This Matrix Helps Growing Teams Make Great Decisions
Gil Shklarski has spent his career solving incredibly complex problems. Whether it was making Facebook safer or working on infrastructure for Microsoft’s maps, he’s always approached his work with a mathematician’s ability to break enormous missions into problem sets to be solved. Five years ago, he joined Flatiron Health as head of technology, and was tasked with building the oncology industry's first cloud-based software platform to manage clinical care and learn from the experience of every patient. Sounds like a big enough challenge — but scaling the technical team to do it quickly proved to be a massive undertaking on its own.
When Shklarski came aboard, the company was four employees building tech used by one clinic. Two years later, headcount was 135, serving 200 clinics, and he confronted a problem with the potential to undermine it all. It wasn’t a technical problem, or a medical one. It was a people problem: his engineering leaders had a hard time making streamlined decisions, whether it was negotiating with product leaders or creating alignment around an internal debate.
It wasn’t immediately clear how he’d turn things around. But Shklarski, now CTO, had been using a framework, introduced to him by his executive coach Marcy Swenson, that had helped him navigate his own hairy decisions. He realized how helpful that same tool would be if it were applied team-wide. In this exclusive piece — based on a talk he gave at First Round’s CTO Unconference — Shklarski walks through the matrix he adapted to enable his increasingly autonomous and fragmented team to keep moving fast and smart through tough choices…