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Peloton Values | Abhishek Shukla Ravishankara Operates with a Bias for Action


If you need to get something done, call Abhishek Shukla Ravishankara. Abhishek, who goes by Abhi, is a Senior Engineering Manager at Peloton, working out of the NYC office.

When he joined Peloton in late 2021, Abhi noticed that his department’s operational excellence processes could be improved. What they needed was a standard way to track performance and a platform for engineering managers to discuss those metrics.

Abhi came up with a live document where managers could aggregate and track all the most vital metrics and who was responsible for each. The document became a hub where Abhi could collect feedback and run ops review meetings. The process wasn’t perfect, but it got the ball rolling. Over time, and with regular feedback from the team, Abhi and his colleagues refined the document and the way the weekly ops meetings are run.

Their process uncovered a potential problem: With increased attention to the way their systems perform, the on-call engineers could be overburdened and their work-life balance compromised. To get ahead of this problem, Abhi created a document of healthy on-call practices and a tiered escalation proposal that would cut down on the number of hours engineers spend on-call.

Authoring documents like these not only helps him think through problems, Abhi says, it also helps create buy-in and rally others to collaborate.

No one asked Abhi to lead these improvements, he just did it. “The key here is my manager didn't say, ‘Hey, go solve this problem.’ I brought it up, saying, ‘It seems like there is a problem. This is how I’m thinking about it. I’m going to make it happen.”

When asked about how the process is going, he says, “We’ve had the weekly ops review for a few months now, and I had a retrospective with my peers on how to improve it. Operational excellence is never done. The key is continuous improvement. By embracing a bias for action, we’ll keep getting better. ”

Abhishek is naturally inclined this way. Even in his personal life he is “usually the one breaking the analysis paralysis around which restaurant we should get dinner at or if it is travel plans,” he said. “Indecisiveness stresses me out!”

Before joining the Peloton team, Abhi spent his career working in startups where everyone is expected to simply do the work and then go find more. So when he arrived at Peloton, he excelled.
In fact, Operating with a Bias for Action was something that drew Abhi to the company—it just clicked. “It’s been my style. If I feel like I’m operating for the greater good and have reasonable confidence that what I’m gonna do is actually good for the entire system, I go ahead and do it.”

Being quick to take action doesn’t come without its risks, of course, and Abhi is quick to acknowledge projects that could have turned out better. One of them is a bug fix he insisted be thoroughly tested, despite the fact that it was highly unlikely the fix would cause major problems. His overcautiousness delayed the release by almost a month. On another occasion, Abhi gave his team the go-ahead on a project without waiting for the design, marketing, and payment partner approvals to come through. When those finally did come in, the team had to backtrack and throw out some of their work.

People are going to make mistakes, but in an environment where action is expected, mistakes are forgiven. “Peloton provided plenty of opportunities for me to apply this principle in day-to-day operations. I have made good progress and brought meaningful results, but I’ve also made some mistakes, which I have reflected on so that I don’t make similar mistakes again.”

Abhi doesn’t think this attitude—Operate with a Bias for Action—works everywhere. In other companies, this m.o. may not be welcome. But this isn’t the case at Peloton, he said. It’s energizing to work for a company that welcomes this behavior and recognizes team members who embrace it.

“It’s so ingrained in the culture that peers recognize when others operate with a bias for action. This value is emphasized at every turn”, Abhi said. “This gets called out in our promotion process, in peer recognition, and in day-to-day operations. It’s built into the way Peloton rewards its employees.”

In practice, it’s a very simple principle, executed this way: “If you see a gap, go ahead and fill it. Do it even if it isn’t your responsibility. As long as you keep this in mind”, Abhi said, "you’re going to do well. You create value, you become impactful, you are more visible.”

Written by Peloton

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