Incentives and tools


Working together across multiple teams is hard. People disagree on direction and priorities which can be frustrating at times. It’s easy to attribute this to ignorance, lack of insights, malevolence or any other factors that are out of one’s control.

A more healthy way is to understand what people are trying to achieve. Two questions helped me in the past:

  1. Incentives: What drives your bonus?
  2. Tools: How can you influence that outcome?

The faster you can figure that out, the easier it will be to work within the complexities of multiple teams. It also allows you to realize when people have no incentive at all to support you in your mission (which is usually fine!). They might do it out of goodwill anyway, but an engineer whose bonus is determined by the uptime of a service might look skeptical at your suggestion to move fast and break things.

Of course, those two questions make for a weird ice breaker. But keeping those questions in mind when you get to know a person can turn an awkward coffee chat into a meaningful conversation. It is a great shortcut to working better together.

The Author

Raging introvert, estimated to be 120% German. Passionate about photography. If Sheldon knocked on my door three times, I'd let him in.