Day 3: Twitter (Original post by Andrew Joy)

2Twits in San Fran

Posted on 21st November 2014 by Andrew Joy

[This post originally appeared on 2Bit Studios  and has been reposted with permission]

Another day another lesson learned, this time from Jinen Kamdar of Twitter.

Jinen Kamdar
Jinen Kamdar

In his 5 years at Twitter (he joined when they ‘only’ had 100 staff), and his time spent on startups beforehand, he’s seen it all. Now a Product Manager leading two teams of world-class developers, he was happy to share his hard earned insights with us.

At Twitter they work in small groups; 3,000 people would make for an interesting sprint meeting. The size of the groups is key according to Jinen, otherwise they lose cohesion and focus as well as efficiency. This echoes Pascal Finette’s words from my previous blog post.

The teams should also have as much independence as possible, while still maintaining direction. Over-managing people wastes time on both sides of the meeting table. It reduces the flexibility and creativeness of people Twitter specifically hired for those skills.

Finally, good supporting systems (such as Continuous Integration, Continuous Deployment, and Unit Testing) are vital to reducing time spent not writing code. This may sound counter-intuitive when first heard, as time needs to be spent making these systems work, but the reduced hands-off-keyboard time wasted solving errors and performing repetitive tasks outweigh the cost.

These three areas (group size, group independence, and supporting systems) are all areas we can improve on. As mentioned yesterday, breaking the team down into groups is a new concept to me, and one I am eager to explore. Supporting systems are also mostly new to us (though we’ve made progress on the topic after suggestion from Peter Laurie, so we will need to learn to make the most of them.

Another great day with Startup Catalyst. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds.

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