going to be the leader, right? So I guess the goal, the goal contextually. Yeah. So then, then you’ve got to work out well, our objective is to provide innovative services to the developers within a month of the request or something. Right. And that’s actually how it becomes an objective. And then it’s like, well, what are exact results, you know? Well, how does it take? Maybe there’s a ticketing system. Right. So, it’s like, right, okay, there’s a ticketing system into the team for a service. What’s the time at the moment for that service? Why has it taken from? Oh, there’s a security review, there’s a board, there’s a thing you start to look at the process and you’re like, okay. So at the moment, our current time is this based on this process and then you’ve measured each bit of the process. What can we do to shrink elements of that down to say our result is going to be to get it from A to B?

[00:07:50] Jay: Well, no, it’s more. So the key result. Exactly. That’s, that’s one key

[00:07:56] Jon: result. Yeah. And then you’re finished, you’re a leader, you have succeeded on the ambition

[00:08:11] Jay: was

[00:08:13] Jon: just giving an example like contextually for the team. And so that would be like one result that you could then anchor in and then you’re into initiatives of that one result maybe first because you might break that down and you could do another one, which is how fast it’s going to deploy To a thing. How long is it? So you’d, you’d find all the right things attached to that to then go measure to meet the objective or you might have several smaller objectives of the bigger objective and then have 3-5 key results of each smaller objective with a few objectives for the team. So yeah

[00:08:47] Jay: yeah. So just to kind of break it down, like the common sort of patterns that people use across businesses is maybe have a objective for say the year or the financial year or whatever. And then trying to break that down into kind of objectives that they could do that quarter or that they have that quarter and then key results which are signals that they’re going to hit that objective within that time frame. And then all of the initiatives that they’ll have to put under those things. So I guess

[00:09:19] Jon: controversially to check the facts, I think in some places they such stretch there, always a stretch. So they always say if you managed to meet them, it wasn’t ambitious.

[00:09:31] Jay: You’re supposed to, you’re supposed

[00:09:33] Jon: To hit 80%, but to hit 100% meant that you didn’t push hard enough, which is good,

[00:09:39] Jay: right? I think it’s a learning process even when you’re doing this in your own organization. Because like just because you’ve done, you know, some of the theory or you’ve done it all before, doesn’t mean that you’re the goals that you’re setting are correct or you know, the key result, the way that you’re measuring is correct. And then you’ve got all of the people that you’re working with to get this outcome for the business. So maybe not everyone is brought into doing this in the same way or whatever. It

[00:10:05] Jon: does take a different mindset because the frustration thing for some people is that they feel they already know what needs to be done. Right. Because they can see the problems and they can see what’s going on and they’ve got a retrofit, the answer back into some okay work. And they’re like, but we know we need to do this stuff and it’s like, yeah, but isn’t it, it could feel like slower because what I have done that. But yeah, it’s just process and I would have done that stuff anyway and didn’t make much difference other than the fact that the business could fit it into something that was more aligned to other areas. And it’s like, so that’s the downside of the flip side

[00:10:44] Jay: of that. Is it also anchors in the priorities that that company or the team has, right? So, let’s say those things that they kind of needed to do anyway, maybe wouldn’t do them if they’re not directly attributed to what you as an organization have all, like, signed up to do and like the importance of that, then who knows? Maybe it’s not just, it’s just not worth doing unless let’s say you had an objective to, I don’t know, get more revenue or something like that, but you might also have an objective to like, keep the revenue that you have and that’s like, you know, customer satisfaction or it could be like something to do with reliability of the services. So if you say had an engineer had some task of making sure that their service or something like that was highly available, let’s say, and they didn’t have that objective, that covered customer retention and satisfaction, then they might not prioritize making that highly available. How all of these objectives kind of fit together really makes a difference. So you’re keeping your eye off the ball. I think it can bring a really focused way of dealing with this. However, I’m going to be a bit controversial here. You hear of the big kind of organizations doing okay, are all these like stories of, you know, these orcs and stuff doing it, it takes a lot, right? It takes a lot to get people to think in this way to have that process. there’s like obviously evidence that there’s it can be really good, but there’s probably lots of different ways of getting a team to the right outcome, you know, making sure that you have a really high kind of working collaborative team that is well poised, well positioned to in a good situation to create, to get the outcome for the business across

[00:12:42] Jon: whatever discipline. I think it’s a funny one because okay, ours because they’re prescriptive, prescribed, prescribed because they’re prescribed to a team as in there is a framework, right? Then the resistance is that they’ve got a, they’ve got to work out now, this prescribed way of thinking and how to structure, right, that they’re doing the reverse of it is like, okay, ours isn’t, is a way to measure something in a kind of framework, but irrespective of whether you’re okay or not, teams should know that what they’re doing is contributing to the business. So if you just say right at the end of all this stuff, you’ve done, what happened, what happened? Yeah. Right. What, what did you move? What needle did you move also? How are you measuring your success? Yeah. What is it? How do you, how do you know what you’ve done was actually helpful for the company? And if you can’t really fully know and you’re like, well, because I just told to do it or like, that’s not great because then you don’t really know what value you’re bringing if you don’t attach to it. So the flip side for managers as well, if your team isn’t aware of what it is they’re contributing to in the end other than a bunch of tasks and why they’re doing it, irrespective of whether or not that’s not great. So people that are leading teams should always give context to what that team is driving overall and what it means, what it means to the business so that they feel valued.

[00:14:04] Jay: Exactly. Well, they can, they just, they just know that they’re adding to the business. They’re not just like an operational cog or whatever, they can directly link what they’re doing to the business. In fact, I think even in the book, there was like a story of how in, in Intel, you could ask anyone in the business, even like a cleaner in a toilet or whatever, like what function do you play in the business? And, or what are the goals of the business? And they’ll know because they’ll, they’ll trace all the way up through their objectives, the goals, etcetera, all the way to the main business, objective and their function within it, which is, which is quite cool. Right.

[00:14:44] Jon: Yeah, I mean, people get a bit hung up in it and a little bit defensive and you mentioned our cars because it’s process and it’s like, it’s a structure to force a way of thinking and behaving which not many people really like because people have their own styles and ways of thinking. But at the end of the day, the company has an objective and people are employed by a company and, you know, you need to feel that you are bringing value to a business and that gives you job satisfaction when you are. It’s not like it’s one dimensional, it’s not like, well, it’s the only way business succeed is by doing it. It’s like, no, you also need it the other way because I don’t really know why I’m doing half of the things and that’s not very satisfying to me. And I can’t tell if I’m bringing value or not or then I don’t have great job satisfaction. So it is necessary, whatever it is you do use, whether it’s okay or not, maybe there’s some other ways of doing it that are just okay ours, but it’s important otherwise, how, how does anyone get totally job satisfaction?

[00:15:38] Jay: But I guess there’s lots of other kind of things in the industry around, you know, working towards an outcome and like scaled agile as an example, right? Like that’s like very different in that, how it works and stuff or just in general agile for a team, right? It’s like not necessarily prescriptive way of working, but it’s a framework pick and choose what makes sense for that way of working. And it’s a lot more about moving autonomy into those areas, having defined structures of working, acceptance criteria, all of this stuff.

[00:16:15] Jon: I think that’s important because okay are on their own won’t work because if you’re not meeting regularly enough as a team and you’re not trying to, like, you’ll probably find out that you didn’t meet the target because you weren’t also checked at the end of it. Did you meet the numbers? Yeah, never mind. So obviously all the things have to come together. Well, how you operate overall kind of matters, I think though from a platform engineering thing because as well just be too generic. I think, I still think you can see from an engineering perspective because it tends to be quite specific to things you’re doing. It’s usually easier to measure when you are like delivering something because you’ve got to do him write something. So there should be, if you’ve been standardized best practices, there should always be pretty good measurements. If you’re testing, there should be things around tests. If you release and it should be frequency around the releases. You know, if your security scanning, you should know about how many security issues you’ve got. If you’re tracking bugs, you should also know about the bugs that you’ve been raised, right? How fast you’re delivering them. So I think all those things start to become tractable things that are about quality or about speed or about something, right? So if you’ve got users, which you will have downstream, you can interview them, right? How satisfied are they? Is it easy to use? Like you talk about net promoter scores or things like that? So there are definitely things you can always anchor in and so you start with the measurements,

[00:17:47] Jay: you start with the measurements, then you have insights, I guess on those measurements. Like why is that thing this, you know, we thought we were going to do this and that should have moved the needle. Why didn’t, you know, maybe we need to change the thing that we’re doing. Maybe it’s not the right metric to move that needle, right? Give an example like bugs raised. You would think if the number of bugs raised or something like that went down over time, it was good. It meant that there’s quality, however the opposite could be true. It could be that people just aren’t raising bugs because they’re no longer using the platform or not testing it or, you know, whatever else. So, you’ve got to be really, like, I guess I have an understanding of what that data actually

[00:18:27] Jon: means. Not game, not a game where you’re like, oh, well, you know, just don’t raise any bugs. Exactly. Or just not raise any issues or whatever or just working, obviously, always kind of different problems. There are also things about platform team. There are some things that you’d expect to be implicit that you might not be an objective of the business like security. So you might be speed driven. Yeah. Right. So like, yeah, it’s going to do it way faster. But actually then you got hacked a month later and you’re like, oh, that was a costly thing because as an objective necessarily, because it wasn’t what was important, there are implicit things, you know, that become standards that maybe aren’t necessarily like an objective and it’s very multifaceted on

[00:19:13] Jay: because you can’t really define like all of these things, fire business, how you’re going to work together, the skills that you need, all of the things just in like a line, a sentence like this is what I want to achieve. Great thanks

[00:19:25] Jon: to you have to have the frameworks of other things around like saying like the agile the standards, best practices, metrics, all those things, I think you kind of have to have some element of definition, not all of them, but enough to kind of measure success by and measure the quality in the end, what you’re producing.

[00:19:45] Jay: And then like, if you’re kind of an engineering manager as well, like how your team morale and things like that, how you’re getting the team brought into the vision, how you’re kind of making sure that they are upscaling learning, have an environment to grow in things like that, that’s like super important. But again, it’s not necessarily something that we always sort of measure or track as an objective,

[00:20:07] Jon: the team’s apologies. And so if you are talking about platform teams, and now you’ve got requirements from a business maybe around objectives and key results, what’s the makeup of this team that the skills of what the business needs in terms of like how you’re going to measure the frameworks and the standards of which need to be put in place and then the engineering capability of obviously what might need to be produced. What would the team apology look like these frameworks? If you were to really measure these things, then who’s doing what in this team of

[00:20:42] Jay: question? I mean, I guess there’s, it feels like there’s never a right answer. There’s common patterns it’s not, I’m not a question, but it feels like there’s common patterns and that like the team’s apologies, for example, it talks about some of those patterns. It doesn’t necessarily go into the detail of who those people are in those teams. But the concepts within that are like stream alignment. So making sure that you have people that are focused on delivering sort of value streams being sort of eccentric, having sort of expertise that is common across multiple teams centralized so that you can have efficiency. And it, depending on whether you’re sort of building that central capability. If you’re building something, then it’s a product, then maybe

[00:21:31] Jon: it’s not, I think, I think when things become very ambiguous, they’re just not helpful because basically like saying what you need is people and people need to have some skills and the skills you need to make sure that somewhere these skills are somewhere and that you’re like, well, yeah, I mean, isn’t that just you’re basically just telling how businesses already run? I mean, people get high and have skills and it’s like, great, but we can’t assume everyone knew that bit. But what is it that’s going to make the team like to be to the platform? You’re saying that there’s measurements that are key and I’m being controversial because otherwise things sexually ambiguous for everybody and teams, apologies. I mean, I haven’t read it. I have to give it a read, but I’m sure it must detail something in there because there has to be some concrete things to help you make decisions again. So you can actually, if we’re looking for like an optimum team, it needs to be some. So I’m going to put myself out on the line by just saying, you always want someone good at mentoring. I think. So, I would say if you don’t have a mentor ship type individual in your team,

[00:22:50] Jay: what about across function? So let’s say you weren’t, what if they weren’t in the team? But you had that elsewhere in the

[00:22:54] Jon: organization classified, it’s kind of in the team. If it’s even it’s available, then the team’s getting it, I guess is kind of what I mean. So it might not be within the team directly is in there contributing to that team, but its

[00:23:07] Jay: characteristics that you expect or capabilities, then maybe I don’t know,

[00:23:13] Jon: the person would need to be, I’m not sure I would say it’s better if it’s in the team because because you’re watching them on a regular basis to probably identify gaps, 

[00:23:25] Jay: but a mentor is different to a manager would be like great, right? The same person

[00:23:31] Jon: growing somebody which you want ideally grow someone, you’re probably that you’ll probably see things that the manager might too but if you have that style person and their growth minded individual and they’re all about trying to grow people. Ideally, you’d have that around the person in the team. Somebody that’s got that natural ability to be perfect. Obviously, I know it’s a hard thing to hide, but that means they’re gonna be picking up on things where they could see things that maybe need improvement and they’re helping them and coach them while it’s there and they’re seeing it rather than getting a list of things a month later because you checked in and it’s like a bunch of stuff that happened that maybe got missed or it’s always really high level big ticket items. I kind of think things are, things can be a bit more nuanced on light because a lot of mentoring and growth is habit forming and that means repetition of new things and like sometimes you can be quite habitual and you’ve got to break old habits that maybe aren’t as good as new ones that you might form. And that is all about repetition and like removing old repetition and forming new repetition, right? So to do those things when you’ve got to be doing them often enough and it’s making sure people kind of get the momentum and the repetition going. And then the

[00:24:49] Jay: mentor manager,

[00:24:52] Jon: I’m just, I’m just saying, I’m just spitballing it really structured as well for you. But I think leadership quality is obviously going to be important and that might be slightly diverse. Some of that might

[00:25:10] Jay: only just make sure it’s only slightly diverse though, right? Like we don’t go forth,

[00:25:15] Jon: culture will define probably the leadership types. So not all businesses, I guess you’ve got to look at the culture, you might have to look at what you’re changing from, want to be. If your culture is at the moment, there’s a lot of like, if you’re risk averse and the culture and the business is to reward risk aversion because the business feels like you protected them and you’re wanting to break that

[00:25:39] Jay: exactly

[00:25:39] Jon: that you want to try and bring somebody in that doesn’t reward risk aversion. Actually rewards risks being taken. So all these things matter to the dynamic of the team and then sometimes you want really good execute. Urz, you want different thinkers, you know, you want, you want creative thinkers in there because you don’t want to be leaning on one side where everyone agrees with everything you need challenges. Sometimes I think

[00:26:03] Jay: that that’s kind of where that diversity comes. Like whenever you have diverse teams from different backgrounds, ages, sexes, all of that kind of stuff, that’s like the best. Yeah, it’s always the best outcome because there’s always like a bunch of things that, you know, you as an individual or other people that are like really closely aligned to who you are and have similar backgrounds and all that kind of stuff to be fair. You probably have, like, you know, you probably think a lot alike. So having that diversity will always hopefully get you to the

[00:26:36] Jon: right place perspective, isn’t it? It’s a slightly different perspective of the same problem that helps you see the problem from a different side that helps you as a team come up with the right answer. In the end, it on a bias too hard because then you’re like, well, we all bias this thing because of where we’ve come from, how we other perspective.

[00:26:55] Jay: And also like what we’re, what we’re kind of implying is that there’s a high collaborative culture. So you could have a super diverse and inclusive team, but they are at odds with each other all the time because they can’t like rationalize and have good processes, working things out and systems to make decisions and things like that. I mean, it sounds like a like systems to make decisions, it sounds more process heavy than it needs to be. But like just being collaborative and you know, having sort of understanding how to make decisions effectively autonomously, like that’s super important, being able to communicate really simply in

[00:27:38] Jon: very important communication. Yeah, I mean, not everybody is, some people can struggle. Obviously, the communication, giving investment in people to help improve their communication obviously is always good.

[00:27:51] Jay: Any tips that you have improving communication?

[00:27:54] Jon: I mean, I mean, people like this guy surely is not going to have an opinion we

[00:28:01] Jay: can improve communication by,

[00:28:03] Jon: I’m not sure I am the

[00:28:05] Jay: best down

[00:28:08] Jon: do get lots of messages saying you’re such a good communicator advice. I don’t know. I guess I’ve never formally myself had it, but I think there are lots of companies that will help people, I guess, increase the tactics and abilities of like how to communicate and structure things and how to lead from, maybe sometimes you can lead from an outcome and then walk backwards from that rather than leading from where you are in the weeds and forward. So there’s like, sometimes there’s like tactics of showing something first and then going on a journey for it that makes it easier for people to orientate around what you’re saying and that helps people in the communication. But there’s loads of like, you can get people into businesses basically that do this as a living will come in and can train.

[00:28:51] Jay: I mean, there are, I mean, I was thinking about doing this myself, like really early on, but like master classes in public speaking and things like that, like a speech giving because that is commanding an audience and all that kind of stuff where it’s like, really, really quite cool to be able to do. I’m on a podcast now, so it’s fine. But public speaking, if you just don’t have an audience and you make, it becomes a lot

[00:29:19] Jon: easier. So if you’re gonna have these OKRs and you know, you’re going to bring people in. You want innovation. I think you need a dynamic team for innovation, to be honest, right? And I think some you want dynamic and diverse and if you’re optimizing for speed, you will need a mix of people that know what they’re doing, right? Because you got the experience, you probably want some highly experienced individuals in there who can, who know what best practice looks like in the standards. He also wants some juniors on there, but then it’s going to be a budget allowed for that because there’s got to be some mentor in training up skilling that’s got to go on. So you can’t expect them to be highly effective. And so obviously gonna want to diversify in the teams there. And then you also need good ceremonies, which is like the agile stuff you were talking around around all that communication, kind of encourage it

[00:30:11] Jay: to

[00:30:12] Jon: stand up and say what you just did today, what you’re doing yesterday, what you did today, what you blocked on etcetera, etcetera. And that actually forces people to have to communicate in the team on a regular basis, which I think is very, very healthy, those

[00:30:27] Jay: things. Yeah, exactly. Over COVID and stuff. There’s obviously been, I’m sure a lot of companies and teams have to sort of figure this out because when you’re not co located all the time though, then maybe some of these things sort of maybe naturally happen, but then to kind of get you to the right outcome in sort of disparate or disaggregated environment. Like having stuff like this agile would probably just be a natural kind of step into like how to get the best out of the team and really measure the output of what they’re doing and things like that. So I don’t know, there’s like

[00:31:02] Jon: a personality profiles is not really related to this because I’m more of a people, person, less digital workers and I can do tasks like, like, you know, you can do the zooms and the meats and all these other things, obviously, fine. Then you’ve got intention to do that means you’ve got intention. There is no organic nature to it. I’m quite organic on how I am as an individual and I process through communication freely as you know, I like to talk things out and it helps me exercise and that doesn’t lend itself. I mean, I know you can put a meeting in to go and do it, but that means you’ve got to be intentionally then doing it and then the other person will probably just like switch the camera off. I’m going to go make a coffee because you’re talking about at this stage. But I

[00:31:53] Jay: haven’t done that.

[00:32:00] Jon: But yeah, I mean, that remote working to a point has a limitation on it. I’ve never managed to, especially my role probably different, but I’ve never managed to fully make that work for me I’d be intrigued to know. I’m sure some people are quite good at it, but I just don’t like, call the intentionality of everything. 

Jay: I was speaking to someone recently about remote working and doing all these things, especially after COVID. It’s always a bit of a topic. Right. And the way that I think about it is like, less as an individual, but more as an organization. Right. Let’s say another organization in your space, the thing that you’re doing, you don’t know anything about their company, but they were all in the same building, they were all working together on the same thing. Do you reckon that would give them, like, would you be worried? Do you think that they would, you know, almost have a better chance of having a competitive advantage because there’s better collaboration, communication because they’re co located, like, logically, you think? Yes. Right. So, just because you have, like, I guess that’s got to tell you something a little bit if everyone agrees to those types of things and every single person that I’ve spoken to, they always say, yeah, that makes sense. Of course, you’d be worried then really for the organization it’s always probably better to some degree, you know, there’s lots of other things to take into account, like cost of distraction cost, like if you wanted to be sort of hybrid or remote or have offshore and things like that, you can’t always do that there’s lots of other factors to think about. But if you were just trying to create amazingly collaborative, like high quality speed team, then being co located is going to be,

[00:33:49] Jon: I think it lends itself to maybe they’re really good personality and characteristic traits that work really well remote unless certain types of characteristic traits that don’t, I feel like I’d be one that wouldn’t work really well remotely just because of a personality type. And I feel like I’m more spontaneous as in, like, I could do it, but it would be harder because you probably get ignored. Like they can actually ignore you. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:34:23] Jay: Yeah,

[00:34:26] Jon: everyone is in the office because you can’t just wander over to them and disrupt them. Talk to me. I just, you know, people can be busy but then, you know, like you’re waiting in 10 minutes and then they’ll be, like, let me just finish it and finish this thing and then they’ll be like, oh, maybe you can do it at lunch. We’ll talk at lunch anyway and walk and talk and do these things. And I like all of that because then you’re,

[00:34:51] Jay: but that’s not necessarily like saying that it’s the best outcome because to talk exactly where. So I’m saying that there’s probably lots of measures that we could actually, like, you could just run an experiment. Honestly, you could probably run an experiment to see if like, hybrid working or remote working, whatever it was like,

[00:35:12] Jon: it just depends on where you are as a business. If things are really well defined, you’ve got, you’ve got a very good, like modus operandi, right? So it’s like, you know how to function. Very things are clear, you’ve got product market executions there, right? And I think there’s, there’s clear stories, clear, obvious work, probably remote, working from way easier if there’s a lot of ambiguity and you’re not quite sure. And it takes a lot of collaboration and a lot of creativity and a lot of rethinking and bouncing off each other. Maybe

[00:35:41] Jay: you also need like research and things like that, like dedicated time to go off and do the things, right? And there’s lots of ways to kind of create it. But I’m just saying it’s just like it feels like a little bit of exactly it could, of course platform engineers

[00:35:58] Jon: stretched,

[00:36:00] Jay: it’s a team that is there to solve a problem for someone. And those like now the industry is kind of saying, I guess the whole reason that these cloud platform engineering teams exist is like two imp implicitly like get solutions build by whatever it is and solve the problem. But they have to be talking to the customer, they have to be understand what their problems are researching, what’s out there, what they can just use what they have to string together all of these things. And if they have time and energy and focus to be able to do that in an environment that works well with all the things that we talked about diversity and inclusion, all of the things, then it feels like it’s going to be quite accustomed to the team and their dynamics and the personality types to a certain degree and their situation and the cost and all of that stuff. But

[00:36:49] Jon: which is when the hiring, I think matters as leaders or managers of teams, you want to be always striving for what complements the team dynamic? Are we waiting too heavily on this side? Who are waiting too heavily on the other side? How do you get the dynamic always? Right. So there’s really good conversations happening all the time and that actually the work is, you know, moving quite quickly the right directions, people are making decisions really well. People are being decisive and testing things quite quickly and people will feed in and push each other. And I think when people are pushing each other better ideas or striving to be better, it’s a really nice healthy team at that point that competitive, competitive. But I think more like, you know, just being ambitious on solving the problem, well, bringing people up with them and then pushing each other. And I think that’s when you have a really good team

[00:37:41] Jay: growth mindset and things like that. So

[00:37:44] Jon: they can up skill then because I think then you can look at what it’s going to take in that team. We’ve obviously spoke about loads of cloud, there are loads of cloud courses when you’re talking about cloud platform engineering S DLC, that’s problematic. Those for somebody to know if they’ve never been a developer now becoming a platform person. How do you know what a developer needs? If you’ve never done the job you’ve never developed and maybe which you might have done depending on your background and turned into that. You might have studied it and had to do development work,

[00:38:16] Jay: but still like enterprise development, the things that you might have in an organization is going to be very different to maybe what you’ve learned at school, university or whatever else, right? Or if you’ve never had that background, you just need to talk to people and like get the users and developers or whatever, have conversations, like work with them and sometimes people will hire people just to do that, you know, like user researchers

[00:38:40] Jon: and there’s all this factor into your, okay. So this team, the question, what’s made up of what makes up this team to go and deliver? Well, we’ve got user research and speak to people and that is that what you’re saying is a platform team to be successful, to make sure the building the right things.

[00:38:59] Jay: No, because I think because it depends on how you’re operating and what you’re kind of striving for as a business, right? I’m not saying that every single organization should have a platform team and build it and all of that stuff. Maybe there’s, maybe you can go for low code solutions and that’s all you need to strive. Maybe you don’t need a platform or maybe there’s stuff that exists out there in the world that you could just buy and

[00:39:27] Jon: you think that’s true for something. Now, that technology has moved on quite radically. It doesn’t mean though, until the point that you need to worry about the other things. Yeah.

[00:39:46] Jay: But then the other thing that you said as well, which, which I found quite good was the dynamic of the team and always having a kind of think about you hire someone. And, you know, now there’s a culture, there’s a cultural shift because you’ve hired someone because a person is a part of a team and, you know, they bring something to it. Like, how do you get the right culture in that team? Like now you have to reset and think about what that change means. The next person you hire is not going to be necessarily the same type of person as the first person you hire what you now kind of looking for skills or qualities or whatever to complement those. So, and then you keep doing that every time you grow the team, every time you go the team until it maybe has a culture and then, yeah, lots of things to think about.

[00:40:35] Jon: So, the okay ours and would they map into the team that you’re hiring? Like if you needed people to meet that objective, you’d expect a budget to be assigned to also hire to meet that objective from a business perspective. You’d expect there to be a company’s objective.

[00:40:53] Jay: So if, if it’s a guess as managers in most areas you implicitly have a budget, your team costs

[00:41:00] Jon: something maybe you don’t know, the other team always has budgets.

[00:41:03] Jay: Yeah, someone will

[00:41:05] Jon: maybe money somewhere, there’ll be

[00:41:08] Jay: money somewhere

[00:41:09] Jon: that maybe your head count maybe by X to achieve this objective

[00:41:13] Jay: where you have to ask for it. There’s always a, it doesn’t just magically exist

[00:41:17] Jon: in a bank. All the planning then needs to happen within, within reason. Before the objective start, you need to know what you’re aiming for. Otherwise unless

[00:41:25] Jay: you hit your objectives. Now you have a bunch of people just sat around. So there’s always something to do. There’s always like better operational efficiency to gain. There’s like new market opportunities that you might want to get into the speed or security risk that you want. You know,

[00:41:41] Jon: because you’re saying like, because people could be like, alright, you set this objective, we want to be like really innovative and, and then they’re like, we need 15 people to do this like of this type because we need like they could come up with a plan, right? Planets like we’re going to need someone that specializes in networking, cloud. You need someone that specializes in more of the infrastructure side of the cloud we need. Right? And you’re trusting

[00:42:06] Jay: the one, you’re trusting the person that has a plan, then you’re trusting the plan is right.

[00:42:10] Jon: My plan

[00:42:11] Jay: already. That sounds a bit wrong.

[00:42:14] Jon: So I’m a little bit facetious but I suppose the validation that there’s a team of like someone has to, but they might not realize it. So, so I guess you’ve got to have the right people in the mix to make sure the objectives because if that team isn’t experienced in doing those things, then they might not know what needs to be done necessarily. So I suppose it needs to be somebody in, that’s probably, that’s what I’m saying. You need to have someone with some level of experience, anything or research done, I suppose, even then it still could be pretty,

[00:42:49] Jay: I’m going to say something really top level things

[00:42:52] Jon: really helpful level, right? Yeah, just really ambiguous people, process and technology

[00:43:01] Jay: operating models. So, no. So when there’s a team that exists, right? And I think the things that you’re talking about is like leading that team, making sure that that team has a vision, but then it’s also like trusting their ability to do it and then measuring that they are doing it, measuring it against an R O Y that you might have in the business, but the

[00:43:25] Jon: approach to how you’ve done it could have still got you there that the cost of the cost that it

[00:43:30] Jay: took, that’s why it’s all of those things, measuring it, like trusting. Like that’s a lot of things that you have to think about. So managing, leading all of those things, they’re not easy because of all of the factors, especially if you need to have like domain and industry experience as well. That’s like it’s obviously hard, right? And people skills

[00:43:49] Jon: for this podcast, it’s about the teams, but even like the state of devops platform engineering one, not a stitch was mentioned about money, No mention of money, no mention of money, just aura. So if it costs you 50 million to do it, who knows if that was good or bad? But we got the metrics pretty good metrics. It really didn’t contextualize. So it’s a bit disappointing because in a business there needs to be some stitch to the business. You can’t just say

[00:44:17] Jay: just

[00:44:18] Jon: because I mean, there’s different podcast, we’ll talk about that report because it was good. It was a good report but just not, it was so abstract from companies and just looking at it from platform engineering as if it was like a siloed thing, which I found a bit disappointing but still good. But then a little bit like who’s the audience for its for those personas already, which wasn’t necessarily helping them be less siloed but still useful.

[00:44:45] Jay: Yeah. So exactly. So there’s there’s lots of kind of frameworks out there okay are especially in technology seems to be a really good one that has lots of kind of measures and practices of delivering business value and measuring that against sort of key results in KPI S, etcetera, making sure that your team has vision direction set. You’ve bought sort of inclusive, creative, inclusive and diverse culture and people and enabling them to, to learn and grow as they, as they solve problems, right? That’s like, I guess some of the sort of key takeaways, but look, we’re really obviously interested in hearing your thoughts. If you’re a manager of platform teams or want to get into it, then we’d love to hear from you. So like, subscribe, comment, all of the things you can reach us at. Hello at cloud unplug dot IO. 

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