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- my first list item
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What impacts team productivity? Is it the size, setup, seniority level, or the challenge in front of them? Recently, I’ve started thinking about why the teams I work with are better at getting things done quickly compared to some big engineering teams.
building a plane in 3.5 months? doable
A few years back, I was listening to an audiobook on organizational management and uncovered the SkunkWorks concept. It was really intriguing as it resonated with our way of working at Rebbix.
During WWII, the Nazis introduced a fighter jet called the Messerschmitt Bf 109. The US did not have anything to hold out against it. They had to build a fighter jet ASAP. Lockheed Martin took on this ambitious challenge, but as you might guess, building a plane is a pretty complicated task with a high level of responsibility. So, any change or adjustment goes through multiple approvals and bureaucratic procedures. Because of that, it could take years to deliver a new plane.
“We are defined not by the technologies we create but the process in which we create them” – Clarence (Kelly) Johnson, creator of the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works
The SkunkWorks division managed to design and deliver the XP-80 in just 143 days. This was possible because of a new approach. The company took a huge leap of faith. They isolated a visionary aircraft designer, Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, and his team into a separate unit. The idea behind this was that a small group of highly skilled professionals that has control over decision-making can deliver great results much faster. Eventually, this approach was tested over the years and summarized by Johnson as "Kelly's 14 Rules."
from planes to platforms
We are not building planes at Rebbix, but our clients often face similar challenges. For example, an enterprise building a new product and trying to achieve product-market fit. For them, the longer it takes to deliver a quality product, the higher the cost of mistakes. And the competition makes things even more difficult.
To address this issue, we've developed a certain approach. It took us many years, but it allows our teams to be really flexible and deliver much faster.
Here is a list of things that are really important to us (and they look similar to Kelly's Rules):
- The relationship between us and a partner must be built on trust. It takes time, but once we reach a certain level, our team can become super effective.
- The team must be small but built from very skilled professionals. Both technical and social skills are important.
- The team needs the power to make decisions within their scope of work.
- The team has to be led by an experienced EM with great experience in both engineering and product development.
Each of these elements is critical on its own, but they do multiply when together. Browse our case studies to see how this approach eventually translated into business outcomes extremely fast. One of them is about Fixly, a services marketplace, where we propelled the product from an MVP to the go-to-market stage — in just three months.