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The Platform Empathy Gap

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses the "platform empathy gap" - the lack of empathy and understanding between platform engineering teams and customer-facing engineering teams within a software organization. It explores the reasons for this gap and provides suggestions for how platform teams can work to narrow it.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Reasons for the Empathy Gap

1. What are the key reasons identified for the platform empathy gap?

  • Engineering is not treated as the customer of the platform team
  • Lack of dedicated product managers for the platform team
  • Platform teams being seen as "janitors" rather than "architects"
  • Self-selection of different engineer personas onto platform vs. customer-facing teams
  • Organizational structure with platform and customer teams reporting to different leadership
  • Perception that platform teams don't have enough people to do their work

2. How does the reporting structure contribute to the empathy gap? The article notes that when platform teams report up to a different VP than the customer-facing teams, it makes it difficult to align the planning and priorities between the two groups. This can lead to a disconnect where the platform team is not directly serving the needs of their internal customers.

3. Why is the "platform team doesn't have enough people" reason not as valid as it may seem? The article suggests that this reason is often cited, but that most engineering teams feel resource-constrained. It argues that this is not necessarily a unique problem to platform teams, and that digging deeper into the other reasons may be more productive.

[02] Suggestions for Narrowing the Empathy Gap

1. What are some of the suggestions the article provides for platform teams to improve empathy with their customers?

  • Run smaller, more focused pilot projects with front-end teams rather than large, sweeping platform changes
  • Measure the customer experience and satisfaction with the platform, not just internal metrics
  • Seek out customer feedback proactively rather than just offering "office hours"
  • Ask questions to understand customer needs, rather than just telling them how to do things
  • Encourage regular face-to-face meetings between platform and customer-facing counterparts

2. Why does the article suggest that "office hours" can be a form of arrogance? The article argues that office hours imply the platform team's time is more valuable than the customers', by requiring them to meet on the platform team's schedule. It suggests a more customer-centric approach of proactively seeking out feedback and meeting on the customers' terms.

Shared by Daniel Chen ยท
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