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Ask HN: How do you foster strong engineering culture in your organization?
7 points by sidcool 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 5 comments
What steps can a VP of engineering or a CTO take to inculcate high engineering standards, specifically software engineering. I understand hiring is a big part of it. But apart from this what has helped the Googles of the world to stay world class? How is knowledge management and learning done at these places?

* Instill a learning culture. An easy way to start is to do brown bag lunches/lunch and learn once a month. Ask engineers to volunteer to talk about things they're playing around with, or on anything they find particularly cool. Worst case scenario, play a conference talk from a recent conference during lunch. If there's interest, buy a subscription to Safari Books. Try to bring in interesting people to give engineering talks (ex-colleagues, if you have VC money maybe investors).

Invest in tools that provide feedback loops. Have tests with CI/CD. Set up linters so that code is consistent. Have monitoring tools in place that catch all errors and report them to the engineering team (even better is if it includes performance problems as well).

Use best practices and document those best practices, even simple stuff like blameless post-mortems.

I think hiring people with right attitude is the only solution. You can try to create a strong culture around them, but it's like taking a horse to water. The drinking part can't be forced. I am not saying right incentives and good culture is not necessary. That however only takes you so far.

Another thing that comes to mind is peer pressure with right people can do wonders.

I'd second this.

I'm guessing from the OP that the issue is the current state of affairs, and that will be tough.

In fact, I've never heard of a company significantly increasing its engineering culture without significant turnover.

Be one yourself. If you can't, then quit your job and let someone who can do it. I know this does not sound nice, but it's a honest answer. Culture can't be ordered at aliexpress, it's something that lives, breathes and developes like a living organism. If i'm allowed to generalize i would add that in order to change a culture, you have to change a generation.

(1) Highlight a code of professional ethics (e.g. IEEE) (2) Internal lecture sessions (like twunde advises) (3) Engineering is about application of systematic thinking to issues. Highlight measurements, automation, professional conduct, and cost management. (4) lead by example.

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