Engineering Values ​​Handbook – Strong ideas, kept loose > News

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Living Bungie’s Values ​​as Engineers

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Strong ideas, held loosely

When we first went through the Engineering Values ​​Handbook as a team, we found ourselves in a multi-day chat thread that went all out to explore this particular value. It turned out that we were all pretty much on the same page about ‘loosely held’, but we had many different interpretations of ‘strong ideas’! Was it about strong advocacy, making sure ideas were heard fairly? Brave proposals that challenge conventional wisdom? Thoughtful Proposals That Avoid This section of the handbook gave us the opportunity to get into those kinds of nuances.

We believe that great ideas can come from anyone, regardless of title, seniority or discipline.

  • We strive for an egalitarian feeling in all interactions.
  • We want to offer each other psychological safety. We recognize the near-university of the imposter syndrome and seek to build each other up, freely showing respect and admiration, while carefully handling the tone and context of criticism.
  • We always try to show visible respect to everyone, even and especially if we have not yet worked with them. This is especially critical to provide psychological security to new hires who do not yet have institutional credibility.
  • During debates and decision-making, we try to separate ideas from who proposed them.

“About a year ago I switched from gameplay engineering to graphics, and shortly after that I started my first major job planning work. As I talked through the problem space with my mentor, Mark Davis, a chief graphic engineer with more than 20 years of experience, it struck me how much it was just two graphic engineers solving problems together. It was perfectly clear that I was on an equal footing in the discussion as we went back and forth about potential solutions and complications, never being afraid to challenge or put forward ideas. I have constantly felt that I am a full member of any discussion and my input is valued and meaningful, be it with Mark, the graphics team, other engineers or Bungie as a whole. As a budding engineer in a new discipline, I’ve grown in my new role and learned so much from such an empowerment, and it’s made for a very fulfilling and fun experience.”
Abby Welsh, 2020-

We are brave enough to see that we are wrong.

  • It can be scary to be seen as unequal, but it’s critical to our success. When we let our fear discourage us, we sacrifice opportunities for creativity and growth.
  • Being seen as unequal should never be a traumatic experience. You should feel welcome and supported by the team. Our work to maintain psychological safety is critical here (see section above) – we create a place where you don’t have to “harden” to feel safe when you’re wrong.
  • We’re brave enough to make proposals to move a plan forward, even if there’s a good chance we’re wrong.we don’t wait to be 100% sure we look smart with our suggestion.
  • We are brave enough to see our ideas challenged without feeling personally attacked– we try to remember that we are respected no matter what.
  • We are brave enough to voice concerns or ideas even if we are not experts or we raise them to someone of a higher rank.
  • We are brave enough to share our ideas early, seeking upgrades from others and avoiding polishing our ideas only for grand revelations that catch others off guard.

“When developing the new engine model, the Activity Scripting team was revamping how and where activity scripts were run within the server ecosystem. By distributing them across different agents within the ecosystem, there was more expressiveness, but it also created a sync bear trap for writing scripts that might crash or exhibit unexpected behavior due to race conditions. To mitigate this possibility, I proposed a process of code reviews for scripts written by designers, similar to code reviews by engineers. This was not a practice that designers had experience with and most of the people who heard my pitch thought we weren’t going to get a broad buy-in. So instead, we tweaked the technical design to mitigate risk with minimal loss of script expression and didn’t hire script reviews for designers at the time. By discussing this as a team, we were able to quickly determine that solving this challenge with continued human dedication was not the right answer, even if it would have enabled an exciting technical solution.”
Ed Kaiser, 2010-

We believe that success helps a group to arrive at the best answer and leave with stronger relationships.

  • If you’ve come up with the best answer, but people aren’t excited to work with you again, that’s a failure.
  • If you’ve made a meeting or project 25% more efficient, but people aren’t excited to work with you again, that’s a failure.
  • If everyone is excited to work with you again, but you haven’t said anything about a major mistake or opportunity, that’s a failure

“For a while, the Engineering organization held regular leadership meetings where managers and others in leadership positions came together to talk about Important Stuff™. When I finally leveled up enough to be invited, I felt like I made it big. It was a great feeling of validation, but also intimidating. I wasn’t sure I had anything worthy to contribute in this room of Bungie’s best and brightest. When I finally gathered the courage to intervene, I was pleasantly surprised that everyone took my comments as seriously as anyone else’s. I came to realize that this was true for anyone who joined the group. There was never one dominant opinion that overshadowed all others. All votes always mattered.”
James Haywood, 2007-

Until next time for value #4 – Closing is a daily practice!

-Bungie Technique

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