Product and Engineering Wisdom - Issue #10

Tips and advice on the lessons learned from failure

free fortnightly email that highlights the relevant tips, advice, and case studies from the world of product and engineering for the SEO community.

Hello 👋,

It’s been two weeks which means another issue of product and engineering wisdom.

In this issue the theme is lessons learned from failure.

Learning and reflecting on failure is critical when building a product, service or feature. Even in SEO.

The following articles can help you better understand the lessons learned from product and engineering leaders:

Stay safe and enjoy.


The SEO Sprint Retrospective

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⚡Post of the Sprint

How setbacks helped us improve

by Ryan Thompson, senior software engineer, DWP Digital

An honest blog post by Ryan Thompson, senior software engineer, at DWP digital (UK Government) on the importance of reflecting on lessons learned from errors.

Adam’s Insight: Retrospectives are very important in product and engineering teams.

I really enjoyed this brief but honest blog from Ryan because learning from your mistakes and improving a process or product is a difficult process. It’s always difficult to be open and honest as an organisation.

Reflecting on errors or challenges as a team is one of the most important events after a sprint or project. It’s important because it allows you to identify actions on how to do better next time or try a new way of working to solve a problem.

At DeepCrawl squad retrospectives always highlighted small issues which we needed to tackle after each sprint. When we actioned these issues (by identifying root causes) over time the code productivity and quality improved.

I’d recommend reading this if you work with a development team.


Managing Up - Lessons From Scaling

by Matt Greenberg, Valerie Wagoner, Dor Levi and Anne Lewandowski, Reforge

An in-depth guide on how to manage-up from Matt Greenberg, Valerie Wagoner, Dor Levi, Anne Lewandowski at Reforge.

Adam’s Insight: This is a great guide for anyone just starting to learn how to work directly with a leadership team.

This quote sums up the article quite well:

“Mid-career professionals struggle with upward management because it requires a fundamental mindset shift in how you approach your relationship with your manager and other leaders.”

I particularly enjoy this guide because it takes you through practical case studies and lessons learned from product leaders who need to work with a different set of stakeholders.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to work with leadership stakeholders check out The SEO MBA by Tom Critchlow.

How Hotjar uses product planning to move fast

by Megan Murphy, VP of Product at Hotjar

A brilliant guide on how Hotjar uses quarterly goals and squads to iteratively implement changes and allow teams to work as a team.

Adam’s Insight: One of the key lessons I’ve learned from working in product is the importance the community places on team structure, vision and working towards shared goals.

This is a great case study on how one of the most popular UX tools uses Agile Thinking and Objectives and Key Results within its team to achieve results.

I highly recommend reading this if you want to learn more about how to set goals and get stuff done in your organisation.


Lessons of Backstage & Spotify’s Autonomous Culture

by Spotify Engineering

A podcast and blog post by Spotify Engineering on how they solved the problem of declining engineering productivity at the company.

Adam’s Insight: As SEOs we rarely get insight into engineering teams.

One of the biggest takeaways from working as a product owner and scrum master at DeepCrawl was just how easy it is to upset the balance of engineering productivity.

Many SEO teams would be surprised at how important it is to have a clear objective, business case and project vision to help developers get actions implemented faster (push back happens a lot when discussing backlogs).

I would recommend listening to this podcast if you want to learn a little more about engineering culture and productivity.

Data Warehouse Migration to Google BigQuery

by By Romit Mehta, Vaishali Walia, and Bala Natarajan

A blog post on the milestones of how the team at PayPal migrated its analytics platforms to Google BigQuery.

Adam’s Insight: I always enjoy reading how engineering teams plan and tackle technical migrations.

This is particularly useful as it helps to better identify common patterns in engineering challenges. For example when moving to a new technology there always seems to be:

  • Cost - Engineering teams and infrastructure is costly so reducing expenses is important if not always discussed.

  • Security - Always a concern for engineering teams in SaaS companies who want to keep clients.

  • Accessibility - How easy is it for internal-users and external-users to access and use.

  • Speed - How quickly a piece of technology responds to requests is very important as this helps to increase productivity.

If you’re a technically minded person then this is an interesting read.

The SEO Sprint Retrospective

Please feel free to leave feedback so I can improve this newsletter.

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