Aviv Ben-Yosef: Amplifying Your Engineering Team’s Impact (Scaling Tech Podcast Ep35)

As leaders, it’s our responsibility to unlock our team’s full potential. Or, as our guest nicely puts it, “Life is too short to lead an average team.” So, today, we’re diving into strategies to help you avoid this pitfall in your company and, instead, empower your software engineering team to thrive. Join us for a fascinating discussion!

Meet Aviv Ben-Yosef. He’s a technology executive consultant who helps companies create high-impact, needle-moving teams. He hosts the Tech Executive Podcast with short tips on building high-performance, autonomous teams. Aviv is also the author of the Tech Executive Operating System and Capitalizing Your Technology, which are essential reads for tech executives and their direct reports.

In this episode of the Scaling Tech podcast, Arin and Aviv talk about ways engineering leaders can amplify their teams’ impact, foster innovation as a habit, and ensure alignment with overall business strategy.

Tune into this episode for firsthand advice about empowering your software engineering team and making significant contributions to your organization’s strategic objectives.

Listen on Spotify
Listen on Apple Podcasts

Watch the video:
Key Insights with links to jump ahead are below

About Guest

Name: Aviv Ben-Yosef

What he does: He’s a Tech Executive Consultant.

Company: Aviv Ben-Yosef Consulting

Noteworthy: Aviv is also the host of the Tech Executive Podcast and the author of the Tech Executive Operating System and Capitalizing Your Technology.

Where to find Aviv: LinkedIn | Website

Key Insights


Tech leaders play a crucial role in helping their teams reach their full potential. As leaders, we need to harness our team’s full potential and create an environment where they can thrive so that they can deliver meaningful impact to the business.

Aviv says, “If someone is average but working to maximize their own potential, I cannot ask them for anything more. So if I’m seeing a team that has a bunch of junior people who are delivering what a solid junior engineer should deliver, I’m okay with that. But I saw repeatedly teams where you had people who were stellar, brilliant people, and yet the team didn’t even make a dent in the business. They were moving slowly, or they were delivering things that didn’t really matter. And that’s what always pained me. I’m looking at people wasting their best, the best years, and wasting their talents.”

Tech capital is about adding long-term value. As Aviv nicely puts it, tech capital extends beyond feature development. He explains, “Tech capital is about saying, okay, I’m an engineer, I understand things, I have this capability of making the computer listen to me. How can I do that not just for the company’s users’ benefit as in the feature work, but what else can I do? And that’s how I came up with framing the concept of tech capital, which is about technology that we write that gives the company more and more value; features aren’t tech capital because whenever you develop a new feature, like buying a car, it gives you some value, but it starts decreasing in its value immediately. It’s not something that actually gives you more and more value once you have it. And tech capital would be, for example, creating internal technology that makes things better.”

The engineering leader’s role goes beyond technical expertise. As a tech executive, you’re more than just a technical expert; you’re a genuine leader. So, bringing strong leadership skills to the table is also essential if you want to contribute to your company’s growth.

Aviv says, “We want to make sure that they talk to their peers so that they understand what’s important and find even new opportunities to deliver value. And third, when I talk about profitable engineering, it’s how do we ensure that the features we’re doing and, the work that we’re doing, and the organization I’m building as a tech executive are all towards being a profitable, healthy organization.”

Arin adds, “We’re definitely past the era of the startup world where you can just build shiny things and get a lot of funding for it and not worry about being a real business. It is incredibly important and should have always been to build an actual profitable, sustainable business around your idea, but for the tech executive, for those engineering leaders to make sure that their organization is contributing to that, providing innovation that improves the tech capital in that organization.”

Episode Highlights

Take ownership of your growth.

Individuals, even lone engineers, have more power than they realize. That’s why it’s vital that everyone focuses on themselves and takes their personal and professional growth into their hands whenever possible.

Aviv says, “I always say that we have a lot of agency. So even if you’re a sole engineer and you’re looking at your management, and things look grim, I still believe that you have a lot more power than you think. It’s a bit Zen-like, and I try not to sound like a Zen monk and yet I do believe that it all starts with yourself. And I used to have 15 years ago, I had a long row of articles all about; I called it the autonomous core of you yourself, working to make yourself agile, working to make yourself better, working to make yourself shine and learn and continuously improve all on your own. And even if everything around you looks like it’s not going to go well, if you do that, then you’re working on your own software craftsmanship, and you get better.

Encourage curiosity within your team to unlock productivity

When people understand the purpose behind their tasks, they are more likely to produce meaningful work and perform at a high capacity. So, tech leaders should take every opportunity to encourage curiosity in their team and foster an environment where asking ‘why’ is celebrated.

Aviv explains, “I was working with those startups, and they told me, ‘Two days a week, and you’re delivering more.’ And again, it’s nice for the ego, but I’m looking at everyone around me, and I’m like, ‘What are they doing then the entire week?’ And I learned that there are a few things that I was doing that aren’t magic, but just important. So one of them was keep on asking why. And I’m teaching everyone around when you’re lower level, ask why Israelis are good. We have, you know, we have a word for it. We say ‘chutzpah,’ but ‘chutzpah’ if you literally translate, it means being a bit rude. But it’s not about being rude and asking your boss, ‘Why do you want me to do this?’ It’s about understanding why am I doing this. And it’s about teaching the people that it’s fine to ask. And it’s about teaching managers that if people ask, it’s not a bad thing. It’s about them actually being so interested and wanting to make sure they know what to do that they are asking. Because the thing I hate the most is those who go, ‘Sir, yes, sir!’ and just go off coding. No, I want those questions.”

Why are innovation sprints so crucial for engineering teams?

Not everyone may initially embrace this idea, but it’s crucial for tech leaders to understand the significance of innovation sprints and intermissions. These practices can do so much more for your team than any theoretical approach. 

Allowing engineers to experiment and push boundaries is important because this approach significantly increases motivation and innovation. 

Aviv explains, “This is the Holy Grail for me. When you see the entire company starting to talk, and you have no silos, but even if you just start with those innovation weeks once a quarter and you let people and ask them to really be innovative and try and do things that are pushing it a bit, you’re going to see amazing things, and you’re going to see the benefit of the motivation that you see from letting people tinker 20% of the time, but now it’s distilled to things that actually matter, and it’s distilled to things that make the entire organization better because we’re doing innovative things. If they work out, you’re getting a bunch. And I remember having to sell this to a CEO in a startup, and it wasn’t easy. He’s like, ‘A week? A week of them just doing things that they think are interesting?’ And we did that. And right in that first time, I remember him coming back to me and saying, ‘Oh my God, this is a bonanza.’ They just unlocked something that made us so much faster.”