[Wikimedia-l] [Wikitech-l] Fwd: [Tech/Product] Engineering/Product org structure

Quim Gil quimgil at gmail.com
Fri Nov 9 19:05:10 UTC 2012

Thank you for the explanations.

On 11/07/2012 11:47 AM, Terry Chay wrote:
> It turns out we use a lot of industry
> terminology, without realizing that we are poorly communicating what
> that means to most people.

Actually I'm familiar with industry terminology, and also with the wrong 
assumptions and prejudices it carries many times. I know *you* get it 
right but a basic goal of any reorg is that *everybody* gets it right 
now and in the future.

While it makes total sense to organize Product Management, Design and 
Analytics under "Product Development", it feels old school and odd to 
leave out the software engineers fully dedicated to product development. 
It enforces the old vision that software development is something that 
comes apart and after the product definition. But being Erik (a software 
developer himself) the proposed VP in that area I don't need to insist 
in this point.

The current proposal of having software developers working on products 
(Language, Mobile, Platform...) together with Operations (sysadmins, not 
directly involved in product development) feels just as old school and 
odd. The common denominator seems to be "teams that know to code", "the 
command line dudes", etc. I might be mistaken, but it feels as 
consistent as a VP of Presentations overseeing Marketing, Analytics, 
Design and other teams with high communications skills and able to 
produce great slides.  :)

And whoever leads the proposed "Engineering" team still would need to 
deal at a high level with two very different agendas: those from teams 
actually developing software features and those from the operations 
teams, the latter probably still complaining that they don't get as much 
attention at the top level.


If the goals are "narrowing focus" + "scale the dept, and take seriously 
our identity as a tech org (as stated by Sue)" (Erik says) then why not 
flattening more all this tech structure?

Something like

- Product Management.
- Design.
- Software development.
-- Features
-- MediaWiki.
-- Language.
-- Mobile.
- Operations.
- Analytics.

This would mean 5 tech managers (already leading their teams) where now 
you have Erik alone, 4 of them focused on product development + 
Operations. Erik himself could act as EVP overseeing the product 
development activities, since this is the narrowed focus now. He should 
focus on vision, strategy and glue between the tech teams and with the 
rest of WMF. The reporting and leadership of each team would be done by 
those 5 managers, now interacting with Sue & "non-tech managers" more often.

Doesn't this sound like a more flat and scalable org, with a clearer 
tech org identity?

PS: yes, it's easy for an outsider to shuffle proposals without much 
background and knowledge of the day to day.  :)  But since you asked for 
feedback... I hope it's useful, regardless of what you decide at the 
end. Thank you for listening!


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