How the GitLab iteration value drives innovation through the engineering organization

Jun 10, 2022 · 5 min read · Leave a comment
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GitLab is focused on helping developers iterate faster and innovate more collaboratively – and that focus on enabling iteration extends to our own developer culture.

As an organization, our CREDIT values are hardwired into our operations and culture. This empowers our development teams to work together – using our own product – to offer QA, feedback, and strategies that make everyone’s work stronger and help our organization iterate faster.

We asked several engineers and engineering leaders at GitLab to tell us, in their own words, how our values come to life in our engineering organization and how that makes GitLab a unique place to be a developer.

What attracts engineers to GitLab

To start, we wanted to understand what attracted some of our current engineers and engineering leaders to join GitLab.

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“I was attracted to GitLab because I knew that I had the ability to make an impact. Being remote has shattered the walls between people and teams, so anybody can approach anybody. If something means something to you, you can really work on it. This culture of transparency and collaboration is really important to me.” - Sri Rangan, Fullstack Engineer, Incubation Engineering Team

“People are attracted to the global diversity of the team and working asynchronously. I think we have a special working culture at GitLab. When you join, whether you're the manager of multiple people or a manager of yourself, you work asynchronously regardless of where your teams are.” - Mek Stritti, VP, Quality

“Before coming to GitLab, I was a frontend, backend, Android developer, data scientist, and machine learning engineer, among other things. But the thing about how I work is that I like to switch between those roles. And normally in companies, you can't grow across all those roles. You need to grow as a specialist, not a generalist. But within the Incubation Engineering team, I get to do that.” - Eduardo Bonet, Fullstack Engineer, Incubation Engineering Team

“The feedback that I quite often hear from engineers is just how strong the team is around them, and how collaborative the rest of the organization is. For my team in particular, a big part of their success is to be able to collaborate effectively with both the people that they work with and other teams. A lot of candidates are attracted to GitLab by the transparency value. Transparency is something that we really try to encourage, and it becomes a big mindset.” - Bartek Marnane, VP, Incubation Engineering

How we ensure collaboration across the organization

Beyond the aspects of GitLab that attracted many of our current engineers, it was clear that the culture they experienced during their time here ensured there was collaboration across various teams within our engineering organization.

"We have an organization that supports each other. You propose a feature, you're building something, and you can collaborate very easily across the globe, across departments with people in infrastructure and security. So when you're building something it's not all on you to ensure its stability and reliability and safety – the entire organization takes ownership of that.” - Darby Frey, Fullstack Engineer, Incubation Engineering

“We have a strong culture of collaboration, people reach out and say, “Hey, I'm looking for someone to dogfood this,” and we're always willing to pick those up. Our team has a goal to dogfood a new feature every milestone.” - Kyle Wiebers, Manager, Engineering, Quality Team

Why we believe in iteration (and building boring solutions when they work)

Our engineering teams are always thinking about how to best deliver value and receive feedback along the way. It turns out that iteration and building boring solutions that can be delivered quickly is a great way to deliver value and receive feedback. For example, our Incubation team is working to move away from the natural instinct to develop a prototype, get it working, then putting it into the product.

“We’re asking,'how can we look at what you are planning on doing, and then divide that into milestones where every one of those milestones can be integrated into the product?' So we get value out of it and get feedback out of it as well.” - Bartek

Across other parts of GitLab’s engineering organization, the same type of approach is being embraced.

“For my team, what we try to do is identify a big problem, and then identify lots of small solutions towards that problem. The embrace of efficiency and iteration really aligns with the team that I'm on.” - Kyle

“We want to ship new features quickly so we can get feedback. That first version isn’t going to be perfect, but we're okay with that. We all agree that it's better to get feedback than to spend six months polishing every pixel on a feature that maybe no one wants, and then having to throw it out.” - Darby

Whether it’s our Incubation Engineering team or Quality in Engineering team, embracing iteration and collaboration as a way to achieve results has become the standard approach.

Learn more about how you can contribute to a culture of empathy and productivity by launching or progressing your career at GitLab by checking out our careers page.

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