What are some best practices you've learned from scaling your company to more than 85 million members? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
The question says "scaling your company", so I'll give some general advice on how to scale as a technical leader in a hyper-growth company. This is not the same answer as scaling your technology specifically.
- Technology priorities create business outcomes, be it faster execution or risk reduction and so forth. You are the person who is best positioned to make sure everyone understands this. Do not fall into the trap of pitting "technology priorities vs business priorities." That's a bad place to be. Once there, everyone's already lost sight of technology's true purpose. Tech is here to serve member and business needs. If we're improving our technology, it should be because we expect to be better able to serve our business and our members as a result. It's not an end in itself.
- Scale your technology by scaling your people. You can recover from a lot of mistakes, but screwing up your hiring will kill your company. Of all the things you will be worried about, this is the one you need to consistently care about the most. I strongly suggest prioritizing hiring at all times.
- Solve the problems of the present, but keep your head in the future. Getting too stuck in what you can and can't do today can prevent you from thinking big enough to make real change. Having a bold vision and sticking to it will prevent you from getting caught in a local maxima.
- If you want to keep going with your company as it scales (and not everyone does--many actually don't), you need to grow yourself ahead of where the company is going. Set your sights on the person you'll need to be to operate effectively in the next stage of the company's growth and run towards that. If you're running towards today's version of a hyper-growth company, it will outpace you.
Finally, maybe not a best practice as much as a thing I like to do and find valuable: ask big, thought-provoking questions and hypotheticals:
- "If the site were to crash tomorrow, how would it happen?"
- "What if we didn't need engineering to change our products?"
- "Who's the one person in your organization we can't lose?"
- "What's the hardest thing to do here as a new engineer?"
That sort of thing. Making this a routine part of your inquiry can help you avoid blind spots, and asking the same questions to a diverse set of people can give you a feeling for how well your organization is communicating and how able your individual engineers are to bring concerns to your leadership.
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