Engineering Enablement
Engineering Enablement Podcast
How much to invest in platform work | Jean-Michel Lemieux (Shopify, Atlassian)

How much to invest in platform work | Jean-Michel Lemieux (Shopify, Atlassian)

Jean-Michel Lemieux, former CTO of Shopify and VP of Engineering at Atlassian, explains how to advocate for investing in platform work, which projects to fund, and what distinguishes a great platform leader. 

Discussion points:

(1:38) Jean-Michel’s definition of platform work 

(6:44) Why reliability, performance, and stability do fall within platform work 

(7:24) The consequences of lacking a product mindset in platform

(9:20) Why and how to advocate for investing 50% of R&D spend in platform work 

(12:31) How Jean-Michel arrived at 50% as the percentage of R&D spend that should be allocated to platform 

(16:09) Jean-Michel’s experiences with different levels of investment in platform work 

(21:59) What percentage of platform investment should go towards keep the lights on work

(24:01) Whether the allocation changes at different company stages

(27:05) Why platform work is consistently underinvested in

(29:00) Why having a platform team could be an anti-pattern

(32:32) How to advocate for this work to leaders

(35:35) What it looks like to over-invest in platform work 

(40:03) How to decide which initiatives to invest in

(47:41) Making build vs buy decisions in platform work 

(49:58) What distinguishes a great platform leader 

Mentions and links:
Follow Jean-Michel Lemieux on LinkedIn and Twitter
Abi’s post that sourced many of the questions discussed in this conversation
Jean-Michel’s book chapter on platform investments
Jean-Michel’s definition of what platform work is
The podcast episode on what Shopify expects of managers