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Organizing eng by strategic themes / complete units of value & consensus building to drive velocity

with Emad Elwany

December 12, 2023

ABOUT EMAD ELWANY

Emad Elwany is the CTO and co-founder of Lexion. Lexion is a powerfully simple operations workflow and contracting platform that helps teams get deals done faster. Lexion streamlines and centralizes the end-to-end contract lifecycle with intuitive email-driven intake and workflows, simple no-code automation, best-in-class AI, and more. Lexion was one of the first AI companies to leverage LLMs in building production-quality applications. The company was founded in 2018 at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, is backed by an iconic Silicon Valley law firm, and recently raised a $20M Series B with support from top-tier VC firms.

Prior to co-founding Lexion, Emad held principal engineering roles at Microsoft Research, working on Microsoft's core AI products, specifically as founding and lead engineer on their core conversational AI and NLP platform as well as their AI scheduling assistant.

Emad holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from Alexandria University and a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Stanford University. He’s an active member of special interest groups in machine learning and artificial intelligence and has published research papers in major computer science conferences like CHI, NeurIPS, and KDD.

"We said, 'We're not going to do the vertical. We're not going to do horizontal. Instead, let's be roadmap driven.' If you review our roadmap document, there's a section on key learnings from the past, and then there's a section on the three or four strategic areas we're investing in in the next quarter. So we thought, 'Okay, these strategic themes are very coherent. A lot of the projects on them are kind of homogenous but they span the full stack. They also span different functional areas. Why don't we try that? Why don't we have teams aligned to themes?'”

- Emad Elwany   


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SHOW NOTES:

  • Emad’s observations around scaling up @ Lexion (2:50)
  • Strategies for dividing teams / products horizontally or vertically (5:17)
  • Navigating trade-offs when deciding the right approach for scaling up (7:39)
  • How to decide what areas to optimize vs. sacrifice (10:47)
  • Using your product roadmap to drive decision making / optimization (12:59)
  • Emad’s process for forming new teams, identifying strategies & executing vision (15:48)
  • Fitting the trade-off discussion into this organization model (18:51)
  • Determining your org’s specific “budget of problems” (22:21)
  • Balancing the timing of problems vs. the quantity of problems (24:01)
  • Recommendations for interpersonal facilitation & building consensus (27:01)
  • How these actions can help improve & sustain your org’s internal velocity (31:16)
  • Why velocity – or lack of it – impacts speedy, efficient decision-making (33:51)
  • Emad’s favorite examples of his team finding consensus (35:37)
  • Rapid fire questions (38:17)

LINKS AND RESOURCES

  • Scaling People: Tactics for Management and Company Building -Claire Hughes Johnson’s practical and empathetic guide to being an effective leader and manager in a high-growth environment. The tactical information it puts forward—including guidance on crafting foundational documents, strategic and financial planning, hiring and team development, and feedback and performance mechanisms—can be applied to companies of any size, in any industry. Scaling People includes dozens of pages of worksheets, templates, exercises, and example documents to help founders, leaders, and company builders create scalable operating systems and lightweight processes that really work.

This episode wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our incredible production team:

Patrick Gallagher - Producer & Co-Host

Jerry Li - Co-Host

Noah Olberding - Associate Producer, Audio & Video Editor https://www.linkedin.com/in/noah-olberding/

Dan Overheim - Audio Engineer, Dan’s also an avid 3D printer - https://www.bnd3d.com/

Ellie Coggins Angus - Copywriter, Check out her other work at https://elliecoggins.com/about/

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