Odds are good that you have experienced this phenomenon personally at some point in your engineering career. The slowdown was gradual, frustrating, and oddly stubborn. It survived: numerous rounds of hiring; a spate of offsites where inspiring speakers harangued everyone to “cut through the crap” and just “get shit done”; a blood-spattered re-org or two; and even a few ground-up rewrites that utterly failed to deliver on their promised boost in velocity.
If you’re now involved with engineering leadership in some capacity, you may well have accepted the slowdown as a sad universal truth. Accordingly, you may have shifted your efforts from the impossible task of making the org go faster to the thankless but crucial job of jealously guarding how engineers spend their time—because as it takes longer and longer to get even simple features out the door, those engineering hours become increasingly precious.