Track: Culture as a Differentiator
Day of week:
Culture influences every action and interaction at a company. Savvy leaders recognize this and focus on defining their company’s culture, as a strong culture will guide a group better than any individual can. Culture is also an emergent property of people working together. It evolves as a company grows, shifts, and experiences the ups and downs of its market. Strong leaders recognize this, too, and are intentional with adapting their culture to a changing environment.
In this track we’ll hear about a diverse set of engineering cultures and experiences. We’ll learn how engineering cultures get defined, lived out, and adapted over time. We’ll highlight the similarities between cultures but also the differences, as those provide insight into the unique elements that drive a given culture. Attendees will be informed, challenged, and empowered to shape the engineering culture in their workplace.
Philip: The connecting theme across the roles and domains I’ve worked in over my career is a mix of technology, leadership, and education. From being a teacher in an underprivileged area to being a part of a start-up and from a federal lab to now being a part of Netflix, I’ve gotten to see leadership in various different forms. I’ve also had the chance to see technology in various forms, including technology in a classroom, technology for the community, and now technology for consumers at Netflix.
I’ve enjoyed all of that, and love my current role at Netflix with its focus on technology and leadership. So I’m happy to be a part of QCon's Culture track, blending these two dimensions (leadership and technology) together.
Philip: The overall theme is Culture as a Differentiator, which means, "How do you see culture as a key part of what your organization or group needs to succeed?"
It’s not just the things that you’re working on, but it’s how you are working together. It’s the implicit relationships and the expectations that are set between people.
I want the track to tell a story across our industry, looking at how both small and big companies approach culture, how they shape it and grow it over time, and how it’s become a competitive advantage to them.
To give you some examples of the type of talks we’ll feature, we have an engineering manager from Google confirmed, who has been a part of their people operations research and has been looking at what are the data-driven ways that they can create the elements of a successful team. He’s going to speak on his experience as well as what Google’s been able to do.
We’ve got somebody from a start-up who’s seen a 10x growth from the size they started with, and he will look at changes you make as you grow while keeping an innovative spirit. He'll also be looking at how you can have an environment that works with a successful, highly geographically-distributed team. Most of his company doesn't work in the same physical location and that creates unique challenges, such as how do you create an environment that it’s inclusive in that kind of a space?
Those are a couple of examples from the track.
Philip: My goal is that engineers walk away with two things. The first is being informed and the second is being empowered.
By informed I mean that I want them to gain an understanding from experts or leaders in the field of what they’ve done at their companies and their career journeys to be successful. This provides a picture of what reality could be for them.
Empowered means I want everyone to walk away feeling like they can bring change to their company. I’d like them to feel they can be somebody talking about the importance of culture and providing examples that their company can learn and grow from.
This way, we can extend the learnings and impact outside of the track to help people that come to QCon be able to improve their environments and be more successful.
by Jim Plush
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by Alexandre Freire Kawakami
Agile Coach @IndustrialLogic
The workplace idiosyncrasies of highly successful companies, like Google, Facebook and Netflix, suggest that culture is the great differentiator. However, despite the tantalizing example set by these innovators, too many companies still manage teams and people as if it were the 1800s, treating workers like substitutable cogs in a factory. Others struggle, copying rituals like "20% time" without getting the benefits they seek.
What if our industry's working cultures changed at the same...
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