Developer Productivity
Too many meetings? How engineering teams can optimize their calendars for flow

Too many meetings? How engineering teams can optimize their calendars for flow

Billy Robins
Head of Partnerships at Jellyfish
November 30, 2022

Why does it feel like engineers are always in meetings?

Too many meetings? How engineering teams can optimize their calendars for flow
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“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Ben Franklin’s words still ring true today, but we’d venture to add one more: almost every knowledge worker feels like they have too many meetings in a given day.

Taking control of engineering schedules

For everyone in a contemporary engineering organization – from engineers, team managers, all the way up to executives – time is an ever-fleeting fixed resource. Creating a shared understanding of priorities and enabling teams in an environment that allows them to focus on the work that matters most is a challenge that both Jellyfish and Clockwise can help tackle.

Matt Martin, CEO and Co-Founder of Clockwise, and Glenn Barnett, Founding Engineer at Jellyfish, were able to discuss these topics and more during a recent webinar

Clockwise and Jellyfish provide complementary capabilities to help engineering teams get the most out of their working time. Clockwise helps teams take control of their calendars to optimize focus time, while Jellyfish helps teams understand the impact of that focus time and connect efforts to outcomes. 

“The main point that underpins what we’re talking about is that time is a very valuable, shared asset. We all have a responsibility to think about a team’s time holistically, to understand the cost of context switching and its impact on higher-level outcomes.” 
- Matt Martin, Clockwise Co-founder & CEO

The challenge of evaluating developer outcomes

Understanding and evaluating engineering effort has always been a complex challenge, but this has been made especially difficult in the rise of hybrid and remote work. The outdated concept of office “face-time” ran its course pre-pandemic, and with a contemporary interest being placed on valuing work-life balance and sustainable mental health, the need for ensuring optimal outcomes while ensuring teams are efficient has a huge impact on a company’s strategic goals. 

While hybrid and remote work has made it more challenging to coordinate and manage teams, we’ve been a bit dismayed to see non-contextualized metrics utilized to measure teams. From ‘green dots’ in Slack or Teams, to ineffective methods of metric attribution such as counting lines of code, PR comments, etc., we’ve seen the gamut of fruitless methods to try and correlate activity with productivity. 

Indeed, all of these methods can be gamed (check out Goodharts Law) and in fundamental ways do not correlate or cause value, and frequently can destroy value. 

Turning flow time into engineering impact

This brings us back to the original topic of time and our wonderful calendars crammed full of meetings. Viewing both calendars as dynamic (instead of fixed entities) and time as a valuable shared resource can help maximize a team’s flow time, and therefore maximize impact within the organization. Clockwise understands that improving flow time is good for everyone, but especially for engineers; in a recent study 90% of engineering managers say that flow time makes them and their teams more productive. 

As flow time is optimized, Jellyfish can surface the holistic impact of the team, helping give insight to both the impact on engineering allocations and investment areas, as well as improved delivery processes and metrics. 

“Jellyfish has always been about ‘time.’ It connects the troves of data locked up in Jira and git to provide an evidence-based way of revealing how an organization’s efforts line up along the axis of time.”
– Glenn Barnett, Founding Engineer at Jellyfish

We’ve all had days where we feel crushed by the amount of meetings we have. Organizations who don’t take control of their calendars abdicate responsibility and create unnecessary risk in their team’s operating rhythms. Organizations can function more effectively if they move away from conceptualizing time as an individualized, static asset and start thinking about it as a dynamic, shared resource. That shift will help engineering teams deliver against and exceed the expectations of the business, improve process and delight customers, and most importantly improve the livelihoods and careers of their engineering teams. 

For a full recap of the webinar, be sure to check out the replay of the webinar here.

About the author

Billy Robins

Billy Robins leads Partners and Business development for Jellyfish. A Silicon Valley veteran, he previously worked at Zendesk, Productboard and PayNearMe amongst other stops. He lives in San Francisco and is a passionate Fulham Football Club supporter.

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