Reorg basics for Engineering Managers and Engineers
Running a reorg as an engineering leader, and how to make the most of a reorg, as someone caught up in the middle of this.
In today’s issue, we tackle two big questions about reorgs:
Q: "I’m an engineering manager and need to prepare a reorg for my group. What advice can you offer for doing it well?”
Q: "I’m a software engineer whose organisation is clearly preparing for a reorg. What can I do – if anything – to get involved and support it, and how can I ensure I’m on the ‘right side’ of this reorg when it’s complete?"
One guarantee at any company of decent size is that reorganisations – aka reorgs – happen. When I was at Microsoft, they occurred like clockwork every year, and later at Uber, too. So what is a reorg? It’s a way for a company to react and adapt to changing business and social conditions. It might seem strange for companies to do reorgs frequently as they are disruptive events, but in all honesty, it would be terrible to stick with outdated structures which no longer help a business to execute.
And reorgs are especially timely right now. With companies adjusting to the new economic reality, reorgs are an obvious answer.
For expert advice about preparing for a reorg as an engineering manager or an engineer, I reached out to someone who’s done several. Diego Ballona is a senior engineering manager at Spotify who’s led organizations with several teams, including through reorgs. If you’re a long-term reader, Diego’s name may be familiar: he shared advice on Navigating the individual contributor to engineering manager transition almost exactly one year ago.
In this article, Diego covers:
Why reorgs matter. Why a basic understanding of organisational design is a skill every engineer and engineering leader should have.
Running a reorg as an engineering leader. What worked well for Diego when leading org changes.
2.1 Build a shared understanding
22 Write a crisp diagnosis
2.3 Know your options
2.4 Be decisive and execute the change
How to make the most of a reorg. Thoughts and tips on what to do as an engineer or manager impacted by a reorg.
At the bottom of this issue, you’ll find a link to the “Preparing for a Reorg as an Engineering Manager” document, which resource is also part of the ever-growing list of Resources for Engineering Managers and Software Engineers.
With that, it’s over to Diego:
1. Why reorgs matter
It took me a while to learn why reorgs matter and to understand that knowing how to run a reorg, or respond to one, is important as an engineering leader or engineer. This isn’t because everyone plays a role in large-scale reorgs like those you read about in the media, such as the Dupont story. It’s because the same principles apply to reorgs at smaller businesses, too.