Geek Igor

Elastic Management Philosophy

How to build a great engineering organization — advice from Elastic's SVP Engineering.

I’ve recently come back from Elastic’s Global All Hands 2019 (or simply GAH 2019). It is a conference-style internal Elastic event. The goal is to facilitate cross-team communication, better understand the company strategy, and to simply chat with your colleagues. This post contains notes from Kevin Kluge’s Management Philosophy session.

Session on engineering management philosophy

One of the sessions I’ve really enjoyed was delivered by Kevin Kluge — our SVP Engineering. Working for Elastic is a great experience and I think Kevin’s approach to engineering management and the culture he fosters is a big part of that. It is good to see his thoughts on that topic distilled into a single session.

Disclaimer: these are my notes, I might have misunderstood Kevin or failed to capture some of his thoughts. Always think about your context and your challenges instead of blindly copying advice from the internet.

Without further ado, my notes from the session. Hope they are useful.

Think in levels

The “levels” here refer to job positions levels, e.g. Software Engineer –> Senior Software Engineer, etc. All job titles have assigned numerical levels; you can change your job track, e.g. from engineering to management independently of your level.

Diversity

Elastic is a distributed company and puts a lot of emphasis on inclusion and diversity. See our source code — As YOU, Are. In this part of the session, Kevin gave some metrics and a quick overview of the tasks that we as a company do to increase the diversity of the team. I personally feel this subject is really close to the heart of our HR team and especially to Leah Sutton, VP Global HR at Elastic. She is always very passionate about it, and I see various efforts the HR undertakes to improve the diversity of the team.

Growth and development

Feedback

Fired

Care for each other

I can assure you this is not just a marketing BS. At least not from my perspective. I’ve seen that happen in Elastic. My colleagues and the HR and the management in Elastic try their best to care for their fellow Elasticians. I’m really happy to be a part of this.

Empowerment

Organization

Internal communications

It was mentioned, but wasn’t really part of the talk — we have an internal communications charter in Elastic. The gist of it is that you should document decisions, discussions, etc. You should prefer async, like email or GitHub, and you shouldn’t expect people to read the slack backlog or respond to messages right away. It is important as Elastic is distributed and has folks around the globe.

Do the right thing

Summary

The key takeaways for me are these: