After interviewing Prosper Nwankpa, the Co-Founder and CTO of VC-backed startup Avanoo, on The Ops Show, I was impressed by his leadership philosophy for a technical team.

He cares deeply about the humans he works with and it’s evident in his carefully chosen words that center around empowerment and collaboration.

When he talked about values, he describes them with crystal clarity. Here are a few values he uses for his engineering and architectural teams.


Build the rocket ship while flying it.

Build MVPs, think like a lean startup, and have user empathy. If you move fast and break things then you are doing it right. Fix the biggest issues and keep building.

Drive 10X leverage.

Find the laziest way with the highest impact. We often use ICE scoring at to surface these opportunities.

Build resilient software.

You can never rid yourself of software issues, so build a team that is fault-tolerant.

Prosper also had sage advice for motivating your development team.


Build a 1:1 check-in cadence.

It’s very important to have feedback loops with your team. Become a good listener, become a good manager.

Get buy-in during the product decision-making process.

Plan ahead in your product roadmap to create a team dialogue that helps get the mind-ball rolling.

Work on problems they believe are worth building.

Ask the question: What are you looking to learn? Find the golden space between that learning and the product or engineering roadmap.

Stay at the edge of competency.

Look for opportunities for your development team to learn new technologies that have the potential to level up your product in one way or another, but don’t over layer complexity.

Finally, Prosper focused on leveling up his technical talent. He hired for growth mindsets and followed through on his promises for skill development.


The two main ways for a developer to grow.

Grow by learning new technologies. Grow by managing other developers.

Truly feel the customer problem.

The second you give a developer a better feel of the customer problem, you empower them. They are attending more meetings and are more engaged.

Empathetic pair programming.

Pair programming allows you to level up developers faster. Code reviews catch scaling problems before production. Have senior developers mentor junior developers and interviewing developers pair code with interviewees.

Create a culture of teaching.

How do you help create a sharing culture between a dev team? Ease the scaling problem, remove silos, build code reusability, and, overall, design a culture of teaching. Allow your team to experiment as they learn by creating a safe environment for trying things.

Rapidly troubleshoot.

This is key to developer success. Engineers may freeze with a “worked on my machine’ mentality, but a simple process of elimination is one of the least appreciated tricks in the book. Prosper recommends a 25 minute Pomodoro Technique where one time blocks themselves on a task to only 25 minutes or less.

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