“It Ain’t What You Do, It’s The Way That You Do It” – Engagement at the Financial Times.
- Posted: 03/10/2017
The first school night of the week didn’t deter attendance for our latest - and highly anticipated - Agile London Meetup at the Financial Times’ office, south of the river in London on Monday night. Six floors up, the room swiftly filled with Agile enthusiasts from across the city – some having even travelled in from the EU mainland – keen to gain an understanding of what this iconic company learns from measuring in technology.
Nick Hayes, Programme Director at the FT said, “Media is a tough industry to be in”, and this 128-year-old company is constantly innovating to build the best version of FT.com. With more new features than ever for their readers, it isn’t a surprise that the Financial Times is recognized as an innovator within the media industry. They’ve pioneered successful new digital products and models to distribute journalism around the globe.
The FT works hard to get to know their customers and as such they have a great understanding of what metrics need to move to be successful. This understanding comes from their investment in strategies and when it comes to delivering, the FT have found that engagement is their key.
Over the years, the FT have evolved in their approach. They invest in strategies and outcomes which they then measure. It was a targeted shortcoming that raised questions resulting in a change of focus. What did they do? Instead of focusing on the outcome they homed in on specific items and made a big move collectively to focus on engagement.
With their delivery teams, engineers and developers in mind, they pass along information about what they want to achieve and what outcomes are expected along with thoughts on how to measure progress against this.
Tasked with problem solving, the delivery team is given the autonomy to choose how they do this, through what processes and with what tools to achieve the desired outcomes.
Progress is followed not only to make sure they are on target, but to be sure they will achieve what was laid out.
Don’t simply follow the plan, respond to change. Sometimes the environment changes, there are new findings or targets are missed. This is an opportunity for response and refocus if necessary.
With engagement as their North star metric, success is achieved across the entire FT portfolio, not just FT.com. It allows the teams to have a better understanding and to work more in tune. Whether this is accomplished through testing, analyzing metadata metrics or the development of internal tools such as Lantern; all their teams work toward measurable outcomes.
What’s next for the FT? They’ll continue to learn and evolve their processes; keeping outcomes and measurements at the forefront of what they do.
Hayes would argue that the FT is the same today as it’s always been, “we build stuff, release stuff and develop our teams.” What is different he says is in their approach, “after all, it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it”; that’s what gets results.
Want more FT.com? Here’s 11 software engineering fun facts.
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