Developing an Engineering Plan | Excessive Enthusiasm

Creating an Effective Engineering Strategy: A Guide for Executive Leaders

As an engineering executive, one of your most critical responsibilities is crafting an effective engineering strategy. This document outlines the framework for how your team will operate, where resources will be allocated, and how decisions will be made. But with so much depending on this document, where do you start?

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of creating an engineering strategy that addresses your organization’s unique needs and constraints. From understanding the key components of an effective strategy to knowing when and how to write it, we’ll cover everything you need to know to develop a successful engineering plan.

Understanding Your Diagnosis, Guiding Policies, and Coherent Actions

Richard Rumelt, a renowned strategist, argues that effective strategy is composed of three critical components: diagnosis, guiding policies, and coherent actions. The diagnosis is an assessment of the current state of the organization, including its strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. Guiding policies are the overarching principles that dictate decision-making and resource allocation. Coherent actions are the concrete steps that will be taken to achieve the organization’s goals.

Crafting Your Engineering Strategy

When crafting your engineering strategy, start with a diagnosis of your organization’s current circumstances. What are your business lines? Where do your revenues come from, and where do you expect to see growth? What are your staffing levels, and what are your team’s top concerns or points of friction?

Next, set your guiding policies based on these constraints. Resource allocation should be a top priority, as should establishing fundamental rules and decision-making processes. Ensure that these guiding principles are applicable, enforced, and create leverage.

Finally, develop coherent actions that will help you achieve your goals. These actions may include staffing changes, investments in productivity or infrastructure, or changes to your technology stack or processes.

Dealing with Undocumented Strategies in Other Functions

It’s important to understand that your engineering strategy doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Other functions in your organization may have their own strategies, and these may not always be explicitly documented. When working with other teams, identify their guiding policies and align them as closely as possible with your own.

Structuring Your Guiding Policies

When structuring your guiding policies, focus on three critical areas: resource allocation, fundamental rules, and decision-making processes. Your resource allocation should match the demands of your business. Fundamental rules should be established to ensure compliance and mitigate risk. And your decision-making processes should be transparent and consistent.

Maintaining the Right Altitude in Your Strategy

As an engineering executive, it can be challenging to strike the right balance in your engineering strategy. You need to ensure that your guiding principles are applicable and enforced, but you also need to create leverage and build a culture of innovation. To maintain the right altitude in your strategy, be prepared to adjust your policies as-needed and be open to feedback from your team.

The Most Common Coherent Actions in Engineering Strategies

Effective engineering strategies focus on coherent actions that will help your team achieve its goals. These actions may include investments in productivity, infrastructure, or hiring. Other examples may include changes to your technology stack or processes. When considering these actions, be sure to weigh the potential risks and benefits before making a decision.

Should Your Engineering Strategy Be Executive-Lead?

While the engineering organization may contain many strategies, there is only one overarching engineering strategy. This document must be created and led by the engineering executive, as it provides the foundation for how the team will operate. By taking a proactive role in crafting your engineering strategy, you can guide your organization towards continued success.


Crafting an effective engineering strategy is a critical responsibility for any engineering executive. By understanding the key components of an effective strategy, structuring your guiding policies, and maintaining the right altitude in your strategy, you can develop a plan that will help your team achieve its goals. Remember to focus on your diagnosis, guiding policies, and coherent actions, and be prepared to adjust your strategy as-needed to ensure continued success.

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